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Beyond Product, Born to Write Podcast, Jill Soley

Jill Soley – Start Up Marketing for Non-Marketers – 048

The Author of Beyond Product Reveals Marketing Secrets

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Jill Soley is the author of Beyond Product. She talks about how exceptional founders embrace marketing to create and capture value for their business. She is currently the Head of Product for Cloverpop,a startup company helping companies improve their decision practices. She is the mother of two amazing boys.

Beyond Product is a startup marketing book for nonmarketers. It helps startup founders figure out how to take an idea and get it to market successfully.

What We Discuss with Jill Soley:

  • Why marketing has to first be understood
  • People don’t realize they’re already doing marketing
  • What marketing is for authors
  • Not all people who bought your book actually read them
  • Why marketing should be a continual stream of messaging
  • How to validate ideas and to let go of them when needed
  • Testing through beta programs and minimum viable product (MVP)
  • The real proof of proving your business
  • Why you shouldn’t necessarily follow what all your competitors are doing
  • Where companies are failing in terms of messaging
  • Jill shares some relevant principles from her book
  • Internal vs external messaging

[02:03] Marketing Has to Be Understood

Marketing has become a very broad topic. Ask 10 people what marketing is and they’re going to come to you with a different definition.

It has become many things – the brand, driving awareness, generating leads, and keeping customers engaged and happy.

There are many people who are doing marketing and they don’t even realize they’re doing it.

[07:21] Own Your Conversation

If you decide to write a book, it has to be something you believe is important enough, compelling enough, and big enough that you want to keep going and talking about it.

Remind yourself that you’ve spent a lot of time with this topic but other people haven’t. You’ve come through that whole process and learned it, but other people haven’t. So you have to take them on that journey with you.

Your book is the conversation you want to own.

No one is paying nearly as much attention to what you’re saying and to your message as you are. People may have to hear your message 7 times or more before they begin to get it. If your message is important, you have to repeat it in different forms and ways to get it out there.

[09:45] Case Study: Salesforce.com

Salesforce.com is a great example. They are crisp and clear about their message which is customer success. Everything they do is threaded into that needle.

Another company she worked with had a theme about simplicity where they made a simplicity index of companies that are excellent about having simple and clear messages.

Be consistent about your messaging to help the market connect with you.

[12:00] How to Validate an Idea

First, try to figure out the value of your idea. Who is it going to help? What is their problem? What is your hypothesis to prove them or disprove them?

Reach different audiences and do surveys. Or find your audience at conferences or at a coffee shop. Survey as many people in that audience as possible.

Listen openly. Listen to the space in between their answers to try and validate it. You may have to repeat this until you get enough evidence to support whatever it is you’re trying to do.

[14:00] Testing Your Product

You have to find your market, understand how to connect with your market, and get it out there to test it. 

In writing her book, Jill interviewed 50 people with all different goals to market.

Having an idea is easy. But taking and turning that into something that’s going to be successful in the market is the hard part. 

You have to have the confidence to push through even if people say you’re crazy. You also have to have the openness to really listen and see the signs that you may need to shift direction.

[20:20] How to Prove the Product and the Business

Create an MVP (minimum viable product) – the smallest definition of a product that you could build to provide value to a customer set. Get feedback from real users and learn where you need to change it or expand it. 

Once you’ve proven that people need the product, you start charging it and that’s the real proof. Will people buy your product? There’s a gap between getting people to buy your product and actually building a business around it.

Proving the business is around figuring out if there’s enough of a market. Test different markets on a small scale before you make a huge investment. Don’t just follow what you’re competitors are doing. You’ve got to test and iterate. You might find something they haven’t found.

[28:55] Where Companies Are Failing

They could get to that point where they’re too comfortable. For example, they’re already a leader in the market and aren’t paying attention to the newcomers. They’re not taking them seriously or realize that the market is changing.

Constantly pay attention to the campaigns you’re running and all the metrics around your product.

[35:15] Internal vs External Messaging

Listen to the external by looking at the reviews from readers or the beta feedback. 

Remember that the book is the platform. It has to be great otherwise any marketing of a crappy product isn’t going to work as the market will quickly figure out that it’s crap.

Think holistically as you write your book. Figure out the “after” and incorporate that into your book.

Episode Resources:

Know more about Jill on BeyondProduct.co and get her book on Amazon, Beyond Product.

Listen on iTunes and Stitcher.



Learn how to find your idea, outline your book and establish daily writing routine with just 20 minutes a day.

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