CMO Coffee Talk ‘Aha! Moment’: Are You Ready To Be Obsolete?

3 minutes
Mar 23, 2022
Digital Marketing

Editor's Note: CMO Coffee Talk is an open space for more than 1,300 CMOs to come together weekly with their peers and discuss timely, crowd-sourced topics. Matt Heinz of Heinz...

Editor’s Note: CMO Coffee Talk is an open space for more than 1,300 CMOs to come together weekly with their peers and discuss timely, crowd-sourced topics. Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing co-hosts these dynamic, illuminating conversations with 6sense CMO Latané Conant. 


New companies, new ideas, and new startups are creating momentum for themselves by challenging the status quo. Depending on the business or industry, the status quo in question could be:

  • Customers doing nothing, coasting without growing their markets (or growing their investments in your solution)
  • Working with a firm that’s no longer doing things effectively
  • Mistakenly believing a first-mover advantage will remain so as the market matures

Successful startups, however — those that make it through the early years and thrive — develop a product and message that overcomes that status quo and establishes a new standard of excellence

Then of course, the price of success is that you become the new status quo. And if you don’t continue to innovate, another startup will do it for you … and to you. 

Making Yourself Obsolete 

Last Friday’s CMO Coffee Talk conversation was all about marketing’s relationship with product strategy and product marketing. We covered a lot of ground with hundreds of CMOs who have tread this ground many times.

A shout-out to Alan Gonsenhauser who might have had the quote of the day: “If you don’t prepare to obsolete your products, someone else will.” 

No one thinks their company will be the next Kodak, Blockbuster Video, or BlackBerry. Those organizations had strong product strategies until the world changed — and they didn’t. Holding onto your own status quo is a recipe for obsolescence. 

Focus Outward, Always 

Years ago, I wrote a piece attempting to explain why so many former Microsoft employees were unsuccessful at startups.  A friend of mine, with whom I worked with at Microsoft and who’s actually been successful at multiple startups since, explained his take on the issue: 

“When you’re an early-stage business, you have no choice but to focus externally — building something precisely based on customer needs,” my friend said. “Unfortunately, as some businesses get larger, they start to focus primarily internally. They believe their own stories, stop listening to the market, and that’s where their competitive advantages start to fade.” 

The primary lesson I took from last Friday’s CMO Coffee Talk is to keep a steady, almost obsessive focus externally. Ensure the market is guiding and informing your product strategy, roadmap and positioning decisions. 

As your business grows, of course internal voices wil synthesize and summarize what they’ve heard externally. Just make sure the customer voice is clear, unfiltered, and constant. 

 Coming Up on CMO Coffee Talk… 

In our next CMO Coffee Talk meet-up (which is just around the corner!), we’re talking about the role of behavioral science on B2B marketing. How can behavioral best practices impact product adoption and customer retention? Shirin Oriezy from Next Step will join us once again to share more principles and use cases of how behavioral science is impacting B2B marketing success at organizations worldwide. 

Check out her CMO’s Guide to Behavioral Science and don’t miss this one! 

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