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March 20, 2007

Podcasting - It's not just for IPODs

When it comes to employing new Web 2.0 marketing techniques, I counsel my clients to get familiar with every new content type and embrace all new communication methods, because IT buyers are early adopters of new and useful communication methods. Consider how you should integrate these new techniques into your marketing strategy.

We'll talk more about these techniques in future posts, but by way of background...

Podcasting, video and social networking strategies should not evoke thoughts of teenagers on MySpace. In fact, podcasting shouldn't even evoke thoughts of content that is specifically created for iPods.

So how can these things help you?

To set the record straight, while social networks are used by teenagers on MySpace, they’re also used in corporate communications channels where their inclusion in the complex sales cycle just keeps growing. And podcasts are certainly not just for iPods.

According to its Wikipedia entry, podcasts are multimedia audio and video files that can be distributed over the Internet. Podcasts can be downloaded and saved or streamed live over your computer. You can also save podcast files to mobile devices (like iPods) and play the content at your convenience. With podcasts, you have the unique ability to subscribe to and downloaded files automatically using software capable of reading RSS and Atom feeds.

Podcasts are a great example of a content delivery method that’s gained in popularity, albeit slowly, over the past several years, and are now being used as an IT marketing tool. Armed with the knowledge that podcasts aren’t specialized iPod-only programs, you might consider how you can harness the exponential growth of podcasting, and use it to deliver your company’s marketing messages.

Podcast usage is going up, and research suggests that podcasts will really take hold over the next few years. In the 2006 EMarketer report, Podcasting: Who’s Tuning In, the overall podcast audience is expected to expand from the existing 10 million listeners who downloaded podcasts in 2006, to a projected 25 million listeners in 2008.

Part of the popularity of podcasts is that their consumption is user-directed. When listening to podcasts, users determine where they want to listen (at their desk, on the treadmill, while rushing between appointments), how they want to listen (streaming live, on their Blackberry), and when they want to listen. When users tune in to listen to their podcasts, they’re doing so at their convenience, and are specifically there to listen to the podcasts’ content.

For IT marketers, the unique user-directed aspect of podcasts make them a great tool for delivering content to technology buyers who need to research new products and technologies, but also need to do so on their own terms.

Podcasts can be very effective and engaging. But, recognize that we are still heading up the adoption curve. Here are a few tips as you consider how to deploy podcasts within your demand generation programs and on your Web sites.

• Educate users about the technology! Many of your prospects still don’t know much about podcasts and their uses. Tell them why they should 'listen' to your message.

• Help your users embrace this technology making your podcasts easy to find on your site. Include directions for downloading and saving the podcasts, and provide contact information in case your site visitors need help.

• Seamlessly integrate podcasts into your existing marketing efforts by offering users a choice between downloading written content, and downloading the same content via podcasts.

Podcasts are a useful tools for reaching out to users on their terms, and offering people your best information in a format that suites their needs. By showing potential buyers that you respect their desire for expanded content offerings, you move closer to becoming a trusted partner in their IT buying process.


March 07, 2007

Nurture fast...or your competitors will

Brian Carroll says that 95% of all leads are green bananas. Too many of my clients are digging for the 5% and abandoning the treasure in the remaining 95%. Brian's analogy is particularly powerful as I prepare for a two-week holiday in Costa Rica. But, for those not heading to a banana republic...

Start the nurturing process immediately after you've generated a lead from an online engagement.

The first 7-10 days are critical. Remember, prospects whose purchase decisions are imminent will conduct multi-vendor searches. In other words, they are just as likely to enter your competitor's sales funnel at the same time they enter yours.

Move quickly to develop that relationship...

Consider multiple e-mail messages within the first week, followed by less frequent touches that help to re-invigorate the prospect's interest in their business problem, your solution and your company. The use of early email dialogues will actually improve your telequalification stage. And, introducing the telequalification step is critical. A telequalifying company like Telenet, is committed to nurturing leads through telequalifying and to "eliminating the 'black hole' between marketing and sales." The objective is to preserve the sales resources for selling accounts only when the sale is sufficiently imminent.

Create a long-term strategy to nurture all your leads.


March 01, 2007

WBG Resource Library - Surviving the most complex sales

Purchasing enterprise technology is a complex, research-driven process that includes input from multiple decision makers. With buying cycles that can take up to 15 months to complete, it is more important than ever for marketers to surround these key influencers and decision makers throughout the process.

Why is the purchasing process increasingly complex? Here are several contributing factors. [1] The number of individuals involved in the process is increasing. Our 2006 Web Buyer's Guide study identified an average of 34 people involved in the buying decisions for the most complex technology solutions at the largest organizations. [2] The complexity of new technologies requires more market education. [3] The Internet is providing access to an unprecedented amount of data and research tools.

The Internet can shorten the sales process if the buyer's research process is efficiently facilitated -- that was our objective when we launched the Resource Library on the Ziff Davis Web Buyer's Guide.

The Resource Library takes the Web Buyer's Guide beyond white papers and allows marketers to categorize any type of marketing content that will support their sales process; including case studies, product literature, webcasts, videos or even trial software downloads. The buyer's digital journey is guided as they move from an 'unaware state' to a product and vendor selection. And, at each step, the Web Buyer's Guide is providing the digital educational tools to accelerate to a decision.