Tag Archives: Salesforce

CeBIT versus Woodstock – tradeshows revisited

This year’s CeBIT was a shadow of its former self, according to a presenter and agency owner who has escorted clients there for over a decade. Meanwhile, another senior marketing executive I spoke to claimed exhibiting at the show was a success for her company because “CeBIT is not for leads”. This ‘bigger picture’ thought was supported by an insightful comment from HP marketing vet Peter Chargin, who raised the importance of knowledge gathered on the ground by attendees. Good point I missed and it made me think.

So if conferences are not for leads, but for brand presence and education, has the world changed?

Some claim, with a lot of validity, that the ‘live’ experience of shows and learning is what the trade show is really about. This is certainly true for the army of press and bloggers who descend on trade shows, they learn a lot. But actual sales need more than awareness, they need persuasion. This is why Salesforce and Siebel are used for telemarketing more often than campaign management – people buy from people not emails. Even PR management tools like Response Source and Vocus just help good old human interaction, they should facilitate handcrafted emails and calls from persuasive PR professionals (like Positive). Use them as spam tools and they are counter-productive.

So then why the downer on conferences if they tick so many boxes? Physical interaction – tick, educating while selling -tick, potential new customer awareness – tick. What does not work is the economics. Why pay for booth space, why not just do speaking slots?

I think I have a better idea, or rather my bright friends at Brighttalk.com, had one. To be honest though, the Brightvocalists did not realise it at first, until, in a truly Twitter-like way, they remodelled their business plan. From a sort of online AGM tool they came up with virtual conferences. So now you have all the knowledge sharing you could need, full control over how your brand is conveyed and even some ‘accidental’ leads as it is promoted to the firm’s half million users. Whether or not, the ‘webcasting reinvented’ users Brighttalk claims all love your content, that’s a lot of potential bag-fillers passing your virtual booth – for free.

We need yet more innovation. Half day physical conferences, impromptu conferences (Twestivals not Flashcrowds, for safety reasons) and much much more online innovation (Brighttalk, Webex etc.). Music festivals people spend days at, but industry conferences? Can anyone honestly say the ‘Good Old Days’ of CeBIT were really like being at Woodstock?

Let’s discuss your opinions by emailing pmaher@positivemarketing.org and to learn more about how we can help check out www.positivemarketing.org

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Is nastiness necessary?

Yesterday I visited a Tradeshow which seemed immune from the current general malaise. Long, but orderly, queues formed for sessions, abundant freebies were displayed on the stands of a plethora of start-ups with shiny new logos. What was this exciting exposition, flourishing despite the current financial doldrums? A show focused on technology for marketing professionals.

These days that covers a lot of services and applications, including SEO tools, CRM and statistics packages, Web-building and hosting. Not to forget the man with the mobile bubble making machine – possibly the stand-out in terms of innovation. It did seem ironic to stage a conference to market marketing to marketing professionals but the free entry ensured a healthy crowd.

My excuse was to talk to a prospect. She was an overseas marketing professional from a software vendor, attending ‘to pick up ideas’. I was selling Positive Marketing to her and her colleagues. For them this was a perfectly valid research trip; so we all had alibis. These though are tough times and beneath the gloss, the hawkers of today’s marketing tools were doling out some interesting, no, plain-nasty, messages.

One VP speaker recommended using his analysis package to find deeply unprofitable customers and then giving them to your competitors – nice. Another senior panellist picked on poor old Microsoft Outlook, which he opined would be dead in 18 months, replaced by universal use of Google Apps. This was ironic as UK Gmail users were at the moment of his speech experiencing an outage which lasted several hours.

Marketing guru Al Ries once likened marketing to war and it seems it is now. For years ‘unfair competitive advantage’ has been the half-heated rallying call of many a marketing professional, but now cut-throat competition means some people are thinking it means survival of the bitchiest. But is this the smart play?

The first rule of smart marketing is to qualify your audience to make sure you send the right message. In this case, the audience was marketing executives spending some time, but little upfront money to review the state of their profession. Even though these are professionals, who know all about having a sharp Point Of View, ultimately ‘people buy people’.

Nasty folks tend not to be nice to do business with and that is what I remember from these two vendors. If we are all getting evil, perhaps even Google, let’s remember that what goes around comes around.

P.S. If you are curious to know who the boot boys are drop me a line pmaher@positivemarketing.org