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Tilting the Clouds to Abundance - Beating Your Competition with Value

How to win the go-to-market battle without a fight

In his seminal work 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Steven Covey introduces a concept of an Abundance Mindset, Wikipedia describes it like this:

Covey coined the idea of abundance mentality or abundance mindset, a concept in which a person believes there are enough resources and success to share with others. He contrasts it with the scarcity mindset (i.e., destructive and unnecessary competition), which is founded on the idea that, if someone else wins or is successful in a situation, that means you lose; not considering the possibility of all parties winning (in some way or another) in a given situation.

When we apply this idea to our Cloud Go To Market Positioning, Messaging and execution, we begin to see our opportunities in a whole new way, and drive an execution that can surprise even our most optimistic expectations.

In my Viewpoint, Value, Velocity or V3 High Impact Go To MarketModel,  Value is the articulation of our winning business benefits that we use to move potential customers from awareness to purchase ready.  Once we get their attention with our Viewpoint, we need to rapidly move to captivating them with our communication of our Unique Value.

Value definition: The Business benefits that a solution delivers for which customers are will to pay both real and opportunity costs to acquire.  Unique Value is a value which only comes from us, not other alternatives in the market.

So, what are the three steps to articulating Unique Value, and using it to sneak up on and beat our competitors without them even knowing it

1) Adopt an abundance mindset.   The abundance mindset simply says that we view our market not as a competitive dog fight for a finite and scarce amount of business but as an unlimited landscape of opportunity.  When we do this, we change our perspective from one of battle to one of maneuver and our focus from better to different.  (You do need to know that I am a fiercely competitive person, but the when we adopt an abundance mindset, we compete more like a Judo master than a boxer)

2) Invest the time and energy to do the mechanics of building out our Value and its articulation in powerful messaging and positioning.  We do this by starting with an honest assessment of our uniqueness and our Unique Value.  We do this by completing the Venn Diagram here and then using it to drive well documented and customer validated positioning and messaging.

Finding Unique Value

Viewpoint Can Tilt the Playing Field

A Quick Case Study:
Palo Alto Networks provides an excellent example of this Unique Value in action.  Security folks have long recognized that Firewalls were providing less and less protection as more and more network traffic went over the Web protocol (Nearly all Firewalls have allowed Web traffic through, it's as if you’re door to your office let anyone dressed in a business suit in without regards to their intent).  But it took Palo Alto Network's courage to step out and say, “The Firewall is Broken” (Viewpoint) and we can fix it with these 3 key protection features, etc, etc.   Did this anger customers who were writing hundreds of millions in checks to Checkpoint, McAfee, Juniper and Cisco, some yes, but others apparently not, as it soon becomes clear.

At the time of their initial launch, I was running Network Security marketing for Secure Computing, now part of McAfee.  I can remember the product manager telling me that “Palo Alto is nothing but a web filtering box, it’s not a real firewall”  Fast forward 4+ years and Palo Alto Networks has disrupted a stagnant market, grown from nothing to over $500M in revenues, and is expected to be one of the largest tech IPOs of 2012.

So while McAfee, Checkpoint, and others fought over the percentage points  of share in the old Firewall market, Palo Alto titled the playing field, articulated their Unique Value and executed with excellence, and as we speak, they are eclipsing the the old market, being chased by the rest. Sure the others have noticed now, but it just may be too late.

As an aside, your best sales reps are usually the "canary in the coal mine" to tell you if the market is being tilted on you.  I vividly remember a sales manager in my office saying, “We need an answer to Palo Alto” and me saying, “Really, what are they,  $10M out of $3B right now, let's keep our on on the real competition?” Boy oh boy, I got that one wrong indeed!

More Stories By Ken Rutsky

Ken Rutsky is a Product and Service Marketing Consultant, and has spent 20+ years in the industry, launching his first Internet services while at Netscape from 1995-99. Since then, he has been CMO at several start-ups and ran Network Security Marketing at McAfee. Ken launched McAfee's Secure Web Protection Service, and his time as a consultant has included the launch of Nimsoft's Nimsoft On Demand service. Today, he is laser-focused on helping ISVs and start-ups understand how to bridge from the world of products to SaaS Services with their mindset, organization and go-to-market tactics. Follow him on Twitter @jayrutz, on Linkedin at http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenrutsky, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/KJR-Associates/224894750772.

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