When I begin work with a client, we always start from the beginning and this entails data gathering.
My tried and true methodology includes a 360 degree perceptual audit, including a customer focus. The definition of customers can vary; sometimes ‘customers’ are also distribution partners, sometimes they are consumers. sometimes they are enterprise end-users. What’s important is that I reach out to a set of customers, I talk to them and most importantly, I listen to them.
Through this listening I learn what they think about the company; their likes, dislikes, their pet peeves, why they will or won’t recommend the company to a peer, what words they use to describe the company.
Very often, when I begin this process, my client maintains that they know their customers, they talk to them often, and they can already guess at what the audit results will reveal.
And, very often, this proves to not be the case. Most often, at the conclusion of the audit, my clients agree that they need to spend even more time with their customers, listening and learning.
It is without fail that the audit provides real, insightful ‘aha’s’ into the customer that the clients are not aware of. Often these aha’s point to real business issues that go to the heart of helping the business discover new growth and revenue opportunities.
And, it is always true, that at the end of this process, clients turn to me with profound thanks for helping them understand more about their customers.
A few weeks ago Forrester invited me to attend a half-day seminar around Customer Experience Management. I’ve always been intrigued with understanding business from the customer point of view, and this half-day was an excellent way to spend quality time thinking about the emerging discipline called Customer Experience Management.
Forrester analysts recently published an excellent book on the topic called Outside In. It walks-through the fundamentals of their CEM practice, and reveals interesting insights into their methodology and findings. It’s written from a case study point-of-view so it’s an easy, worthwhile read.
How well do you know your customers?
Is it time you got to know them better?
Let’s talk about how we can do that together.
We are almost at the end of 2012 Q1 and already it appears that “pivot” will be the business word of the year. Throughout my conversations with clients, journalists, investors and other tech industry insiders during the past 90 days, I’ve heard time and time again a reference to pivot.
As in, “we are pivoting the company” to XYZ new market, and “we are doing a pivot to address” these new customers, or “they are raising money to pivot the company”.
Turns out that pivot is one of those versatile words that can be used as a noun, verb or adjective, as explained here in Webster’s. And, pivot is also one of those words that does have a plethora of meanings; as outlined here in Wikipedia, pivot is used across multiple subject matters with various meanings.
In the context that I’m hearing the word, it is most often replacing the concept of ‘repositioning’ or, in simplified terms, a change of direction.
Okay then, let’s pivot on!
Tags: 2012·Add new tag·pivot·Public Relations·wordplay
The Great Embargo Debate rages on, especially in the world of coverage of tech products. Take for instance, Apple’s recent launch of the new iPad. Here’s an insightful piece by Business Insider’s Steve Kovach that delves into Apple’s use of embargos to control timing of product reviews.
Tags: Embargo·Product Launch·Public Relations
For one of my enterprise software clients I’ve recently been spending a lot of time ramping up their analyst relations program. In this particular case, they’ve had a long term program built around briefing a few targeted analysts at key product launch intervals. Recently the company decided to invest more time in the AR function with the objective of providing more sales support through analyst references. They asked me to come in and help them kick-start the program.
This has caused me to do some thinking about the question, how important is the AR function in today’s world?
As you might know if you’ve followed the tech marketing domain for any period of time, the analyst services industry has consolidated over the past several years and there are now two dominate firms: Forrester and Gartner, and a scattering of boutiques focused on specialized areas.
Let’s focus for a minute on enterprise software only, large pieces of relatively complex software that is typically sold with a direct sales force or perhaps through a SaaS solution. Large corporate IT departments often have relationships with either Forrester or Gartner, or both, to advise them on their IT purchases and deployments. The idea behind analyst relations is to educate and influence analysts to provide some “air cover” for enterprise sales, either through discussions that analysts have directly with prospects during the sales cycle or through research reports that the analysts may write and publish.
Although we all know the general field of communications has changed dramatically over the past several years, it’s my observation that analyst relations has changed very little. It is still basically a job of building long-term relationships and understanding with those key analysts who follow your selected market segments. This means using the traditional educational channels of briefings, inquiries, strategy days and occasionally attending conference and meeting face-to-face.
And, yes, for enterprise software companies, particularly those selling in the traditional direct sales model, a proactive, objective-driver analyst relations program is fundamental to success. It’s worth the investment in time, resources and marketing budget.
Tags: AR·Enterprise Software·Forrester·Gartner·Marketing
I’ve been meaning to post about some recent articles that are worth reading:
This one, “The Art of the Pitch: Inspiring Media Relations” by Courtney Boyd Myers, posted earlier this month at TNW: Media, is a wonderful summary of where we are today with PR and storytelling.
And, this second one, also published earlier this month, is from The New Yorker. A well-wroth reading feature on branding “Famous Names” by John Colapinto, takes us behind-the-scenes of Lexicon, one of the most famous branding companies. For any one interested in brands and the art-of-branding, this piece is worth reading.
Okay; I know we’ve barely started the new year.
But, why is it I keep hearing one word over and over, and why is that word ….drum-roll please…wonky? Can it be that wonky is the IT word of 2011?
Or, at least for January 2011?
Already, in the first 24 days of the year, I’ve heard wonky used more often than I ever remember hearing it before. One of my client CEO’s wrote about a piece of content, “….it looks great except the formatting is abit wonky…”. Another one of my marketing VP’s said, “….the analysis was wonky…”. And, I’ve heard and seen it used repeatedly in the national media.
Did you know that the word Wonky is primarily Bristish in orgin, and dates back to 1918? This according to Merriam-Webster.
What does Wonky mean? Unsteady, shaky, awry and….wrong.
Here’s to a well…wonky….2011.
I was so sorry to see the news earlier this week about the sale of BusinessWeek by McGraw-Hill.
Of course, I’ve been a career-long subscriber and reader, and worked with many, many of the excellent journalists at BW. I do consider BW to be one of the very best business pubs, week-in and week-out providing thoughtful analysis and commentary on breaking news. Often uncovering stories that others do not report.
Well, I guess desperate times means desperate measures. We can only hope that BusinessWeek finds a good home. That some publishing company will see the value of the brand and scoop it up, invest the money that is needed to bring it to full life on the web.
If you haven’t checked it out, the BusinessWeek Exchange is worth exploring. I blogged about it here. It’s a combination community/crowdsourcing service that ties in with BW editorial. This attempt at providing extra value in web content is very well-done, IMHO, and hopefully will be of some additional value to BW prospective buyers.
Miquel Helft, technology reporter at the New York Times, wrote a nice summary of the progress Microsoft is making with it’s new search engine, Bing, published in today’s paper. http://tinyurl.com/kmrspf
Personally, I’ve been a fan of Bing’s from the first time I saw it debut at the All Things Digital conference (sponsored by the Wall Street Journal) in late May. I absoluately love the Bing home page–the stunning color photography almost takes me to a new place and is such a visual relief after the monotony of the Google screen. That alone, irrespectively of the more useful search results, was enough to get me using Bing.
The hardest part for me, and probably for legions of others, is breaking the Google habit. When I need to do a search, I just automatically start typing the G-word. I’m conciously trying to change that behavior and start with Bing.
I do like the Bing search results better. I find that they are more tuned to business use; there is less stuff to wade through. I also like the organization of sub-listings, and the breakout in the left-hand sidebar. Overall, I find my searches are more efficient and productive with Bing, which in my business is a big deal. I’m all about efficiency here at Team Julie!
P.S. Yes, I’m using Bing to find the links for this post…
Tags: Add new tag·Bing·New York Times·Wall Street Journal
Today I was fortunate to attend a great panel discussion hosted by Churchill Club and PRSA Silicon Valley. The topic was “How PR Can Succeed in a Down Economy”.
There were about 150 attendees; mostly corporate communications folks with several of the major agencies represented and the typical smattering of vendor attendees.
Panelists included Andy Lark from Dell, Peter Shankman of HARO, Mark Hampton of Blanc & Otis, Steve Astle of FICO, Arati Shah of PR Week and Karen Kahn of Sun, or Snorkle as she put it.
The mood in the room was quite upbeat. Whenever a group of communications experts get together you can expect a noisy room and today was no different. There was a lot of excited jabbering going on before and after the program. I talked to quite a few agency execs who noted that they are experiencing a slight uptick in new business activity; that’s a good thing and an indicator that marketing purse strings are loosening.
The panel itself was interesting with, as you would expect,a substantial amount of airtime devoted to discussing social media—how to best manage it, who within the corporation should be involved (just PR or everyone or somewhere in-between), and how to measure (no good ideas for that).
The only complaint I heard was that the panel was too focused on large corporations with very large marketing budgets. The audience would have liked to have heard tips and techniques employed by the little guys. Also, heard comments that the panel was too enterprise -centric; would liked to have had a consumer tech player represented. All good ideas.
All in all another excellent program! Good times had by all.
Hi–I’ve been exploring both of these services, trying to get familiar with how to use them and how they might be helpful to me and/or to my clients.
I joined the WSJ community several weeks ago and at first was enthusiastic, then haven’t had time to go back and really work with it. Just recently joined BusinessWeek Exchange.
Are any of you actively using either of these services? If so, what’s your experience with them? And, do you recommend for others? Any stories to share?
Soon I hope to have time to do a comparative look at both of these.
Tags: BusinessWeek·Networking·Wall Street Journal