Articles: Marketing

Product and Marketing

In 2017, Brad Feld wrote an article in which he proposed that any startup can be viewed as essentially three machines: “(1) the Product machine, (2) the Customer machine, and (3) the Company machine.” I love this model. For me, it captures what day-to-day strategy and execution feels like at a typical startup and many other kinds of organizations, too. The three machines must be high-functioning, and they must be aligned. Feld adapted this framework from one…

Continue reading


Aligning Marketing and Sales

For years, I’ve been writing about how businesses can optimize human relationships inside and outside their organizations. I’ve fleshed out this idea over many blog posts, with a core visual denoting three kinds of strategy that should always be tightly linked.     I love the purity of this diagram, but some kinds of businesses merit an expanded framework. In my last post, I complicated this model slightly, by adding a fourth circle for corporate strategy: For…

Continue reading


Brand marketing vs. performance marketing

There’s a simple procedure I use for creating or evaluating an organization’s marketing strategy. It starts with: Clarifying the opportunity we’re going after Articulating and segmenting the specific stakeholder relationships we must foster to capture that opportunity Designing and managing clear, custom funnels for each of those relationships These last two steps lend themselves to an easy-to-remember progression of images, where we could first depict an organization’s relationships with the outside world using a Venn diagram:  …

Continue reading


What is positioning?

Positioning is important for every organization. Yet there is no consensus on what the term means. Among positioning experts, Michael Porter talks about strategic advantage, Seth Godin talks about purple cows, and Clotaire Rapaille talks about tapping into enduring cultural archetypes. Are we really all discussing the same thing? Here is a simple description that I use to align teams and viewpoints: Positioning defines how external audiences see a company or product relative to its competitors. In…

Continue reading


Becoming #1

Long ago a colleague recommended that I read the book Eating the Big Fish by Adam Morgan. I did. At the time, I thought it was interesting, if simplistic. And then I continued to use it as a key tool in my professional work for the next dozen years. The core idea in Eating the Big Fish is that there are large incumbents in every market space, but “little fish” can come to dominate the ecosystem through…

Continue reading