Rocket Fuel

The Value Equation

People think about value in many ways, but the common denominators tends to be emotions and money. When you calculate the benefit from a service compared to its cost, the difference is value.

That’s not wrong. But if you want to elevate the value of an offering in the eyes of your customers — here’s a different formula for you: Value is joy minus pain.

Value = Joy – Pain

Value is Calculated With Emotion

The equation is emotional, not numerical because buying decisions are made emotionally. And that includes medtech and B2B.

In Adam Pierno’s book Under Think It: A Marketing Strategy Guidebook for Everyone, he explains how it works:

“We essentially weigh the joy we derive from a product. This is heavily skewed by the perception of the brand. Once our brains score how much joy the thing will provide, we begin deducting points for pain […] If the pain doesn’t cut too far into the joy, we act. We click. We subscribe. We buy.”

Look beyond features and benefits, and see the bigger picture.


A Holistic Perception of Value

Think holistically, considering the entire universe around your offer. Such as: delivery times, training packages, warranties, maintenance, education, access to experts. And, important to note, the experience with your website and other communication channels.

For example, take a small medical device company that has an amazing product, but limited resources. Maybe they rely on channel partners for service, training or even manufacturing. And maybe their website optimized for SEM and SEO.

This med device company can juice up the joy. They can have a story that wins, shape a brand that speaks to their audience, and be the company customers love to work with. They can still create immense joy in their offer, but they also need to continuously solve for barriers to their customers.

We can help with all that. Want to talk about ideas to amp the joy and improve your value equation? Let’s get in touch.


Related articles: 

What Problem Are You Solving? (Look into your messaging and the prospective market for your product.)

3 Brains. 2 Eyes. 1 Way to Drive Behavior. (Speaking to the emotional, rational and sensory parts of the customer brain.)

The Impression You Give (Consider the customer’s perception of your company.)

Own Your Place in the Mind (Positioning your message to resonate with your customer.)



The Tangibility Hack. Background is a closeup of the Saturn V rocket engines treated with an orange and blue filter.

Marketing Intangible Services

So you sell a service. It could be preventive maintenance contracts, medical education, business consulting, systems integration—anything that’s tough to see, touch, or put in a package and ship.  

Since your customers can’t look at what you’re selling or get a demonstration, or readily compare it with competitors, how do you stand apart? 

We get asked that question a lot. And, for once, there’s a relatively simple answer. Convert your tangible offering into something tangible.

Here’s a simple rule any good marketer can benefit from:

If you have a service (an intangible offering), you need to make the value tangible. Inversely, if you have a product, you need to make the benefit intangible, but that’s another blog. 

The tangibility hack works because it lets you sidestep that nagging question in any service business: what makes you different and better? When you give your audience a tangible hook, they can ground themselves in your offering and better understand how the value impacts their needs. 

Creating tangibility gives you a different, ownable path, and there are several ways you can do it. Here are a few we like. 

Three Ways to Differentiate Intangible Offerings 

Make a metaphor. 

This is a classic play. Because, well, it works. Find a thing or symbol that characterizes your unique positioning. You know, “Like a Good Neighbor.” Hey, Introworks has a rocket. Just be sure your metaphor is a real thing that can be understood easily. Otherwise, you’re doubling down on the intangibles and that sends you down a rabbit hole of abstraction. 

Take an attitude.  

What’s your adjective? What describes you? Once you know your values and brand attributes, pick one and run with it. Could be how you approach every challenge. Tenacious. Geeky. Pioneering. Whatever it is, lean into that. Obviously, these values need to be absolutely absolutely true to who you are at your very core.   


Processes and business models can be tangible assets. When people and technology work together to create a solution, it becomes real. Call it something like an “engine.” Or brand it with a meaningful name. Once people understand the noun of what you provide, they can better understand the verb of what you do. 

If you’re introducing or revitalizing a service offering, we’re here to deliver tangible results.

White text that says: Bucking the Biz Babble," overlayed close up on the rocket engine and exhaust pipes of Saturn 5 rocket. The image is treated with a blue and orange filter.

We’ve all been there. At the airport, next to the guy with ear buds pacing back and forth, seemingly talking to himself as he prattles on about “synergistic asset allocation for seamless transparency.” 

Uhhh…we have questions. First, why is he talking like he’s playing MBA Bingo? Second, who asks his wife to pick up milk like that?

Many of us laugh at a situation like this. Then pull out similar business jargon when we’re creating our next comms piece. 

Sure, there are good reasons for industries and professions to develop and communicate in their own language. They communicate with each other, which makes them more credible in a business conversation. A wrong word in that context is a sure sign of being an “outsider.” Also, like lawyers or medical professionals, language provides a perceived advantage. 

But here’s the thing. No one likes that. Because no one talks like that in their real lives. After all, the omnipresent usage of impenetrable business lexicon that permeates the quotidian business conversation can be counterproductive. (Oops, there, we did it.) 

It would have been much better to say, “Using too many complex words hurts your message.” 

The purpose of communication is to attract, engage, and prompt your audience. Too much biz-babble just confuses your audience and turns them away. To say nothing of the almighty search engines.

Take a moment and Google a couple different businesses. Go to their site and you’ll soon find telltale signs of business speak gone astray. There it is nestled in paragraph four: “By taking a holistic approach, we’ve reengineered the paradigm.” Wow, powerful stuff. Huh? 

So, write it straight. Instead of, “We employ expertly skilled sales engineers to ensure maximum revenue optimization,” try the friendlier and more effective, “Our people really know your business and they’ll make your sales numbers sing.” 

It works because it sounds like a person wrote it to have a conversation with another person. And that’s what you’re trying to make happen, right?

Ready to ditch the biz-babble? Get in touch and we’ll help give you some simply smarter ways to communicate. 

A Cart Without a Horse


Definitely not the way you want to run a race. But it isn’t unusual for companies to run a launch that way—sprinting over the starting line without having set themselves up for success by doing first things first. 

Specifically, many companies forget about the first audience they need to address in a launch: The internal audience. 

In fact, any launch that doesn’t begin with the people inside your organization isn’t just putting the cart before the horse. That’s a cart without a horse, a cart that’s going nowhere. 

It’s an understandable oversight. We work so hard to connect with external audiences—to map out their personas, speak their language, meet them where they are with what they want—it’s easy to overlook the internal audience. But when you do that, you’re getting ahead of yourself.

By starting your launch internally, you can practice your messaging and try out your tactics. Where are the questions? What doesn’t resonate? Your internal launch gives you a chance to refine and optimize before you go external.

More importantly, it gives you a chance to create champions and advocates. No one likes to be surprised or feel left out. Including your own people in the launch makes them part of the process and treats them as insiders. This creates all-important internal alignment and momentum.  

It gives your cart the horsepower to move forward with purpose.   

Wondering how you can best prep for internal launch? We’re ready to help. Just get in touch.

Finally the big moment has come—the moment when engineering hands off a new product to marketing to be launched into the world. This momentous occasion arrives with an almost audible sigh of relief. You know—the Aaahhhhh Moment. It’s been a long and dusty road, but at last our work is done! Aaahhhhhh! Where’s the beer and chips?

Woo hooo!! Except wait a sec. This launch moment—the great handoff, should really not be happening.

Let’s back up and get some context.

In the prototypical new product development (NPD) stage-gate process, launch is viewed as the LAST stage. But of course, it’s the FIRST stage in the market lifecycle. It’s the last-first stage, and it’s pivotal.

And it goes awry when it’s handled as an abrupt handoff from engineering to marketing—a handoff that comes with a drop in intensity and intention, as though all the real work has been done, and all marketing has to do is communicate it.

There has been no coordination, no alignment, no shared knowledge or lockstep progress from early on. So that handoff is not a smooth passing of the baton. There’s a loss of momentum, and lack of direction and focus.

The alternative? Marketing and product development work hand-in-hand to develop products conceived from the beginning to fill real needs in the market, delivering optimal opportunity for success.

Ready to get your team’s working in lockstep? We’d love to help.

Launch Fizzles Part 3: The Krahmflop

We’re wrapping our three-part Launch Fizzles series (if you haven’t seen Part 1 and Part 2 yet, here they are) with another frequent non-flyer: The Krahmflop.

Here’s how it sounds:


Funny word, but not funny when it happens.Line graph titled Krahmflop. Line starts in lower left quadrant and has a gradual incline to mid upper right quadrant, where it takes a sharp downward hit until it reaches the bottom in the bottom right corner.What’s sad about a Krahmflop is that the thing being launched is the subject of so much internal love, excitement, and buzz. It’s your precious child. But then it goes out into the world and it’s like a kid who can’t get a seat at the popular table.

Nobody cares.

After all kinds of buildup and fanfare, it turns out that the marketplace is massively indifferent. It’s Gatsby during his early years.

When a Krahmflop happens, it can usually be chalked up to poor aim. Aim, as in targeting the powerful, emotional needs and wants of a particular audience. Maybe it wasn’t crystal clear who the real audience was. Maybe nobody bothered to do the homework and learn what really drives those people.

Maybe it was a “build it and they will come” mentality.

On the other hand there’s that old chestnut: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Henry Ford may or may not have said it, but no matter. The point is, there’s something to be said for innovation guided by vision and conviction, rather than a narrow response to customer feedback.

Even so, losing sight of the customer in the product definition and design process, and letting a fixation on innovation obstruct your focus on them is risky.

If your company gets all excited about new and not needs, there may be a Krahmflop in your future. But don’t worry, the would-be flop can be flipped. We’ll help you fly.

Do you remember the Thingywhatchacallit? Of course not. Because that launch was a shining example of our second commonly-experienced launching fizzle, The MeetooOOZE.

Last time we examined the notorious BabupPLURFT and — sputter, clunk — what can happen when efforts are misaligned. If you missed it, you can check it out here.

A MeetooOOZE launch is just what it looks like: “Me too” with a big ol’ “ooze” at the end. It’s an offering that’s perceived as lacking in noteworthiness or distinguishing appeal. A Me-Too. An also-ran. A product or service quickly blended in with the crowd. Lost in the noise. A non-factor.

Here’s what it sounds like in a business:


Perceived is the keyword here. That’s because your offering may or may not be significantly different. What turns the launch into a MeetooOOZE is poor communication.

It very well may be (we hope) that your offering is quite different in a meaningful way, addressing a real market need. When that uniqueness is not conveyed in a compelling way or translated accurately, it can get lost in the sea of sameness.

On the other hand, you may have intentionally developed a me-too product. That’s good strategy; go forth and steal share. But by all means, don’t ooze that puppy into the market with me-too creative or diminished strategic efforts. Tell your story in a unique way and with conviction or you end up in the same place — nowhere meaningful in the mind. A MeetooOOZE.

Communication is integral to differentiation and success. In fact, HOW you communicate is often more important than what you’re communicating. Especially today.

If you’re concerned your launch may be on a MetooOOZE path, we’re happy to talk further. If not, or in the meantime, make sure to check back for the final installment of our Launch Fizzles series: the dreaded KraAHMflop.

Ah yes, the BabupPLURFT. Say it with us: Ba-bup-plurft. It’s the sound of a launch gone wrong. A classic, in fact.

When you’ve seen as many launches as we have at Introworks, you begin to notice distinct patterns in the ones that go awry. In fact, some of those patterns turn out to be so pervasive, we’ve given them names. And sounds. And trajectories.

While you likely have never seen the word, chances are you’ve witnessed a BabupPLURFT.

Here’s what it looks like:

And what it sounds like in a business:


A BabupPLURFT launch behaves pretty much like it sounds. It goes in fits and starts. It jerks, sputters and splats. It’s a launch where lack of alignment between teams leads to loss of momentum. And then: FIZZLE. PLOP.

When should you suspect a BabupPLURFT is underway? Look for a pattern of missteps, disconnects, rework and lack of forward motion.

A BabupPLURFT is largely caused by a lack of teamwork, often originating with a misalignment between engineering and marketing. In the B2B world, this commonly happens because there’s an outdated perception that the job of marketing is simply to communicate to the outside world about the products engineering creates. In this scenario, there’s typically a handoff from product development to marketing. It happens too close to launch. People aren’t on the same page. Confusion ensues. And things can unravel real fast. Obviously, not what you’re after.

What does the non-BabupPLURFT scenario look like? Cross-disciplinary teams—R&D, Sales, Marketing, etc.– collaborating earlier in product development. Then moving together through a synced process to get internal buy-in at every milestone. Now that’s a sequence that leads to successful launch.

Alignment creates momentum, which powers successful trajectory at launch.

Wondering if you’re in danger of the dreaded BabupPLURFT? Let’s connect and find out.

Uh-oh. What was that noise? Sounded like a Krahmpflopt or maybe it was a Me-too-ooze — a few of the other classic fizzles you’d rather avoid. Don’t fret, we’ll be giving you the skinny on those sounds in upcoming posts.

A product comes to life inside the organization long before it’s launched in the marketplace. During that incubation period, the product will take on an identity and build momentum all its own. 

But here’s the thing: If that momentum isn’t pushing in the right direction, it can be hard to reverse. And that could drag down your whole launch before it ever has a chance to soar.

“We’re set to unleash the Zephyr II—I mean the Hurricane in August” announces Sara the sales manager. For some reason, new products and services commonly get post-apocalyptic sci-fi names, with animal species a close second.

But names aren’t all that’s taking shape, particularly in highly regulated industries with longer product development processes. Perceptions are formed. Messages are adopted. The way the team has come to think about the new offering becomes ingrained, for better or worse. Mostly worse. 

Meanwhile market-tested identity, positioning, messaging and branding gets developed much later—often right before launch. Too late. 

Sales people and others in the organization have already internalized a different story. And that’s the one they’re sharing. Now the waters are muddied and everybody is confused, including customers.

In short, it’s an internal mis-launch. You don’t want that. So get your marketing ducks in a row as soon as possible, with a dedicated go-to-market team in place early on. Have deliberately thought-through branding and positioning built into the product development process. That keeps everyone on the same page and paddling in the same direction when it’s go-time.    

Looking to get an early start on defining your messaging? We’d love to help.