Wednesday, September 29, 2010

MABUSHI Before, Good Marketing After

A quick definition of 'Good Marketing' before I begin.  Your marketing, bullet points, collaterals, etc. are good when your sales team uses them, customers understand them by asking for more or buying your stuff, your sales cycle shortens, you win more competitive deals, your funnel is more efficient.  There's a measurable improvement over what you did previously.  Passing the four tests (and the additional one @productmarketer suggested) is just the first step.  Market validation is the real measure of good over bad.
So let's review the MABUSHI phrases from last time and look at some ways to improve them:
Fourth Generation Data Cloud
To be honest, I have NO idea what the product manager wanted to say with this.  If you do, please let me know.  Instead of focusing on some nebulous feature that sounds impressive, think how that feature is going to either impact your target persona's business or how it differentiates from your competitors.  If your use of the cloud gives you real time threat updates, say that in a way that is meaningful and why. 
Here's a suggested alternative:
Real-time threat detection protects your users from harmful sites immediately and automatically
Of course, your buyer persona document tells you that he doesn't want to spend time ensuring his web filtering database is current.  He hates disinfecting users’ computers that are infected by compromised web sites because it takes too much time away from more important tasks.  Protecting his users and cutting his administrivia/fire-fighting time is what is important, not the cloud.  The cloud is HOW you do it, not the WHAT you do.  How you do something is interesting.  What you do impacts his day, bonus, operations.
Here's another doozie.  Try saying this in one breath:
Innovation Leader in providing Mission Critical Software Solutions to the Global Alternative Asset Community since 1993
Here's what's wrong: a) EVERYONE is a leading innovator in their segment - just check every software vendors About Us page, they'll tell you, b) Is Innovation what your persona values the most?, c) EVERYONE delivers mission-critical solutions, and d) unless you already knew you were part of the Alternative Asset Community, you'd have no idea if this company was for you. I didn't - I had to look it up.  It's software for managing the operations of private equity and venture capital firms. 
I don't know much about this space so I am going to guess at some persona characteristics: reliability, low IT requirements, flexibility, strong reporting, excellent support and vendor longevity are going to be more important than innovation. As they are stewards for other people's money, they probably don't want to be the first one into the pool for stuff like this.
Instead, an alternative could be:
Proven Private Equity and Venture Capital Management Solutions Since 1993
Yes, 'proven' has to be defended but if reliability is the top value item for your persona you at least have a shot at them asking you to prove it.  You could be really bold and not even say 'proven'.  Also, telling your segment you are for them by using language they use makes it easier for prospects to select IN and non-prospects to select OUT.  'Since 1993' shows you've sold to enough people to know what you're doing.  Newer vendors have to rely on other factors like industry experience elsewhere to prove their worth.
Is this the best phrase for them?  I'd have to validate it with sales, existing customers and prospects first but at least it passes the Huh?, Spouse and Who Cares? tests.
And finally, there's this gem:
Maximum Operational Flexibility
Gack!  Did they use a buzzword generator to create that one?  If your buyer will be integrating your stuff into a number of platforms and has memory constraints to contend with and your stuff addresses that, SAY SO.  Don't make them guess what it means - they won't.
Here's another way to say this:
Tiny footprint integrates with all major platforms
It hits the personas pain points in common language and opens the discussion for "how tiny?", "how quickly does it integrate?", or, "even on Linux 2.6.35 for Cavium MIPS?"  Then you have a discussion on your hands.  Remember, your goal is to engage your prospects, not stupefy them. 
A final note on modifiers.  Modifiers like 'quickly' or 'easily' need to be defended, especially in print, so I tend to reserve their use for verbal discussions.  And I support them through testimonials from other customers.
Next up: Why sales people don’t read brochures

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

MABUSHI Spotting

Rohan raised a great question about resolving a dispute over what constitutes MABUSHI.  Who's right and how do you support or refute the claim?  To answer that, I'll first go deeper into how to recognize and test for MABUSHI.  My next blog will take the examples below and provide alternatives and how you would derive them.

Here are some examples of MABUSHI I've seen recently on web sites and at trade shows.  I'm not making this stuff up (anymore).

Fourth Generation Data Cloud

Innovation Leader in providing Mission Critical Software Solutions to the Global Alternative Asset Community since 1993

Maximum Operational Flexibility

The above have failed one or more of the following tests:
  1. Huh?
    If you have to follow what you said with the statement, "And what I mean by that is..." chances are pretty high that your message will not resonate with your audience - if they even bother sticking around.  Gobbledygook is an insult to most prospects and the fastest way to have them leave your web site forever.  Even if you have a technical product, talk to the value in straightforward language.  Don't force them to ask for definitions - they won't bother.
  2. The Spouse Test
    My wife is smarter than I am but isn't close to hi-tech.  If she can't understand what I've said, then it's not going to fly with customers and prospects.  If your spouse is "in the business," find a friend or more distant relative who isn't and try your message out on them.  Even if they aren't your target buyer persona, they should at least be able to understand what you said and know if it is relevant for them.  The language of value is universal.

    (Note To Self for future blog: getting prospects to select OUT is as important as selecting IN.)
  3. Who cares?/So what?
    Value is not communicated by using fancy phrases or impenetrable jargon.  Value is communicated through relevance and clear language. If your ideal buyer persona doesn't understand how it could benefit them, then you've missed the mark.  And don't let them connect the dots on their own.  State your feature and its inherent benefit in one phrase.  (See Note To Self, above)
  4. Crickets
    If your message is relevant and understandable, then you will have an engaged audience.  They will request more information, ask questions, make corollary comments, suggest other uses, etc.  If you get blank stares, quizzical looks or the sound of crickets booming through the silence in response to a presentation or conversation, then what you have said either totally confused your audience or had no relevance to them whatsoever.
It's easy and fun to do these tests on other people's marketing efforts.  I do it all the time at trade shows or when I'm surfing the web.  It takes bravery and honesty to apply them to your own or your own company's work.  I got into an argument with a product manager over one of the phrases above and he stopped talking to me.  He eventually dropped the phrase when enough customers told him they had no idea what it meant.

At the end of the day it goes back to grokking what your buyer persona needs, how they think and what is important to them.   Spend your time developing and understanding your personas and MABUSHI will become a thing of the past.

Next up: MABUSHI Before, Good Marketing After

Friday, September 10, 2010



After a couple guest blog posts here and here on (Thanks, April, for letting me sit in), it's time to start my own product marketing blog.  That's me in the mauve shirt when I was doing product marketing at Google if you want to know what I sound like.

I like talking to customers and asking questions that get to the heart of the matter - to what the REAL value is.  Understanding what's important - how the customer is materially impacted - is what will set your product marketing, sales training and web site apart from all the MABUSHI that's out there.  I'll focus on how to get to that value with tips, hints, tricks and more than a few stories.   

By now you are probably wondering what MABUSHI is.  I first heard the term when I started working at an Israeli company in the late 90's.  (I'm at my third now).  The Israelis often used it in training classes, marketing meetings, strategy sessions, etc. Us Americans thought it was some derogatory Hebrew word or slang term, based on context and the tone of their voice.  They would dismiss something as, "That's just MABUSHI."  Finally, someone screwed up enough courage to ask what it meant, really.  They replied, "It's an acronym for MArketing BUllSHI@."

Talk about an eye-opener.  Israelis tend to be fairly pragmatic and quickly grow impatient when they think you're wasting their time.  And they're not shy about letting you know, either.  It was a great test bed for every piece of collateral we created.  If we got the "MABUSHI" label, it was back to the drawing board.  If not, we knew our technical buyers would at least read what we produced.

If you think about it, 'No MABUSHI' is also what's behind the Pragmatic Marketing paradigm, buyer personas and the discipline of viscerally understanding your audience and what's important to them.  Seth Godin is all about 'No MABUSHI' though I don't think he's ever thought of it that way.  Ask yourself, "Is this MABUSHI?" every time you produce something, edit someone else's work or read a website.  You'll be glad you did and you (and your customers) will notice the difference.

Maybe I'm starting a crusade (not the first) but if just one person stops screaming about their shiny new red thingy and starts talking about how red resolves their customer's core problem and thus reduces the amount of MABUSHI in the world, then I will be happy.  Juding from all the MABUSHI I see on web sites these days, it's either a no-brainer or an unattainable task.