Category Archives: Guerilla Marketing
There was a famous Broadway musical back in the 1950s (and NO I am not old enough to remember it from back then!) called Pajama Game. The show stopping number was called Steam Heat — and the number and show helped to make Shirley Maclaine a star!
These days the word “steam” evokes a whole different image. Ask my son who is the expert on all things gaming (as are most teen boys). Steam is a platform developed by Valve Corporation. It lets users download games (and in October 2012 Valve expanded the service to include non-gaming software). In our tech world, Steam gives access — digital distribution, digital rights management, multi-player and communications.
If you haven’t heard of Steam before — it will probably become part of your life in the near future.
Remember the X-Box from Microsoft? The X-Box (the current one is called the X-Box 360) is a video gaming brand created by Microsoft. It includes a series of video game consoles, the latest of which will be the X-Box One. Kids all over the world love the X-Box because they can not only play games on it, but they can play games with others from around the world using something called X-Box Live. Xbox Live costs about $60 a year and for that fee you subscribe to a service that lets you stream multimedia content from PCs, purchase and stream music, view TV programs and films through the Xbox Music and Xbox Video services, along with access to third-party content services through third-party media streaming applications. Microsoft does offer a free X-Box Live, but functionality is very limited — it lets you get to the store so you can actually pay for stuff (hmmm, and the ability to shop is free, how ironic is THAT?) and you can play demo games to see if you want to buy them. As I said the free version is very limited.
X-Box took over the gaming world in a big way — thanks in large part to the multi-player gaming abilities of X-Box Live (not to mention some killer shooting games). . . But thanks to Steam this reign may be about to end.
Steam now has more than 65 million active accounts. 65 million! This is a 30 percent rise in players in just the last year. On any given day Steam may have more than 6 million concurrent users. Microsoft’s X-box Live has 48 million accounts — around half of whom reportedly paid extra for a gold subscription.
Steam has 17 million more accounts than Microsoft’s X-Box Live!
I can almost hear 17 million voices crying out “In your face Microsoft!”
Poor Microsoft, once the king of technology the iPad and Google Android tablets are sucking life out of its key computing model, and now Steam is taking a bite out of its lauded gaming throne!
Steam is not new. Steam has been around for 10 years. There was a time I hated Steam because of the complexity it took to download games — if they even worked at all after you went through the trouble to download Steam and then download a game. . .
Ten years is a long time in tech years. Most tech companies who survive that long have come to prominence and then decline — if they ever became a leader in the first place.
The success of Steam in keeping up with technology and even leading it contrasted with so many high tech companies who lay in the graveyard of technology past brings to mind Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore and Regis McKenna. The concept of the chasm of dead products that either never make it to main stream or hit it and then rapidly die out was brilliant. Moore and McKenna said there is a chasm between the early adopters of a new technology product, mainstream users — and then finally the late adopters. In the “old days” a product could be designed and last a lifetime (more than a lifetime — think of something like a shovel or a hammer — how long have those tools been around). Now think about how Math technology went from a slide ruler to a calculator to Lotus 1-2-3 to Microsoft Excel to an app on your cell phone or tablet. . . That product life cycle just gets faster and faster — and companies rise and fall so rapidly it makes your head spin!
Valve is innovating so it shouldn’t fall into the chasm any time soon. Valve (owner of Steam) announced a new operating system. SteamOS is a Linux-based (bypassing Microsoft) operating system — a navigation solution for gaming PCs in the living room. It can be installed on any PC (and it’s free). SteamOS will be the operating system powering the physical Steam Machines that Valve will soon be shipping to eager gamers. The Steam Machine is supposed to be its ability to stream games from your regular gaming PC to any TV.
Valve also announced a new game controller. The Steam Controller has two clickable high-resolution circular track pads with haptic feedback, which supposed to be precise enough to match gaming keyboards and gaming mice.
Time will tell if Steam will continue to steam roll over its competition — but our high tech world keeps on a changing!
When you get right down to brass tacks making money means selling something PROFITABLY. I capitalize the word “profitably” because far too many become enamored of acquiring new customers or up-selling existing ones, but they don’t keep the eye on whether they really are making money or if the cost of goods sold (COGS) means a loss of money.
The only time you should ever lose money on a sale is when you do so consciously. It may well be that to garner a “marquee” name customer who can be referenced to encourage others in a given industry to buy from you sell something at a loss. When and if you do lose money on a sale you should do so with eyes wide open aware that it is a sales tool itself to gain more profitable sales.
We’re all here to make money, and if you do not know the cost of making a sale odds are you are losing money.
Tools to keep you informed are many: from financial software to manage your “books” which include ERP (enterprise resource plannng) and CRM (customer relationship management). We’ve discussed a few of these tools in this blog — tools aimed at start-ups, mid-size companies all the way to the Fortune 100 — tools which can help you make money profitably if used appropriately.
Which brings me (finally) to the topic of this blog: software that helps you optimize your CRM sales funnel.
A sales funnel is the concept that to make one sale you must have X number of sales “leads” (potential customers) who become “suspects” (research shows they could use your offer) lined up that you can target and then winnow them down to “prospects.” Prospects are qualified businesses who could benefit from your offers — whether they know it or not. They have budget, they have a need and you can help them meet their own goals. The key in funnel management is to turn those prospects into customers — and in each step of the sales process of many “suspects” you will find only a few “prospects” and even fewer of them will turn into customers.
Even in the age of social media you still have to identify potential customers and somehow you need to make them aware that you have a service or a product they will find valuable. . . the methods for reaching them may be changing, but the fundamentals remain the same.
There is a very old saying in the computer industry — about as old as the industry itself. Surely you have heard the term GIGO (garbage in / garbage out). You must fill your sales funnel, but if you fill it with lots of names that do not have the potential to be a customer your “funnel management” is poor and your sales profitability will also be low.
To acquire profitable customers (new ones) or even identify what you can up-sell or cross-sell to existing customers you must have a way of identifying qualified leads from the very beginning. Cisco (the leading communications vendor) credits a company named eTrigue with increasing their SMB (small / medium business) sales appointments by 25% through just such pinpoint targeting of potential customers.
Linda Fassig-Knauer, (a Cisco marketing programs manager) is the one making the claim about eTrigue and 3Marketeers (advertising, marketing, and demand generation/lead generation) for better lead generation:
“eTrigue Intelligent lead scoring helps us determine which technology or offer the prospect is most interested in discussing with our sales teams and enables us to funnel those leads in a timely manner to our call center, who ultimately sends to our channel partners,” says Fassig-Knauer, “The information in eTrigue lead scoring gives us three times the information so our call center agents are much more prepared before a call. It also greatly increases the number of prospects we can identify as being interested in a solution because the system does not require the customer/prospect to register.”
Salesforce.com CRM users can view active prospects in eTrigue’s demand generation application within Salesforce — making it easy to use for sales reps. eTrigue won an award from DemandGen for its work with Cisco.
Given the fact that the economy is still slow you need to find a way to do more with less. Your sales reps need to be more efficient than ever. Tools like the cloud based SaaS (software as a service) Salesforce.com teamed with a demand generation tool like eTrigue can fill your funnel with a higher number of better-qualified leads faster, less expensively and with fewer resources.
You need to identify suspects and then you need to pinpoint target valuable information to them (using CRM with integrated email campaign tools and social media tools as well as the good old fashioned telephone!). Doing more with less in these times means working smart with inexpensive but highly valuable tools. Take a cue from Cisco and from Codice Software, who saw a 225% increase in qualified leads, and a 50% increase in actionable sales leads when it used eTrigue. Response rates went up by 160% versus the same period the prior year.
Another customer, Silver Peak, generated 30% more programs without additional staff. The cost is much lower than hiring more people — although if you get enough good leads you may need to put more feet on the street!
If you are using Salesforce.com I highly recommend that you take a look at eTrigue and see if automating your sales funnel demand generation makes sense.
Have you ever noticed that the world just seems to be changing faster and faster all the time?
I’m a big fan of the British television show, “Doctor Who.” The premise of the show is that a time lord travels throughout time and space — from ancient times to tens of thousands of years into the future. “The Doctor” is a mysterious time traveler whose life is often lived “backwards” as he appears in places where people may know him, but he hasn’t met them in “his” life yet. It must be very confusing.
Sometimes I can relate to the Doctor.
The way our world is moving so quickly it is hard to “keep up” with the technology and how it changes us. Technology changes the way we work, how we interact with our own families and how we shop.
The idea behind CRM (customer relationship management) is that vendors, to be successful, must know who their customers are and why they buy what they buy. In the “old days” a small town might have had one butcher, one baker and one candlestick maker. A customer was known by name and the vendor (say the candlestick maker) knew what kind and color of candle Mr. Jones bought or Mrs. Smith acquired. CRM was just a part of the small customer base and the small proprieter.
Today we live in a world of Wal-Mart and Best Buy, not to mention Amazon.com and Buy.com . We customers are anonymous, and if we are anonymous we may only shop one time and never return. To gain our loyalty these large retailers must understand “who we are” by our buying habits, our demographics and our past buying habits.
Have you ever noticed when you visit Amazon’s website that (if you’ve shopped there before) the website recommends new purchases to you based on what you’ve bought before? Smart marketing, and a good application of CRM.
The days of shopping online via our PC alone has already changed and CRM must change along with it.
Gartner Group, a research company specializing in high technology, is predicting that mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common way to access the Internet by 2013. This has both a huge impact on what vendors will require from CRM, as well as a huge opportunity to sell us more, while also making us happier by meeting our needs in “real time.” Customer loyalty and customer retention benefits from CRM tied to smart phones is an enormous potential — and the holy grail of CRM.
Smart phones use both push and pull technology. Pull technology is when a phone user goes online via the phone and searches for an address or driving directions. They have proactively “searched” (or pulled) data from the internet. Perhaps they are looking for a nearby drug store. Perhaps they are searching for a certain product (perhaps a Wii game for their child). As the person runs the search CRM is at work.
Now “push” technology comes into play. An add for a Wii game sale is sent to the phone via GameStop or Wal-Mart. The user checks local prices and sees how close each vendor is to them (pull technology. GameStop is say 1/2 a mile away and Wal-Mart is 3 miles away). A 15% off coupon is sent to the phone by GameStop (push technology).
And so it goes. The future is the past, and soon the mega-stores may know you as well as the local candlemaker ever did.
The potential value of combining CRM, smartphones, GPS and unified communications to empower the customer while ensuring even higher customer loyalty is staggering. The opportunity is there, if CRM is properly utilized. The winners will do it. The losers will be gone.
Since CRM (customer relationship management) is supposed to mean any one or any system that interacts with customers one would logically think that email marketing would be an integral part of any CRM solution.
But it isn’t.
Email marketing has been around as long as email itself has. Yet most companies who do email marketing for customer retention (up selling and cross selling) or acquisition (acquiring new customers) do so blindly using third party lists or hobbled together lists. Some may use Templates found on Microsoft’s template section of their website. Others use a variety of software or internet based solutions — and there same to be a plethora of them out there.
Most companies seem to use the axiom: throw enough mud on the wall and some of it is bound to stick when sending out corporate marketing emails.
No tracking of the ROI (return on investment). No knowing if you are “ticking off” your best customers. No knowing how many hit the SPAM filter. No knowing how many people get multiple emails from you (annoying them). Bad email marketing hurts every other aspect of CRM, and does more damage than good.
This is mass emailing. My friend, Sundeep Kapur (other wise known as the Email Yogi) has been an email marketing guru since around 1999 and he has outlined “Seven Stages of eMarketing” in a Whitepaper – available, with just a simple request. The first is exactly what I outlined above: mass marketing with the hope someone, somewhere will read it.
I don’t want to “give away” everything in Sundeep’s excellent paper, but suffice it to say that email CRM isn’t any different than CRM in general — know thy customer. You must target your existing customers and potential customers by market segment (customer segmentation), by demographics, by buying history, etc. None of this is rocket science, but it is all hard work — that results in qualified leads that generate new customers.
The more you can customize the email to the prospect the better. And if you can make it FUN even better still!
Customer segmentation allows you to target your email messaging.
Once you’ve created an email offer, newsletter, etc. it is a good idea to set up two separate tests with similar, but not identical, offers. The test audiences must be the same segmentation for this to work. Try to make an offer that requires a response (buy in) before the scroll down point (above 400 pixels in height) and if this is the first email one of those should be an opt in to get more emails from you.
Design the email using HTML and a plain text file. If you start getting fancy with CSS or flash — even Java — many email programs won’t read it properly.
Sundeep works for my old boss, NCR — a leader in retail and hospitality solutions. Software solutions vary based on your own corporate needs (and budget). RWD uses Constant Contact. The design of emails is pretty easy, but it isn’t your standard Windows “look and feel” so there is a learning curve and difficulty if you want to copy or paste from it into another program. They do offer a free 60 day trial, so if you are new to email marketing take a look at them and try them out.
More mid-range companies might look at Gold Lasso. The UI is also not the easiest to use, but they do have some analytics thrown into the mix. Also good in the mid-range and even enterprise (big) company range is Responsys. JupiterResearch awarded Responsys the highest combined score in “market suitability” and “overall business value” among all enterprise-oriented email service providers. It also ranked high with Forrester and Gartner (in a niche category). The Enterprise level also includes the market leader, Cheetahmail (now part of Experian).
Cheetahmail is the most entrenched, and it is very feature rich. The UI (user interface) suffers from some of the same issues as Constant Contact and Gold Lasso.
In a future blog I’d like to delve into how well email marketing soltuions tie into legacy systems (the back end CRM, ERP and industry specific apps which hold the wealth of customer data) — both from a push and pull perspective.
This blog spends a lot of pixels on the topic of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). How can companies manage their customers. How can we keep current customers loyal and retain them? How can we find new customers who will be profitable and love us and stay with us?
You don’t really manage customers anymore — if you ever did. Perhaps the idea was always unreasonable.
Customers are people. Newsflash.
People are unpredictable. People are not, by nature, loyal. If they were the divorce rate wouldn’t be at 50%.
People only care about what they care about NOW. Today. If you are selling Christmas trees to Jews they won’t care. They don’t use them (well, some do but not many).
Customers buy what they WANT to buy and the key today is not in trying to manage your customers but in understanding who they are, what they want (or need) and making it easy for them to be in the right place at the right time with the right story. Story is key here — because customers need to be able to find what they need when they need it.
And it needs to be simple. Simple for customers to understand what your widget is. Easy for them to understand why it matters to THEM (not you, they could care less about you) and then make it easy for them to get to the end result of what they want. Intuitive (like a iPod, like a GUI (graphical user interface) versus a c: prompt).
The customer is now in charge of the world. Realize it. Embrace it. So now more than ever is “know thy customer” and realize that while you need them, they don’t need you. Unless you give them a reason to need you.
My last blog posed the question: “Is Microsoft the next Dinosaur?” My point was that most companies have a lifecycle, just like products do and people do.
Microsoft may or may not be at the precipice of a decline — it is really up to Microsoft. The thing I always admired about Bill Gates in the “early days” (and I was a UNIX fan since I worked for AT&T Computer Systems) was that he was always paranoid. He knew the internet could eclipse the OS as far as the center of the IT universe and so out came Internet Explorer. Microsoft tried to win the search engine war — and after repeated lack of success has what looks like a nice product in Bing.
But no sooner did I post my Blog and get lots of comments (most not so nice from Microsoft proponents) along comes PC World with an article that asks the very same question I asked:
Analysis: GM’s bankruptcy marks the end of an era. Is Microsoft repeating the automaker’s mistakes?
J. Peter Bruzzese, InfoWorld