Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
  • Like
The Marketing Ziggurat
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.


Now you can save presentations on your phone or tablet

Available for both IPhone and Android

Text the download link to your phone

Standard text messaging rates apply

The Marketing Ziggurat


Pietro Polsinelli (Open Lab)

Pietro Polsinelli (Open Lab)

Published in Technology
  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
    Be the first to like this
No Downloads


Total Views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds



Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

    No notes for slide
  • Here I want to introduce you to a model, a metaphor, that I found to be useful in working on software marketing.Software marketing for traditional, packaged or “enterprise” solutions has quite established models. But in recent years, there has been an evolution of both the market (consumer and enterprises) and the offering, that has deep impacts on software marketing. Moreover also independently the ideas concerning how to market have evolved, in parallel with marketing changing from a one-way to a two-way communication. From this the need of new models.
  • Some of what I say does not hold for very small niches. Not only software, actually.
  • I think what I say will be clearer and will be easier to put in context (and disagree with) if there is familiarity with these texts:Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore (book a bit old, but will make you meditate on crucial problems)Tribes by Seth Godin (and what followed)If you don’t know them, maybe some things will get clearer later. It happens to me all the time.Ask: how many of you read CtC? How many Tribes or later books by Godin?
  • This model could help with one of the basic problems of startups: time scarcity, which I assume as a fact.You all know that you should fail fast; new product and services ideas can be disproved quickly. So you must prioritize your work. Traditionally it is technical development that dictates priorities: I hope here to show how wrong this is. It took years to me to begin understanding this. What and when things should be done when creating product should be dictated by a schedule based on acquiring different kinds of attention at different times.Example: a certain procedure of your software works, but probably it does not scale to a million users. Do you have a vague idea how you could make it scale? Ok, that is sufficient. Leave it as it is and go to the next problem. You’ll probably fail before getting 1000 users, and for different and harder to solve reasons.Another problem of your startup is **limited resources** - so of course you should have a browser version, ipad, ipone android etc versions of your app always updated, but given that you have to choose - which? well, at which step of (the ziggurat are you?) the evolving relationship with the users are you?
  • Not by technical developments.
  • The model is this: a percolating ziggurat of user groups.A step (gradone) is a user group of similar technology adoption habits. People at lower steps have slower technical adoption habits.The wet zones are those that your communication reached.Notice that water can spring only from the top and goes downwards.Another point of the model is that time exerts a minimal gravity, causing percolation (this is already different from Crossing the Chasm).You presence online, creating articulated contents, its propagation, requires also simply time. A lot of time. Like, 2 years. Also because evolution of the way software is produced and supplied also means that today from the start we have a more refined approach to UI w.r.t. what was done in the 90’s.
  • In which group are you?You likely are all in the top step for what concerns IT adoption. But…Quantidivoihannounamacchina?Quantodivoihannounamacchinaelettrica?Quantodivoihannointenzionedicomprareunamacchinaelettrica come prossimamacchina?Quantidivoihannointenzionedirinunciareallamacchina per un car pooling? Quantidivoihannorinunciato del tuttoallamacchina?
  • Each product has a slightly different ziggurat [do the ones for PM and TW], but many fit in this shape and all have percolation.Laws of percolation:- Percolation goes from top to bottomonce started it goes on even if you don’t do anything more (unless you bring the service down, and even then…)You can diffuse it but it’s hard to sped up
  • You’ve got to stay online for years.
  • as the business grows, also your job changes -> dev, web des, marketer, layer, entepreneur (a point made by balsamiq)
  • That what I was writing was connected to Crossing the Chasm (Ctc) came to my mind after I created the Percolating Ziggurat. But of course it was in the back of my mind.
  • The book is from 1991. The battle he talks about, is still today’s battle. But the scene has changed in part – al least, this is my theory (and practice).Wikipedia, :“Moore begins with the diffusion of innovations theory from Everett Rogers, and argues there is a chasm between the early adopters of the product (the technology enthusiasts and visionaries) and the early majority (the pragmatists). Moore believes visionaries and pragmatists have very different expectations, and he attempts to explore those differences and suggest techniques to successfully cross the "chasm," including choosing a target market, understanding the whole product concept, positioning the product, building a marketing strategy, choosing the most appropriate distribution channel and pricing.”Notice the chasm [baratro].
  • He holds that the mistake many have done (and is a sense I am repeating here) is to assume smooth transition from one segment to the other.To cross the main chasm he believes one must prepare for a specific, targeted battle for gaining a beachhead segment.
  • I won’t go in any detail here, I just assume you are aware of this. Get quickly something “working” to show.Put together something that may deserve attention.For point 2, there is a vast set of mistakes that can be done, also due to misleading marketing literature and concepts starting from Unique Selling Proposition and the whole school that follows that. Won’t go in any detail on that (will at Better Software seminar, future blog post).Will just say by fighting on features, you are adapting to a context where its the others setting the context -> you are going to lose.
  • “Technology enthusiasts”, visionaries? Or press? Today, it is a combination of both. The press that concerns you are early adopters.Press does curation for others. Examines, evaluates.
  • “Talk about it at a local event like this” -> cihannoprovato.
  • That the necessary step. Without it, you’re s****d.Will they talk about your product? Here is a moment (only one) of reality check.I can tell from experience (Patapage).If you reached step 1, you’ve already had one reality checks, e.g. getting a working prototype.Subsequent reality checks will be whether you can go down the ziggurat, but if you don’t pass this step, again, you’re s****d.The press gives you a real-world second test. Two products that failed this step, Bugsvoice and Patapage, we were very much in love with the idea and the technology, but the was no corresponding need out there.As the press is not at all in love with your private idea and technology, and will try to map it to a user’s need.In the case of Licorize, they could easily find the mapping, for several reasons.
  • “The Balsamiq story is really quite addictive”You need to say something really interesting.In our two failed products, we were “in love”. Focused on the technology. But we didn’t have a realistic model of the users.But the press, they have indeed a realistic model of the users, at least of an expanded early adopters segment.
  • But the usual advice is in term of “fight on features”, which is a bad, bad idea.
  • Friends of ours got press with a game, but they gave no way for the tribe to constitute.
  • Even in “The Social Network” we see this at work.
  • This way you can win in the most unlikely situations
  • Detailed examples follow.
  • One thing I believe is that in this new context time helps (CtC does not believe this), because the web does percolate. But it is true that being at the first step and being at the second step are different situations that require different ways to communicate.
  • Important way to get down and wider in the ziggurat is to make others integrate you. This is a great way to get mainstream. We completely missed this opportunity with both our products (Licorize and Teamwork), but others are doing this brilliantly:Evernote, Balsamiq Mockups (actually he started by using only this “piggyback” technique), and in these days Instapaper, which already got mainstream by using this technique.They realized how for from the second step onwards, the existing product infrastructure plays a major role. This a crucial point in the transition from visionaries to pragmatists.Becoming mainstream may simply not be your mission - it is not ours.
  • Online services percolate very slowly. We experience that with Licorize, but for other players of similar size the experience is similar: Amy Hoy with (hear this interesting interview on Mixergy: ) two years to get 10.000 $ month. Given that it is developed by 2, its ok.


  • 1. Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 2. Introduction
    This talk is about a marketing communication metaphor, the Percolating Ziggurat, its relationship with Crossing the Chasm models, and how it relates to the evolving story of the marketing of a software product.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 3. Why new models
    In recent years, there has been an evolution of both the market and the offering, that has deep impacts on software marketing.
    Also the ideas concerning how to market have evolved, in parallel with marketing changing from a one-way to a two-way communication.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 4. Context
    This model is meant for software product creators that are doing something that needs global reach.
    Some of what I say does not hold for very small niches.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 5. Context
    Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore
    Tribes by Seth Godin
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 6. Context
    Basic problem of startups:
    time scarcity, limited resources.
    You all know that you should fail fast.
    Model can help define what to do, when.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 7. Context
    What and when things should be done when creating product should be dictated by
    a schedule based on acquiring different kinds of attention at different times.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 8. The model
    Sometimes a silly visual metaphor can help.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 9. Percolating Ziggurat
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 10. The model
    People at a step are a set of potential customers who have a common set of needs or wants or potential to have new similar needs that reference each other when making a try / buy decision.
    (Adapted from CtC).
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 11. Percolating Ziggurat
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 12. Percolation
    The force of indexing and social propagation. Today there is “gravity”, a intrinsic force of the Internet.
    Social and SEO gravity induces percolation. Percolation is slow, and drop by drop.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 13. Communication changes
    What and how you should communicate changes in function of the Ziggurat step at which you are.
    Creating relationship with users is pursued with different means in function of which kinds of users you are talking with.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 14. Crossing the Chasm
    Comparing CtC model with today’s situation can help understanding the Percolating Ziggurat idea.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 15. Crossing the chasm – very short version
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 16. Crossing the chasm – very short version
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 17. Crossing the chasm – very short version
    Innovators pursue new technology products aggressively.
    Early adopters are not technologists but buy products very early in the product lifecycle.
    Early majority relate to technology but need practical hooks.
    Late majority need to see other using it.
    Laggards are hopeless
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 18. From Gaussian to Ziggurat
    The ziggurat is the Gaussian of CtC turned by 90° and using different techniques (also no techniques) for easing percolation.
    Crossing the Chasm is not a discrete process, because of the evolution of communication.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 19. Step 0: having something to show
    Enough models: lets get into details and see more examples
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 20. Before approaching the first step people
    Before trying to get the attention of the people of the first step, you must have something that may get attention.
    What can get attention is not necessarily a finished, perfectly working, fully tested product. A home made video of a mockup in some cases may be enough.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 21. Before getting to the first step people
    Most product ideas never pass step 0: they never get anything that can be presented.
    Or better: that gets presented.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 22. Step 1: attempting to enter the ziggurat
    Now we try to let the world know about our product / prototype.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 23. Entering the ziggurat
    What is the top of the ziggurat composed of?
    How do you enter the top of the ziggurat?
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 24. Entering the ziggurat
    Start a blog
    A tweet channel
    A page on Facebook
    Tell your friends
    Talk about it at a local event like this
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 25. Entering the ziggurat
    * Unless a miracle...
    What you need is…
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 26. Entering the ziggurat
    “That's the press, baby, the press. And there is nothing you can do about it.”
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 27. Entering the ziggurat
    Seems obvious – for many its not so.
    The press- its scary.
    Win the fear and write.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 28. Entering the ziggurat
    Fearful because it is (a second) reality check.
    Examples from my experience:
    Bugsvoice – Fail
    Patapage -> Fail
    Licorize -> Passed
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 29. And what IS the press?
    A blog with 5000 loyal followers in a field connected to what you dealing with can be more effective than a little blurb on Wired.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 30. Build a marketing story for the press
    Writing to the press is OK, but write about what?
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 31. Marketing stories
    “Potential customers cannot buy what they cannot name”
    Journalists cannot write about something that has no novelty: you’ve got to serve them the concepts, the story, the novelty. A new feature is not a novelty.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 32. Marketing stories
    “Most people resist selling but enjoy buying”.
    If you manage to define the buy situation, victory is in your hands.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 33. Create the story
    You have to define an original context, inhabited not by your product, but by users. Once you created this story, here comes your product that saves all.
    You can also put in the story an evil, cunning wolf – the competitor – that does not fit well in the story, in today’s (fictional) happy life of the users. Your product, instead, fits perfectly.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 34. Marketing stories
    Example: With Licorize, we started telling the users (the press) again and again that their bookmarks are precious, that they have ideas that they should not lose.
    There is Delicious, of course, but the context is lost, the app is old, it integrates nothing, needs have evolved…
    And Licorize, in this story context, is your help, your savior.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 35. Marketing stories
    Teamwork “Alternative to Microsoft Project” – we tell a completely different story about managing work.
    Licorize “Beyond Delicious”
    This somehow puts you on the same status level of the competitor you are referring to. Referring to a well-known competitor, which in your story looks old and grumpy validates you, which is what lower level users need.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 36. First steps examples that worked and that didn’t
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 37. Didn’t work: Patapage
    Monday, March 28, 2011
    We were in love with the idea and the technology – but we had a wrong picture of the market i.e. of user needs. The idea was cool. Nobody needed it.
    We were so happy to introduce discontinuous innovation that we didn’t really ask whether anybody would be interested in it.
  • 38. Didn’t work: Bugsvoice
    We were in love with the idea and the technology – but we had a wrong picture of the market i.e. of user needs. The idea was cool. Nobody needed it.
    We were so happy to introduce discontinuous innovation that we didn’t really ask whether anybody would be interested in it.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 39. Did work: Licorize
    Monday, March 28, 2011
    First time that we started from imagining a need. Not a need of developers like us. Needs of web marketers bookmarking. Way, way simpler needs w.r.t. the convoluted product ideas we had before.
  • 40. Did work: Licorize
    Result: 50 positive reviews (by meaningful sites) in 90 days, thousands of tweets. And they both keep coming.
    Reviewers fell in love with the story – which we had written for them.
    Also a bit of luck helped – Delicious crisis.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 41. Second step: getting to early adopters
    Having got some water at the first step, you have just started, not finished.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 42. False impression
    After the first step, this is something I told at an internal meeting:
    “One may get the false impression that we are done with Licorize. Technically, we probably almost are. But communication wise, we surely are not.”
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 43. Stuck at the first step
    Being stuck at the first step is not great: lots of promises and few results.
    “fame and famine”
    How to figure your way into mainstream?
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 44. Stuck at the first step
    My point is to focus on changing communication, not on sales.
    Achieving a few forced sales to visionaries does not alter the basic problem of Crossing the Chasm percolating to the second step.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 45. Why a story can help also the second step to start going
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 46. Story for the second step
    “Resistance from inertia can come from commitment to status quo, fear of risk, lack of a compelling reason to buy.”
    Again the story idea can help you out of this. Maybe a new story.
    With a story you can also define the contest of your competition. By telling a good story, its you establishing the context.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 47. Story for the second step
    You have to distinguish:
    actions that increase (or create) conversion
    actions that keep you visible - though the two things are not completely separate
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 48. Down the ziggurat
    How to appeal to non-technologists?
    The story, amplified and enriched by the press, will help a lot, because a wide spectrum of people can understand it. A feature based approach here will not help, instead, and this is likely one of the causes of failure to cross.
    The power of “word of mouth” has been greatly extended by “word of Twitter”.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 49. Down the ziggurat
    Important way to get down and wider in the ziggurat is to make others integrate you.
    Evernote, Balsamiq Mockups (actually he started by using only this “piggyback” technique), and in these days Instapaper, which already got mainstream by using this technique.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 50. Another line of change in time: user’s application’ life
    Monday, March 28, 2011
    Here too we must provide different kinds of interaction and support to our customers.
  • 51. Down the ziggurat
    Online services percolate very slowly. Amy Hoy with
    Took two years to get 10.000 $ month. Given that it is developed by 2, its ok.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
    You can help gravity. Somehow.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 53. Use creativity to replace budgets
    To maintain the percolation and diffusion is a continuous battle. That is why being a startup as a side project does not work.
    You need full time dedication: new ideas, experiment and flexibility are the only thing that can beat budgets.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 54. Help gravity
    First step:
    • Create a press kit page on your site
    • 55. Give away licenses / Premium access (gave 1600 for Licorize)
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 56. Help gravity
    access to press can open other small doors, like having a product page on Wikipedia
    Show somehow that you are a market leader, or are becoming one:
    “pragmatists care about the company they are buying from”
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 57. Help gravity
    • Create documentation / videos / tutorials
    • 58. Supply several mapping models
    • 59. Provide localizations
    • 60. Run on “other” devices, browsers, machines.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 61. Help gravity
    “Used by Oracle” becomes more important (for some) than reviewed by Lifehacker.
    Going down the ziggurat, you need to give more certainties. That is why you should move from FAQ to user guide, from a flashy video giving the idea to one that shows it working in detail
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 62. Step definitions depends on the product’s nature
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 63. Games, micro-payments
    The “battle” technique can hardly be applied to games with micro-payments. Its all percolation there.
    For games there is no fight to replace other applications, the figth is for who will get the next layering.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 64. Early adopters may be enough
    Consider Minecraft: doing nothing for going down the ziggurat. Using gravity and word of mouth.
    Transparency is highly appreciated.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 65. 1,000 True Fans
    “A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce.”
    Depends on the industry.
    Monday, March 28, 2011
  • 66. The Ziggurat Plan
    Make a Ziggurat Plan (not a business plan) -> how am I going to pass this step.
    A blog post with PPT will be online at
    Booklet of links:
    Monday, March 28, 2011