About Brian and Aha!

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product roadmap and marketing planning software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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5 Signs You Lack an Integrated Marketing Plan

integrated marketing plan

Tell me if this sounds familiar. After a strategic planning session, the marketing team agrees on a high-level roadmap for the next quarter. You are excited to get to work. But then one teammate learns about a new ad platform. And another just got back from a conference and wants to start a company podcast. Everyone is going in a different direction. Suddenly, your solid plan feels more like a franken-plan.

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Marketing Strategy vs. Sales Strategy

marketing strategy vs sales strategy

Childhood lemonade stands. If you grew up in the U.S., you probably had one. Maybe you posted fliers in your neighborhood. Whether you knew it or not, this was your marketing strategy. You made basic decisions — how many cups you hoped to sell and any tactics you might use to encourage a purchase. You also had to decide what the price would be and if you would offer multi-cup discounts. This was your sales strategy.

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The Founder’s Paradox: How Do You Keep an Entirely Remote Team Engaged

founder's paradox — remote team

I understood the skepticism at first. After all, Aha! was a new company with an entirely new approach. This was early 2013. My co-founder Dr. Chris Waters and I were working hard to build a Minimum Lovable Product and get as much feedback from customers as we could. We knew we wanted to wait until we had 100 paying customers before hiring anyone. And we knew that no matter what, we wanted to build our team intentionally and remotely. Read more…

This Is Why Brilliant Marketing Teams Never Lie

sneaky marketing teams

What would an ideal world look like to you? Your answer might be slightly different than mine, but I believe most of us would include some fundamentals — integrity, kindness, and service to others. It might seem odd to say that you can be a part of making this happen through your work. Especially if you work in marketing, which often gets targeted as mischievous and dishonest. Read more…

Stop Being so Fixated on Your Next Job Title

job title promotion

Have you ever quit a job because you did not get the promotion or title change that you wanted? I considered doing so myself in the past and know a few people who actually have. You start growing restless — convincing yourself that everyone else is “getting ahead.” In fact, you grow so restless that you become more fixated on the title than the work and your personal growth. Read more…

The Founder’s Paradox: How Do You Celebrate the Now When Your Job Is About the Future?

The Founder's Paradox: How Do You Celebrate the Now When Your Job Is About the Future?

“Toot toot!” This has become a sort of virtual celebratory air horn sound at Aha! — it started with one teammate and has spread. Being a remote-first company, it is a simple message that is clear to all. “Hooray! We did it!” But for me, it has become a welcome reminder that it is important to stop and celebrate. This is different from my always-looking-ahead mindset and I appreciate it.

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The Marketing Plan vs. the Launch Plan

marketing plan vs launch plan

“We use the word ‘strategy’ very loosely in marketing.” I read this comment on LinkedIn recently and it got me thinking. The s-word is not the only squishy one for marketing teams. There are plenty of other terms that get bandied about without a lot of clarity, like “marketing funnel” and “conversion rates.” But there are others that cause confusion, like “marketing plan” and “launch plan.” Read more…

How We Celebrate Perfect Moments at Aha!

Aha! for Marketing launch

Dozens of support articles. 58 marketing activities completed. And hundreds of screenshots. This is just a sampling of the work that went into the launch of Aha! for Marketing. Our team felt an enormous sense of accomplishment on the morning of the launch. And despite the fact that we all work remotely, folks still got together to celebrate — hopping on a video meeting to cheer as the new product went live. Read more…

The 7 Things That Belong in Every Marketing Plan

marketing plan components

People often mistake the “what” for the “why.” Let me explain. Say you are preparing for a long vacation and have a long list of to-dos before you go. The “what” is the to-do list of things like packing and putting your mail on hold. However, the “why” is the vacation ahead. Marketing is no different. Before you launch into any activities, you need to have a solid understanding of why you are doing it. Read more…

Stop Making Excuses at Work — Do This Instead

excuses at work

Tell me if this sounds familiar. Your colleague makes a trivial mistake. Maybe it is a financial typo in a presentation or they did not speak up when they had questions and finished work that was not quite right. All you want is for them to own up to it and move on. Instead, you get a long-winded explanation of why the mistake happened.   Read more…

All Marketing Is Now Digital Marketing

Digital marketing

When was the last time you got a brochure in the mail that made you want to instantly take action? My guess is not recently. (If ever.) And even if you did get a mailer for an appealing vacation resort or restaurant, I bet you did not call the 1-800 number listed on the back. Nope — you went to the website for more information. And you likely booked your vacation or dinner reservations there. Read more…

The Founder’s Paradox: How to Know What Decisions to Make and What Should Be Left for Others

founder's paradox decisions

We make decisions all the time. Some are small, subtle, you could even say reflexive — grab a coat in case of rain, scoop up the kids’ backpacks rather than waiting for them to do it themselves. (Getting them to make that choice would require years of coaxing.) There are of course more middling everyday choices, like what to eat for dinner. (Ad infinitum.) But what about at work, where even your subtlest decisions can impact so many? Read more…

Why Strategic Thinking Is So Hard for Digital Marketers

Why Strategic Thinking Is So Hard for Digital Marketers

“Marketers are often relegated to the doers and order-takers as opposed to being the thinkers in the business.” Not my words. Someone left these comments on a blog post I wrote about why marketers need strategy. That article hit a nerve, especially with digital marketers, and I know why. You are the ones who should be driving the business towards new growth opportunities. So, why is it all doing and not enough thinking?

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How Many Meetings a Day Is Too Many?

Aha! meeting agenda template

I once watched someone fall asleep in a meeting. It was early in my career and I was sitting in a quarterly business review. The organizer had scheduled one hour — but the meeting time bloated to more than three hours. Worse, it was after lunch. As the afternoon stretched on, I could hardly blame the sales colleague sitting next to me for briefly nodding off. Read more…