Product Obsolescence – an end of life process

The Human Body’s End of Life Process

Avram-Hershko-NYTs-06192012On June 19, 2012 the New York Times published an article, “The Body’s Protein Cleaning Machine” about the Nobel Prize winning chemist Dr. Avram Hershko. His life work has been on understanding how the body’s cells rid themselves of old, defective proteins. Every cell has a protein ubiquitin that tags old and degenerated proteins for destruction. “Maybe you’ve heard of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s? There we have bad proteins accumulating in the brain and destroying brain cells. The reason we don’t get Alzheimer’s when we are 10 is that when we are young, the bad proteins are disposed of quickly. With age, the cell’s machinery may lose the ability to do that.”

This very interesting notion that the body has a built-in mechanism to rid itself of bad proteins reminded me of old lessons about the need for our businesses to have a similar mechanism. Product obsolescence is a terrible drag on sales and gross margins. A better strategy is to have an end of life process to drive out product obsolescence. Peter Drucker ((Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive, Harper Colophon Books, p.108)) put it this way:

Systematic sloughing off of the old is the one and only way to force the new. There is no lack of ideas in any organization I know. “Creativity” is not our problem. But few organizations ever get going on their own good ideas. Everybody is much too busy on the tasks of yesterday. Putting all programs and activities regularly on trial for their lives and getting rid of those that cannot prove their productivity work wonders in stimulating creativity even in the most hidebound bureaucracy.

Are you persuaded that your business needs An End Of Life Policy? Continue reading

FABing Is Still Important in Sales and Marketing – a revisit

FABing, variously Features and Benefits, Features, Attributes, & Benefits, has always been a great tool for getting people to focus more self-consciously, more analytically on what they are doing in their sales and marketing work.

Here is an article by Michael Fortin that develops and extends the traditional concept of FABing: “The Oft-Confused Features and Benefits

Old Customers: The People-You-Know Sales Strategy

Old Customers, Friends, Vendors

Old customers, friends, and vendors are a potential gold mine for your business sales. Traditional marketing strategy focuses almost entirely on finding new customers. This is based on reasoning that when you are starting out new customers are the only kind you have and, if you want to sustain a high growth strategy, new customers are required. In many businesses, customer retention, the care and feeding of old customers, is an operational afterthought. Nevertheless, over and over in my work with all types of companies, I am reminded of how valuable the people you already know are to your sales. Repeatedly clients have increased their sales by focusing their marketing strategy and a significant portion of their marketing efforts on maintaining current customers and rekindling old customer relationships.  Continue reading

Mastodons and Customer Relationship Management

What might mastodons have to do with Customer Relationship Management?

In a recent discussion with the leadership team of a small engineering firm I listened as they reported on their progress working with a medium size firm on the second project they had worked on with a third coming down the tube. It struck me that they had progressed to a new phase in their marketing and sales work. They had finally reached the point where they are experiencing repeat business from larger firms. They occupy a fairly narrow niche in the engineering world, but they had found several customers for whom their services are now being called on with regularity.

mastodon and neolithic hunters borrowed from http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2006/07/men-of-north.htmlI asked more questions about how they were thinking about these customers. Continue reading

Understanding Your Customers Comes Before “The Five P’s of Social Media”

In his posting The Five P’s of Social Media–Where Do You Start? on the Fast Company site, Lon Safko writes about where to get started in social media that:  “The Five P’s are; Profiles, Propagate, Produce, Participate, and Progress”. His discussion is worth a review.((1))

I might add a preface to to these “Five P’s” that is a fundamental precursor to success in web social media (as well as all other marketing).

Focus on your customers, clients, and prospects first – what is your value to them?

Focus on your customers, clients, and prospects first. What is it that they are interested in? What is the value they desire from you? What language do they use to talk and think about the problems you might solve for them? Use the proven tools of FABing to keep your focus on what your customers are actually interested in. Don’t fill up your web space with content that they are not interested in and which is not presented in their language.

FAB refers to Features and Benefits (some say Features, Advantages, and Benefits). This is a simple, powerful axiom of marketing (and sales) that proves elusive even to seasoned practitioners. Simply put: Customers buy Benefits not Features. Features are the physical, functional attributes of a product or service. Benefits are the values, as perceived by the customer, of using a product or service. Continue reading

Footnotes:
  1. Thanks to Brendan McLaughlin at Westglow Technology Consulting for pointing this article out to me. []