Look what I made! A podcast!
I decided today to go into the “podcast business.”
Well, I decided to give podcasts a try, anyhow.
Here, I’ll let Joe Hage tell you all about it. Embellished transcript below for readers and our site-crawling overlords. Enjoy!
Today’s topic is when do you need marketing?
So I wrote a friend of mine, who is the managing director of a boot camp for startups, an incubator. I mentioned I had talked with Lance Black, Medical Device Innovation Lead for the Texas Medical Center, the largest hospital system in America. Lance told me his candidates get help from mentors.
And I thought, Okay, well, that probably means when you need someone who knows such a thing, you try to get that person on the phone and arrange a time when you guys could talk.
And I thought, what if there were a more dedicated resource for that?
What if I were to put together a package of some kind and offer a suite of marketing and strategy services? Would that be appealing?
I mentioned this to Allan, saying, “I’ve been tossing around the idea of being a resource to companies and incubators. Here’s my pitch. Tell me if it will resonate with you as “Incubator Man.”
Marketing Strategy Counsel
The concept: Entrenched, deeply available marketing strategy and communication counsel for program participants.
Benefit: A part-time yet highly available and committed resource (namely, me) can support candidates more reliably than mentor volunteers with spotty availability.
The package would/could include:
- Direct access. Participants would join a dedicated Slack channel on which I could be reached any time, every day.
- Generous availability. Participants could schedule time on my constantly updated calendar. We could agree on hours; say, 10 per month?
- Team Meetings. An hour each week when I “sit” in my virtual office, walk-ins welcome. No appointment necessary, a dedicated GoToMeeting link.
- In person. One visit per program to include formal training day(s)?
- Online training materials. I’m creating a 16-hour medical device marketing course which could be made available for all participants.
Investment: Subject to scope and discussion. ($4995 per six-week session? Alternate proposals welcome.)
Editor’s Note: What do YOU think of that offer? Would it make sense for your company or incubator?
Allan said no.
For early stage companies, probably not. At that stage, they are trying to bring a concept to reality. And they’re more concerned with regulatory prototyping and the like.
They’re not permitted to market yet. That type of help would be valuable at the stage where they can actually take the product to market, which is typically post-accelerator, it would be more valuable then, if you ask me.
The biggest value to entrepreneurs and programs would be business development help, being able to get in front of the decision makers for the hospital goals and other health care facilities is what they all want.
Allan said, strategy and marketing (this is my interpretation) is the stuff of “when we have the product ready.”
“When we have the product ready?”
I wrote back saying I vehemently disagree. And I gave him this link.
I said, if people think the perception as soon as they heard the word ‘marketing’ is, “We don’t need that until we have a product,” that’s valuable insight to me.
It’s one with which I vehemently disagree. But that’s valuable insight in terms of how people perceive the concept of marketing.
And so maybe, as a marketer, I need to reposition the offer itself.
So I referred Allan to an article I wrote back in July of 2019 called “Need a job? Distribution? Money? Do this first.” It’s a six-minute read. I spent at least six hours on it.
“I get asked the same questions all the time.
Joe, I’m looking for a position and or I’m looking for new clients for my consultancy. Do you know of any opportunities for me?
Joe? I’m looking for sales representatives, 1090 nines or distributors to sell our products? Can you introduce me?
Joe? I’m looking for a source of financing. I’d be willing to license it. I would even consider selling the IP. Can you help?”
And I write, “From now on, I’ll be able to point my inquisitors here, it should save everyone a lot of time.
Let’s start with supply. Remember supply and demand?
Each of these involve supply.
• For a job, you can supply a human being to do a task. Namely, you.
• Distribution, you can supply a product to people who sell products.
• For money, you can supply an investment opportunity to investors.
Let’s talk about demand for your product.
You want someone to sell or distribute your product or service. It’s not going to be easy.
Years ago, I asked distributors, how I could help manufacturers seeking distribution. And back came the sobering but enlightening reply.
“We carry thousands of products for us to consider carrying a new product, it has to have three things. One, it has to be noteworthy. We don’t need more me two products to support. It needs to come with solid marketing support and training. We can’t expect our reps to know everything about every product, we carry. Three, profit, there has to be a healthy margin, and reasonable sales volumes for us to even consider it.
1. It can’t be “me-too.”
2. You need to support it.
3. And I need to make money.
I ask, “Can you deliver all these? If not, I don’t know anybody that can help you.”
And I list a whole bunch of comments that people have shared about this article. And I share a list of distributors publicly listed on the HIDA.org website.
And I say if you can’t supply the three things being noteworthy, having support, and being profitable, no one’s going to carry you. It won’t matter. Don’t bother to spend any money doing it.
I’ll talk about demand to finance you demand for your investment opportunity. You want someone to invest in your company, I know you know, it’s hard.
The alternative to giving you money for your investment, is spending my money on anything – jelly beans, a stock, retirement, my son’s education, a vacation, anything I could spend money on.
I say we recently covered this topic at “Want my money? Fill this out.” which includes a download and video advice from people much smarter than I on the topic. It includes a list of top venture capital firms and you can download it.
The punchline: Marketing First!
So what do all of these have in common? Something very marketing related how you position your offer.
And this goes back to the reason why I picked up the microphone today. And responded the way that I did to Allan’s reply about with the services I provide, to be helpful to a whole class.
I do what I do all the time. And it’s usually one on one. I record a lot of it.
As time permits, I repackage it and share it with you. I mean, a bleep out the names of the relevant things. But if there’s an insight worth sharing, I can repackage it.
But one of the time is just so scalable, and there’s only one of me. So the concept was, how about “one too many?”
And, again, his reply was yet not until they have a product.
I began today with questions people ask me: They all start, “I am looking for….”
Unfortunately, no one cares what you are looking for. (I care but that’s not the point.)
They care about WIIFM, what’s in it for me? So I invite you to frame your need in the context of what’s in it for them. And here’s the formula,
are the [what is the frame of reference]
that [what is the benefit]
because [how you support that claim].
If you’re listening in the car, I don’t expect you to write it down. And it’s deceptive, deceptively hard to fill in those five blanks. Because oftentimes, I can read those sentences with you filling in the blanks and say, “So?”
And “Is it compelling enough for me to stop what I’m doing? And listen? Is it urgent to me and my urgently looking for this solution?”
If not, I don’t have time for it.
In fact, I’m grateful you’re taking any time listening to this, you could be listening to something else.
Everything has an opportunity cost. And to have the privilege of speaking with you now is something I don’t take lightly. So again, thank you.
But that’s the case with your product or service, I don’t have to listen to what you have to say. I don’t have to pick up your messages.
I can fast forward through commercials, I can decide what I’m going to watch on Netflix without interruption.
Remember, your value proposition has to be so compelling, it forces your prospect to act…
… your distributor, or the person that they want me to introduce them to at the hospital? Or the person that they want to influence, or…, or…, or….
For me to do that would be silly. I mean, I’m not going to call up my friend and say “Hey, Bill. This guy needs money. I know you have money. So I told him call you.”
Bill would be, like, please don’t ever do that again.
If I called distributors that I know, and I say, “Hey, I got a guy who has a product, he wants to find distributors. So I told him to call you and use my name.”
The guy would be, like, please don’t do that.
Because I don’t know what he has. I don’t know if it would fit.
I, Joe Hage, don’t know what’s in it for them.
Because I haven’t spent enough time with you: The incubator, the company, the client, whatever, to understand precisely, what is your value proposition that is so compelling that the person you want me to reach agrees and is grateful that I put the two of you together?
So do I know anybody? Almost invariably, yes. Yes, I do.
But I won’t be introducing you.
Because for me to do that, and be fair to them, and to represent you well, I would have to really understand what you do. And that’s not a 10-minute phone call.
Because I’m going to ask you again and again. And I’m going to iterate and I’m going to iterate and I’m going to say,
> Can I say it like this?
> Can I say it like that?
> Why is that important?
> Why would they do that?
> Who’s the decision maker?
> How many influencers are there?
> What else is on their plate?
A score of questions that so I can tell your story in terms anyone can understand.
To emphasize my point about time
You. You listening to this podcast right now?
I’d like you to call me today. I’ll give you my number. It’s 917-405-3017. That’s my actual cell phone number.
Call from a mobile phone, because I’m going to send you a message that says, “Sorry, I don’t recognize this number. Who is this please?” At which point you can text back to me and say, “Oh, I listened to your podcast,” and that will thrill me.
Anyhow, for the 99% of you who heard that and smiled?
You’re not going to call me, are you? You’re not going to call me.
What will we talk about? Or, “Yeah, I really could use your help, but I don’t think I can afford you.”
Or, “Oh, wow, look at that guy. He has such a following. He just gave me his cell phone number, I can call him. Let me put that on my list of things to do.”
If anyone has gotten to this point in the recording after they phoned me, I would be shocked.
Again, that number is 917-405-3017. I don’t expect any phone calls – but surprise and delight me.
The fact is, you have things going on today and calling Joe Hage wasn’t one of the things on your list.
What’s on your list, picking up a child taking care of an ailing parent, doing the hundred things that are on your list of things to do at work, because you’re understaffed and we do more with less these days.
I’ll wrap with saying this. Dear Allan who said, “Yeah, they don’t really want to talk about marketing and strategy until after they have a product that they can put in front of the people. They’d like you to introduce them.”
I say, they thinking about it wrong.
They need someone to challenge them to shape their value prop and how they communicate it.
> Who cares?
> Will they actually pay for it?
> What’s involved in switching?
> Is there an operational cost of training people?
If you don’t have this level of rigor in your value prop, stop developing.
Boy, do I know a lot of people who raised a lot of money, had a fantastic idea, and failed.
And as my wife can tell you, boy, did we lose a lot of money on one of them. (That’s a topic for another podcast.)
So do you need marketing strategy and communications?
Well, communications, what is that all about? It’s simply a fancy word saying ‘telling your story.’
It doesn’t mean you need a website now.
It doesn’t mean you need a brochure to get ready for a trade show.
It doesn’t mean a laundry list of things that people associate with marketing, like email blasts, that’s not what I’m talking about.
Marketing is presenting your value proposition in a compelling way. So someone cares.
So Allan, I would advise you to go back to those folks and say, “I know a guy who can help you tell your story. So you can be effective and challenge you to make sure that your value proposition is worth you working on it.”
Just as I’m saying for marketing right now, do the same thing with engineering, or the regulatory person you trust, who says, “Look, this will never get by FDA? What are you doing then?”
So do that rigorous exercise with every functional person that could possibly touch your product along value chain.
Want to be on a future podcast?
If you’d like to be a guest, and just have a conversation like this one for a future podcast, email me.
I hope you enjoyed podcast number one.