Success Stories and Case Studies do serve a purpose for enterprise technology consumers

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthIf ISVs with offerings targeted to enterprise computing markets needed any more indication of the importance of case studies and success stories, they likely got what they needed in an article written by Elizabeth Dwoskin, which was published on December 16, 2014 on the Online Wall Street Journal web site.

The title of Dwoskin’s article is The Joys and Hype of Software Called Hadoop. The reason her article should alert any ISVs still in the dark as to why they absolutely require a marketing communications effort, which will produce success stories and case studies can be found in the following quote:

  • “Yet companies that have tried to use Hadoop have met with frustration. Bank of New York Mellon used it to locate glitches in a trading system. It worked well enough on a small scale, but it slowed to a crawl when many employees tried to access it at once, and few of the company’s 13,000 information-technology workers had the expertise to troubleshoot it. David Gleason, the bank’s chief data officer at the time, said that while he was a proponent of Hadoop, ‘it wasn’t ready for prime time.'” (quoted in entirety from Dwoskin’s article in the WSJ. I have provided a link to the entire article, above and encourage readers to spend some time on it)

This comment from a large enterprise consumer — BNY Mellon — which can be read as less than positive, can (and likely will) do a lot to encourage peers to look a lot closer at Hadoop prior to moving forward on an implementation.

Bottom line: enterprise businesses do not like to proceed where their peers have hit obstacles like the one Gleason recounts in his comment. Peer comparisons are, arguably, a very important activity for enterprise business consumers. So ISVs working with Hadoop on big data offers, or NoSQL databases and related analytics need to make the effort to queue up positive comments about consumer experiences with their products.

I recently wrote a set of posts to this blog on Big Data, NoSQL and JSON and must admit to experiencing some difficulty finding the case studies and success stories I needed to gain a perspective on just how enterprise consumers have been using products presented as solutions to the market for these computing trends. Hortonworks, on the other hand, is an exception. So I would encourage any readers after the same type of testimonial content about customer experience with products to visit Hortonworks on the web.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


The Microsoft Cloud Promotional Campaign Debuts Without a Formal Introduction

Microsoft has debuted a new promotional campaign, ‘The Microsoft Cloud’. This campaign is targeted to the core of Microsoft’s customer base — enterprise business. The campaign includes a highly integrated set of customer testimonials, position statements, and presentations of components of the solution.

This campaign launched with little formal fanfare, breaking with what has come to be Microsoft’s “typical” approach to introducing a new set of marketing concepts. So the campaign has, to date, successfully avoided the usual critical reaction from popular media. Of even greater importance, rather than foisting “Microsoft’s” version of popular computing concepts, this campaign simply starts with a familiar presentation on cloud computing and merely brands it as “Microsoft’s” cloud. The campaign breaks further from the recent past with a very clear focus on enterprise business prospects and their need for hybrid clouds, which amount to an integration of on premises computing systems –SQL Server, Windows Server– with Office 365. Promotional content is highly integrated with product presentations juxtaposed with client testimonials and even success stories.

The theme of the campaign includes four components:

  1. Insights
  2. Productivity
  3. Social
  4. and Platform

1) Insights

Insights amount to analytics, and include Microsoft’s BI offers, CRM, and Power BI for Office 365. But on premises BI solutions, including SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 are also promoted. Microsoft’s new embrace of 3rd party computing platforms (for example, the announced port of Office to the Apple iPad device platform) is represented in the Power BI presentation with a presentation of how Power BI can be connected to SAP Business Objects.

2) Productivity

The “Productivity” presentation is all about Office 365, with no mention of SharePoint anywhere in at least the first 4 screens I reviewed. There is no on premises solution included in this plank of the Microsoft Cloud solution. But there is a section devoted to the “Office 365 Trust Center”, ostensibly to persuade enterprise prospects on the security of the Productivity computing platform.

3) Social

Once again, I found no mention of SharePoint within the first few screens of the “Social” presentation, which is filled with a lot of information about Yammer, and a new set of “Social CRM” capabilities, which are built on the CRM product.

4) Platform

The last plank of the solution, Platform, is a lot about Azure, but also very much a position statement on the notion of “hybrid cloud”.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Marketing Communications Collateral that Builds Product Awareness Requires a Renovation for Enterprise IT Markets in 2013

In 2013 Marketing communications collateral that builds product awareness for an audience of channel partners must be redesigned. While product comparisons may still provide useful topics, we think that the actual basis of comparison presented by product awareness collateral needs a renovation.

For example, no one has an interest in a comparison of product features outside of the context of a discussion of solutions. Therefore, we think it makes sense for product awareness collateral to present the most popular solutions that can make use of a specific product, or, for that matter, its competitors. Certainly it is safe to present important features within the context of a presentation of popular solutions. Further, a product to product comparison based upon features within a success story, case study, or other solution document can be useful.

But some mention, as well, should be made in the product awareness document as to why cited solutions have attracted market popularity. Invariably, this type of mention will include some reference to broad benefits. We think the more successful of these marketing communications efforts will include some cost information within the benefit presentation.

After all, enterprise IT organizations, in 2013, are still looking as intently, as ever, to reduce the cost of computing solutions. Channel partners providing these organizations with solutions should be comfortable and familiar with this type of benefits discussion. Therefore, providing the benefit background to solutions should be very useful for prospective channel partners.

In the interests of keeping marketing communication terse and strictly on point, we think it makes sense to provide channel partners with several pieces of product awareness collateral, perhaps 2 case studies (or in depth presentations of popular solutions), a product brochure, and, of most importance, a product summary document. This product summary document should be largely composed of bullets (or other very short summary statements that present key points about products) that reference points illustrated elsewhere in the product kit.

It is important to set realistic expectations for the results of a product awareness campaign. Certainly, the best gauge of the success of the campaign should be sales. If there is no other way to gauge the effectiveness of a marketing communications campaign, intended to promote product awareness on the part of channel partners, then an analysis of sales figures should provide indication of whether the campaign has worked, or not. If sales are growing, and sales growth can be attributed to better understanding of product positioning, then we think ISVs should consider this type of product awareness campaign to be a success.

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


Marketing Communications Needs to Build Product Awareness on the Part of Enterprise IT Channel Partners

IMB Enterprises, Inc. is a consulting firm that provides early stage technology businesses with a range of services in the “business building” category. A leading offering for us are lead generation services, which are a combination of targeted direct marketing communications with a follow up telephone call from either a telemarketer or a teleprospector. You can learn more about our services by contacting us by telephone at +1 631-673-2929. Alternatively, please contact us via our online form.

This post is the third in a series on what we think are some important changes in the familiar dynamics of building a channel sales strategy for software products on the periphery of core demand for enterprise IT customers. We collected the information we are presenting here as the result of some of our current activities. What we have noted from some recent discussions with prominent IT services companies offering systems administration and software development to enterprise IT customers is their need for the type of marketing communications collateral that will build awareness on the part of their personnel of a product offer.

It is worth taking a moment to look further into what these contacts may have had in mind. First, we think that these contacts meant “product awareness,” rather than simply “awareness”. If our reader can stay with us as we make this leap, then we can propose that the traditional definition of product awareness is vague (“knowledge about the particular products . . .” can mean very different things to different readers), with an emphasis on the use of marketing collateral as a means of comparing different offerings for the same application from different manufacturers.

We don’t think that this traditional definition of product awareness is particularly relevant, in 2013. In fact we think our contacts used the term “awareness” to either let us know that their personnel have simply far too many products to think about at any time, or to let us know that staff activities on behalf of clients are strictly limited by their clients, with the result that their personnel lack the time to conceptualize the solutions that products like ours can be used to build.

In either case, without material to build this awareness, our clients’ products would be relegated to the role of an invisible option, seldom discussed and almost never recommended. Of course, invisible products are never sold. Therefore, these contacts were alerting us that we need to provide some very important information that builds awareness as a first step towards building a sales partnership with their respective firms.

In our next post in this series we will look at, specifically, the type of content that we recommend for inclusion in product awareness marketing communications collateral for enterprise IT software products.

Ira Michael Blonder

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


There are Few Excuses for MARCOM for Enterprise Software that Fails to Present Clear Benefit Statements for Business Users

As we wrote in the last post to this blog, public relations, and, specifically, the task of informing influential members of the public (like critics, well known authors of product reviews, etc) properly about products are very important aspects of MARCOM functions for enterprise IT ISVs. Of perhaps equal importance is the need to infuse promotional collateral with information about the benefits that business users can expect to obtain once products, services or integrated solutions have been successfully installed. As we wrote much earlier in this blog, we think the most compelling type of benefit amounts to the savings that can be realized by implementing a solution. In 2012 we think there are few enterprise businesses purchasing IT software solutions for any purpose other than saving money by replacing legacy computing procedures with something new that can be counted on to lead to lower operating costs.

But the reality is that there are still lots of products (some of which are authored by very large enterprise IT ISVs) for which promotional material is lacking that speaks to the business user in this language of cost savings. Most of the time this type of promotional material takes the form of case studies, or success stories. In fact, case studies, success stories and white papers can be found for most any successful product. Most of the time these examples of IT Software MARCOM are put together very well. It is very likely that this type of MARCOM effort is delivering on its objectives, which, for most businesses, will be good enough.

What we have in mind is the type of MARCOM that is closer to first contact with the market. Specifically, we need to see that conference handouts, brochures and direct mail pieces and even the type of brand messaging that is usually selected for trade show booths, all incorporate some type of message for the business user. In contrast, what we find in a lot of this “early contact” MARCOM is technical content; specifically, lots of mention of technical features, as if the type of technology used to build a piece of software (for example, HTML 5.0, Javascript, etc) is going to provide business buyers with an imperative to buy something.

We strongly disagree with this notion that enterprise business buys products as a result of how they are built. Some broad reference to cost savings has to be infused into this “early contact” collateral if MARCOM efforts are to succeed.

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