About The Content Experience Show:
Welcome to The Content Experience Show where content experience is the new content marketing. It’s not only about reaching our audiences where they are, but engaging them with a personalized experience of meaningful, useful content that they’ll take with them over time. The guests on the Content Experience Show share strategies, tips, and real-world examples of how they’re taking their content marketing to the next level and providing their current and prospective customers with a true content experience. This isn’t just a trend. It’s a movement.
Apple Podcast Reviews:
It doesn't get any better for content marketers. They present a balanced, insightful discussion of current trends and ask all the right questions. Their guest list is a "Who's Who" of content professionals. Outstanding.Jared Johnson Piano
I love listening to marketing podcasts and this one is on my must-listen to list. Very knowledgable hosts and topical discussions.The Marketing Book Podcast
April Dunford (author, speaker, and CEO of Ambient Strategy) joins the Content Experience Show Podcast with expert advice on product positioning.
Your Product Positioning Needs Help
If you asked each person in your organization to describe what your product or service does, would you hear roughly the same thing from each employee? Or would you receive about a dozen different responses? If the latter sounds closer to the truth, don’t worry—you’re not the only brand struggling to unify its positioning.
In fact, April Dunford sees this pitfall so often that she’s become an expert in detecting when and how brands should revisit their positioning. Her long history as a marketer and consultant have taught her that, “Who owns positioning?” is a tricky question to answer. Marketers, she explains, are often among the first to detect failures in this area, but it takes more than one team to get an entire organization on the same page.
In this episode, you’ll hear April’s favorite real-world example of positioning done right, an exercise for identifying your “competitive comparable,” a realistic look at making changes using your startup’s limited resources, and more. You’ll also hear highlights from April’s new book, Obviously Awesome—a great resource for anyone hungry for a deeper dive.
In This Episode
- Sure-fire signs your positioning needs clarification.
- Why marketing cannot own positioning by itself.
- How to identify your “competitive comparable.”
- Why your customers—not your C-suite—are often the best at articulating what your brand does best.
- A case study in positioning done right.
- What larger companies can do that startups cannot when changing positioning.
Quotes From This Episode
“Often, marketing will be on the front lines of feeling the pain of weak positioning. They’ll know when the positioning’s not working.” – @aprildunford
Your competitive comparable is the thing that your best customers are comparing you to every single day. That's the thing you've got to beat. Click To Tweet
“If we assume inside the company that the positioning is clear and it’s obvious, we often just don’t set it.” – @aprildunford
- Get the free Content Experience Report here.
- Stay connected with your email subscribers using Emma.
- Get your copy of April’s latest release on nailing product positioning, Obviously Awesome.
- Learn more about April’s work as a speaker, consultant, and author.
- See April at Conex, coming to Toronto August 20th to 22nd!
Content Experience Lightning Round
You’re going through an exciting home renovation right now. What additions are you most excited about?
April is loving her new smart home technologies, CAT6 ethernet, and gym room (with a space reserved for a new Peloton treadmill)!
See you next week!
Welcome to the Content Experience podcast. Anna, we’ve got a good run today. We’ve got a good friend of mine named April Dunford, and as a good friend, she’s someone who I just admire professionally. Early days of Uberflip, I was, yeah, clawing at any moment I could get with her over a coffee or beer, whatever it was, because she is a positioning guru. You know? And I think what she calls out in this podcast is that a lot of us think we’ve nailed positioning, but it’s almost so many different people in our companies have their own definitions of our own positioning.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s something I hear in so many different companies. It’s something they challenge with, right? You know, sales defines it one way. Marketing defines it another. Success teams or support teams, you know, go a whole other direction, and that’s hard. I mean, how often do you run into that with some of the customers you talk to?
Oh, all the time. I mean, customers, like, you know, some of the … Even clients that I used to do brand positioning for way back in the day and brand strategy for, you would ask different people like, “Okay, well what does, you know, X company mean to you? What is it to you?” And you would get 30 different answers. You know? And sometimes they were like kind of close, like loosely connected. And then other times, they were completely separate. Like you would think they were working for 20 different companies. So April has some amazing insight, genuinely wonderful podcast today, just about how to get people onto the same page, what that actually looks like, how to actually look at positioning from the right way, and she gives phenomenal examples, too. This is just like an A+ podcast today.
Absolutely. Now, I have a good vibe about it. I actually … It was funny. Off-air, I accidentally insulted her because I called out in the podcast someone that we’re working with, and it may sound like it’s a competitor of hers. It’s not. So I’ll clear that up. But I think the real reason to listen to this entire podcast is the following: whether you’re an early-stage start-up, or whether you’re late-stage, we hit on both examples here. And that’s what’s kind of cool to me, because I always like to think any company can view itself as a start-up, so if you’re trying to launch a new disruptive offering, great advice on how to do so.
If you’re also a large organization trying to protect yourself from these disruptors, some real actual examples from how April’s done that at companies like IBM over the years. So this is one filled with insight for pretty much everyone.
Yeah, and Randy, you kicked it off. No, actually, I kicked it off.
So I will say “rolling,” right?
Yeah. All right. Let’s hear what April had to say.
Hey, April. Welcome to The Content Experience Show podcast. It’s so great to have you here.
Hey. It’s awesome to be here. Thanks for having me.
Yeah. I know that you and Randy know each other, and you and I started to get to know each other a little bit off-air, but would you mind going ahead and just telling everybody a little bit about yourself?
Sure. So my background is I’ve been a repeat VP marketing at a series of seven start-ups. Six of those start-ups got acquired. And more recently, I’ve transitioned into doing consulting, and very specifically, I work with tech companies on positioning.
I love it. So you are touching back into my history. I started off as a brand strategist and a traditional copywriter, and one of the things that I love … I’m just going to go ahead and get right into it, because one of my favorite things on your website is that you say that people don’t buy what they don’t understand. And I feel like it is just so unbelievably relevant, especially with how fast we’re putting out information, how fast we’re creating products. How, I mean, how is that perceived, and do people really, do the people that you work with or the people that you talk to understand just how much that means? And that maybe they’re not clear when they think they are?
Well, you know, it comes back to one of these things where you know, there’s the way we think about our stuff on the inside of the company-
And the way people see it on the outside of the company. So when you’re working on a product, it’s very easy to get extremely close to that product and extremely heads-down, and just completely lose sight of the perspective of the poor prospect on the other side of this thing, coming at it for the first time. They’ve never seen it before, going, “What in the heck is this thing?” And meanwhile, you’re 10 miles ahead of them going, “Here’s another feature! And here’s another feature! And another feature!” And meanwhile, the poor prospect is like, “No, no, no, no, no. Back up. It’s what?” What exactly is it?
And so it is one of these things that I think until we start feeling the symptoms of that in our pipeline, it’s very easy to think, “Oh, this is obvious. Everybody knows what this is. We know what it is. Like we’ve been working on this for 10 years. Of course this is what it is.” And then things change. The market shifts. Attitudes of prospects shifts. New entrants come in and out of our market. And something that was once clear can often very easily become very muddy, and we don’t recognize it until we start seeing this weakness in the pipeline somewhere where we’re like, “Hey, you know, it seems like it takes us four calls before the light goes on and people say, ‘Oh, yeah, that.'” Strong positioning is what we do when we see that happening, and it’s weak positioning that gets us into that problem in the first place.
It’s so funny, because I feel like this has been just such a common theme. I mean, Randy, you and I have talked about this, where as marketers, we forget what it was ever like to be a consumer. Like all of a sudden, that light just switches off in our brain, and we’re like feature, feature, feature. Like it washes your dog. It waxes your car. And people are like, “But what even is it to begin with?” And I feel like there’s so many parallels to content here, as well, because a lot of times marketing this, you know, marketing products and bringing that positioning to life to the public requires a ton of content and creating that experience, and it’s like that even breaks down, too, because we just speak to ourselves.
No, totally, totally. This is it. Like, the interesting thing about positioning is if we assume inside the company that the positioning is clear and it’s obvious, we often just don’t set it. So we fall back on this kind of default positioning. Yeah, you know, we’re email. Of course we’re email. What else could we be? Of course we’re email. Meanwhile, your customer’s over there on the other side going, reading your white paper, going, “You’re talking about a lot of stuff, and this seems like chat.” I don’t know, it seems like chat.
Or maybe I’m seeing collaboration. I don’t know. It said file sharing in there. Is that email? I don’t know. And meanwhile, you’re way past, like you’ve never set the boundaries of this is what it is, these are the kind of solutions you could be comparing this to, and then this is why we’re better. We tend to just jump to the “this is why we’re better” and forget about the level-setting that happens in the first place.
So I want to jump in there, and kind of bridge what Anna said. I think the challenge is with a lot of this is who is ultimately responsible for positioning, right? Because the content team says, “Okay, great. We fully understand who we’re going to write for.” Right? Like we understand our buyer. Somehow, they know better than anyone. Hopefully they did research, but probably it’s not. And then you probably also have the product marketing team who’s sitting there saying, “Well, I know who we have to position for.” And then, but of course, and you can sense my sarcasm, you know, the sales team knows better than anyone who-
And to be honest, though, sometimes they may be right, because they’re actually speaking to those people.
You know, without kind of buying into what I’m saying and saying, “Yeah, you’re right, it’s everyone,” who should own positioning in the organization?
Well, so, here’s the thing. So if we think about the definition of positioning, so what positioning is … So what positioning is is it defines how your offering can, is the best in the world at delivering something that a well-defined group of customers cares a lot about. So it’s the best in the world at delivering something a well-defined group of customers cares a lot about.
If I’m going to shift anything in that, meaning if I think about the component pieces of positioning, it’s who’s my competitive alternatives? What are my unique capabilities? What’s my value? Who’s my target customer? And then what market is it that I’m intending to win? A shift in any of those is way bigger than a shift in marketing. That is literally a shift in business strategy.
If I say, “You know what? We used to go after mid-market, but now we’ve decided the best customers for us to go after are enterprise.” Who makes that decision?
A lot of times in organizations, it’s the executive team.
It’s the executive team.
Would you agree?
So here’s the thing. Like, marketing, on their own, cannot shift positioning. Now, often, marketing will be on the front lines of feeling the pain of weak positioning. So they’ll know when the positioning’s not working. Same with sales. You’ll often get sales coming in and going, “This just doesn’t sell. This is no good. I’m trying to sell this thing. Value propositions, all this stuff. It doesn’t actually work.” But if you want to shift it and make it stick, you’re going to actually have to have all of the heads of all of the teams get together and agree on what it is, because it is literally a shift in business strategy. You’re not going to wake up tomorrow and say, “You know what? We used to be email, but now we’re chat.”
Okay, we’re good? Sales can’t do that. Marketing can’t do that. Even the CEO can’t do that on his or her own without making sure the sales team buys in, because the sales team will just sell it however they want.
You’re so right. It’s funny. I mean, at Uberflip ourselves, and yeah, April and I have called you on this from time to time, just for advice. You know, we’ve struggled with positioning how our platform can be used. And I won’t go into detail with our conundrum, but you know, not just by the content marketer, but the entire org. And all the other different departments, and as much as you said, you know, we kind of got to a point where myself and my cofounder, we thought we had been articulating it. We just didn’t get buy-in. We didn’t educate that through the much larger team that we are today, so we’re actually going through an exercise right now, and I’ll throw another … Person who does consulting, because I know you’re so busy, you don’t need new customers. I don’t have to just plug you.
But do you know Kia?
Do you know Kia? Ah, she’s great. So she does it more from the customer angle. Like what is, what do you have to do to think about that customer journey from beginning to end. So back to, I couldn’t agree with you more that everyone has to buy in. But I guess the question is, who should drive this, right? Should this be driven from marketing? Should this be driven from your customer org? Should this be driven by the sales org? Or how do you get all those people together productively to have these meaningful positioning shifts?
Well, think about it this way. Like one way to think about positioning is, positioning is kind of like the input to everything we’re doing in marketing and sales. And to a certain extent, to product. To a certain extent, other parts of the organization. Particularly in marketing and sales. So if I’ve got a marketing team, and they want to go build a campaign, their inputs to that campaign, what does our best fit customer look like? What’s our value proposition? How are we different and better? Who’s our competitor? All these things. These are defined by your positioning.
So I need to get the executive team in alignment around those basic things so that they can be used by marketing and sales as input into the other stuff. So then they can just go off and you don’t have to, you know, be in charge of all of that stuff. They can go and be in charge of their own work. But you need to define the inputs.
Now, the trick on the inputs is, yes, there’s buyer journey. Yes, there’s a lot of different things you can do to collect customer information. But at the same time, in order to define these inputs, you are going to have to define them around what a best fit customer is. So in my methodology, where we start with is you have good fit customers, and you have not-so-good-fit customers. And if I go to the good fit customers, and I ask them, “Look, if Uberflip didn’t exist anymore, like the servers got blown up and Randy was in there and it’s gone, all of it”…
Disaster! We’re shutting it down. Sorry, investors! And then you were to say, “Okay, it doesn’t exist. So now you’ve got to go do something else.” What would you do? And that idea sets what your competitive comparable is. That is the thing that your best customers are comparing you to every single day. That’s the thing you’ve got to bid. It’s the thing you’ve got to beat, I mean. So there’s usually not just one, but there’s also not a hundred of these things. Right? So I start with that, and I say, “Okay, I have competitive comparables. For my best customers, it looks like this.”
Because my positioning, what I’m trying to position for are for my best folks. Not for everybody. I’m trying to position for my best folks. So I start with that. And then I say, “Okay, compared to this, what have I got that they don’t have?” Which is step two, right? So I say, “What do I have that they don’t have?” A lot of companies get that first step wrong. So what they’re doing is they’re starting with value proposition, or they’re starting at some other place on the journey, which is fine, and you’ll get to something. It just might not be differentiated against the thing you actually need to differentiate against.
So I work a lot with start-ups. And a lot of start-ups will tell me, “Hey, our big thing is ease of use. That’s what everyone loves us for. We did a survey, and we asked them, and they said, ‘Oh, we just love how you’re so easy to use.'” And look at all of our other competitors. These nine other little start-ups in Silicon Valley. And it takes 10 clicks to do this thing that we do in 2 clicks, and that’s what we are. We’re all about ease of use.
But then you go and you talk to the customer, and you say, “Oh, terrible disaster has happened. Everything’s blown up. You’ve got to do something else. What would you do?” And the customer looks at you and says, “Uh, I don’t know? Hire an intern? Maybe use a bridge.” Right? And so you know what’s super easy to use? Way easier to use than your thing? A spreadsheet. Or an intern! Like an intern! It’s like, Joey, get me a coffee. While you’re out there, put all that data in that thing and do that thing and then like come back in a couple days when you’ve done that. Super easy to use. So is ease of use your differentiator if that’s what they’re comparing you to? No!
And it might be what they say on the survey when you ask them.
We’re kind of ripping on the companies that don’t do it as well as we could. We want to get some great examples from you, and you’ve got a lot of those in your book, Obviously Awesome, which you’ll have some obviously awesome examples from your Obviously Awesome book. But we’re going to take a quick break here on the podcast, and then April’s going to deliver you some companies that are really lining up, positioning well, or repositioning to understand how to overcome that fear of what they may be. We’ll be right back here on the ConEx podcast.
Hi, friends. This is Jay Baer from Convince & Convert, reminding you that this show, the ConEx Show podcast is brought to you by Uberflip, the number one content experience platform. Do you ever wonder how content experience affects your marketing results? Well, you can find out in the first-ever content experience report, where Uberflip uncovers 8 data science-backed insights to boost your content engagement and your conversions. It’s a killer report, and you do not want to miss it. Get your free copy right now at Uberflip.com/ConExShowReport. That’s Uberflip.com/ConExShowReport.
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Hey, everybody. Welcome back to The Content Experience Show podcast. We are here with April again, and as Randy had previewed right before the break, we are going to talk about some real life examples. Now, April, before we jump into that, one of the things that I think is kind of hilarious and also kind of frustrating, whenever I run workshops or in the past whenever I had done brand strategy, you know, we’d start to talk about aspirational companies or we’d hear about people talking about sort of who they modeled themselves after. And everybody always looks to like the biggest, most aspirational companies ever, like Apple and Coca-Cola. And they start with that sort of framework of how do we get from being a complete start-up all the way up to Apple in like a year.
So what are some actual real-life examples of people who have done positioning correctly, and they’ve actually taken a step back and made it real, or maybe they’ve repositioned themselves in a great way? Something that people can actually look more to a real life example for, say?
Sure. I get questions like this a lot. I think that we like to talk about those famous well-known examples because we can all relate to them. We all have Apple products. We all like to talk about how cool Apple is and-
They’re doing so well!
Oh, yeah, they do it so well. And then you go to conferences, and a lot of the speakers use these same very big brands over and over again as examples. But the reality is, is positioning when you are in an existing market category and you are the leader of that market category is a completely different game than positioning when you’re a small company and you’re trying to challenge that market leader, or you’re at least trying to just get a foothold in a market that is completely dominated by this big competitor that everybody knows.
So in my book, I talk about different styles of positioning and you know, the one where you’re going in and challenging an existing leader in an existing market is called head-to-head, and it almost never works. And even big companies don’t attempt to enter a new market in that way. Whereas most smaller companies, and the companies you know now were small at one point, they didn’t start that way. They started by dominating a subsegment or a little niche in a market and then gradually grew and took over bigger and bigger slices or a bigger and bigger subcategory until they got big enough to challenge the leader there.
The other thing that’s important is that if the category exists, then there’s a set of assumptions around that category that customers have, so if you say, you know, “I’m in this particular market,” customers will assume that you do all the things that the leader does in that market. And you’re a little start-up. You don’t.
I’ll give you an example. So there’s a company here in Canada, and they were founded by two guys that have advanced degrees in mechatronics engineering and they’re kind of robot guys. So when they finished school, they decided they were going to do a company. They were going to make robots, because that’s their passion. And so they started out making robots for different uses, but at one point, they made a robot and it was specifically designed for use inside a manufacturing plant. And what it does is it takes stuff from one part of the manufacturing plant to another. Which it turns out that’s actually a super difficult problem to solve. It involves mapping, sensors, a team of folks doing artificial intelligence.
So this thing is a pretty advanced piece of technology. So they go in to sell it. They’re pretty good at generating leads, and they’re good at getting meetings. But when they get into the meeting, they’re like, “Hey, we got this fancy new robot.” And the reaction from robot buyers in the manufacturing plant was kind of like, “Ugh, robots. Robots. We’ve got robots. We’ve been buying robots for decades, man. We’ve got all kinds of robots.” Not only that, we’ve got robot vendors. They probably do what you guys do, and we know what robots cost, and you guys seem like you’re kind of expensive.
And they’re like, “No, no, no, no, no. We’re not robot like that. We’re like no robot you’ve ever seen before. We’re like special, special robots. We drive around, and we have artificial intelligence, whatever.” And what the buyer is thinking, “No.” They’re thinking of like a robot that sits in one place, that picks up a plastic bucket and puts it in a box over and over and over again. This is nothing like what these guys do. And so they get the sale, but it would take them like four meetings to convince them like, “No, this is not like, no, we’re not one of those. No, it’s not like what those guys sell. No, no, no, this is different.”
And eventually, they decided, “You know what? Maybe this positioning ourselves as a robot isn’t doing us any favors.” And so they took a step back, and they looked at, “What are we really, really good at? What is our secret sauce?” And all the stuff they’re good at, was just, right? The thing drives around. It’s full of artificial intelligence and mapping and sensors. And then they said, “Well, what is that? Like how would we position that in a context where all that stuff is obvious?” And the realization they came to is maybe the thing we built is actually a self-driving car.
And so they repositioned the thing from a robot to an autonomous vehicle for industrial uses. But you position that thing as a self-driving car, and it’s like, of course it drives around. Of course it’s full of mapping and sensors. Of course it costs more money than a thing that picks up a plastic bucket and puts it in a box. Of course our existing robot vendors don’t do this. This is a totally different thing. And so that shift in positioning made all of the stuff they do that’s really different and really awesome obvious just by shifting the context around it. Which is what a good positioning does.
I love that example, April, and you know, the beauty is the way you speak to it is so obvious even as people are listening, which is where a podcast works. The only thing that’s even better when people see you present this is some of the visuals you have that show how the entire company bought into this, which I think comes into that first part you told us wherein the entire executive team is buying into positioning. And some of the visuals if I recall that you have is that they change this, these robots or these self-driving cars to actually have headlights and taillights. It really did nothing but just made it feel more like . . .
Positioning. So it’s really interesting, if you think about this from a marketing perspective, how they executed on that positioning is just genius. So first of all, they switched their website from looking very much like robotics and robot stuff to like, it literally looked like the Toyota website. I mean, it’s like it looks like a car website. It’s all cool. The photography looks like car photography. Like you mentioned, they changed the graphic design of the robot itself. Even the way they named things. Like they had a feature for managing multiple of these robots together, that I forget what it was called before. But they changed the name of that feature to fleet management, because that’s what you’d call it if you were managing a fleet of cars.
And so even their terminology, they renamed the division to auto manufacturing or auto motors because before they were called robotics, and so they had robot right in the company name. And so they changed the name, as well. So I mean, this change actually permeated everything, right? Industrial design, plus marketing, plus the pricing, plus the way they, where they named the features. So things you would consider product things were changed. Yeah, it really does touch everything.
I also love that we now live in a time where robots are a commodity. Like that I think is awesome.
In manufacturing they are. But that drives home the thing too, that you really got to think about your buyers, right?
They’re not a commodity for everybody.
But in manufacturing, they are. And in manufacturing, there’s a person whose job it is just to buy robot stuff.
Yeah, no, I think it’s crazy and awesome, and I love how they transformed it into something that is even like, like I keep getting this vision of like the old school like 40s, 50s, 60s, Disney cartoons about like what the future used to look like. And I’m like, “Oh, we live in that time of that’s like really coming true.” No, I think it’s awesome. I love that example.
So we’ve got just a bit more time, and you know, a lot of this focus and a lot of your focus is on start-ups. But April, you’ve also worked in very large organizations where, as you described it earlier, the contrast to like an Apple, and not that you worked at Apple, but you know, being that leader, what are some of the things that larger organizations can entertain when it comes to a positioning shift? You know, tactics, strategies, that are still, that aren’t going to take a decade to change, right? Because I think that’s the fear that a lot of people listening to this podcast, we have a mix of, of, start-ups probably, but we also have some large companies who are listening to this saying, “Well, we can’t completely change what we are overnight.” How do you go about reinventing yourself, if you will?
Yeah, so, you know, so I did a couple of tours of duty at IBM, and a couple other big companies out in the Valley. And it’s interesting. It’s cool what we could get away with, that you could never get away with if you weren’t huge and the leader in your market. So one thing that we could do very adeptly at IBM that I couldn’t do at other places was I could take an existing market and stretch the boundaries of it almost anywhere if I owned the market. So I could say, “You know what? I completely dominate the market for information integration.” So at one point, you know, when I worked at IBM, we actually created a new market. We launched a bunch of products inside that market. We completely dominated the thing in like a year, and then we, anytime we decided to push the boundaries on it and say, “Oh, yeah. That’s information integration, too.” Everybody would just go, “Great. Okay, now it is.”
Which I could never do at a start-up! And so we were very paranoid about fast-moving, well-funded start-ups creeping along the edges of our market and trying to define that as something different or a different market, and our defensive strategy on that would be to just come in and say, “Nope! That’s part of our market, too. Sorry, little start ups.”
Or buy them.
Yeah, the magic quadrant for that. Whoops! And so we could just defend the gates by essentially redrawing the boundaries of our market. So we were always very conscious of our flanks. You know, we had to defend the base, like the absolute core of the market. But around the edges, we were always looking for fast-moving, innovative start-ups. How they might be able to beat us, and then we had strategies for that. So we’d be like, well, you know, these guys are trying to define this corner of the space as something different. Like in the information integration it got hard.
We had a couple of big-ish companies, like you know, in start-ups, we’d call them big. They were publicly traded, over 100 million revenue. But we’re billions of revenue, right? So we think that’s small. So we’d see them say, oh, ETL, extract transform load, which is what used to be a big market on its own until we decided it was part of the information integration market. Sometimes, those vendors would say, “Oh, ETL is really separate. It is not information integration at all.” And then we would just crunch that.
So we would be in all of our marketing and everything we’d talk about, ETL was like right in the middle of information integration, and then we’d talk about why it was super important to have ETL as part of this bigger thing. And if you were thinking about it separately, you were just plain doing it wrong. And then we’d kill you with a thousand customer examples where they’re using ETL plus five other things, and you’d just be a moron to be doing ETL without the five other things, which by the way, only we can do. Ooh! Ouch! Poor little startups!
And we did that until the ETL folks were like begging for mercy, and then their stock prices went way down, because we were crushing them. And then we bought one of them real cheap and just brought it in. We were like, “See? It’s all part of the big thing. It’s fantastic.” So we can do that in a way. The other thing that you have access to at a bigger company in a way that you don’t when you’re a startup is, depending on what you’re selling, but if you’re selling enterprise software, you have access to industry influencers in a way that a start-up can’t afford and can’t afford to do well.
So for example, if you were in a space where Gartner is relevant and influential with your buyers, there’s so much you can do in analyst relations to get Gartner to deeply understand your stuff. Like, I mean you can kill them with information. You can bring them in. You’d be briefing them super regularly. You can give them super sneak peeks into things. Like, if you saw the way analyst relations works at a very, very big company, it is very difficult for a start-up to be able to give those folks the attention that a big company can. And the more they know about you, the more they write about you, the more they understand your value, the higher they rank you, and so we did great things when I was at IBM in industry relations, because we had a giant team dedicated to doing just that, and we loved those guys so hard until they had to kind of love us back.
And then I really noticed it when I left IBM the first time and went to the smaller company. We were like, “Oh, we do all this great stuff with Gartner Group.” And then it was like, “Yeah, no, we’re not.” Because we don’t have the budget. We don’t have the people. We don’t have the time. And yeah, they’re influential, but you know, I’ve got all these 90,000 other things to do, so I can’t do that either.
The same thing with the publicly traded, right? You have the stock analysts and the people that look at the market and the people that look at the stock exchange and stuff. And again, that’s not, when you’re a privately held company, you don’t have access to any of that stuff. So big global companies can do a bunch of things that the start-ups can’t touch in the same way that the vice versa is if I’m a start-up, I can move 10,000 times faster at a laundry list of things. Like I can create content like a maniac and get it out in a week, whereas I can’t even get an idea to maybe make something approved in a week at IBM.
Nice. I love it.
Oh, I was like, it would take me two weeks to get it through like the branding police. At the end, after the content was done. Two weeks to get it out.
On both sides, there’s things you can do and things you can’t. You just have to work your strengths.
Well, I love how regardless of what side of the table you’re on, or anybody listening is on, you’ve basically given them the framework for like world domination with positioning. So now, it’s just up to everybody to go get the book and check April out. April, where can people follow you, find you, and the name of your book, so that everybody can pick it up.
The book is called Obviously Awesome. And it’s available on Amazon and other online book places. My website’s AprilDunford.com, and you can learn more about my stuff there. And I probably the social network I’m most active on is Twitter. So you can follow me @AprilDunford on Twitter. And then, you know what? You can see me at this great conference that’s coming up. It’s called ConEx. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
A little bit. It sounds a little familiar. Yeah, I think we’ve heard of that one. So everybody go follow April. See her in person at ConEx. Pick up the book. Just go do all of the things after listening to this. April, thank you so much for being here. It was really fantastic having you on. You gave so much amazing insight and tips and tricks to our listeners, but what we want to have you do is stick around for just a few more minutes, because Randy has some fun questions teed up for you. Now that we got to know the professional side of you, we’re going to get to know the personal side.
So everybody stick around. We have just a bit more from April after this.
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All right, April. We have a few more minutes here.
The scary part of the podcast.
Yeah, this is the fun part. I mean, this is the stuff that I usually get to learn about you, because you were stuck in an airport lounge or grabbing a drink, you know. Talking about content.
Every time I’ve flown out of LaGuardia. That stupid terminal, my flight’s three hours delayed. Like, and I’ve been to New York like 15 times this year, and every single time, I’m sitting in that lounge going-
At least they redid that airport though.
It’s not as, it used to be a really bad experience, no offense to New Yorkers. I mean, that old LaGuardia airport.
They’ve got a Shake Shack in there too, so pretty good. But, yes.
I haven’t hit the taco place yet, but that would be my go-to.
No, it’s always too busy. I see it down there, but it’s too busy. But yeah.
Yeah. All right, so we’ve got just a couple things. We talked all about, you know, positioning companies. If you were to position yourself, and it’s interesting, if you go back to the first question that Anna asked you, she said, “Tell us a little bit about yourself.” And you instantly start to talk about your professional life, right? And I think we all do that. I see people do that in interviews that I conduct all the time, for you know, for hiring someone. If someone were to get to know you and you had to create a podcast for it, right, that would, you know, dig into one of your biggest personal interests when you’re not talking about positioning, what would that podcast be about and, you know, any guests that you’d be excited about that you’d just get to interview and get to know and pursue one of your own personal passions?
Yeah, so if like you were doing a podcast on something that was just a general interest, what would that podcast be about?
Well, you know, like, it’s a tricky question to ask mothers of children.
Women don’t actually get a lot of time to just fuck around with stuff.
That’s so true. That’s so true.
I know, right? And so it’s like, oh, I remember when I used to have time, and I had hobbies that weren’t kids.
Right. Like your hobbies are, you know, how do I drive from A to B more efficiently?
Honestly. It’s like, you know, I’ve got to drop this kid. I’ve got to do this thing or whatever. But, yeah, so and my kids are just getting old enough that I feel like I’m getting, you know, reconnected to my not just work and kids self. But it’s not nearly to the level of, like, if you’d asked me that question before I had kids, oh my God, I’d go on and on all the shit I used to do. And like, basically, all that stuff is off my, like that’s why, like, all of it is off my list, except for like I’m a very happy gal if I get a good run in in the morning. I’m like, “Oh, yeah. Today was a good day.”
Honestly, I thought you were going to go with the running after, you know, some of our marathon talks.
Yeah, but I mean, it must be the best thing, because it’s the last thing to come off. It’s the last thing standing of all the other things that I dropped. I used to play golf. I used to like, I used to go out, I used to travel a lot more. I used to eat a lot in restaurants. I used to go out. I used to have all sorts of things. All that shit is gone since I had kids. It’s like, you know, it’s been 10 years since I did any of that stuff.
Yeah, now your personal one would be the people who own these lounges at all the airports and understanding how they create a competitive advantage.
It’s just awful. Although, I will say, I just, I mentioned earlier that I just moved back into my house, and so I’m in the middle of this giant house renovation for like a year, and that’s taken up a lot of cycles. And I got sort of deep into like smart home stuff.
And so there’s a lot of, I’ve got a lot of interesting stuff going on in my house. My house is all wired CAT6 ethernet.
Oh, wow. Yeah. I need to go.
And then the other thing I do is I put a gym in my house. And I’m super excited about that.
Nice. Did you go with the Peloton bike?
So I’m a runner, right? So I want the treadmill.
But they don’t sell it in Canada yet. So I’m literally like hassling the Peloton people. But there is a spot for that treadmill, man. It’s like, I literally refer to the gym as the Peloton room. I’m just waiting for the treadmill to show up, but if it doesn’t show up before the snow flies, then I’ve got to replace it with some other treadmill. But then I’ll just sell that treadmill and get a Peloton when it does ship to Canada. But for some reason, they’re not shipping the treadmill in Canada. It’s bike-only, but I’m not a biker.
Well, there you go. We tried to find it via your podcast, but we learned so much about you just by getting you to go here at the end, which is the whole idea of this podcast, is you know, explore a little bit, get to know our guests, get to know what gets them to tick, and I really think this was a great episode for everyone who’s tuned in today. You know, really, whether you’re coming from a large organization or a start-up, trying to break through, a lot of real actionable ways to take a new look at your positioning and a new look at uniting everyone from the executive team through your organization and make sure that you have the right offering to the right people at the right time so that they buy what you’ve ultimately got.
April, thanks so much. Again, the book is called Obviously Awesome. This has been the ConEx podcast. On behalf of Anna and C&C, I’m Randy at Uberflip, and this has been another episode of the ConEx podcast.