April 16, 2012 § 1 Comment
A while back, I described a series of the most common technical marketing mistakes that I’ve encountered over the years. The price of these errors and shortcomings is measured in lost revenue and unhappy customers. In one of the most notable instances, many sales opportunities hit a brick wall when the vendor is unable to make a persuasive argument that demonstrates a solid Return on Investment (ROI). Ironically, there may be ample data to back up this proposition, but there simply isn’t any supporting collateral. To add insult to injury, it’s often relatively straightforward and cost-effective to construct and deploy the necessary tools that make the economic case in favor of your product or service.
For example, Think88 recently completed an ROI calculator project for Sybase. The goal was to help customers comprehend the financial advantages of employing the new compression capabilities offered by Sybase’s Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) database platform. We created two versions of this calculator: one for anyone to use on the Sybase website, and another, more detailed edition – including pricing – to be used exclusively by Sybase sales representatives in one-on-one situations with their clients.
Accurate, honest, and concise ROI calculators such as this one can go a long way towards building a realistic business justification and then winning the sale.
February 1, 2012 § 1 Comment
We’ve now come to the last of the five most common technical marketing mistakes that I’ve observed – expecting internal team members to produce all of your marketing collateral on a timely basis. Given that Think88 specializes in technical marketing materials and sales methodologies, it may seem like pointing this out is somewhat self-serving – and it is. But my observation is valid whether you hire us or someone else.
Organizational politics often get in the way of overcoming this fault. After all, creating collateral is a big part of the job description for many people in the marketing department. Yet if you were to ask the average VP of Marketing (not to mention the VP of Sales), they’d likely say that they suffer from a significant marketing content shortfall.
If so many people are charged with building marketing collateral, why is there such a critical shortage of these materials in so many companies? I’ve seen three primary causes:
- Staffing. These days, even the largest technology leaders are trying to run lean-and-mean. Unfortunately, as a cost center marketing is often in the crosshairs, even though it performs vital work to bolster sales.
- Prioritization. Let’s face it: supporting active sales cycles is Job One for nearly everyone in the enterprise. Writing collateral is a second or third- level responsibility – at best.
- Vision. Sometimes, internal staff can’t see the forest for the trees. Getting a fresh viewpoint can serve as a catalyst for the whole team.
If you’re faced with trying to overcome a marketing content shortage, bear these points in mind:
- This deficit isn’t due to the laziness or incompetence of your team. It’s most likely because they just have too much to do, and not enough time to get it done.
- Add two to three outside vendors to the team. Naturally, we’d like to be one of them, but regardless of whom you choose, try to treat them as a trusted, strategic partner. Strive for short projects and long-term relationships.
- Use these vendors to fill in gaps. This lets you get materials to market faster, and permits your scarce internal staff to focus on more pressing needs – like helping to close business.