Don't differentiate your business just on product features

It’s so hard to differentiate your business on just product features alone. 

You need a strong story that makes your brand stand out. 

What I love about Andy Raskin’s (you probably read his “best sales deck ever”) marketing narrative is how it can convert your future customers into aspiring heroes. 

Here’s how:

1. Identify how the world you are in has changed (like proprietary software - SaaS; Livechat - 24/7 chatbots) 

2. Find out what’s stopping your customers from reaching their goals in the world that has changed. Name the enemy. 

3. Show how your customers can win in the new world (without presenting your product directly)

4. Now you can talk about your features and how they help a customer reach a promise land.

5. And always, always, always present social proof. Testimonials, reviews online or even how your product features helped your internal teams.

This is a much stronger approach then talking about “why us” slide in each demo. 

Sergey Ross
Interviewing in a conversational way

What I find especially difficult in interviewing guests for my podcast is making it truly conversational, yet also deliver insights to the listeners. 

When a guest is speaking, making a split second decision: ask a contextual question or a pre-planned one? 

Go further and did deeper hoping to uncover an insight or settle for a surface level answer?

Really listen to what a guest is saying instead of thinking where to take the conversation next?

Interviewing is a skill. It’s learnable. And I need to improve on it. 

Sergey Ross
Youtube as a way to learn

I remember having a chat with Dave Gerhard (VP of marketing at Drift) when he and DC came to Toronto in 2018 about how he learns new marketing stuff… (besides books) 

…and he said it along the lines of “those videos on Youtube that get 10 views, that’s where the insights are”. 

I usually listen to them at 1.75x and download offline (on my Android). 

YouTube the topic you want to learn more about and try it. 

You just might learn way more than you expect.


Sergey Ross
Where do I get new marketing insights? 

Most of the time it’s Youtube. 

For example 95% of what I learned about Hubspot CRM and automation workflows came from Youtube and not Hubspot content academy (although it’s really good). 

Why? 

You get practical insights from people who already executed something.

It’s different than theory that I see on lots of blogs. 

For example brilliant lectures on product marketing from Gerardo Dada (CMO at DataCore) who was doing it for decades have only 500 views. 

The value you get from this content doesn’t stop to surprise me.


Sergey Ross
Don't discount your work

Don’t give discounts to clients. It devalues your work. 

This is something I learned after being a marketing consultant for the last 11 months. 

If a client wants a discount and they leave because they didn’t get it, it’s not a good client. 

Clients who understand your value and are willing to pay for it are often the best fit. 

They will hire you again, refer you, give you testimonials. 

It pays off to get the right client and have a no discount policy.

Sergey Ross
Give your best work away for free

It’s okay to give your best work away for free.

With zero expectations in return.

When you give give give like a true artist (Seth Godin’s term) you make positive impact on people, you stand out, you build your legacy.

Does it devalue your work?

No.

You are making an impact on other lives because you choose to.

It reinforces your values.

You can (and should) charge a lot for the work you do, but that’s different from giving something for free.

Do it over a few years and watch the results.

Sergey Ross
Do you really want it?

When you think about achieving something in 5 or 10 year periods there is very little competition.

Thinking this way gives you a lot of leverage.

There is enough time to fail, try out new approaches and slowly gain mastery.

But do you really want it?

Sergey Ross
Set bold goals, start small

Be bold about your goals, but start small.

Starting small is undervalued because everyone wants it now.

Starting small allows you to build a habit of doing your new thing consistently over a long period of time (years).

Compounding effect takes place and the end result is something that is hard to imagine when you are at day one.

Everyone can put out 5 posts a day on Linkedin for a month. Or work 14 hours a day for 6 months. And then stop.

The mistake I made when starting new projects is setting my expectations too high, too early.

As I went further with working on my new project it got harder to justify spending loads of time on it so I stopped.

Those who keep going win.

Sergey Ross
LinkedIn Feed is broken

LinkedIn Feed is broken.

Most of LinkedIn users have hundreds or thousands of connections.

But there is no way to follow updates from your closest connections.

Why can't you prioritize them?

The more people you have in your network, the more cluttered and devalued the feed becomes.

Sergey Ross
You have to be an artist

If you want to be successful in your career you have to be an artist.

There is no other way.

Doesn’t matter what career you pursue or how much competition is around.

You have to make yourself indispensable.

I am a big fan of Seth Godin’s book “Linchpin” that talks exactly about that. If you haven’t read it (and it’s a must read),

I made a quick recap of the 5 essential lessons from Seth.

If you’d like to listen, get it here.

Sergey Ross
What is the one thing are you willing to die for?

What is the one thing are you willing to die for?

Will Smith has an amazing quote: "If we get on a treadmill together you will get off first or I will die".

In my chat with brilliant Adam Lacombe (Director of Marketing at CrowdRiff), I asked this question and he eloquently responded by saying, ”do you want to be on that treadmill in the first place?

You have to answer that for yourself".

Everyone must have a treadmill that no one can defeat us on.

The one we will fight for.

What's yours?

Sergey Ross
Experience or potential in hiring?

Do you hire for experience or potential?

What is amazing to me is seeing how many organizations in Toronto are just looking for experience in marketing and don't even try to consider potential.

Not many people bet on the mindset and attitude.

It's a risk.

The biggest "hiring insight" I've ever heard was from David Cancel (CEO of Drift).

"10x people are almost never going to fit into some preconceived job description you have. Usually people who are 10x are not coming in through the normal process and don't fit into the normal role. There is something off about them, there is something weird".

Sergey Ross