What’s old is new

Last week I blogged about fresh alternatives to the B2B marketing lead generation trinity (webinars, whitepapers and tradeshows).  While few parts of your marketing mix can help you tell your story, share a demo or answer questions like a live web event, I feel like the medium has become tired.  How many sessions about “Best practices in…” or “X Ways to improve…” can your prospects bear? The format has become as predictable as a “Friends” rerun. You begin with a short intro, followed by a customer or analyst testimonial, then a demo, shameless plug and finally an interactive Q&A.  Your prospects may or may not listen to the audio in the background as they get caught up on email or checkout Perez Hilton. So, what can a software marketer do? Sales is still going to breath down your neck for leads.  My suggestions is to take another look at streaming radio.  I know this is technologically similar to webinar audio but has a few advantages. Costs:  Unless you are using one of the low-cost, higher-risk webinar providers (ie Gotowebinar or Dim Dim), streaming radio can be significantly less expensive. Sound quality: A 128K audio stream typically sounds better than the overburdened VOIP or conference call connections from the major webinar services. Scalability: Webinar providers also often have a different pricing schedule for bigger events (ie over 1,000 people).  Streaming radio on the other hand can use a CDN which typically scales to much great levels without arbitrary limits imposed to maximize revenue yield. Freshness:  Who wants to be a webinar attendee?  An Internet radio show just sounds cooler. Podcasts: It is pretty easy to create podcasts from most streaming radio software. Here are a couple things I have learned: You need an alternative plan for chat.  I’ve dabbled with Twitter and a custom hashtags. You could also consider Skype or some other chat platform for less social media savvy crowds. You need to find a registration system.  I’ve used Eventbrite.  It is free and easy to configure. Live demos are a challenge. You would need to find a screensharing solution. You’ll want to build a custom page for radio show URL. People can access the show without registering, costing you some leads. Anyone else have experiences with streaming radio they would like to...

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Fresh ideas…

The tech marketing holy trinity (ie webinars, whitepapers and tradeshows) still rule for most of the B2B marketers I meet.  That doesn’t mean that they aren’t thinking about ways to test the waters with new/social media.  While their customers may not be gathering and connecting in great numbers in these channel (yet), opportunities still exist to share content and start the conversation. Here are three fresh things you can try: Update Linkedin – Make sure your company profile is up-to-date and check out a few groups where you think your prospect are chatting.  If you feel ambitious, start a couple of discussions.  While the groups are a little spammy, there is a also a ton of action. Do a Google blog search – Check out what people are saying about you or your competitors in the blogosphere.  Even better, setup a Google blog alert for your top 5 organic search terms.  This gives you the opportunity to comment on relevant posts. Peek at your Web referrer logs – I am always surprised to find new sources in my organic web traffic.  It often gives me fresh ideas for online content and campaigns. Any other super simple things you have tried?  How have they...

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A post evangelic social media world

As a followup to my recent rant about faith-based arguments, I grappling for a better label for a social media proponent.  Aside from the obvious consultant label (self deprecating barb), I came up with  the idea of replacing “social media evangelist” with “social media pragmatist”. Imagine what Twitter would be like if people spent more time admitting that some social media were not adding much business value.  Conversations could be less opinion based and more factual.  We wouldn’t have to hear the same old tired stories about the  hype spot of the day or that crummy low margin etailer who everyone loves because its CEO tweets alot.  We could get down to discussing business transformation and measurable outcomes.  Boring things like sales, leads and net promoter scores could become the only meaningful metrics. One can only...

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Is social media doomed?

As I blog about new media, I am often struck by the irony of my social media “lifestyle”.  Many of my new “friends” have drunk the web 2.0 Kool-aid and spend most of their time on social media talking about social media.  From my conversations with them, you would think that these new media like Twitter and Facebook will change every aspect of our lives (heck, even Oprah is on Twitter now).  While I remain bullish about the potential of these channels, I have a bunch of concerns about long term adoption by pragmatists and laggards particularly in the B2B world.  Here is my logic: Advertising based business models are weak: Regular readers of the ‘slice know about the poor response rates of Facebook ads.  Without a strong ROI from this advertising, companies will eventually steer clear of this medium or prices will be driven down to a level reflecting its effectiveness. Where are the doctors, lawyers and other “regular” business people? I can see them wanting a presence in the social media world but until these media can improve service delivery, increase sales or cut costs, it will be a nice to have experiment for some guy in marketing. Customer conversations are great: Engaging them online is valuable but it is challenging to measure the impact.  We’ll see in the long run if customer satisfaction or retention rates improve from these online interactions. Someone’s gonna pay: In many cases, however, we just don’t know who that will be.  I love what people like TipJoy are doing in the micropayments space but we still don’t have strong revenue models for many of these sites. Call me old fashioned: One of the things that helped Web 1.0 explode was when business people realized they could sell more stuff by having an ecommerce site.  I’m still waiting to hear more of these B2B stories from the social media world. So what does this mean? We need to keep innovating and testing.  There is a great deal of option value in being a part of the conversations.  They are happening out there whether you like it or not.  Also,  I know this isn’t a very web 2.0 idea but repurposing and syndicating your content through these channels can have a positive impact on your search engine marketing and help you reach prospective customers. Just be don’t be an idiot, be relevant, and add value to the...

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Are you measuring the right things?

I’d like to share a story about a time when I thought I was measuring the right thing (but wasn’t). I had decided that paid search was the right answer for my business.  Many of my competitors were buying keywords and there was plenty of traffic in the space.  The popular terms were bid up to the $2-3 dollar price range and based on my conversion assumptions, I thought I could get the customer acquisition cost tuned to the point where we would have a strongly positive ROI. After about six weeks of adjusting bids, killing off bad ad creative, inserting new ads, and reorganizing ad groups, BINGO, the cost per customer landed within about 5% of my target.  Needless to say, I felt pretty good and was thinking it was time to “pour some gasoline on the fire” by making a big budget request.   It seemed like a sensible thing to do given the acquisition cost and conversions rate. Before making the “big ask” for budget I decided to take one more look at the numbers.  I wanted to make sure these new sign ups would become productive long term customers.  My back-of-the-envelope estimates prior to the campaign had assumptions for the average revenue per customer.  The real data, however, showed that these customers yielded 75% less revenue than our “typical” customers, pushing this campaign into the red.  I was relieved to discover this before dropping  a large sum of money into this medium. The moral of the story: make sure you are measuring the right things and they are connected to real results. In most businesses, activity-based measures like leads or traffic are directional indicators.  In the end, revenue and sales are what really matter. So, what are you doing to connect your marketing activity to bottom line...

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Freemium Followup: Interesting Presentation

I found this presentation on Web 2.0 business models on Slideshare. It is jammed with great models and...

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