My best business reads for 2015 on marketing, innovation and lean startup

My best business reads for 2015 on marketing, innovation and lean startup

It is this time of the year. The time when we reflect on what we accomplished during last 12 months. What we did well and what we need to improve upon. It is also the time to consolidate our learnings for the year. One of the ways I circle back on my learnings for the year is to make a compilation of the books I read throughout the year and my best business reads list for the year.
I consider myself very lucky. My work requires me to not only keep up with what is going on in my field but keep ahead of the curve. Hence I need to read an average of probably 20-25 hours a week and I love it.
The one thing I noticed this year is that the marketing books I read were not my best sources of information to keep ahead of the marketing curve. Marketing is moving at the speed of light these days and the published book format is not well suited to keep you abreast of what is on and ahead of the curve. It is still however a great format to do a deep dive on a given topic.
Hence most of the marketing information I used to write my blog posts came from blogs or webzines. Therefore I will focus on my favorite cutting edge marketing information web sources for this year’s review.
As they are an inherent part of the services I offer to my customers I must also keep up on innovation and Lean Startup literature. I read many really great books on these two topics this year. It was hard to pick just a few for this review. Here are my best business reads for 2015.


Best reads Hubspot - Baker MarketingHubspot

This site is designed to draw in affiliates. Hence the information is tailored for marketing consultants. Hubspot picks up quickly on new trends and is therefore an excellent source of information to keep on top of the curve marketing-wise.

Best Reads 2015 eMarketer - Baker MarketingeMarketer

eMarketer is a great source of market data. It also has some excellent white papers that draw a very clear picture of digital marketing, media and commerce. I especially like that they have extensive data on Canada and even some on Quebec.

Best reads 2015 CCO - Baker MarketingCCO Magazine

The articles in the Chief Content Officer magazine are dedicated to content marketing which is an ever inclusive field. The articles are often in-depth and of excellent quality.

Honorable mention goes to the Harvard Business Review (HBR). Although it isn’t specifically a marketing magazine, their marketing articles are truly well researched and written by some of the most brilliant American marketing minds.

Many of my blog posts, including 3 Digital Makreting Hurdles, Me Inc, Influencer marketing, retargeting, community marketing and co-marketing were all inspired and researched using at least one of these sources.


Best Reads How to Fly a Horse - Baker MarketingThe very best book on innovation I read this year, hands down, is How to Fly a Horse by Kevin Ashton. Using examples of true disruptive innovations over the last century, Ashton explains not only the process of creating a disruptive innovation but its required environment as well. It inspired me to write an entire series of post on creativity and innovation, creativity stimuli, creativity killers and how to foster innovation in large corporations. The posts on this blog are in French but I translated the first one on Medium. The others will follow in the New Year.

Best reads Mindset - Baker MarketingAlthough not on innovation per se, Mindset: The new psychology of success written by psychologist Carol Dweck is a fantastic book that will help marketers, innovators and entrepreneurs foster an attitude that will, along with hard work, lead them to success. It was recommended to me by a colleague and I since recommended the book to a few friends and acquaintances. Most of them said it was one of, or the best, and most useful book they read in a long time.

Lean Startup

Dozens of Lean Startup related books covering topics from management, finance, marketing, corporate culture, analytics, product management and others came out in 2015. There were too many to read. Amazon’s list of Lean Startup related books to be published in 2016 makes me think that all the Lean Startup related books written in 2015 will only amount to a fraction of what is coming next year. Erie Ries himself (Lean Startup author) will be publishing a second book called The Leaders’ Guide, in 2016.

MVP Marketing Plan - Baker MarketingI was even inspired myself this year to create some Lean Startup content. I shared with my readers the Marketing Minimum Viable Plan (Marketing MVP) in a series of 3 posts (part 1, part 2 and part 3).

Three of the books based on Lean Startup principles that stood out from the others for me were the following.

BBest reads Lean Product Playbook - Baker MarketingThe Lean Product Playbook: How to innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback from Dan Olsen is one of them. It will help anyone developing a new product figure out how to apply Lean Startup principles and minimize commercialisation risks for their specific situation. It is well written and has loads of pertinent examples to facilitate comprehension of various concepts. It inspired me to write a post on product/market fit.

Best Reads Lean Enterprise - Baker MarketingLean Enterprise: How corporations can innovate like start-ups by Trevor Owen is another book that stood out. Based in large part on Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma, it clearly shows the barriers to innovation in large corporations. It also talks about the concept of innovation colonies and many of the practical aspects of setting up innovation friendly environments in large businesses.

lean b2b150vFinally Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want by Etienne Garbugli is a comprehensive look at developing B2B products using Lean Startup principles. It takes a practical, hands-on approach which shows you step by step how Lean Startup product management is done in a B2B environment. It is the only book on Lean Startup I read that uses a layout and techniques one usually finds in textbooks to facilitate comprehension.

This rounds up my list of best business reads for 2015.

Thank you for having taken the time to read the TechnoMarketing blog this year.

I would like to wish you and yours happy holidays and a healthy and fruitful 2016.Happy Holidays from Baker Marketing



The Three Golden Rules of B2B Product Development

The Three Golden Rules of B2B Product Development

In the middle of product development at this moment? Thinking about how well the market will receive it? Worried the realistic sales forecast in your initial feasibility study won’t materialise? Given the dismal success rates of new products in the market, you are right to worry.

I have spent the better part of my career in product development, mostly B2B technological products. With no modesty at all, I am proud to say that the vast majority of the products I was responsible to launch achieved success in the market.

There were many factors that explained the higher success rates I achieved. The teams I was lucky enough to work with are definitely a major one. Another one is my obsession with talking to potential customers (external and internal) constantly to validate ideas, even before starting the feasibility study on the future product. I am also convinced that an important piece of market knowledge I happened upon, at the beginning of my product management career, and applied throughout the years, also played a very significant role in launching profitable products.

About 15 years ago, while working at a major telco, I had access to the results of three very large studies which, combined, covered all segments of Canadian businesses. The studies were conducted with the employees or owners (who held the purchasing decision power) of over 5000 businesses of all sizes, in all sectors. One of the objectives was to figure out what the folks who had purchasing responsibilities in Canadian businesses wanted most.

Each of these studies, conducted in a different size segment, came to somewhat different conclusions. When I put the dozens of answer trends (groupings of multiple answers with a similar pattern) of all three studies together however, I eventually picked up on three mega-trends. These mega-trends were the same across all business segments. They also seem to hold true across time. Most of the highly profitable business products in the market today still follow them.

These mega-trends became my acid test that every single product I ever created had to pass before I sent it out in the market. I also call them my 3 golden rules. These rules are not mutually exclusive. They can also be applied to B2C products which are purchased based on rational (vs. emotional) decisions.

So what are these three golden rules that will woo your B2B customers?

Efficiency, Simplicity and Control

Before I explain each of these rules, I want to point out that I define a product not only as being the product or service itself but also the entire purchasing, usage, maintenance and support experience that surround it. I refer to this package as the solution.

New product development - Efficiency - Baker MarketingEfficiency

Efficiency refers to your customers being able to do the same amount of work with fewer resources, or more work with the same amount or fewer resources. In B2B, efficiency can be approximated by the total cost of ownership (TCO). As a provider, if you can show that your solution’s (not your product) TCO is lower than all of your competitors, you are almost assured of a sale.

Product Development - Simplicity - Baker MarketingSimplicity

Let’s face it; we are all swamped at work. Complicated or complex solutions require more of our time than simple ones. Not to mention, that some folks just don’t want or can’t extend the brain power to wrap their heads around complicated or complex solutions. Making things simple for everyone at your customers’ involved in your purchasing, usage, maintenance and support chain will become some of your most powerful sales arguments. These arguments won’t require any of your sales reps uttering even a single word.


This criterion can be straight forward but often is not. It can be an indirect effect of a solution characteristic. When designing your solution (again, not just your product), be mindful of giving more control to your buyer over the work he/she is paid to do. An example of this would be the power tool manufacturers who started offering leasing as an option to their customers. When contractors responsible for planning large projects were not sure how many tools they would need, or when they would need them, their only option was to buy them ‘’in case’’ or risk delaying the project if they didn’t buy them. Leasing, aside from lowering their costs, helped the contractors feel like they had more control over their planning.
Unlike giving control at the purchasing stage, extending control throughout usage, maintenance and support of your solution will not increase your initial sales. It will however increase your customer satisfaction rates and repeat purchasing rates greatly.

Here you have them, my three golden rules for product development that ensure new product success in the market.
All three rules do not have to be followed for a solution to be successful. The more of these three rules are followed by a solution, the higher the probability of success it will have in the market.

Sales of new products are not the only ones that will benefit from following these three rules. Fixing your existing solutions so they follow them will also yield better sales (new and/or repeat). Existing solutions that don’t follow the three golden rules usually don’t present problems at the product level. Most often it’s one or several processes which include a customer touch point that is flawed. It could be your invoicing, contract, provisioning, customer service or other process that is not following one of the three golden rules.

Put your own solutions to the test. See which ones follow any of my three golden rules. I bet you’ll also be pointing to your most successful products.