Enterprise IT ISVs should Engage with the Public to Manage Market Message, Brand and Reputation

On December 7, 2012 we published a post to this blog, Cloud Service Providers Scale Back Features to Reduce Operating Costs. The position that we presented in this post was that a combination of at least two factors:

  1. transitioning cloud service subscribers from a free to paid feature model along the lines of a Freemium Business Model (http://www NULL.avc NULL.com/a_vc/2006/03/the_freemium_bu NULL.html)
  2. and, consumer-driven pricing pressure, which is typical of markets for commodities

had produced some impediments to cloud services providers in the public relations area.

In our opinion, both of these factors (in some fashion) have contributed to public perception of clumsy progress on the part of a number of cloud services providers as they look to extract more revenue from subscription offers. Our post mentioned two of these providers (though we need to note here that the issues we raised appear to us to be widespread across the industry) Salesforce.com (http://www NULL.salesforce NULL.com) and LinkedIn (http://www NULL.linkedin NULL.com).

On December 14, 2012 Ira Michael Blonder, who writes this blog for IMB Enterprises, Inc. was contacted directly at our corporate telephone number by a contact at Salesforce.com. This contact requested a telephone call to collect more of Ira’s opinion, as well as to discuss the point further.

While we have some concerns about how this type of outreach could transpire, if handled ineptly, we generally think engaging with the public is a good idea for any business with a subscription revenue model looking to better manage its message, and, therefore, its brand.

Public misunderstandings about products, policies and/or terms, should be clarified as quickly as possible. Further, the public should be engaged to sample opinion as to how feature changes have been received. These conversations should be communicated back to product management to ensure that marketing communications messages have been optimized, and stay that way. As well, product management should analyze these conversations to gauge likely public reception of product offers, policies and terms and recalibrate, as required.

Our judgement on the value of Ira’s conversation with the above mentioned contact from Salesforce.com is positive. This contact adhered to the type of etiquette that we think needs to be exercised over this type of engagement. In fact, we had not published anything untrue, therefore, there was no effort made on the part of this contact to request a retraction of our post. Rather, the telephone call was used, correctly, to gather additional information about an opinion that we had opted to voice publicly, via our post. At the same time, the occasion of the call was used to provide us with some additional important details, ostensibly to help us reconsider our opinion. Both of these points make sense to us. We think other cloud services providers should think about implementing similar efforts.

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

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