I speak with a lot of companies and startups who are in the process of trying to transform their traditional outbound marketing practices (i.e. cold calls, email blasts, advertisements) to inbound marketing practices where they can "get found" by customers through Google, social media sites, and the blogosphere.
It turns out that this step-by-step Inbound Marketing process works best when you have a remark able product to sell, so it makes sense to make step (0) be the process of creating a remark able product or service offering.
Ten years ago you needed to spend gobs of money on ads and PR to spread the word about your great new product, but today's lower friction environment allows you to spread the word much more easily and cheaply. However, if your product is not remarkable today, all the PR and ads in the world won't make your product a success -- it will languish unfound.
So, how do you come up with that remarkable strategy? Here are a couple of ideas on how you might want to think it through.
1. Go Narrow: The great thing about the internet is that it opens you up to tons of potential customers, but the bad thing is it opens you up to tons of potential competitors. Whole Foods is a great example of going narrow in that they sell a subset of what other grocery stores sell at higher prices, but they focus on organic food. Despite not having nearly the selection of other grocery stores (i.e. they don't sell lobsters in the one in Boston near my house!), they are thriving while others are suffering in that market.
2. Boundary Buster: Sometimes you are better off thinking outside the box re your battlefield to include not just competitors, but also "alternatives" to your product and to innovate across boundaries. A great example of a boundary breaker is the iPod which looked beyond the MP3 player to the end-to-end experience of buying music and enjoying it with an MP3 player.
3. "Skate To Where The Puck Is Going": This is Wayne Gretsky's famous expression of why he was such a great hockey player and it is how great marketers think. A great recent example of this is Zipcar who recognized that more and more people were moving into cities and needed a whole new whole new model for car transportation that did not involve expensive parking. Despite their basically being another car rental company, their model is hard for Hertz/Avis/etc to replicate and has resulted in a recent IPO filing.
4. Business Model Innovation Is Better: Many companies focus too much on technology innovation and don't think enough about business model innovation. Many of the recent big winners have been unique business models, such as Salesforce.com who revolutionized how you buy and consume software as well as eBay and Google who both figured out how to put auction models to work to create huge companies.
If you need more advice on how to create a remark able product strategy that will spread with least amount of friction using Inbound Marketing, read chapter 3 of our Inbound Marketing book which is officially available in Amazon , Barnes & Noble, and Borders stores throughout the country as of today .
The book also talks about how to flawlessly execute the step-by-step process of marketing your product once you have crafted a remark able strategy. The book illustrates Inbound Marketing through great case studies from companies like 37Signals, Whole Foods, Freshbooks, Kiva, Constant Contact, etc.
If you want a realtime example of how we here at HubSpot create remarkable strategy, have a look at our announcement of our $16 million financing round where we peel back the covers a bit on how we create remarkable product strategy (hint: we use methods 2, 3, and 4).