#96 - Product Innovation: Intelligent content strategies start with closing the gap on what you think your customers actually want

An interview with Joe Urbany, Co-founder Vennli

Product InnovationThis podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power to revolutionize the way markers communicate with their audience. My guest is Joe Urban, Co-founder of Vennli

Joe is a core marketing faculty member in Notre Dame’s MBA program and past Associate Dean of the Mendoza College of Business with numerous publication credits related to customer decision making and growth strategy.

In 2010, Joe Urbany co-wrote a book entitled ‘Grow by Focusing on What Matters: Competitive Strategy in 3-circles.’ The premise of the book is that growth and competitive advantage are about effective positioning. The model facilitates speed of understanding and action by focusing strategic attention on what impacts customer decisions.

It has been applied in over 1500 projects in the Graduate Business Masters Programs at Notre Dame and it’s the model that led to founding Vennli in 2013. Vennli brings the model to life through the use of collaborative technology and by providing a platform that delivers customer choice analytics and makes an already intuitive process even more accelerated and streamlined.

Being a marketer by heart, this triggered me, and hence invited Joe to my podcast.

We explore why marketers experience so many issues in increasing the performance of their content. We address why it’s not the lack of technology that sits in the way, but the approach we take to creating the content. And that’s a relatively easy thing to fix.

Here are some of his quotes:

… many, if not most, companies make decisions about strategy and tactics that don’t fully account for the views and the perceptions of the people who determine their success, and that is: Customers.

We tend to operate on the basis of past knowledge and our best intuition about what it is the customers value. What we found over and over, and really this came out of my executive MBA teaching in a big way:

There were significant gaps between what businesspeople were thinking or predicted and then what customers actually said. And when you close those gaps and make decisions that better align with customers, the impact can be enormous

No one is immune from this …  we get enamored with our inventions. Often the coolest inventions today are technical in nature. It’s much more difficult to translate a  technology into a validated product that really solves a problem for somebody.

During this interview, you will learn three things:

  1. Why starting with the big idea and a crystal value proposition is not only going to help marketing perform better, but everyone and everything else in your organization – simply from the power of alignment
  2. How rethinking who’s our real competitor is not only going to increase urgency and improve win-rates, but also fine-tune the value of our product investment
  3. What value we can unlock when our solutions provide new insights – and AHA moments. And how this could rewire how an organization thinks and acts.


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