Archive for the 'Web 2.0' Category

DEMOfall09: Six Picks

The other day I blogged about some of the really passionate entrepreneurs I met at DEMOfall09 and I referenced the products that caught my eye. While I did not get to dig into all 70 or so companies while I was there, here are a few that I found worth noting:

Waze – This is a way cool, and I think much-needed, application that brings real-time traffic intelligence/information to the masses via the masses (crowd sourcing). The app works on GPS-enabled Smartphones and sends back GPS points as you drive.  The idea is that through the Waze community, traffic, road changes and other information is collected automatically and anonymously. Drivers can also take a more active role by reporting on new situations from their mobile device.   I need this for my suddenly hellish morning commutes and can’t wait to find out when it will work on my Windows Smartphone (they’ve promised Symbian and Win support as of this week). It also supports iPhone and Android.

WhoDoYouKnowAt, LLC – Think of this enterprise app as LinkedIn on Steroids or perhaps more aptly, LinkedIn With Security Layer.  It is a free and private (note: NOT social networking) networking application that allows you to leverage relationships for personal, business or civic gain in a confidential and tiered manner. CEO Lee Blaylock is a guy I’d bet on or want with me in a foxhole.  He developed the application after years working at Oracle, and I think he’s onto something. After all, how many introductions have you ever made or been asked to make via LinkedIn? What makes this app different is a “Levels of Trust” system that allows your online relationships to more accurately reflect those in the real world. With each connection, you can set their “Level of Trust” to reflect your real-life relationship. For example, when sharing a contact’s information with certain contacts, you can choose to remain anonymous. With your more trusted relationships, however, you can choose to share all of your network information.

Traackr – This is a Web 2.0 application for brand marketers, PR and marketing firms and in-house communications professionals. It allows users to harness the gold mine of information in social networks, blogs and Twitter. The application is called “A-list” or “Authority List,” and it helps you identify the people with the most clout so that you can target and track them. The company claims it can provide you a list of the most influential people online for any given subject as measured by the three “Rs” – reach, relevance and resonance. I plan to check it out in more detail soon.

MoLo Rewards, Inc. – This company has developed a wireless coupon application that allows users – via a cell phone – to scan items at the point of sale to instantly redeem coupons or loyalty rewards using either Near Field Communication (NFC) or RFID. MoLo Rewards also will allow consumers to link and join participating retail loyalty programs and earn points for every purchase by simply waving their cell phone in front of the cash register at the time of purchase.  These guys need to lock up some of the top pharmacy chains and then try to tackle the grocery giants. If they succeed, the coupon book goes the way of the daily paper or weekly shopper. CEO Robert Sprogis brought his “A” game to the DEMO stage, which further impressed me.

 

Enthusem – Can direct mail make a comeback? Enthusem is betting it can with a little Web 2.0 assistance. The company has set up an elegant approach to sending very high quality, personalized post cards through an online greeting card site that lets users send personal printed greeting cards that include a URL and a pickup code, which the recipient can type in online to see a custom video, read an extended note, or listen to an mp3 that you uploaded. This is CEO Steve Tingiris’ third company and maybe it will be the charm.

POWR – Believe it or not, these guys are bringing a new hardware solution to market. POWR (Point of Wealth Register) is a kiosk with an ATM-like interface that helps “unbanked” or hourly employees like bartenders, waiters, blackjack dealers, etc. make fast and easy deposits to personal accounts (think 401K or 529)or to make money transfers, pay bills, etc. These guys had a lot of spunk. CEO Doug Lindstrom is a veteran bartender so you know what his “light bulb” moment for his company must have been – many a morning waking up wondering where all of his tips went.  If POWR doesn’t end up getting bought by CoinStar or Western Union, I think they just might succeed on their own.

DotSyntax’s Digsby – If you have not tried it out (I have been using it for about a year), Digsby is an easy-to-use desktop application that helps people save time by managing their IM, email and social network accounts all from one location. DotSyntax unveiled the latest version of its social-media management tool at DEMO, and the new version is geared specifically towards helping solve the Twitter clutter and chaos problem. One of the key new features is a reversal from the Twitter client standard, in which tweet streams are displayed newest first. Digsby shows the oldest first with the logic being that it is easier to read threads from the beginning. I am not sure I agree, and I have yet to check out the new features yet. That’s what weekends are for …

— Posted by Tim Hurley

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Off the Wagon. The Social Media Bandwagon, that is.

Today’s iMedia Connection featured a great contributed piece called “Six Stupid Marketing Mistakes.” The article made many interesting points, but there is one over arching theme that really applies to B2B marketers: Too often, companies try to jump on the bandwagon and execute marketing efforts without really thinking about if it’s the right thing to do. This is especially true in today’s “We’re (fill in the blank) 2.0! It’s gotta be interactive! Let’s start a social network! There is no such thing as oversharing!” world. But in reality, marketers need to know when to embrace a trend, and when to not get on the wagon at all.

The Facebooks and Twitters of the world weren’t started with us in mind, but they’ve quickly evolved to be a powerful marketing tool – for some. But just because these tools work for one brand, doesn’t mean they are appropriate for yours. And if you are going to use them, use them the way there were meant to be used!

For example, there are a lot of brands using Twitter as a communication vehicle (don’t believe me? Just check out this far from complete list!). This can be an effective tool, but when used the correctly. Some brands set up Twitter accounts months ago, and have not made a single update since. Or tweat about irrelevant subjects not related to their brand or their space. Or when they do, only broadcast one-way messages like “We just launched anew website.” Imagine the negative impact this might have on a brand’s reputation!

The bottom line is that many marketers treat social media as a short-term campaign, but it should be thought of as a long-term commitment and a business strategy. If you’re building your own network, it better be adding value and offer something that the big guys don’t. If you’re using Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or others as a marketing tool, make sure you’re using them for the right reason, in the right way and talking to the right audience.

Goodbye ROI, and Other Marketing Lessons

I took a rare day off from client work yesterday to attend Tech Target’s Annual Online ROI Summit for technology marketers. Overall the event was a great one, and I thought I’d share the “top lessons” I took away from the various panels and sessions.

  • Goodbye ROI. There is a move away from thinking about marketing as it relates to return on investment. Instead, marketing efforts should be measured based on ROMO, or return on marketing objectives. This may mean did the campaign meet lead goals, pipeline goals, conversions of leads to opportunities, etc.
  • The death of the marketing blitz. Gone are the days of big to-do’s around product launches and huge campaigns. Instead, marketers should think of – and measure – campaigns in terms of long-term, long tail approaches. Remember the 20/80 rule: 20% of your response will happen immediately, while the other 80% will happen over the long term.
  • Bloggers are the influencers. More and more, IT buyers are depending on blogs as resources instead of traditional media, and advertising on blogs is now out-performing traditional online advertising.
  • Key phrases, not words. Increasingly, IT buyers are using long phrases in order to narrow down search results and get more specific, relevant results. Effective search strategies will now focus on 3+ word phrases and negatives, instead of key words. Think “server consolation in an all-Linux environment and not Windows” instead of just “server consolidation.” Also, companies should think of paid search as a way to fill in the gap and complement their organic search efforts.
  • Match the sales process. Think about lead generation in terms of different stages of the buying cycle. Your content type and topic should target the buyer at each stage. At the “awareness” stage, your best bet is a whitepaper that addresses a problem and provides an overview of the landscape. At the “interest” stage, editorial content pulls best (with a 2x higher CTR over vendor-produced content), so focus on editorial Webcasts or podcasts. The “decision” stage is the time to introduce trials, demos and specific solution assets. Another interesting tidbit: existing prospects are more likely to be pulled in by a vendor asset, while new leads are likely to be pulled in by editorial content.
  • CIOs are busy. OK, so that’s not a new concept, but what may be somewhat surprising is that they admittedly aren’t doing any of the research themselves when it comes to evaluating new technologies and vendors. They rely on their staff to do the research and present the relevant info and short-list of vendors to them, so make sure you’re marketing to the lower-level IT staff! And, when you are marketing to the CIO, make sure your content is short enough that they can read it or listen to it during their commute.
  • Don’t over market! Clean up your database frequently to remove inactive prospects and distinguish between folks that are further down the pipeline. Don’t be afraid of “do not market” lists and segment your lists so that you’re not over marketing!

I’ll end with my favorite quote of the day: “If you can’t measure it and you can’t repeat it, then it probably shouldn’t have been done in the first place!” My second favorite? “Sales is the consumer of marketing’s leads, so work closely with them!”

2008: B-to-B Marketing Preview

It comes as no surprise that b-to-b marketers plan to increase their spending online and decrease print advertising in 2008. What may surprise folks, however, is that spend on direct mail and events is forecasted to rise in 2008.

We’re finding this to hold true with our own clients, too. I think this is because, in our technology-driven lives, we welcome a chance to re-connect with folks in a tangible, one-to-one way. Whereas maybe three years ago direct mail effectiveness was on the decline, folks are so overwhelmed now with email and online banter that they are starting to glaze over those and once again pay attention to what’s coming in the mail, especially if the creative is eye-catching and the offer relevant. And as great as virtual tradeshows are, you can’t beat the chance to pitch your product or service face-to-face at an event. Besides, we wouldn’t want to put the tchotchkes vendors out of business. 😉

In other forecasting news, the same study found that two-thirds of b-to-b marketers plan on increasing their overall marketing budgets – largely because they also plan on embarking on new campaigns. And, in terms of what online areas marketers will invest in, Website, Webcasts, email, search and video leads the pack. Finally, despite all of 2007’s hype around social media, only 20% of marketers are currently using it as part of their strategy and 69% are not planning to increase spend in this area.

Stop Talking…Start Doing…

That was the message at the tail end of the latest IBM commercial I saw last night as I settled in to watch Bret Farve and Bret Farve Tony Romo battle it out on NFL Network (yes I get the channel, in HD no less, I know you’re jealous).

 

The ad shows a hip(ish) young guy showing the by-the-book business man his online avatar in a virtual world, exclaiming – “Its innovation!”

After some short dialogue this business man says -“The point of innovation is to make actual money”

Cue the Stop Talking, Start Doing tagline.

The ad is an obvious dig at Second Life, but it got me thinking about 2.0 in general. Sure, all of these conversations are important – but is our “talking” getting in the way of our “doing”? Are our contributions to our social networks, tweets and blog posts actually accomplishing something?

A bit of a heavy question for a Friday….but something to mull over while waiting for the clock to hit 5pm.


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