On Monday, May 6, 2013, the “Heard on the Street” column in The Wall Street Journal included a short piece authored by Rolfe Winkler, LinkedIn’s Real Value: Knowing All About People in All the Right Places. The article, in our opinion, is notable for a number of reasons, including
- misuse of common industry terms
- lopsided attention to one side of the vendor customer relationship
- a lack of attention to the importance of complex sales strategies to productive campaigns with larger businesses
We think it is instructive to take a post to discuss each of these points. Marketing Communications (MARCOM) needs to be as precise as possible. Where industry specific terms must be used, we think they should be used sparingly and strictly consistent with marketplace usage. While Mr. Winkler’s piece is an article, and not MARCOM collateral, it exhibits errors we’ve also noted in pure MARCOM promotional collateral efforts for “cloud” “SaaS” products and services.
Misuse of Common Industry Terms
Mr. Winkler writes: “LinkedIn Corp’s main product, driving 57% of first-quarter sales, is enterprises software . . . ” LinkedIn is a Software as a Service (SaaS) business, operating in the “cloud”. The service uses a common client, the web browser. In contrast, enterprise software is commonly understood to be software installed on premises, served locally, and usually with a proprietary client. So LinkedIn doesn’t market any enterprise software, at least as we understand it. On the other hand, they have a lucrative base of customers in enterprise business (meaning Fortune 1000), who opt to subscribe to the service directly, without using contingent search firms in the middle. This is Mr. Winkler’s point, we think.
Lopsided Attention to One Side of the Vendor Customer Relationship
If LinkedIn were actually as baldly avaricious as Mr. Winkler’s article would lead one to expect, then how would one explain the popularity of the service? LinkedIn subscribers get a lot out of the service. So they keep using it and convince colleagues to sign up. LinkedIn is not only about selling access to a method of ” . . . Knowing All About People in All the Right Places”.
Lack of Attention to the Importance of Complex Sales Strategies to Productive Campaigns with Larger Businesses
The days are past when “Joe address book” could produce the stellar sales results with Fortune 1000 businesses. Mr. Winkler’s conjecture “Imagine if, before making a call, a salesperson knew a colleague went to high school with a lead and could provide an introduction” is pure smoke in the age of Alinean’s “Frugalnomics” and the necessity of drip lead generation systems (Marketo, Eloqua and their ilk).
We think MARCOM teams for Cloud and SaaS ISVs will do well to avoid these mistakes. If your business can use some guidance on MARCOM style and theme, please let us know. We’d be enthused to learn more about what you’re after.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved