Phinally from Philly.

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What a week for baseball fans rooting for the Phillies. The curse I am happy to report is over… The Phillies are the 2008 World Champions. Hurray!

It makes me think about how many things have changed in my marketing career… and makes me so thankful to be a part of technology marketing today.

Successful technology marketing today requires a simplification of message, so people can quickly understand what your product offerings are all about. No different than a baseball manager using his players in situations they can relate to. Comfort and appreciation enable us all to execute at high levels of performance.

Successful technology marketing today requires that the basics are executed properly. The basic 4 P’s of marketing still exist. It’s important to always remember that we are responsible for creating an environment to help drive sales success and increase our brand awareness. This Is no different from a manager preparing his team to execute the basics of the game. In baseball many manage by “the book”, while using their intuition. More on that topic next week…

What are ways you can think about the parallels between baseball and technology marketing.

My Day with Chris Brogan and the 1%ers

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I’m sitting at the airport in beautiful Providence, RI heading back to Philly after attending the two-day New Marketing Summit Conference run by Chris Brogan and Paul Gillin. There were lots of industry luminaries here. The audience was probably the most informed group of professionals on the subject you can find anywhere. After listening to day one presentations, my frustrations began to build. What world was I living in? Or should I say, what world had I crossed over to? I knew I was at Gillette Stadium, but did I go through a future time warp? Nope, it was still October 2008. I just happened to be attending a well run, well organized event of believers… I call them the “1%ers”… you know the industry visionaries and thought leaders. These are the people that can connect the dots…before there are enough dots to connect.

Well the world I live in and the businesses we serve are not the 1%ers. In live in a pragmatic world. The world I live in had businesses have budget constraints. They cannot afford to spend $100,000+ on an online community. They are pragmatic in their marketing strategies and love to be innovative, while limiting the downside risk opportunity to their investments. They have a management team and a sales team that have strong relationships with their customers and partners and are concerned about protecting that existing mode of communication. Oh, and they are mostly 30 and older… we don’t target those in their 20’s. And most of our market doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter (if they even have heard of Twitter).

I participated on a panel today with industry leaders Mzinga, Socialtext and Lithium and the panel was moderated by Chris Brogan. I sat and listened to the first three presenters and quite honestly did not agree with much of their thoughts. Me? Well, I challenged the audience about what I had heard throughout the conference. I tried to express my opinion for the small and medium business or brand. Not every business or brand can spend $100,000+ on their community. Shame on us for making it so expensive. Shame on us for requiring so much consulting services to make a community happen. After 8 years, we couldn’t have figured out how to engineer out the complexity? The industry (and that includes their agencies) have made this so complex. We should be trying to turn the Voodoo into Main Street. It’s as if no one ever read about the Long Tail. Well, we have… we live it every day.

It was a great event for the informed.

It’s Time to Start Connecting the Dots

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I had an interesting morning yesterday. A prospect came to the office to determine if we are able to address his business needs. He had a fascinating perspective since over the past two to three weeks be has met about ten companies with online community building solutions. Here was a company that has been researching available software solutions and his take on what he’s learned so far, “it’s so hard for a business person to figure out the marketing value in an online community. All the vendors do is talk about technology and features. I think I know the value and it’s ability to support my goals, but you guys are making me connect the dots”. He said that it reminded him of the pre-2000 era of selling software, where the people selling the product had little sense of communicating the business value. But, it was cool and new.

I think he is dead on. The social media software market has done a poor job at talking business value. You hear analysts and leading industry bloggers talking about companies “testing and experimenting”. This is a clear sign that businesses are struggling to “connect the dots”. You have to wonder why we make this so hard for marketers. Marketers love to buy things and we hide the good reasons for them to buy.

This is really a very simple value proposition. Here’s a question for you marketers out there… would you spend a dollar a year to improve your engagement and communications to some of your best customers? Remember the 80/20 rule? Isn’t it worth a dollar a year for you to have a stronger, more educated relationship with the top 20% of your customers? Customer engagement is about an ongoing relationship. Relationships are not campaigns. And that is the sad state of how many are being “advised”. Wrong. Agencies love campaigns because that means greater client spend. A campaign approach overly complicates the value proposition. And more importantly, prevents the business case to get started with minimal risk. Ha, be pragmatic. Please stop over complicating the effort. This stuff really is simple.

Social media marketing needs to start connecting the dots of business benefit- for both you and your customers. Adding social media marketing to your mix has a simple value proposition. Start by focusing your online marketing spend around the high-value customers you want to retain and the high-potential customers you want to grow. This is about micro segmented marketing. And in today’s economy, target marketing is a requirement, not just a good thing to do.

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