28
Sep

Adwords has Become an Accessible and Valuable Tool for Early Stage Enterprise IT ISVs to Drive Sales Interest

We have had direct experience with Google Adwords as a premium online advertising option over several years. Originally we undertook some management of a campaign established by a client in a retail business for formal apparel. Most recently we are managing campaigns for clients in enterprise IT technology businesses. We can finally say, with confidence, that Google Adwords is now a method of product promotion that meets our standards for accessibility and likelihood of return on investment (ROI).

The biggest difference between then and now is the availability, for 6 weeks at the start of any Google Adwords campaign, of unlimited technical assistance for any Adwords advertiser. This new feature goes a very long way to help technically knowledgeable organizations like ours to make better use of Adwords features, particularly as they can be coordinated with Google Analytics. For example, we can now get very granular as to how we manage keywords, literally turning them on or off, as required, on a daily basis as we fine tune client campaigns.

This granular control is a very big plus as our clients, across the board, have let us know that a big issue with Adwords has been the comparative high cost of utilizing this method. A familiar phrase that we used to hear from clients about Adwords was “out of control.” Somehow campaigns got out of control. Costs escalated and, in keeping with this escalation, true return on investment contracted. In contrast, today we can say with confidence that we can truly turn off what is NOT working very promptly to keep client costs within a workable range. Of most importance, for a likely few hundred dollars in click or CPM costs, at the onset of a campaign, our clients can develop a useful set of keywords that will deliver the sales required to maintain campaigns and grow overall business.

We would like to see a same day view of the “visitor flow” feature. Further, we would like to see a timely display of click costs where the display network is in use for a campaign. Finally, it would be very helpful if the documentation for Adwords was subjected to a thorough edit. The instructions and editorial content are still very opaque and certainly beyond the reach of non technical users. Nevertheless, we give very high marks to this promotional opportunity, and applaud Google on this effort.

If you are contemplating an Adwords campaign and would like to hear what we can do for you, then please contact us. Our monthly retained plans start at $3200.00.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. has the resources to successfully execute on this type of requirement. Please contact us to learn further. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

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

27
Sep

Marketing Communications, Hyperbole, and IT Trends — Kinda Like If We Say It’s So It’ll Be So

We recently reviewed an article authored by Ms. Julie Bolt, 10 Disruptive Enterprise Tech Companies, which was published on September 25, 2012 on the Business Insider web site. We confess that we tweeted about this article before we read it, which, in retrospect, we ought not to have done. The fact is that we do not agree with some of the points in this article, and, further, we are cautious about the type of sweeping statements that we found throughout the article.

The point here is what are present standards, to use a tech phrase, “best of breed” techniques as regards MARCOM for enterprise IT ISVs? This publication, Business Insider is, admittedly, not connected to any one tech software provider, but, nevertheless, the 10 firms that are discussed in this article are, to some extent, implicated in what we can’t help but take to be quite a bit of hyperbole. Here’s an example: “Cloud computing has put unlimited computing power in the hands of everyone at very low cost.” (quoted from “10 Disruptive Enterprise Tech Companies” as published on Business Insider web site and written by Ms. Julie Bort). Here’s another: “Software-as-a-service has become a safe and reliable alternative to on-premise software”(ibid). Here’s just one more: “Google generates about $1 billion a year on its five enterprise products. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to its full revenue stream, but it’s had a significant impact on competitors like Microsoft”(ibid).

For the record, we question each one of these three assertions. The last is particularly troubling. We, ourselves, took a look at Google’s 10-Q as filed with the US SEC on June 30, 2012 and could not find a single specific mention of these “enterprise” products. We DID find mention of $434 Million in sales of “other” products in the revenue statement, but no specific mention of these “enterprise” products.

But we are not looking at this article as an opportunity to contest someone else’s truth; rather, we are looking at this article as an example of what we take to be an unfortunate enterprise IT ISV MARCOM trend, which works to create market movement through editorial content that exaggerates small kernels of potentially factual information into great big snow balls of vaporware.

We are cautious, at best, about this trend, and, at worst, concerned at its present proliferation. We think there is enough factual, positive, meat to the bones of the businesses portrayed in this article to make for an informative article without all the exaggeration. Hopefully someone will make the effort required and tell us something we really need to know about each of this businesses.

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

26
Sep

Selling Enterprise Computing Support Services is all About Commodities and Having a Very Low Cost of Delivery

On September 13, 2012, the All Things Digital web site published an interview, conducted by Mr. Arik Hesseldahl, with Mr. Stephen Schuckenbrock, Head of Services for Dell. The points of this interview that were most meaningful for us where:

  1. Mr. Schuckenbrock’s evident deep grasp of Michael Porter’s Five Forces of Competition
  2. and his understanding of selling realities of 2012 and the need to pick and choose opportunities carefully instead of legacy styles that called for an “anything you want” posture for customer facing sales in enterprise markets

When Mr. Schuckenbrock speaks of ” . . . put[ting] everything in services together as one team, and then we globalized everything, so when you a buy a notebook in the U.S. and you happen to be in India, we know where you are, and we can fix the machine. We couldn’t do that in the past.” (quoted from Mr. Hesseldahl’s article, for which a link has been provided, above) he’s actually talking about building a support system that is inherently less expensive for Dell to run, which makes them much more formidable as a competitor if one follows Porter’s prescriptions.

Looking further, when he goes on to note that the enterprise services and support businesses are actually rather similar, but points out that ” . . .customization worked in the old way, when margins were at 30 to 35 percent. When you start pushing margins into the teens and add in the capital intensity and then the risk profile of those contracts, it only takes a few bad deals to fundamentally break a good company. As x86 (systems based on chips from Intel and AMD) has become the dominant compute platform, services can start looking more like the machine that we have in the support business. Not identical, but more like.” (ibid) we can’t help concluding that Mr. Schuckenbrock understands, very well the fact that customizing solutions will result in a much higher cost of delivery, which, in 2012, will prove to be a fatal flaw. Once again, he’s keeping his attention fixed on maintaining the lowest cost of delivery that he can manage, to protect a highly competitive advantage.

In fact, the positive comments that he makes in this article about cloud computing, as well as about a set of forward-thinking set of customers who recently chose Dell over the competition, can be looked at the same way — in other words, that cloud delivery affords Dell a very low cost of provisioning services to customers. After all, with cloud, there is no on premise component, etc.

As regards his mastery of selling products to enterprise IT buyers, we detected his expertise in this area when he noted that ” . . . [c]ustomers who just want me to do it their way, but cheaper, I’m not so interested in.” (ibid). Here is a manager who is prepared to walk away from a deal — a breathe of fresh air.

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

25
Sep

A Product Spokesman is a Mandatory Role for the Debut of New Enterprise IT Software

Enterprise IT ISVs in need of a method of rapidly building market awareness of new products should carefully consider designating a product spokesperson. This product spokesperson should be charged with promoting new products through a variety of media, including:

  • Print, Direct Mail
  • Online Web Sites
  • Social Media
  • Conferences
  • Customer Events, etc

Where an ISV is long on technology, but lacking as regards an understanding of marketing, the need to take this leadership step for a product may elude senior management. Missing this opportunity to designate product leadership often results in a much slower — and more challenging — product launch. After all, someone needs to take charge to ensure that a distinct, and consistent message is delivered to markets. Further, this individual needs to create the position papers, white papers, and other high level collateral that is required to create a stir (meaning interest) around a product. Of course, interest will, inevitably, result in engagement with prospects, perhaps in the form of incoming inquiries, or, perhaps in the form of attendance at seminars and other product presentation venues.

Where it is not possible to dedicate head count entirely to this set of tasks, then the tasks can certainly be split among a number of senior managers. However, any/all public announcements, presentations, communications, must be handled uniformly and in one consistent voice. In fact, availing of a third party communications firm can generally suffice to ensure that a product launch proceeds entirely along these lines. Answers to important questions can be fielded from engineering, finance, senior management, etc.; however the position piece that includes these answers must be crafted by a single writer who either establishes the market message, or adds to it, as required. Opting for many different voices speaking to the same topics ought to be entirely avoided as the end result of this type of babble is market confusion and ambiguity — two conditions that ought to be avoided at almost any cost.

Once product leadership has been designated, then the management team should shift its scrutiny to proofing a communications plan for a product to ensure that every appropriate medium is served with a “right” message. Partners, collaborators and influential individuals should be informed of the product and included in the review process to ensure that a best effort has been made.

If your business is set to launch a product, but you lack the internal resources to shoulder the marketing communications burden that will have to ensue, then you ought to secure the services of a third party to work with you as you traverse this phase of product development.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. has the resources to successfully execute on this type of requirement. Please contact us to learn further. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

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

24
Sep

A Disciplined Application of Coordinated Promotional Campaigns with Direct Telephone Contact is an Optimum Strategy for Enterprise IT ISVs

It makes little sense for enterprise IT ISVs to maintain daily telemarketing outreach efforts without a promotional component. In our experience, the best return from efforts is to be obtained from coordinated campaigns that include a promotional component in the form of a piece of marketing communications carefully designed to deliver information in a manner that will elicit an optimum response from recipients, along with a telemarketing follow up program that will commence no earlier than 24 hours after receipt of MARCOM by recipients, but no later than 3 days from the same date of receipt.

In our experience daily telemarketing campaigns undertaken without a marketing communications component are almost always perceived as “cold calls” with all of the negative connotations that usually accompany this type of telephone call. Some technology businesses pin their lead generation efforts around “cold calls” and, further, consider this approach to be a least cost solution for business expansion. We think the low cost of this type of activity stems from the fact that the personnel usually charged with this activity are rarely, if ever compensated for their time in any manner beyond a contingent share in a sale as the result of sales commission. Yet, when costs like these are calculated, we think that it is a rare business that factors in the cost of personnel turnover (as the result of a very low return on personal investment) in the total cost of this lead generation method.

In fact, we think that repetitive cold calling, undertaken independently, without a coordinated promotional campaign that includes marketing communications content is, actually, a very expensive approach to lead generation. Further, habituating on this method can actually result in a retardation of the otherwise normal growth rate for a technology business like an enterprise IT ISV.

Better to put together periodic, coordinated campaigns that couple marketing communications content with a telemarketing follow up component. Approaching lead generation from this angle, and monitoring historical campaign results, can produce data that will, undoubtedly, prove to be very useful for business planning purposes. Of most importance, the impression that these campaigns will make on the prospects that receive collateral and follow up telemarketing calls, will be substantially more favorable than the result of the “cold calls” that we have characterized, above.

If you head up a technology business and understand the importance of a successful effort to generate leads, then you ought to seriously consider building a set of coordinated campaigns that include a marketing communications piece along with a follow up telemarketing effort. If you lack the internal resources to produce these campaigns, it makes sense to contract with a third party firm that can get the job done correctly.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. has the resources to successfully execute on this type of requirement. Please contact us to learn further. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

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

21
Sep

Selling Enterprise IT Software Without a Marketing Plan is Like Looking for an Outfit in a Very Cluttered Dark Closet

Depending on the size of one’s closet, and the amount of clothing to be found in it and, finally, the manner in which the clothes are organized, it can be very difficult, if not impossible to find an outfit when the lights are out and it is not possible to illuminate the closet. Of course, once the lights are back on, it may be only a matter of a couple of minutes between deciding on an outfit for a day and actually finding the jacket, slacks, shoes and tie that match. Therefore, it is safe to say that light goes a long way to hasten the process of locating items in a cramped, very, very busy closet full of clothing.

Selling products/services/integrated solutions into the complex market that operates on enterprise IT software is very much akin to finding an outfit in the busy closet that we just described. Top ranked sales people, with exceptional backgrounds closing large ticket sales, can still prove to be completely ineffective in these markets. Sales forecasts can prove to be useless predictions that are rarely, if ever achieved. The missing piece, for better or worse, is a lack of a clear marketing plan for

  1. the business
  2. products
  3. and how to promote 1) and 2) to the enterprise IT market

In fact, a plausible marketing plan functions much like a brilliantly bright halogen lamp with a diffuse, wide beam that successfully illuminates every cranny of the closet mentioned in our analogy. We cannot overstate the importance of the fact that the plan must be plausible. The best way that we know of ascertaining the plausibility of the plan is to circulate a formal document to a group of carefully picked individuals who can provide the opinions required to ascertain that the plan is, in fact, realistic and workable. Therefore, we counsel entrepeneurs contemplating starting a business to make sure that a circle of confidants is in place who can keep a business effort on track with their opinions prior to launching a venture. In fact, the best way to put together this circle of reviewers is to form a board of directors, which is, traditionally, the manner in which businesses have been organized in the past.

The sum total of a marketing plan that has been vetted by a board of directors, and a capable sales team can, in fact, be promising for a business venture. If you understand the importance of both of these components, think that you have an excellent business concept, but neither have the personal connections required to assemble a useful board of directors, nor the resources to produce a formal marketing plan, then you should contract with a third party to get the job done.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. calls on over 25 years of continuous experience with early stage tech businesses. As well, we maintain a network of contacts that may produce the board members that a business like yours requires. Our retained services (3 mos minimum) start at $3200.00 per month. Please contact us to learn further. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

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

20
Sep

A Business Plan Provides an Enterprise IT ISV with an Important Reality Check

Most entrepeneurs understand the value of a business plan. For example, anyone who has ever availed of the free-of-charge advisory services offered by SCORE has had to deal with the question: “Let’s have a look at your business plan”. In turn, the United States Small Business Administration and other financing entities strictly require that any funding application include a copy of a business plan.

But for many businesses, including a proportionate number of very early stage enterprise IT ISVs, producing a comprehensive business plan that accurately reflects each feature of a business concept is a monumental task that somehow “just doesn’t get done”. This reality is, in fact, a shame, as an oversight like neglecting to complete a formal business plan can prove to be a life threatening matter for a business.

In fact, a business plan constitutes a highly useful reality check for the business, especially for one that is built on technology innovation. For example, where a tech start up is otherwise weak with regards to marketing and sales, a well put together business plan that talks to these two essential topics in a plausible manner can be convincing and useful. Of course, if the sections of a business plan devoted to

  • a presentation of a market,
  • to the depiction of planned products/services/integrated solutions and, finally,
  • to the method by which a business will generate revenue through sales of the products into the market

are to be believed, then the historical performance of the business must bear out the points of the plan. In fact, it is easier to follow a plan that is objectively found to make sense, and promising, without key marketing and sales staff than it is to proceed aimlessly with marketing and sales personnel who seem to have the “right” skills and experience set, but still fail to deliver required results. The difference, of course, amounts to the fact that the company without staff that, nevertheless, still hits its numbers is operating under a plan, whereas the company with staff, but performing poorly neither has a plan, nor understands the importance of operating from points that must be formalized in a plan prior to activation.

Bear in mind that by plan we are referring to the document that we have described, which formalizes the features of a business. Further, this plan has been reviewed by a number of different parties who, in a consensus, have agreed that its features are plausible and ought to be activated.

If you understand the importance of a formal business plan, but lack the internal resources to either contribute the features required, or to produce a well written formal document that conforms to the style conventions required byt the individuals to whom you intent to present it, then you should contract with a third party to get the job done.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. brings considerable experience to this type of requirement. Our retained services (3 mos minimum) start at $3200.00 per month. Please contact us to learn further. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

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

19
Sep

Well Organized Surveys can Provide Important Qualifiers for Enterprise IT Software Prospects

As we wrote in the prior post to this blog, market surveys certainly provide enterprise IT ISVs with a highly useful vehicle to engage with businesses on topics that can engender a relaxed and forthcoming attitude from respondents. In fact, it is not at all atypical to find that respondents do most of the talking during a telephone survey. Therefore, the information collected from surveys can be highly useful and, where surveys are carefully designed and worded, highly informative, especially on the question of whether or not respondents have a high probability to develop into sales prospects. Of course, for high probability respondents it makes sense to design a program to maintain contact and, thereby, “nurture” these leads as they develop into sales-ready opportunities.

On the other hand, surveys will not lend themselves to this type of application where product marketing has not finished its job. If a clear picture of a qualified sales prospect is not at hand, it does not make sense to spend much time on surveys. The only exception to this prescription is a plan to use a survey to find out where a market is headed. Usually research firms will sponsor this type of market sampling activity. However, it does make sense for enterprise IT ISVs to use the same approach as they consider renovating existing products, or even as they go about the job of collecting the information they require to plan new products and/or new entrances to markets.

We plan on writing a post or two on market sampling surveys in the future. For the purposes of this post, we are specifically discussing how to use a questionnaire to identify companies that ought to be on a “watch list” based upon indicators of qualification for specific products/services/integrated solutions. As we just mentioned, a clear picture of a highly qualified prospect must be available. At a minimum, a section of the survey should be designed to include the questions that need to be asked to collect these qualifiers. If a survey is correctly designed, and promoted to respondents, there should be nothing unnatural about this set of questions. Rather, they should flow right out of the overall theme of the survey. Nevertheless, the answers collected from respondents to the questions included in these sections can prove to be highly reliable indicators of sales prospect potential.

If you are looking to develop a lead nurturing program, you should think about starting the job of cultivating these opportunities from the seeds of qualification collected from your surveys. If, for one reason or another, you either lack a clear sense of a qualified prospect for your product, or do not have the internal resources to put together a survey correctly for this type of objective, then you ought to contract with a third party to get the job done.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. would like to be on your short list. Our retained services (3 mos minimum) start at $3200.00 per month. Please contact us to learn further. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

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

18
Sep

Contacts Must be Regularly Removed from Enterprise IT Software Lead Lists to Maintain a Courteous Rapport with Market Place Participants

So-called opt-in email programs are frequently abused by clumsy marketing communications teams. These teams, often working on behalf of enterprise IT software ISVs, abuse the privilege of regularly communicating with specific recipients by inundating them with high frequency email messages. We don’t think this makes sense. Neither do we see how this type of activity benefits the sponsoring ISVs. In fact, we think respondents are often irritated by this type of activity, to the point of deciding to look elsewhere when purchase requirements arise.

We think it makes more sense for these marketing communications teams to periodically remove names from these lists as indication is received that recipients are, in fact, oblivious to messages. We are pleased to note that recently we did receive communications from several of these teams requesting that we reconfirm our opt-in to their email list. This type of request can prove to be a useful tool as businesses purge contact information for individuals no longer interested in product communications.

It is very important that the same attention to courteous behavior with market place participants be observed by telemarketing and teleprospecting teams. We have a standing policy that contacts who fail to respond to three attempts at contact be removed from call lists. This is not to say that we delete these names. In fact, we consider the activity of deleting contacts from lists as entirely within the power of our clients. Rather, we simply code these prospects differently to ensure that they will no longer be included in regular direct contact programs.

An added benefit of maintaining the type of cleansing program that we have just described is that the ability of communications team to properly manage time should improve, perhaps substantially. Further, resources will likely become available to properly address real opportunities as they emerge from the contacts left on these contact lists. Finally, lead generation programs can be used to identify additional contacts at important prospect opportunities to ensure that a fresh set of contacts is available for follow on intelligence gathering and lead development efforts.

In fact, messy contact lists that feature a high proportion of truly disinterested individuals are generally a waste of time that ought to be avoided by communications teams.

If your communications teams are constantly producing new campaigns for the same set of contacts, but fail to produce much engagement beyond an intitial outreach effort, you should look to reduce the size of your list by removing disinterested contacts while you lower the frequency of contact campaigns. If you understand the value of the type of regular purge activity that we have described, but haven’t the resources to manage it, you should consider working with a third party who can deliver the program for you.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. would like to be on your short list. Our retained services (3 mos minimum) start at $3200.00 per month. Please contact us to learn further. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

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

17
Sep

Successful Enterprise IT ISVs Include Sales and Marketing Management in the Executive Team

The technology industry does not promise entrepeneurs immunity from the infection that threatens 49%, or more, of legitimate small businesses started here in the United States of America — likely demise within the first 5 years of business activity. This figure is an approximation of specific data presented in a paper, “Examining the Credit Access on Small Firm Survivability”, which was published online on February 24, 2012 by the Federal Reserve Board of the United States. For our purposes, a legitimate small business is one with assets valued in excess of $0, or annual sales in excess of $1000.00.

Nevertheless, technology entrepeneurs often maintain an opinion that ostensibly superior engineering, alone, can provide the impetus required to propel a business notion into a viable organization that can quickly achieve self support and, later, deliver handsome returns on efforts made to its owners. This opinion also supports an equally dangerous assumption that it is perfectly fine to pin the success or failure of a business venture on a “solution without a problem,” meaning a technical product/service/integrated solution that may exhibit quite elegant features, but fails to address any palpable market requirement.

Both of these features of failure:

  1. excessive confidence built on nothing more than an assumption that engineering, alone, will make a business notion into a winner and
  2. dedicating resources to developing products that are not requested by markets

can do enough damage to lead business owners to cease activity if left unchecked.

In fact, these ideas stem for a pervasive under estimate of the importance of marketing and sales management to the success of any type of business in the United States. It is of no material importance whether or not marketing and sales expertise is delivered by a business entrepeneur, or by his/her management team. Regardless, understanding the principles of marketing, including:

  • business positioning
  • product marketing
  • and marketing communications

and sales, which, for enterprise IT ISVs must include a thorough mastery of selling

  • products/services/integrated solutions to a complex set of buyers
  • in an entirely ethical manner

must be present, or else the likelihood of business failure will be quite high. Despite lots of consternation, tech entrepeneurs will need to fully assimilate the mandatory nature of provisioning this type of expertise if a business notion is to prove successful.

If you understand that your business notion requires a level of marketing and sales expertise that you either do not possess, you need to address this deficiency as quickly as possible by either adding strategic partners, or hiring management staff. If time is an important consideration, then you ought to look to temporary resources to fill these gaps in your business plan.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. is certainly capable of providing you with resources that can fill these roles for your business. Our retained services (3 mos minimum) start at $3200.00 per month. Please contact us to learn further. You can call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

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