29
Feb

Tech Innovators with Resources Ought to Maintain Tactical and Strategic Sales and Marketing Efforts Simultaneously

New businesses with technology products targeted to larger business and public sector prospects do well to support strategic and tactical sales and marketing efforts simultaneously. The inclination is to over emphasize one or the other set of activities. Some of this over emphasis is the result of the personality of a CEO, who may have a proclivity to focus intently on one or the other set of activities. Nevertheless, CEOs with prior business launch experience will have the foresight to be on the watch for excessive attention to either strategic or tactical sales and marketing efforts.

Of course, a big driver for excessive attention to tactical activities is revenue generation. A CEO will do better to spend lots of time up front planning on the right amount of capital to fund the business through early stages than to look to marketing and, where feasible, selling unfinished technical products that, once bought by promising prospects, may bring lots of woe to a promising startup through bad user experience.

Just recently I spent some time with a CEO of a business that has been around for over 10 years selling systems integration services to corporate and public sector users of business products sold by Microsoft. When I asked him about an original application that he and his team had finally brought to market, he noted that they had built the solution on top of a framework that, with after thought, they ought not to have used. The incomplete forethought evidenced by his decision is indicative of the kind of strategic mistake that some under funded businesses just can’t avoid making. With the application built and already presented to the market, there is little if anything this CEO can do to correct the problem. Better line up the funding in advance and hire a manager of systems development who can be held accountable to substantiate platform decisions from prospect communications, market research, etc than make a strategic mistake that will not be easily corrected post system build and product launch.

So, if the funds are in place (a best of possible worlds) then the time must be spent, consciously, attending to tactical and strategic activities for sales and marketing. Disregarding, for a moment, the substantial benefit to be realized from not making a mistake when choosing a platform for system development, just consider the greater benefits to be realized from managing tactical steps as strategy is executed; for example, tracking the activities of strategic partners and channel partners to ensure the success of the big picture marketing distribution strategy.

Much of the above has to do, specifically, with the direction offered by the CEO. I am interested in opportunities to assist CEOs as they grapple with the task of keeping the rudder in the middle of the stream. Please call me, Ira Michael Blonder, IMB Enterprises, Inc at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about your product and your plan, not to mention how you plan on steering your boat.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

28
Feb

Limits on framing marketing communications around an argument from authority

Social media advocates often frame marketing communications efforts around a rhetorical argument from authority. This type of communication is crafted to convince the reader that a particular approach ought to be adopted based upon eitherthe soundness of its logic or its popularity. With regard to popularity, the question inevitably comes up as to just who is using this specific approach. Picking examples that do not resemble your audience is generally a kiss of death; therefore, some thought must go into framing an argument from authority where the authority amounts to ubiquity in a market.

I think social media advocates should take a big step back and rethink any/all marketing communications framed around an argument from authority. Further, some control ought to be exercised around the level of hyperbole vented by this group. After all, are enormous breakthroughs really popping with the frequency often documented in these presentations? My guess is probably not. From what we’ve read and the condition of recent Social Media IPOs we would say more that the opposite is in fact the case.

Rather, social media advocates ought to provide some case studies, or at least provide some meaningful examples of how specified markets are using social media tools and the accompanying rationale. We focus in this blog on marketing innovative technology into bigger businesses and large organizations. We have found a dearth of meaningful examples of how bigger businesses are successfully implementing social media tools. Therefore, we would welcome some specific examples of success culled from Fortune 100 businesses and/or large groups in the public sector. With this kind of stuff in hand we would warm up to a thought process that social media is actually sticking somewhere within the ranks of big business.

In fact, we’ve grown something of a callous with regard to typical social media marketing communications. In fact we ignore most of what we see as simple conjecture without real substance. Perhaps the success and ubiquity of social media for Fortune 100 is inevitable, but we just are hard pressed right now to say why.

We try to maintain a healthy level of skepticism in the work that we undertake for clients. If you can use a dose of skepticism to keep your marketing plan on track for an innovative technology offering, then we would like to hear from you. Please call Ira Michael Blonder, IMB Enterprises, Inc at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about your product and your plan.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

27
Feb

Value Based Pricing Should Never Equate With Expensive Pricing

Dr. Jim Anderson authors the blog, The Accidental Project Manager. I read Dr. Anderson’s post, “Confessions of a Product Killer” with interest. After all, Dr. Anderson communicated in simple phrases some foundation-level principles of product marketing, principally that overlapping products rarely make sense (though they do make sense for a multi channel marketing strategy with OEMs and manufacturers selling the same products into competitive markets) and that much less sense where pricing will work to the detriment of a business.

I would like to clarify, however, that when Dr. Anderson alludes to value pricing for products, in a marketing context as “expensive”, I see a meaningful opportunity to differentiate my view from his own. I do not see value pricing for products as a process that renders a marketing message “expensive.” In fact, and further, if the pricing appears to be “expensive” then the marketing team has not done its homework to demonstrate to the public just why a comparatively higher price is, in fact, a substantial bargain versus actual costs that would otherwise be incurred to get the same job done via existing resources or, better yet, competitive products.

Certainly it takes a substantial amount of work to determine the hard dollars and cents savings to be realized through the purchase of a product versus continuing with status quo business operations. For example, one needs to collaborate with prospects and customers to unearth the real specific costs incurred to perform the activities that will be enhanced by a new product. Further, one needs to be open to the possibility that these savings will vary from customer to customer and, thereby, opt for a complex selling strategy with, perhaps, different pricing for different applications.

Nevertheless, value based pricing, as a feature of product marketing, should never result in an “expensive” price as perceived by the market. Certainly, the price might be out of the reach of prospects who cannot afford to capture value from their purchase, but the price should be compelling and inescapable for the right market segment.

I specialize in this type of work. I actively pursue opportunities where I can help customers realize substantial value through saving precious funds that would otherwise be expended on inappropriate and ineffective product pricing methods. Please call me, Ira Michael Blonder, IMB Enterprises, Inc at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about why value pricing makes the most sense for your IT product marketing efforts.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

24
Feb

ISVs grappling with commodity driven markets can safely look to online marketing for leads

ISVs offering software products in commodity markets can look to online marketing to generate useful sales leads. Typical sales cycle length for these leads can be a mere fraction of the amount of time required to identify, develop and close leads for complex product sales to global businesses and other large organizations. Therefore, we counsel this type of business to spend the time necessary to develop as prominent a level of online visibility as possible in order to prime the online lead generation pump.

As we have recently written elsewhere in this blog, we think it makes most sense for these ISVs to spend the time necessary to further optimize SERPs. Of course, some of this SEO effort should have been ongoing for a while as the best results are to be derived from combining ongoing SEO for a website with some decent level of online visibility (most of our clients have sites that magnetize approximately 1K visits per day) with a blog specifically dedicated to optimizing relevant sought after keywords in an absolutely natural manner. Each blog post should include a prominent link, together with the specific keyword string built into this prominent link as anchor text. We’ve had very good results with this and are happy to say that many of our prospects can look at leads to low hanging fruit while they are freed up to spend the requisite amount of time on harder sales that promise greater revenue.

Given the IT buyer profile for 2012, essentially an individual who comes up with the information that he/she requires prior to reaching out to a sales person anywhere, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to avoid participating in this online promotion if you are producing software for commodity driven markets. Why not jump in and enjoy an faster paced sales cycle?

Of course it is critically important that you have sales people at the ready to field these leads as they come in. IT buyers of 2012 do not have the patience to wait for replies; therefore, have staff ready to receive telephone calls and/or email as required. Well staffed ISVs with online presence that meet our above mentioned criteria can safely plan on a useful chunk of revenue to be received from the Internet if they follow our method. Of course, the best way to follow our method is to engage us for accomplishment of your online lead generation effort. Please call Ira Michael Blonder, IMB Enterprises, Inc at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

23
Feb

Innovative Tech Businesses Should Pick Social Media Venues with Care

At present social media like Twitter require substantial amounts of daily management. In our opinion the effort/reward ratio presently emphasizes effort at the expense of reward. It is important to note that we say “presently” as this could change in the future. It is also important to define “reward.” We are interested in leads to sales of technology products to larger businesses and/or comparably sized groups in the public sector; therefore, reward in our parlance amounts to leads to business. Simply stated, we see very few leads and a lot of work to maintain presence.

For some businesses there is no option as regards presence. Large players in the technology arena cannot afford to go without social media presence. But our posts are not particularly directed to larger players; rather, we try to talk to the needs of emerging businesses that think they have innovative technology worth a look from corporate buyers and other larger prospects.

For our audience we still think it makes sense to be quite particular about the specific social media venue to be pursued as part of an online marketing campaign. True, we think the amount of work required to maintain a healthy Twitter page is very high. Twitter follower churn is very high. Our experience has been that businesses with a healthy online SEO presence tend to do much better with Twitter pages than is the case for businesses with otherwise obscure websites. Obscurity is often an intentional tactic implemented by businesses that opt to operate under the radar; therefore, for businesses that need to maintain some obscurity we don’t see where Twitter will produce much useful lead flow.

We think that blogs, on the other hand, make lots of sense. Blogs are great vehicles for targeting specific SEO keywords with the level of attention required to build healthy SERPs, especially where a blog can be used with an external website. Better to keep specific product promotion and any transaction apparatus on an external site (can be a sub folder of the same root site domain) where it belongs. The fact is that blog pages do not serve well as product pages. Nevertheless, and as mentioned, blogs can and do produce lots of useful leads. Further, we have interacted with prospects who have told us that they like the information they found on our blogs. In fact, our blog content facilitated greater confidence in claims made by our clients, saving prospects the effort of digging deeper to learn more about our clients online.

We welcome opportunities to elaborate on our experience with Twitter, blogs and, though not mentioned here, Google Plus. Please call Ira Michael Blonder, IMB Enterprises, Inc at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

22
Feb

No Magic Elixir for a Failing eMail Marketing Program

Opt-in mailing list members are a fickle lot, with little brand loyalty. Burn them several times with email campaigns that fail to meet important criteria at your peril. There is slim to no likelihood at all that these readers will retrieve your future messages from spam filters or trash. But what are the most important criteria?

First, it is important for us to note that we are not proponents of habituating on email marketing. At best, we think that this tactic can deliver some useful leads, but the effort/reward ratio will be no better than is the typical proportion of any other type of passive marketing method. Lots of messages will need to be sent out to glean a small number of leads. With that said, we need to note that businesses have exhibited a substantial level of interest in email marketing; therefore, we want to add our two cents to the discussion.

The important criteria, as we see it, is that you send your email campaign messages to a list of contacts that you have assembled yourself and never to a so-called “opt-in” list that you have purchased. We think the members on these paid lists will be largely disinterested in the type of specific, targeted message that we advocate be developed for an audience of readers that promises to give some attention to what is sent to them.

You should carefully sample your audience through your teleprospecting efforts to determine whatever common themes of interest you can unearth. The editorial content of your email campaign should be restricted to these themes. Better to segment the themes, treating them individually over a series of messages within your campaign than to attempt to include them all in one broad covering email message.

You should provide your readers with ample opportunities to voice an opinion about your message; therefore, it is a good idea to spread the campaign over some time period that affords you the ability to collect responses before embarking on subsequent mailings. By no means does it make sense to bombard your audience with lots of messages. In fact such a bombardment can lead to audience insensitivity whereby your future messages will be ignored.

Where possible it makes sense to sample audience reaction via telemarketing calls. Let’s face it, most recipients of unsolicited email messages will have little interest to reply to messages. Better to reach back out to recipients, individually, to determine whatever opinions may be at hand before advancing a campaign to subsequent mailings.

We are interested in working with customers who would like a coordinated campaign of email marketing in conjunction with a telemarketing lead generation program. We welcome opportunities to elaborate on our experience, not to mention to learn further about your objectives. Please call Ira Michael Blonder, IMB Enterprises, Inc at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

21
Feb

Online Marketing and Sales Complement Direct Marketing, Teleprospecting Campaigns

It is essential that innovative technology businesses maintain control over the prominence of a business in all marketing venues including, but not limited to:

  • Online
  • Social Media and
  • Brick and Motor

Naturally the decision may well make sense to limit public visibility in one of these three venues or, for very early stage businesses, even all three. Nevertheless, whatever programs are architected and executed must have components that address all three marketplaces.

In fact, typical characteristics of online marketing and sales interaction complement matching characteristics of brick and motor interaction. We have spent lots of time talking up teleprospecting as an excellent tactical tool for driving lead generation with brick and mortar venues. The facts are that the task of achieving online visibility in very competitive search engine markets can take, literally, months to produce benefits and, most importantly, credible leads to business opportunities.

In contrast, teleprospecting is an “instant on” tool activated simply by picking up the telephone, contacting likely prospects and engaging them in conversation. Of course, it is best not to broadly implement this direct marketing tool prior to verifying that required marketing communications collateral is ready for dissemination to the public either in hard copy form, or at least with carefully crafted references to business success stories, industry affiliations, certifications, etc to substantiate the position of the business as an authority in a market worth contacting and engaging in meaningful conversation.

We must note that the length of the sales cycle for leads produced through teleprospecting is substantially longer than is the case for online sales resulting from online marketing. Once online visibility has been achieved, meaning the right type of visibility that establishes a business in a targeted niche, sales cycles are dramatically shorter. Further, sales are often facilitated without significant demand on sales staff, who remain free to attend to direct marketing efforts.

With regard to social media, we think that social media makes sense as a method of establishing marketplace authority. Groups of industry affiliates and other participants who can be convinced to accept a business as a viable vendor for targeted needs can go a long way to provide the stamp of approval that emerging businesses often need.

We have substantial recent experience, gained over the last year, coordinating teleprospecting with online marketing and social media. We welcome opportunities to elaborate on our experience, not to mention to learn further about your objectives. Please call Ira Michael Blonder, IMB Enterprises, Inc at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

20
Feb

Build Your eMail Marketing Program on leads generated by TeleProspecting

If we extrapolate from individual experiences it’s safe to say the 95% or more of email messages are ignored by recipients. Few people (and none that we have spoken with recently) have the time to read each of the emails received on a daily basis, let alone email messages that have no other purpose than to promote products or services. Nevertheless, there persists, to this day, a very high level of mass market interest in products that purport to deliver captivating email messages that will get the attention of buyers. Perhaps this interest is the result of observing that the low level of effort required to send email messages en masse, together with the availability of opt in email lists spells profit dollars for advertisers. The catch, as we see it and, in fact, the key to transforming the spam can into the inbox for recipients is to build an opt in list for an email marketing program with leads collected from teleprospecting and other direct marketing efforts.

eMail addresses collected during teleprospecting conversations, or even telemarketing calls have an inherently higher value than email addresses included in so-called opt-in email lists available for purchase. On the one hand, contacts have already exhibited interest in products or services; simply consider the commitment implicit to 20 minutes spent with a teleprospector on an unsolicited telephone call as an example of interest on the part of the prospect. Further, email addresses collected during teleprospecting conversations are usually offered, specifically, to receive additional information after the telephone conversation has concluded; therefore prospects will be waiting for messages that can be sent during an email marketing program.

We recommend that an email marketing program be run at the same time that teleprospecting and other direct marketing efforts are under activity. There is no need to wait to accumulate a “useful” number of email addresses. Further we think it impedes the effectiveness of an overall product marketing effort to focus too tightly on any one tactic. Rather, it is essential that marketing communications efforts encompass interactive and traditional media. We have worked directly with clients who attempted to ignore interactive. We were not pleased with the results of these efforts. Better to be present on all available media from the very start of marketing communications campaigns.

We are interested in your plans for an email marketing program and welcome opportunities to elaborate on our experience, not to mention to learn further about your objectives. Please call Ira Michael Blonder, IMB Enterprises, Inc at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

18
Feb

Sales is still a numbers game and the phone is a great way to get those numbers

Talk to enough people and you will find someone with an interest in what you’ve got to sell. This adage has been true for ages and is still true today. Telemarketing provides a terrific method of reaching enough people to achieve sales objectives. When properly orchestrated and staffed with experienced practitioners, the telemarketing method is methodical, akin to a contact-friendly variant on carpet bombing. The turf upturned as the result of conversation upon conversation will ultimately prove fertile enough to feed even innovative emerging technology businesses with precious revenue.

It all comes down to a question of timing. Given enough time (together with an ongoing analysis of documented conversations and a complete dedication to changing whatever may turn up as needing change) presentations can be refined and focused to deliver objectives. We’ve written extensively in this blog about the present-day phenomenon of a broken down purchasing system for some types of technology, largely with regards to larger businesses (often referred to here as global businesses) and/or larger public sector groups. No matter. Focus telemarketing efforts on information gathering rather than persuading or pushing a market that is obstinately unwilling to be pushed to get positive, progressively healthier results.

A two pronged approach that combines persistent, flexible direct marketing over the telephone with interactive marketing that exploits online search portals and social media can produce very effective results with comparatively few personnel and leaner facilities. For products sufficiently branded as commodities in a marketplace inbound leads are generally more promising. Look to interactive marketing techniques to stimulate such inbound lead activity. At the same time, a constant rumble from telemarketing can and does motivate less mature aspects of markets to move forward, over time, to generally bigger deals that usually incorporate a combination of products and services.

Coordinating both efforts is a mandatory requirement. By no means does it make sense to entirely focus on simply one approach. We have recent experience with such efforts and can say, conclusively, that clients would have done much better had they availed of interactive and direct simultaneously. There is absolutely no reason that we can find why one approach necessarily precludes the other. Further, we have more recent evidence of the success of just this type of combination.

We have excellent recent experience working extensively with interactive and direct marketing media for software technology innovators committed to global business markets. We welcome opportunities to elaborate on our experience. Please call Ira Michael Blonder, IMB Enterprises, Inc at +1 631-673-2929 to discuss your product and your near term market plans.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

16
Feb

Peculiarities of marketing software to large groups in the public and private sectors

A radically different computing era was ushered in around 1985 with the advent of the so-called personal computer. Pertinent to this post is the observation that the personal computing era was characterized by a shift from cloud computing resources (in the form of distributed mainframe computing and share computing via mini computers marketed by Digital Equipment Corporation, Tandem, etc) to the desk top where increasingly more powerful computing devices were brought to market, the use of which proliferated throughout Fortune 1000 and large public sector business workspaces.

Today, as Forrester Research has recently pointed out, market interest in computing resources appears to be shifting back to cloud based offerings, or at least the hype would have one think so. Regardless, software technology innovators marketing software to large computing workspaces need to speak to

  • present day realities
  • public message topics of discussion
  • and, finally, assumptions as to where markets are headed

Our bet at IMB Enterprises, Inc. is that the safest assumption is that enterprise class business and public sector buyers will very carefully scrutinize any purchase requests that pop up over the next 3 years as the result of pervasively unsuccessful efforts to capture value from software purchased and already implemented.

This dearth of success on the trail of value does not necessarily spell terminal bad news for software technology innovators looking to establish a toe hold in large workplaces. Rather, the lack of success compels businesses committed to marketing software to frame marketing communications around the best obtainable set of financial information about specific, verifiable, cost savings to be realized from the implementation of specific pieces of software by enterprise business customers. The more specific the better. In all cases the bottom line needs to be, clearly, specific amounts of money that will be saved as the result of purchasing and implementing software. Hype just won’t do. If a year or two is required to genuinely collaborate with the marketplace to determine the specific costs that can be saved, then so be it. Make sure that the resources are at hand to support the business through the fact finding period without pushing the market to accelerate the pace.

We have excellent recent experience working with software technology innovators committed to global business markets. We welcome opportunities to elaborate on our experience. Please call Ira Michael Blonder, IMB Enterprises, Inc at +1 631-673-2929 to discuss your product and your near term market plans.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved