I've been the Product Marketing Manager at Nuxeo for almost a year now, and have been fortunate enough to work with a talented team. We've done a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes work, and we have a lot to say, so it seems like the right time to start the Marketing Blog. As luck would have it, I have a great first blog topic: the recent Business of Software conference in Boston.

I was out to lunch a couple of weeks ago with our CEO, Eric Barroca, when he realized that he had a scheduling conflict and couldn't go to the first day of the Business of Software conference. RP at the RT - I got to use his pass.

It was a day full of top-notch speakers and great conversations and the energy of so many startup gurus gathered in one place. Here are some highlights:

Seth Godin offered insight into the transformation of the software business. Today's software business is about creating connections among people. That wasn't true 10 years ago. People like to belong to "tribes" with others who share an interest.
Marketing management is now about tribal leadership, and the CMO has become the Chief Movement Officer.

David Russo, VP of HR for 19 years at the SAS Institute, examined the "DNA Stew" that is company culture. He suggests that hiring and keeping engaged employees is about finding people who are a good fit in your culture. The hiring process is not just about skill sets, it's about finding a good fit for the team. Building a company is building a tribe. (seems to be a theme here …)

Dharmesh Shah, founder and CTO of HubSpot, told us "Don't make customers happy. Make happy customers." Hubspot operates on a subscription revenue model, so customer retention is of the utmost importance. To measure this, they calculate a Customer Happiness Index, or CHI, on a scale of 1 to 100. This leads to a measurable prediction of the probability that any given customer, given the opportunity to cancel, will.
Speaking of customer focus - and I love this part - Hubspot has an empty chair in management meeting rooms designated for the customer. After a while, the customer was represented by a teddy bear named Marketing Molly.
Another key point that is important for open source software: Free is not about tricks and traps. The challenging is to get a higher percentage of customers to move from free to paid. Customer triumph results in them switching, not tricks.

Eric Ries
, author, speaker and consultant at the Lean Startup, tells us that most startups fail. Achieving failure can mean "we successfully implemented the plan, but there were no customers to support it." So, what do you when you have failed to execute? You claim to have learned something.
Much-tweeted nugget of truth: "The whiteboard is a magic, fact-free zone."

Scott Farquhar
, Co-Founder and CEO of Atlassian, started his company in 2002. Enterprise software with an enterprise sales force was the only model at the time. They were in Sydney, and couldn't do that.

Business Model Evolution

  • No $ for sales team? must sell itself
  • Sell itself? must be low price
  • Low $? must sell 000s of copies
  • 000s of copies? must sell globally

Gem: "You are your own best customer. We use our own products." (So do we.)

Jason Cohen, Founder of Smart Bear Software, retraced how he waded through an ocean of startup advice to find his own approach.
Key takeaway: advice has context. When he followed Pro Blogger's "Rules of Blogging" that define frequency/length etc of blogs, he had a following of about 400 people. When he blogged the way that felt right to him, his following grew to about 17,000 in one year. The Lesson? Pro Blogger had a goal of getting more impressions. That was not Jason's goal.
What if they're both right? None of the rules make or break the blog.
The same is true for a startup.

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Admittedly, I have my own marketing perspective. These talks were all inspirational, but mostly I retained the nuggets of marketing wisdom. There are several that I am going to use at Nuxeo in the next few weeks.

After all, isn't good marketing about being in the right place at the right time?

-- Jane Zupan / @JaneZupan