I have to give IBM points for even trying this: They’ve developed an online game that walks players through a (BPM) Business Process Management) exercise. But is asking prospects to spend the time playing an online game good for all parts of the sales cycle?

 

In Innov8 players are presented with multiple scenarios (tweaking a supply chain or improving customer service) and get to see how business process automation helps the business. OK, World of Warcraft it ain’t. Chris Koch, whose blog brought this to my attention, liked the game because it frames the discussion “in a way that makes sense and that connects it to business results…establishes IBM as an expert… (and gives the player) a visual, visceral demonstration of the role that IT automation plays in business performance—which helps IBM sell its WebSphere SOA software (the stuff that enables the automation).”

 

Maybe. I couldn’t tell because the game crashed my browser, twice, before I could get to the real action. (Incoming calls are now automatically routed to the proper call center!) At that point, I had exhausted my curiosity. Which leads me to ask whether you should wait to offer a prospect an online game until they are willing to invest all the time required to wait for screens to load, understand the rules of the game, work through the scenarios, and cope with problems like crashing browsers?

 

In a world where business decision makers are more and more pressed for time, it might make better sense to wait on a game until the prospect has seen enough other content that they understand the basic concepts of BPM and want to get more deeply involved. I’d be curious to hear from IBM itself, or from people who have played the game, whether it met the goal of teaching folks about BPM and making them think of IBM for their BPM project.

 

But if we figure out this game thing, just think of the follow-ons: “Philippines vs. India: Outsourcing Smackdown;” “iSCSI vs. Fibre Channel: The Final Battle,” and of course “Amazon vs. Azure: Dual to the Death in the Cloud.”

 

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Ask anyone selling marketing software or services what their “cost per lead” is and you’ll get a different, and self-serving, answer. I’ve seen estimates ranging from single dollars to tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars. The cost is always the highest for whatever mechanism (trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail, marketing automation software) the competing vendor is hoping to trash.

 

Of course, everyone cooks the underlying cost numbers to make their approach look best. But you’re actually asking to be bamboozled because you haven’t defined a “lead.” It is just a name and a possibly outdated title and email address from a purchased list? Is it the current name and contact info of someone who actually visited your booth or downloaded a white paper? Or is it the name, contact information who has indicated (either through a registration form or their readership history) that they’re feeling the pain you can solve, own the hardware and software your product needs to work, and are willing to sit down and talk for ten minutes?

 

Naturally, the price goes up the better the “lead” is. A veteran marketing director working for a social media startup told me recently that white-paper syndication services charge about $25 per lead, (names of individuals with certain titles, at a given size organization, etc. But identifying which “leads” have the right other products to make them a good lead boosts the cost closer to $80. Winnowing the field down to those who have the specific problem his product solves, and is open to a call, winds up costing hundreds of dollars per lead.

 

Some vendors try to ease the confusion by differentiating between “leads” (less qualified) and “prospects” (more qualified.) Other cite a CPL (cost per lead) and CPA (cost per action) with the “action” being a lead downloading a white paper or taking a call. But whatever terminology you use, “cost per lead” is useless for calculating ROI unless you define “lead.”

 

The CPA metric is a good start, because it defines success as a specific action. And most marketers (like my friend) have a good intuitive feel for what they want from a lead. Just adding a few words – a lead who will take a ten minute call, or who downloads our white paper – are all it takes to set a clear and level playing field.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Journalism isn’t like marketing, and that isn’t just because journalists supposedly seek the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Reporters and editors take an extremely pragmatic, “whatever and whoever it takes” approach to getting good stories. That means choosing and quoting good sources based on their knowledge and credibility. Letting marketers choose who can, and cannot, be quoted in your blog or newsletter robs you of the quality content you need.

 

Consider a recent client of mine who plays in a part of the enterprise software space populated by a huge number of consultants. These consultants help very large customers with very complex needs install very large, complicated software. The bigger and more complex the sale (and thus the more interesting for my client) the more likely it is a consultant is involved, not merely as a reseller but as a provider of critical, industry-specific expertise.

 

While rounding up sources for a new, online content marketing effort, my client laid down the law: The only sources I could quote were internal IT people at customers with internal IT titles. The thinking, I’m sure, was that potential customers want to hear from other customers, not consultants with an ax to grind.

 

But you draw prospects through content marketing by the quality of your content, not the titles of the talking heads. That’s why in an IT trade publication, you’ll see analysts, consultants, resellers and competitors quoted with abandon, just as long as they have something useful to say. If you limit yourself to quoting actual customers you’re crippling your chances of finding good sources. You’re also dooming yourself to weeks of delay while their internal PR and legal staffs decide what, if anything, they can say.

 

If you’re trying to achieve journalism-style quality, play by journalism-style rules and let your content creators find ideas wherever they can. It isn’t about being fair and objective; it’s about getting the job done.

 

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Real Editors Don’t Just Retweet

“Content marketing” – using material such as white papers, podcasts and videos to sell to customers – is the latest buzzword as companies try to grab market share in the recovering economy.   One common refrain I keep hearing is that marketers should “think like an editor” in deciding what information to give to customers.

 

The only problem is that some of the very smart people giving this advice have no real idea what an editor does. For example, in a recent interview, CEO Brian Halligan of marketing software vendor HubSpot was quoted as saying:

 

“So what a newspaper editor would do is he is reading blogs and newspapers all day looking for ideas…so I would spend a reasonable amount of my day looking at my RSS reader looking at different blogs, looking at different articles and when I find something interesting I would promote it by Twitter or Facebook or a LinkedIn group so other people can collaborate around it.”

 

No real editor would last a week if all he or she did was troll the competition for interesting stories and throw them on the Web for other people to (hopefully) add value.  Sure, real editors read “the other paper,” but mostly to beat up their own reporters about scoops they missed. They spend much more time talking to those reporters about what’s going on in their beats, looking for the next great story the competition hasn’t found yet.

 

As a marketer, your “reporters” are your developers, your salespeople and your product managers. Their “beats” are the technology they work with and the customers they talk to. As an editor you need to find out what they think is new and interesting, and help them turn those ideas and observations into content customers care about.

 

Yes, you need to redistribute good stuff from blogs, RSS feeds and Twitter to keep yourself visible. But to convince a customer to buy from you and not a competitor, it’s much more important to prove your value by saying something smart and original. That’s what real editors do. 

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Let’s say – let’s just say – you were a huge oil company, or a government agency, desperately trying to recover from a major blunder.  You’re not sure how bad things are or when you can fix the situation. But do you do know you messed up real bad, didn’t move quickly enough to fix the problem and are desperately trying to calm everyone down while you scramble to undo the damage you’ve caused.

 

Yes, I’m talking about the oil slick the size of Puerto Rico now drifting towards the Gulf Coast. Federal and oil industry officials keep repeating nonsense like “utilizing every available resource” and “mitigating impacts” and wondering why the public doesn’t trust them.

 

What I’m not hearing enough of, in either official briefings or press reports, are details like:

 

75 skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels, as well as dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and offshore drilling platforms are spreading chemicals and booms to keep the oil from reaching sensitive shoreline.

 

They have already put in place more than 275,000 feet of booms l—an increase of nearly 60,000 feet since yesterday – and are preparing to deploy another 316,470 feet.

 

Nearly 2,000 people are working to protect the shoreline and wildlife.

 

Those numbers are real (as of May 1) but I had to read past acres of blather in the transcript of a government briefing to find them. The same is true in a lot of business to business marketing materials. Sellers hide behind the jargon they feel comfortable with, the marketing “buzzwords” they feel they must include and the platitudes they think people want to hear rather than using plain English.

 

Easily understood specifics help the reader or listener understand what you’re doing, and to weigh it against what should be done. The reader (or customer) will eventually learn what a government agency did and didn’t do, and what your product can and can’t do. Why not say it clearly, up-front, so everyone can get on with solving the problem of the day, whether it’s an oil spill or a stalled ERP implementation.

 

Speak English, not platitudes, to me and I’m much more likely to let you keep drilling for oil offshore, or for money in my wallet.

 

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Gotten a pitch to attend a conference or trade show lately? Did you decide to spend the money, or ditch it and stay in the office? It’s tough to get people to part with their money, or their time, to attend conferences these days. But one way to do it is to give them a sample of what they’d get if they attended.

 

A recent email from the SAP Insider trade pub for their Administrator and Infrastructure Conference  did a good job of doing exactly that. After a brief introductory paragraph or two, it provides a teaser list of six tips (each of which is actually a “best practices”) that was presented during earlier conferences. They are:

  • Tip 1 – 10-step guide to integrate SAP NetWeaver BW and SAP BusinessObjects security
  • Tip 2 – Technical prerequisites for your SAP enhancement package implementation project
  • Tip 3 – Tips for working with SAP NetWeaver variables in Crystal Reports
  • Tip 4 – 19 guidelines for avoiding common pitfalls during your next SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse upgrade project
  • Tip 5 – How to understand the difference between centralized, distributed, and autonomous data governance models, and
  • Tip 6 – 10 best practices for building Xcelsius dashboards

You don’t have to be an SAP expert to see that each tip is specific and technical enough to show the prospect the type of nitty-gritty value they’d get from the conference. By tracking which newsletter recipients click through to which tip (yes, the prospect has to give up their contact info to get the tip) SAP Insider (or a sponsor) can infer what products each prospect is using, and what challenges they’re facing. So even if you don’t get the prospect for the conference, you might have a lead for a product or service sale.

 

It’s a great example of “selling by offering value,” using valuable content that already exists from previous events. What great, usable content is sitting around your organization you could be using to attract conference attendees – or sales leads?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

My recent post on pitching thought leadership continues to drive comment, including a raspberry from my girlfriend who thinks “thought leadership” sounds like controlling people’s minds. I tell her it just means coming up with truly new ways of solving a customer’s problem. She just rolls her eyes.

A lot of the rest of you, though, agree that thought leadership is critical to rising above the “he said, she said” of competing product claims but that it usually isn’t done right. One of the most interesting threads came from Chris Stetson, a veteran researcher at OpinionPath who wonders why so few marketers take the same time to “pre-test” thought leadership content in the way they would a more conventional marketing or advertising campaign.  

A big reason, he suspects, “is that the ad folks are ill-at-ease reviewing editorial work. They still deep down love media's impartiality and the power that such credibility produces. So they want even the custom content to retain the good 'ol air of impartiality.

Except how do you make sure your thought leadership copy will increase the reader’s belief that the brand is a thought leader if you haven’t tested it? Seems like we’re back in the old days where “I know half of my ad dollars are wasted; I just don’t know which half.” Anyone out there have any best practices for testing thought leadership content in this new age of B2B, vendor-sponsored publishing?

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.
 Page 14 of 14  « First  ... « 10  11  12  13  14