Friday, February 24, 2006

Put Yourself in the Path of Search Behavior

David Verklin, CEO Carat Americas and chairman of Asia Pacific delivered a keynote address at a summit about search marketing arranged by Yahoo. "Search," he said, "is becoming the behavior of choice. Our job as advertisers is to put our clients' products in the path of search behavior." The full story.

The Next Five Minutes ... Will it be Productive for Your Customer?

Nothing accelerates the path to value more than capturing and understanding what your customers want to accomplish in the next five minutes, and delivering a relevant and personalized experience that makes it possible for them to achieve their objectives.

Do this and you will connect faster.

To do this, obviously, you need to change your internal marketing processes. You need to capture the customer data that is important to your ability to help them achieve their goals.

Start tomorrow morning. Keep it simple. Just do it with a couple of prospects. Ask them what they care about, what they want to do, what they value. Then step back and look at all the resources at hand and use them to make these few prospects successful. Stay connected with them and let them know you want to help them achieve their goals.

Learn from the experience and begin again with a larger group of prospects. Build up your processes gradually. But keep a focus on what you can do to make each customer encounter deliver in the next five minutes a relevant and personalized experience.

Innovating Products to Sell ... the P&G Way

Marketing is among other things about innovation to differentiate.

And the king of marketing innovation has to belong to Procter & Gamble.

And they don't do innovate the way everyone else does.

Most pharmaceutical companies innovate by hiring leagues of scientists who invent new drugs. P&G has been among those that were innovating by this traditional means. But now, they are turning the cart upside down and introducing an innovative marketing model that seems to eliminate many scientific jobs at the company's pharma research facility in Mason, OH.

Procter & Gamble announced that it would "get out of early stage pharmaceutical discovery research and instead acquire all of its new drugs from outside sources." In other words, P&G would now do a lot less R&D and product innovation and rely much more on acquisitions and product licensing to fulfill its innovative product needs. The Cincinnati Post reports that P&G is leading a new trend in the pharmaceutical industry from a discovery model to a licensing and acquisition mode this is not a cost-cutting move rather than a strategic move."

The Cincinnati Enquirer story on this same "strategic move" added further insights. According to the Enquirer, "The new model calls for two to three new licensing or acquisition projects a year, each with a 10 percent to 30 percent probability of commercial success, [Mark] Collar said. We need to drive more projects through development into the marketplace than our current innovation model was able to deliver, he said. There are a lot of projects that are attractive out there, and we're going to go after our share of those. He said it was a move to reallocate funds, and that the savings from the job eliminations was not just to create more corporate profits. Collar said there are about 4,400 biotechnology companies globally, with about 600 licensing deals a year. In such a deal, a marketer such as P&G would pay the company to bring the product to market, then pay a portion of the sales back to that company."

The essence of their new strategy which P&G says is a "new trend in the pharmaceutical industry" is this: innovative R&D is not only very expensive, time-consuming and risky, but it also delimits innovation to a company's already existing imaginative and innovative capabilities. Ironically, by looking externally to innovations done by others, an organization cannot only greatly expand its imaginative vistas, but it can also accelerate its own rate of advance of innovation through acquisition or licensing or already existing new technologies.

So when it comes to marketing innovation, you might just reconsider the way you innovate.

My Colleague's Blog in the Top Ten

The “Smalltalk Tidbits/Industry Rants” blog by James Robertson, product manager, Cincom Smalltalk, is ranked seventh in the Google and Technorati Software Development Sites’ Top 10. Robertson’s Smalltalk blog has been up and running for four years.

"This is cool--writing a blog with a bent towards a product that has been used to create the blog itself. Nice engine," said one reviewer.

The Smalltalk blog is built upon the Silt blog server written in Cincom Smalltalk VisualWorks. Supporting all of the relevant standards in the weblog arena – the blog also supports the major syndication formats and the various methods for communicating with other websites (Trackback, Pingback, RSS Text Input, Comment API). Incrementally built and deployed over four years, the server also supports a full community of Smalltalk bloggers.

Robertson will be discussing Silt and the benefits of blogs at the upcoming Smalltalk Solutions Conference in Toronto, Canada.

Sales Lead Generation Starts Here

The goal is to generate more sales leads, get them qualified and move them as fast as possible through their buying cycle.

It starts with the list.

Get the list wrong and you WILL fail!

Presumably, the list has been well chosen to have a high percentage of prospects in your target market. There is waste in the list, but not nearly as much waste as with mass media, or even targeted mass media.

But the list is just the starting point of building the marketing database.

The list is full of "suspects" and you initiate your first outbound initiative against the list. Some will respond. Most typically the responders will be in the range of 2 - 10%. If your outbound initiative was well designed then the responders have told you some key bits of information about themselves. There's a whole lot more that you do not yet know about them. So your telemarketer calls to qualify ... and they learn some more about the prospect.

At most companies (well over 50%), this information about these prospects is lost after the outbound campaign.

So the next campaign begins again with a new list, and the cycle is repeated over and over. All the non-responders never hear from you again, unless they happen to be on the new list you rent.

Given this standard operating procedure at most companies, you never learn about your prospects and you never have a process of moving more of them into your funnel where you can develop them over a life cycle and close more of them faster.

Instead, determine what information you need to understand about each prospect ... the information that will help you understand their needs so you can then help them, build trust and guide them into a long term relationship. Then build your database schema so you have fields for each of the key information factors. Now you can fill these fields -- little by little -- each campaign designed to learn more about the people in your database. Then you prepare initiatives that are designed to motivate specific clusters that share common attributes. Once you've done this, your response rates will climb -- dramatically. Often well over 50%.

So your lead generation might start with the list. If it ends there, you will struggle forever.

The Search Engine Pickle for Marketers

This search engine optimization stuff is driving me nuts.

We've done all the obvious things like optimizing pages in our Cincom website for keywords, adding metatags, adding keywords to alt text, putting key words in page headers and URLs.

But there are techniques to drive performance that seem to change every day. With a relatively small web team, we struggle with making all these tricks work ... and when we get something working, we learn the engines have figured out how to negate what we just did.

Amidst all the SEO issues, there is also this swirl of controversy over the fact that the search engines are basically making huge profits by stealing our content. As a user, search is a great innovation. We can hit Google and get back links to a lot of useful information ... but when I am doing serious online research I invariably have to use my subscription to HighBeam to find material that seems never to be visible on Google. But as a content producer, I would rather get the value from producing my content than giving it all away to the search engine firm ... but even as a content producer, they do me a service by steering readers to me. But that's only true if I spend as much time tweaking my SEO as I do on producing the the content. Not an easy pickle to be in.

Then there's the bit where as marketers we purchase key words to generate sales leads:

A MediaPost newsletter carried this thought-provoking comment about another marketing pickle -- the better we as marketers get at optimizing our use of online ads, the faster we ourselves drive the prices for those ads higher and higher. Here's what Jakob Nielsen said on MediaPost:
In a somewhat ironic twist, Nielsen illustrates how improved usability can be a big factor in driving up bid prices. When a new online search market emerges, bid prices usually settle out based on the relative conversion performance of the main bid contenders. Based on their current conversion and closing rates, the smarter search marketers determine what they can afford to pay per lead. But let's say that one of the contenders suddenly makes its site a better conversion vehicle, doubling their capture and close rate. Suddenly, that marketer can bid twice as much and still end up with the same per unit ROI. It becomes more aggressive in bidding, and eventually, its competitors wake up, figure out what happened and launch their own improvement cycles. Bid prices escalate as marketers optimize every aspect of their campaign, and the search engines double their revenue by doing nothing. In this scenario, not only are engines leeches on the content of the Internet, they're also sucking the blood out of the entire search marketing industry. The better we get, the more money they make.

So I am off to New York to attend an SEO Conference next week.

I will share my learnings when I get back ... but be aware that I will be offline next week.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Google Ads Rock

A funny thing happened on the way to ...

I put Google ads on this blog to help offset some of the cost, but did not realize that they would be personally useful to me. I found myself looking over the ads mostly to see how well Google was matching ads with my content ... were they really doing contextual matchups? Within a week or so I was satisfied that they were doing what they promised.

Then I caught myself clicking on a couple of the Google ads ... at first to see what the experience was like, and if I thought my readers would find the experience offensive or intrusive. For the most part, the ads take me to a useful resource and expose me to a solution provider that I did not know before. So again, I was pleased that my readers would have a productive relationship initiated from my blog.

Well, this Google ad thing kept growing in my mind. Finally, I caught myself going to the ads on a routine basis just to see what I could learn. In short, I am hooked on the Google ads that magically pop up along side my musings.

So I decided this morning on the way to work that I really ought to take yet one more step in assisting blog readers ... and point out to you when I see good stuff in the right column. Now, I realize that by the time you read the blog, the cited ad might no longer be there ... but that's just a risk we'll all have to endure.

Clear Story Systems offers a 5-page non-technical whitepaper on the cost factors and ROI impact of Digital Asset Management in the marketing department. And Vanguard Strategies lists success stories for how they assistend a rather impressive list of clients ... one story was how they mediated between WebMD and IBM to move from not seeing how the other would help them into a productive marketing relationship.

Hey, take a look and see what you can learn.

Managing Obstacles to Change Management

In a magazine for the Quest Users Group, it was cited that a recent study of more than 300 companies involved in technological changes showed that failure most often resulted from a lack of change management . From my experience in working with many of America's best marketing organizations and some that were not so good, the same obstacle persists within marketing departments. We seem unable to get better, to adopt new best practices, to implement CRM or marketing automation because there is built-in resistance to changing the way we have always done marketing.

This is especially tragic, given that marketplace dynamics and customer demand is running us into a head-on collision with a new reality.

The research cited employee resistance, productivity loss, turnover, schedule delays and cost overruns. The common thread was that IS management focused exclusively on the technology and did not factor in the people or business they should have been serving.

Getting total team alignment is mandatory but seldom exercised.

Here's how I attack the problem: I start with listening and researching the situation. From this I put forward a "strawdog" document and presentation deck. I physically carry these documents around to various decision makers to get reaction and to unearth the objections or desires. These are all catalogued. Typically, different managers will have totally different ideas or beliefs than other managers. These areas of conflict are identified and more meetings ensue ... this time with a focus on the differing opinions. Note that I keep these meetings small and focused, in a divide and conquer strategy ... otherwise the entire process can skid out of control.

Once there is a substantial swell of support, then I open the process to a much wider audience. The goal is to do more listening and to identify new solutions or process improvements, and to maintain momentum for the alignment process. The center of attention is always on the barriers to forward movement ... get them all to the surface for open debate. Replace the barriers with positive statements that will benefit the organization and the people who are most impacted by the new process. Then prepare the final process document with the names of all contributors on Page One. Get on board, or get off the bus.

Skip this alignment process, or one similar, at your own risk.

And for a big project, a complex process, a change that impacts lots of people ... this is easily a 3 to 6-month process. But do not look at it as a delay in implementation. Do this part right and the entire project will get done faster, with an aligned team committed to making it work right.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Perfect Draft Beer -- AT HOME

The newest edition of Trendwatching just came out. Often off-the-wall ideas resonate from the pages of this newsletter. Today's trend is something they call "insperiences." I think they have hit something that spells opportunity for some clever entrepreneur ... but more importantly for the rest of us marketers who just want to understand what makes consumers tick ... Trendwatching is worth the tour.

Here's a sampling of their logic that supports INSPERIENCES:

Fact is, consumers' homes are and will forever be their castles, cocoons, most prized possessions, which means spotting new domestic trends, before others do, could net you serious bucks, euros, pounds and yens.So the big thing in the world of domestic bliss right now? How about re-creating experiences from the outside world into INSPERIENCES for the home? Mind you, INSPERIENCES will be as much about extending these experiences as flat out replacing them: consumers will still choose to visit a 'real' Crunch gym on the weekend, they will still hang out in bars with friends, they will still stay in hotels, and they will still come to the office for meetings and human contact.

So what's driving the home-upgrading and INSPERIENCE trend?

Well, try one or more of the below:

  • Rampant individuality: we are all MASTERS OF THE YOUNIVERSE, our homes turning into highly connected, sophisticated control and entertainment centers.
  • Post 9/11 insecurity: 'let's stay in and invite some friends' says it all.
  • Convenience: consumers are still time-starved, so having or doing *anything* at home means not having to venture out, which saves time.

These are hints into the mindset running around out there. How can your next marketing program appeal to this base instinct?

Direct Marketing Must Deliver Value

A niche market is not a sales opportunity.

It is a service opportunity.

Look back to my previous post and inhale Bob Herbold's comment.

We offer value to the people in a targeted niche ... we help make them more successful, happier, more content, more secure, more of something.

When you are direct marketing to the niche, think of the value your mailing must deliver if it is to be opened and consumed. This then is not a message about the product you are selling, but instead is a message about the value you provide. Value in the mailing. Value in the response offer. Value in each of your follow up steps during the buying process. Value, in the end, from what you sell. But marketing must be a value in of itself. Marketing is a service opportunity.

LEAP to Change the Customer Conversation

LEAP – The Longitudinal, Evolving, Accountable Protocol

Bob Herbold, recently retired EVP for Microsoft and prior to that, Herbold spent 26 years with Procter & Gamble, and during his last 6 years with P & G, he served as Senior Vice President, Advertising and Information Services. In short, Herbold knows what he's talking about when he talks about marketing. Here's what he said about our futures:

"Marketing will change, I think, quite dramatically. You're going to see more brands do good things for people in terms of providing service, as opposed to running a traditional message that pounds the attribute of the brand."

Here's what I say:

The new construct makes four fundamental changes:

Marketing becomes data-driven, targeted, addressable.
Marketing becomes customer-centric and more relevant to customer needs.
Marketing becomes an interactive personalized relationship.
Marketing becomes more measurable and accountable.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Another good example of contextual advertising found on this blog ...

Forrester has a Google ad running currently on my blog (check it out below) ...

Business Blog
How Businesses Should Use Blogs.
Read Forrester's Latest Research.

I cite this not so much as a plug for Forrester as I find it impressive that Google is in fact placing ads here that should be relevant to the content I am writing. At least, I find many of these ads to include reference materials that I find useful to me.

Forrester's list of best practices for corporate bloggers includes:

  1. Determine the role of blogs in your communications ecosystem.
  2. Be transparent and build trust with your readers.
  3. Encourage and respond to comments from visitors.
  4. Syndicate and market the blog.
  5. Measure what matters.

Trust Does Not Fall Far from the Apple Tree

This tidbit goes hand-in-hand with my previous posts on how we make decisions ... we listen to inputs that fit our worldview and we block out contrary opinions. This makes it very hard for marketers to involve prospects in pitches ... unless we happen to understand the decision maker's worldview.

Now the seventh annual Edelman Trust Barometer confirms yet another aspect of this phenomenon. In their latest poll of nearly 2,000 opinion leaders in 11 countries, when we seek out a credible source of information, we are most likely to seek it from "a person like me."

In the U.S., trust in “a person like me” increased from 20% in 2003 to 68% today.

“Trust is the key objective for global companies today because it underpins corporate reputation and gives them license to operate,” said Michael Deaver, Vice Chairman, Edelman. “To build trust, companies need to localize communications, be transparent, and engage multiple stakeholders continuously as advocates across a broad array of communications channels.

So, what company does the Edelman Trust Barometer say we trust the most? It was a surprise to me. I would have gone with P&G. Check it out here. Who do you trust the most?

Living in the Past becomes a Marketing Straightjacket

We all look back ... those of us with any history and the gray hair to match. The good ole' days when we did things right. The edges are blurred by time. We recall now only what fits our current view of the world. We rewrite the history and offer it as proof that we should do things the way we did them in the past.

Been there. Done that. Don't want to do it again.

The past legends are often comforting to many business owners and managers. The problem is they often become straitjackets or standards that are impossible to meet. Often the reputed standards were never even met at all. They are merely urban legend. Or they dismiss the support that came from people surrounding the great success story. Don't let the myths of past glories hold you and your business back. Leap forward into the future with new and creative ideas.
Read the whole story.

Most Corrupt Countries

Forbes magazine has a slide program featuring the nastiest countries in the world: Chad tops the list of most corrupt. Following are Bangeledesh, Turkmenistan, Myanmar, Haiti, Nigeria, Equatorial Quinea, Cote DiVoire, Angola, Tajikistan, Sudan, Somalia, Paraquay, Pakistan, Kenya, and the Congo.

When you consider the countries we all know are dangerous places for free enterprise that are NOT on this list, one can only imagine how bad it might be to do business in these Forbes citation winners.

Couple that with my previous posting on countries that limit freedom of speech via the Internet ... the Forbes leaders clearly have no place for any kind of Internet within their borders.

We might have a lot of problems in the Western countries, but they are ant hills compared to other cultures.

As the World Turns ... Search No Longer Effective for Retailers?

Cut it back says Piper Jaffray. Expand it says Best Buy.

It is always nice to see how best practices in marketing are so clear cut.

Internet Retailer tells the story:

Aaron Kessler, senior research analyst who follows e-retailers for investment research firm Piper Jaffray & Co., says "As retailers deal with rising competition over Internet paid-search keywords, they need to rely less on search engine marketing and develop a more comprehensive, multi-channel strategy. Three years ago, Internet search was a good value for any retail category, but now it’s not always the value it was,” he says. “It’s a great marketing channel when it works, but many retailers have become too reliant on it.”

Sam Taylor, vice president of online stores and marketing for Best Buy Co. Inc., has a somewhat different opinion. “Our SEM effort has been very profitable because we manage it as part of an overall online advertising portfolio and because of our strong brand, which we build through multi-channel national advertising and in-store service.” He adds that Best Buy will aggressively expand its budget for search engine marketing this year, just as it did last year.

Buy vs. Build Your Marketing Software

We all have different experiences in life, and these experiences teach us lessons.

One lesson I have learned is to buy marketing automation software instead of trying to build it in-house. There is substantial pain in my learning so you can imagine that it is a very strong lesson I will not soon forget.

This is yet another side to the story of rebuilding the Cincom Systems website.

Two years ago we embarked on the task of building a technology infrastructure to support our corporate website. We looked at the available applications and decided they were too expensive to license, so we went about building our own.

Hindsight giving perfect vision, this was a terrible decision.

The team was too small and their skills in the end were not up to the task.

We began again reviewing the available software applications, finally settling on one solution that we licensed.

We had to shut down the project when it proved impossible to maintain, given the complexity of our new global website. But shutting this down was not easy. The system had fingers into our databases, into our content and into our templates. It was everywhere, and pulling it out was painstaking work ... that had to be done while we were learning a new software application.

The interesting part of this lesson should have been obvious to us from the start ... afterall, Cincom is a software company. We license software applications for manufacturing operations, for contact centers, for database management, for automation and management of complex documents. We frequently talk with prospective customers who are amidst the buy vs. build decision. For those with highly experienced in-house engineering, we offer an application development environment that is second to none -- Smalltalk. But for the rest of us who are mere mortals, pre-built applications make a lot of sense.

I can see now the temptation of the build decision. It seems so much less expensive than to license a completed application. We had visions of saving Cincom a lot of money by building our website infrastructure internally. But in the end, we wasted a lot of time, we made a lot of mistakes, we built something unmanageable. The new application that we licensed does the job superbly well -- all the details have been thought through by the application provider and it has been vetted by many, many other clients.

While it might look expensive to license a software application, in the end it likely will save you money and it will do the job better.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking with it.

The Politics of a New Website

We are most of the way through the development of our website implementation, with about 20 additional major site tasks still to go. But finally we can begin to see the fruit of our labor.

I'm talking about the Cincom Systems Corporate Website -- an ambitious project that has been over a year in the making.

There are many traps that you can walk into when you launch a redesign of a website that integrally impacts just about every part of your business -- and hence impacts the success of many different people throughout the organization.

All of these people have opinions on how to design a website, many of these opinions conflict with one another, many conflict with best practices.

So when a colleague recently asked me to think back over the year and cite the most difficult part of the project, I had to sort out a lot of difficulties. But one stood above the rest. Managing the internal conflict.

Not that this was a surprise. From the get-go, we recognized the enormous task of getting so many different people running fiefdoms to align in one common direction. We were coming off a failed strategy where each business unit essentially had its own website. They were happy with their sites, but this was killing the corporate brand, confusing our customers and was near impossible for the web team to manage efficiently. Change had to come.

We began the project by outlining the goals, strategies and implementation approaches in a single document. We presented this document in small sessions with key decision makers around the company. We showed a possible direction, but mainly we were listening and scooping up all the best ideas from our managers ... and making notes of items where one manager had one opinion and another manager thought just the opposite. The document became our playbook; our means of reporting back to everyone internally how the site would be built.

Then we convened a week-long session of all our European business and marketing managers. Again we listened and recorded. Some spectacular ideas came out of the meetings in Brussels (the beer was great, too) -- the new site had to be modular by region so that content could accurately reflect the software offerings available in each geographic region, and so we could make the content as relevant to local audiences as possible. We also discussed Cincom branding at length, searching for a common approach to website messaging. All this was again recorded in the playbook.

We hired Human Factors International to guide us with best practices and to help us gather input from the visitor side of the fence. HFI later helped us test our design concepts in a series of wireframe sessions in the US and Europe. HFI helped us overcome many of the internal battles where different factions within the company wanted to go in different directions. Their objectivity was instrumental in moving us down an agreed-upon direction.

Was this a smooth journey? Absolutely not. It was very rocky. There were some managers who did not want to compromise. There were some who did not understand the mission and were caught up in details. We went back and forth. Many, many small group listening sessions.

Building consensus about the website project took nearly six months ... but we knew better than to start without a broad agreement on where we should go. In the end, not everyone is happy. But everyone does understand why we are doing what we are doing. There are some who would like to go back to their stand-alone business unit websites. But overall, we did achieve consensus and support for the direction. If we had not spent so much time listening and resolving differences of opinion, today we would have a can of worms instead of a website that will serve the needs of our visitors and the company.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Can We Trust Any Government that Suppresses the Web?

The Internet works in America. In fact, it works wherever freedom exists.

Our Internet sites are so open, that the quality and access -- not just one or the other, but the combination of the two -- is what makes it work.

Not so in other countries -- there we discover how limited some people are, even when they get on the Internet, to what they can access.

The power of the Internet has challenged traditional marketing ... likely even has spelled the end to mass marketing where the law of scale is no longer a compelling economic model.

But as I wrote some months ago, marketing needs a free society to thrive. You do not find such freedom of the Internet in the Middle East and China where governments still fear their own people.

Now, it seems that even Google -- the epitomy of a free Internet -- may be giving way to empower autocratic governments to suppress the flow of information. Congress has called Google managers to a series of hearings on its role in censoring such words as "democracy."

Such actions should send a cold wind down the hill that chills our relationship with such a suppressing government. How can we trust any trading partner that deliberately lies to its own people -- the potential customers for many of the products we sell there. Surely we all see this as wrong headed and dangerous. Putting blinders on the Internet is bad, bad policy. Hopefully, Google and others will not be tempted to trade the freedom of the Internet in exchange for business.

It's the power of free information that makes the Internet such a powerful marketing medium and any suppression of this freedom will kill economic choice.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Plug for the Cincom eNewsletter
Fresh off Market Wire

Cincom's Expert Access Braves the Hero's Journey
in Search of the Holy Business Grail

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 02/14/2006 -- Cincom's award-winning Expert Access e-zine provides some hilarious and irreverent B2B humor combined with objective real-world business advice on how to win in today's complex sales environment with its latest feature article titled "The Artistic Entrepreneur that Will Change the World Forever" published today.

Dr. Elliot McGucken, also known as "Dr. E.," author, poet, scientist, inventor, college professor and daVinci-like Renaissance man, braves the hero's journey with Cincom's Steve Kayser in search of the holy business grail.

And ... they find it.

Dr. McGucken teaches an innovative business course called Artistic Entrepreneurship. It combines the arts, entrepreneurial ventures, and cutting-edge technology.

How to Make Your Passion Your Profession

The New York Times deemed Dr. McGucken's work as "simply unprecedented." And, "The Artistic Entrepreneur that Will Change the World Forever" is a must-read for anyone wanting to learn how to bring the best and brightest together in a collaborative effort for earth-shaking entrepreneurial success.

(Click here for details)

It's one in a remarkable string of continuing "Shoot the Donkey" articles that provide a unique, often tongue-in-cheek look at the current complex sales and business environment. The stories focus on remarkable people who take decisive actions to fulfill their mission -- whatever it is, in their life of business or business of life. The articles are full of "Shoot the Donkey" insights (lessons, strategies, actions) that are culled from the interviews.

What is Cincom's Expert Access?

Highlighted Links

Cincom in the NewsCincom Expert Access

Cincom's Expert Access is a free, award-winning e-publication that identifies key strategic trends, innovations, and critical business issues. A biweekly publication with approximately 113,000 subscribers in 49 countries, Expert Access help readers do their jobs better, become aware of new ideas, products, or services and occasionally have a B2B laugh.

Why is Cincom's Expert Access e-zine different?

Cincom, in addition to its vast internal technology expert base, has recruited and partnered with brilliant, forward-thinking technology analysts to participate in its "Ask the Expert" program. One of the unique aspects of Expert Access is the ability for subscribers to ask "Experts" for feedback/answers to questions revolving around innovative business strategies and technologies. Some of the visionary and world-class technology, marketing, and sales experts that have contributed include:

Dr. Elliot McGucken, author, poet, artistic entrepreneur and founder of the "Jolly Roger," a web portal hailed as the "Flagship of the Renaissance"

Al Ries, author of "The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR"

Dave Stein, best-selling business author of "How Winners Sell"

Skip Press, author of more than 20 books including "How to Write What You Want and Sell What You Write"

Betty Forbes, vice president, Christian Children's Fund

Dr. Paul Pearsall, international best-selling author of "The Beethoven Factor"

David Meerman Scott, author of "Cashing In With Content"

JoAnna Brandi, customer loyalty expert and customer retention maven

Ken Sutherland, creative impresario and the music behind the film "Savannah Smiles"

Louis Columbus, former senior analyst at AMR Research, and currently Cincom senior manufacturing business consultant and weekly columnist for and

Lou Washington, Cincom's mainframe master of MIPS

Dale Wolf, senior marketing manager at Cincom, managing editor of the Simplicity Blog and author/publisher of the Context Rules Marketing Blog

James Robertson, Smalltalk wiki and blog guru

Marsha Friedman, president, Event Management Services

Bob Fitzgerald, director of China operations, Cincom

Dana VanDen Heuvel, director of business development, Pheedo

About Cincom

For nearly 40 years, Cincom's software and services have helped thousands of clients worldwide simplify the management of complex business processes. Cincom specializes in the five areas of business where simplification brings the greatest value to managers who want to grow revenue, control costs, minimize risk, and achieve rapid ROI better than their competitors.

Marketing is Changing; Are You?

Eight out of ten advertisers buy online media, according to new research from California-based Outsell.

If that stat does not mesh with your own marketing media strategy, perhaps it is time to catch the train.

Things are changing so fast in marketing that it seems impossible some days just to tread water ... the current is strong. What's the answer? Shift from traditional market-think and enter the world of Web 2.0.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Online Programming on the TV Screen

Points North Group, a media research firm, confirms that while 25% of Internet users are interested in watching downloaded TV shows and movies on their PCs, 38% -- 50% more -- are interested in watching that video on their TVs.

Over the past month, America Online, Yahoo, and, among others, have announced partnerships with chip maker Intel to use its new Viiv technology platform, which allows users to consume Internet content--including AOL's--over their TV screens.

Broadcasting networks, cable programmers and other content providers are joining with computer industry players, including Apple, Google and AOL, to make replays of programming available for download through the internet, with commercial-free primetime hits priced at US$1.99 each.

But they don't want to pay for it. But they want the free lunch.

But then we all know there is no free lunch.

My guess is that the appetite for fee-based programming will hit a wall when we all get tired of those charges hitting our credit card.

But from a marketing point of view, the bright spot is that as consumers begin requesting (opting-in) for content, we get a new insight into individual interests. Equipped with this knowledge, we can target our marketing messages with more and more precision -- no waste for us and less irritation from the target audience since we would be talking only with those prospects who have shown a real interest in what we offer.

We can direct it to them on the TV if that is where they want to connect ... or on their computers or in the mail or in the store. Again, relevant marketing will get better results no matter what medium we use.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Two Ways to Improve eMail Marketing

The most critical thing about email marketing: it all starts with establishing a profile for an e-mail customer.

Most marketers struggle to optimize this channel -- not because they aren't bright, but because e-mail is a practice that is predicated on multiple kinds of expertise in strategy, technology, creative and analysis. There is no “Hail Mary” play in email marketing. It all stems from placing great importance on each e-mail address. If you don't know this, you are dead in the water. No campaign or creative concept will work without understanding how the persona behind the email address impacts acquisition, activation and retention strategies.

Another key factor: email marketing won’t be effective until you move from episodic campaigns (“hey, our competitor just came out with a new whatever, we better run a promotion”) to long-term, longitudinal thinking about the customer. And don’t confuse this with Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) because there aren’t 10 CEOs in the nation who are likely to fund CLV. But long-term communication with a customer will absolutely improve your results – and it will improve not marginally, but dramatically.

Your enemy is not the customer. It is not SPAM. The enemy is inside the business – decision makers who do not understand the need to build a personal profile behind every email address and to communicate to that address longitudinally, watching and measuring what the customer does when s/he receives your email. Every outbound campaign should have a pre-planned mode of follow-up based on what the customer does. Low click through rates are not an indication of failure, but a lesson on how to improve.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Contextually Relevant Google Ads on this Blog

A primary purpose of this blog is to give you food for thought ... about creating more relevance with your customers.

I just added Google Ads to the blog and the fascinating thing about them is that Google is doing a good job of placing ads that are relevant to the discussion on this blog. To that extent, they are not just ads aimed at you but they are a source of additional related content.

My previous post on 9 principles to fuel growth was a result of me seeing an ad on this blog from Deloitte. The specific ad that caught my attention will probably be gone soon, but I bet that Google will replace it with similar ads for content that can help you improve marketing.

Scroll down and see what you might learn.

9 Key Principles to a Growth Strategy

The good news is that US statistics clearly point to a strongly rebounding economy.

Along with it, growth is back on the agenda for CEOs.

They want their share of the growing economy, but history indicates that solving the growth puzzle is not one that many CEOs have done well. In part, it is because they have never left their orientation around products ... they have not fully embraced responsiveness to customers as the key to growth. They still expect intrusive marketing and aggressive field sales to be the magic potion. They install expensive CRM systems but fear the customer will upset their company-centric control without realizing that battle is over and the customer has won.

Consequently, they fail in the basics of customer development. They do not identify markets with best potential, centered on customer needs. They do not segment properly. They do not build products that customers want or need. Their offerings are too complex and too expensive and too difficult to put in place. They drive up the total cost without adding to the total value.

Research by Deloitte asked business leaders to identify their biggest challenge to segmenting their growth strategies around customers. The leading response: customers don't understand what my company does best. You know, when I hear things like that I almost need to slap my face with a cold fish to wake up ... how can any marketer succeed if she puts failure to grow on the backs of customers too stupid to figure out what we do best?

Deloitte suggests 9 key principles to a successful growth strategy:
  1. Invest in real customer insights ... get the info from the customer instead of the sales department.
  2. Take the customer prespective ... move from company focus and admit you need to listen to customers.
  3. Keep it simple ... the growth strategy has to be simple and understandable.
  4. Hold people accountable for owning the customer clusters.
  5. Connect the dots ... deliver a value proposition that is meaningful and integrate it throughout your business with consistency at all touchpoints.
  6. Sell solutions that customers want ... don't sell products that you make.
  7. Train the entire organization to consult with customers about their needs.
  8. Simplify the organizational structure to deliver value with accountability for results
  9. Take special care with key accounts ... put your best executives on this prime real estate.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Climb Every Mountain

As I drove in to work this morning, a song from "The Sound of Music" was playing on the radio ... you know the words ... Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow till you find your dream.

It got me thinking, what dream is so big in my life that I would climb mountains and swim across rivers to achieve?

Then I got this email about John Wooden:

On the 21st of the month, John Wooden will do what he always does on the 21st of the month. He'll sit down and pen a love letter to his best girl. He'll say how much he misses her and loves her and can't wait to see her again.

Then he'll fold it once, slide it in a little envelope and walk into his bedroom. He'll go to the stack of love letters sitting there on her pillow, untie the yellow ribbon, place the new one on top and tie the ribbon again. The stack will be 180 letters high then, because the 21st will be 15 years to the day since Nellie, his beloved wife of 53 years, died.

In her memory, he sleeps only on his half of the bed, only on his pillow, only on top of the sheets, never between; with just the old bedspread they shared to keep him warm.

There's never been a finer man in American sports than John Wooden, or a finer coach. He won 10 NCAA basketball championships at UCLA, the last in 1975. Nobody has ever come within six of him.

He won 88 straight games between January 30, 1971, and January 17, 1974. Nobody has come within 42 since.

So, sometimes, when the Basketball Madness gets to be too much -- too many players trying to make Sports Center, too few players trying to make assists, too few coaches willing to be mentors, too many freshmen with out-of-wedlock kids, too few freshmen who will stay in school long enough to become men -- I like to go see Coach Wooden.

I visit him in his little condo in Encino, 20 minutes northwest of Los Angeles, and hear him say things like "Gracious sakes alive!" and tell stories about teaching "Lewis" the hook shot. Lewis Alcindor, that is...who became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

There has never been another coach like Wooden, quiet as an April snow and square as a game of checkers; loyal to one woman, one school, one way; walking around campus in his sensible shoes and Jimmy Stewart morals.

He'd spend a half hour the first day of practice teaching his men how to put on a sock. "Wrinkles can lead to blisters," he'd warn. These huge players would sneak looks at one another and roll their eyes. Eventually, they'd do it right. "Good," he'd say. "And now for the other foot."

Of the 180 players who played for him, Wooden knows the whereabouts of 172. Of course, it's not hard when most of them call, checking on his health, secretly hoping to hear some of his simple life lessons so that they can write them on the lunch bags of their kids, who will roll their eyes.

"Discipline yourself, and others won't need to," Coach would say. "Never lie, never cheat, never steal," and "Earn the right to be proud and confident."

If you played for him, you played by his rules: Never score without acknowledging a teammate. One word of profanity and you're done for the day. Treat your opponent with respect.

He believed in hopelessly out-of-date stuff that never did anything but win championships. No dribbling behind the back or through the legs. "There's no need," he'd say.

No UCLA basketball number was retired under his watch. "What about the fellows who wore that number before? Didn't they contribute to the team?" he'd say.

No long hair, no facial hair. "They take too long to dry, and you could catch cold leaving the gym," he'd say. That one drove his players bonkers.

One day, All-America center Bill Walton showed up with a full beard. "It's my right," he insisted. Wooden asked if he believed that strongly. Walton said he did. "That's good, Bill," Coach said. "I admire people who have strong beliefs and stick by them, I really do. We're going to miss you." Walton shaved it right then and there. Now Walton calls once a week to tell Coach he loves him.

It's always too soon when you have to leave the condo and go back out into the real world, where the rules are so much grayer and the teams so much worse.

As Wooden shows you to the door, you take one last look around. The framed report cards of his great-grandkids, the boxes of jellybeans peeking out from under the favorite wooden chair, the dozens of pictures of Nellie.

He's almost 90 now. You think a little more hunched over than last time. Steps a little smaller. You hope it's not the last time you see him. He smiles. "I'm not afraid to die," he says. "Death is my only chance to be with her again."

Now that's something to dream about!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Home Depot Creates POS Efficiency

Retailers are also thinking about ways to make shoppers themselves more efficient -- for example, by providing self-checkout and in-store kiosks. AMR points out that Home Depot now has 1,200 stores equipped with self-checkout , plans for 15,000 kiosks, and is "increasing its investment in contact centers to help consumers with the research component of their buying." The bottom line is that shoppers can learn more about products, and even buy them, without involving store associates at every turn. These are all examples of what AMR characterizes as aggressive e-business spending, particularly at the store level.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Demographic Marketing is Such a Waste

A post at Adrants posed a fascinating point of marketing strategy: Should it be demographics or psychographics? Specifically, when selling to Boomers who are 55+. Do you target them by age or by lifestyle? If you have been reading this site for the past year, you know my answer.

Targeting by age (or by any demographic) is such a cop-out. Marketers routinely take the easy road to deliver lowest-common denominator messages.

Yes, we need to understand how to segment an audience, but to do this with a blunt instrument that assumes all people in a demographic are similar is yet one more example of traditional marketing that no longer works. Assuming those over 55 are suffering from a common lifestyle is nothing short of prejudice that is just as bad as racial or gender bias. But it seems hard to get marketers to stop this insanity.

I applaud Adrants for asking the right question – should we use demographics or psychographics when targeting and communicating with prospects?. Seth Godin calls it “worldview” and I would call it “contextual marketing.” Either way, it is far more important to target customers with similar interests, wants, needs and expectations and to cluster them accordingly.

Communicating to people who happen collectively to be 55+ cannot be done by simply showing a bunch of silver hair and wrinkles in your messages. Not that we can reach this demo by showing 35-year olds, but it has to go further. Much further.

Is this harder? Yes. But it is way, way more effective to conduct marketing that is targeted in this manner so that we create messages and offers that are actually appealing to those we want to persuade to take action.

We need to spend more time analyzing our data, listening to customers, evaluating what they are saying and then produce campaigns that are truly relevant. That's when we will discover the kinds of attributes that David Wolfe often writes about ... that Boomers are now interested in the meaning of life and specifically their own lives. Now that's an insight that marketers can work with to create relevance. Or the fact that Boomers were the driving force behind The Sensational Sixties ... and listen once again to music from the old days. We don't have to rub their faces in the fact that they are old, but we can relate to things that are important to them.

And with data-driven micro-segmenting, we can get ever closer to the interests and needs of people who share more of life than the age, or the race, or the gender. Micro-campaigning gets us closer and closer to relevance. This uses keen insights to improve search engine relevance, email, podcasting, blogging ... any form of direct or one-to-one persuasion.

The results will be several hundred percent better than traditional demographic marketing.

(Image from APOMOnline)

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