Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Podcasting Beyond Marketing Sherpa

Marketing Sherpa yesterday published a podcasting 101 guide, which began: "Podcasting is about to celebrate its second birthday and we don't know of a marketer out there who isn't at least mulling over the possibilities. Here's our handy guide, including: Surprising data on listener demographics; 3 Mistakes to avoid; 5 Rules for podcast content; 4 Tips to create commercials that get results." I daresn't say any more or I'll get a nasty note from Anne Holland. Access to the Sherpa article is free through Friday September 1, but will cost you a few bucks after that.

I'm not a podcasting expert, nor do I play one on TV, but I do know one (a podcasting expert, not a TV): Albert Maruggi at Provident Partners. Shortly after the Sherpa piece came out, Albert supplemented it with podcasting 102. If you found Marketing Sherpa's podcasting guide of interest, check out the sequel from Albert. As far as I know, his podcast on podcasting will remain free.

*****

Terms: podcasting 101, podcasting 102, Anne Holland, Albert Maruggi, Provident Partners

The Web marketing news and resources portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

Labels:


KudoSurf Me!
Add to Technorati Favorites
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

ingage: Newsletter Marketing with a Twist

Check out this newsletter from marketing agency ingage (yes, with a small "i"). The articles cover marketing in the information age, marketing accountability, and leveraging offline marketing efforts to drive targeted online traffic.

Interesting enough, but what sets this publication apart from every other marketing newsletter is that ingage has used its own interactive publishing tool to produce it. This tool produces interactive documents that look and act like printed publications, with page-flipping and multiple methods of navigation. While there are other tools on the market that do this, ingage has the only one that, when used to publish on a CD, lets you track response and interest, and update content on the fly.

The ingage tool is great for direct marketing (providing measurable ROI) and publications, and really shines for interactive catalog production. Compared to print, the ingage toolset provides greater capabilities (such as inclusion of video, audio, animation, and Web links), longer shelf life (thanks to its content updating capabilities), increased response, and the measurability of the Web -- all at a cost that's comparable or even lower.

Pretty darn cool.

*****

Terms: interactive CD marketing, interactive catalogs, email marketing, ingage interactive

The Interactive Web marketing and advertising portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

Labels:


KudoSurf Me!
Add to Technorati Favorites
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Problems with "Naked" CRM Systems

Ardath Albee of Einsof has released a new e-book titled "Why Naked CRM Systems Don't Work." She notes a number of CRM-related frustrations that will be familiar to marketers and sales reps, such as:

- Marketing doesn't think sales reps are adequately following up on the leads they've produced; sales doesn't think the leads are qualified.

- Marketing develops collateral materials to help sales; sales reps feel they don't have the right materials.

- Sales people quickly drop leads that aren't hot; marketing loses track of these leads and can't adequately nurture them.

- CRM systems don't live up to their promise; sales reps don't keep information up to date because there's no benefit for them.

Einsof's solution is to properly "dress" your CRM system with an interactive sales portal. Both sales and marketing benefit from an interactive feedback loop that shows what works, and what doesn't, in the real world. Is this an effective solution? The company has customers who say it is.

So why don't CRM vendors simply bake in this functionality themselves? Because, while Einsof has developed a base of reusable core code, each customer solution is heavily customized. It takes creativity, technical skill, and a focus on customer success. In short, Einsof's business model is built around service rather than application sales.

This service orientation also shifts the success metric for Einsof from simply "Is the software installed and working?" to "Is the solution actually providing results?" The outcome of this approach has been considerable repeat business for Einsof; customers who show up at the door simply wanting a bathrobe to throw over their naked CRM system end up coming back for a complete outfit or two, with accessories.

What's your CRM system wearing?

*****

Terms: CRM expansion, CRM enhancement, effective CRM, sales portals

The online marketing business portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

RSS feed

Labels:


KudoSurf Me!
Add to Technorati Favorites
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Sunday, August 20, 2006

RainToday Releases "The One Piece of Advice You Can't Sell Without"


The experts in professional services marketing at RainToday.com recently released a *free* report entitled "The One Piece of Advice You Can't Sell Without." But given that the report was written by 11 experts in Web marketing and sales, each of whom (natch) has distinct opinions on the topic, it should have been titled "The 11 Pieces of Advice You Can't Sell (or Market) Without."

Regardless, this report is well worth the read. Among the 11 authors are Seth Godin (his blog beat this one for the top spot Readers Choice Award from Marketing Sherpa; but, considering that he's written -- how many now? 6? 8? Best-selling marketing books, while I'm, well, just me, I was dang honored to come in with an honorable mention to Seth), Jill Konrath (author of Selling to Big Companies, and an all-around cool person), and the often-imitated-but-never-duplicated Mike Schultz.

With 11 different authors, there are, as one would expect, 11 different opinions about that "one piece of advice," but two of the most common themes are: 1) listen to your prospects and customers, and 2) companies don't buy products or services -- people do (both points made previously here).

Although the publication is targeted at sales people, it's well worth the read for marketing professionals as well. Understanding the needs of your prospects is every bit as critical in designing great marketing material as it is in closing sales.

*****

Terms: RainToday.com, Selling to Big Companies, b2b marketing, Jill Konrath, Mike Schultz

The Web marketing resource portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

RSS feed

Labels:


KudoSurf Me!
Add to Technorati Favorites
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Monday, August 14, 2006

Interactive Technology Brings New Life to Old Media - Catalogs

With even the most carefully-worded search terms result in thousands of hits, PPC costs are rising, and new laws and spam filters have reduced the impact of email marketing, catalogs remain a powerful marketing tool. Catalogs have am impact and immediacy that can't be matched by email or Web sites; they arrive in the mailbox with bills and letters that the recipient has to look at, and they sit on the desk or kitchen counter, just waiting to be opened and perused.

Catalogs are particularly powerful for online-only retailers. Yet it's amazing how few retailers and distributors still take advantage of this powerful tool. Based on some recent client research, I estimate that less than 20% of retailers overall still produce catalogs, and that figure is below 10% for high-tech retailers and distributors. By relying on increasingly difficult and crowded opt-in email and search engine marketing, these retailers are missing a lot of potential business.

Paper catalogs have their drawbacks, of course. They kill trees and are expensive to print and mail. But interactive technology is bringing new life to this old medium. Many retailers who still use print catalogs are adding interactive versions to their Web sites, with impressive results. Tools such as Rich FX and Zmag make it easy to convert a PDF catalog to in interactive, page-flipping format.

Still, simply reproducing a print catalog on the Web is merely formatting; it doesn't produce the impact of a catalog showing up in a recipient's (real world) mailbox. If a retailer is going to produce an e-version of their catalog, why not take the next step and put it on a CD or DVD to mail out? Print catalogs retain certain advantages: they can be read by people who don't own a PC (although with 80% of U.S. households owning at least one PC, this wouldn't seem to be much of a barrier), and they're easier to read in the bathroom.

Interactive CD/DVD catalogs, on the other hand, have a number of advantages over their paper counterparts: they are less expensive to produce and mail, can include features not available in print (audio, video, animation), and can link directly to the retailer's Web site.

What's more, new interactive technology such as iTrax from Zomax lets retailers not only convert their paper-based catalog to interactive media, but also track response, track Web clicks, and update content on the fly. Did the price of item #123 change right after the CD was sent out? No problem; update it in a Web database, and the next time your catalog recipient pops the CD into his or her PC (assuming they connected to the Web) they will see the new price.

In the hyper-competitive world of online retailing, the greatest success may come not to those who seek new ways of reaching consumers, but rather to those who creatively apply new technology to traditional marketing media.

*****

Terms: interactive CD marketing, interactive catalogs, Rich FX, Zmag, Zomax, iTrax, catalog on DVD

The Interactive Web marketing and advertising portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

RSS feed

Labels:


KudoSurf Me!
Add to Technorati Favorites
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

Monday, August 07, 2006

Web Conferencing Services Reviewed

If you deliver Webinars, hold meetings with remote sales or other personnel, or lead marketing or sales presentations for clients and prospects, you know the value and utility of Web conferencing services. Features and reliability have increased greatly over the last few years. Internet presentations save enormous time and money in travel.

As the popularity of Web conferencing services has increased, so has the number of options in the market. There are estimated to be more than a hundred vendors in the space now, though only a handful of leading contenders. Which service is the best? The answer, as it so often is in these situations, is "it depends." Web conferencing services vary considerably in price, functionality, and ease of use. The best solution for 2-3 participant remote sales presentations is different from the best solution for 6-10 participant marketing or training presentations, which is in turn different from the best solution for 50+ participant webinars.

Here are reviews of six options -- three market leaders and three up-and-coming services -- based on a recent client evaluation project.

HelpMeeting

Pros: Attractively priced at the 25 participant level and above, includes most of the basic functionality, easy to use, no client download required, and a free trial offered.

Cons: Expensive at lower licensing levels, lacks advanced features, not suitable for very large webinars, may have issues with some firewalls.

Bottom line: Worth checking out if you do a lot of 25-50 user presentations and don't need every bell and whistle. Pricing is attractive at this level, but needs to be simplified on their site.

Glance

Pros: Reasonably priced, easy to use, has all the basic features, no client download required, generally no firewall issues, free trail offered.

Cons: Limited to a maximum of 15 participants.

Bottom line: Glance is a great tool for remote sales reps who generally present to small groups., but is not a corporate or Webinar solution.

GatherPlace

Pros: One of the most attractively priced solutions at up to 25 users, and provides "event pricing" for one-time or occasional large webinars (up to 200 participants); excellent feature set for the price; very easy to use; free trail offered; no client download required; friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Cons: The two biggest are horrendous video performance (4 frames per second) and firewall issues (your presentation will be unviewable by anyone whose firewall blocks Java). The company is working on both issues and should have solutions in future releases.

Bottom line: This is one to watch, and maybe try out, given the relatively strong feature set and ease of use. If most of your presentations are to 25 or fewer participants, you may want to sign up for the free trail and test this as extensively as you can to determine if firewall issues are likely to arise internally or with your clients and target prospects.
__________________________________________________________

This post sponsored by Marketing Tools from VerticalResponse

Create professional HTML Email and printed Postcard campaigns in minutes right from your browser. No technical expertise needed - Choose from over 250 templates. It's easy, affordable and powerful. Try it Free Today!
__________________________________________________________

GoToMeeting

Pros: Pricing isn't the lowest, but is competitive at up to 25 participants; ability to cost-effectively host very large Web presentations (up to 1,000 participants); easy to use; strong feature set; few if any firewall issues; friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Cons: Product offering is unnecessarily complex, client download is required.

Bottom line: Budget-conscious users with simple needs may want to look elsewhere, but with its combination of ease-of-use and an excellent feature set, GoToMeeting is a strong contender for midsize and larger businesses. With its new GoToWebinar offering, GTM is by far the leading solution for frequent, large presentations and webinars.

Microsoft LiveMeeting

Pros: Broad feature set, virtually no firewall issues, strong integration with Microsoft Office tools, free trial offered.

Cons: Price, client download required, difficult to use.

Bottom line: A decent solution for companies with complex needs, where Web conferencing is used for a variety of tasks (e.g. client training, sales and marketing presentations, IT collaboration), and where integration with Office and Outlook is important.

WebEx

Pros: Market leader (i.e. system your prospects or other participants are likely to have used before), extensive feature set (including audio conferencing and Outlook integration), virtually impervious to firewalls, free trial offered, good tech support.

Cons: Same as LiveMeeting.

Bottom line: WebEx is the most expensive solution on the market, but also has the most extensive feature set. For large organizations wanting a single cross-departmental Web presentation tool, WebEx is a solid choice.

In the end, you'll have to make judgements about the relative importance of various criteria -- price, features, ease of use, compatibility -- in order to determine which service best meets the needs of your department or company. With the possible exception of Citrix-backed GoToMeeting, none of the emerging services are likely to unseat market leaders WebEx and LiveMeeting, but each has the potential to stake out its own niche. The best news for users is that, because these are hosted services, there is very little if any IT investment required. That means switching costs are low, so you can afford to experiment until you find your own best solution.

*****

Terms: Web conferencing services, Web presentation tools, online presentations, WebEx, LiveMeeting, GoToMeeting, GatherPlace, HelpMeeting, GatherWorks, Glance

The Internet marketing and advertising portal: WebMarketCentral.com

Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentral.com

RSS feed

Labels:


KudoSurf Me!
Add to Technorati Favorites
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
AddThis Feed Button

eXTReMe Tracker