Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Tale of Four Marketers

The corporate marketers gathered yesterday at the Westin Hotel in Waltham, Massachusetts represented the biggest names in technology.

IBM…Motorola…Monster…Nuance, these executive-level communicators came to share the best practices, lessons learned and insight gleaned from devising programs that generate millions of dollars in revenue for their respective companies.

The panel discussion was organized by BtoB Magazine as part of the publication’s NetMarketing breakfast series. More than 100 attendees jockeyed for the best seats in the room as the lights dimmed and the PowerPoint decks fired up.

Nuance’s Lynne Esparo explained she is in a constant struggle with the Dragon. This is her company’s popular consumer product which often commands a majority of mindshare with Nuance’s key audiences. Yet, Nuance derives a fair share of its sales from other speech recognition products and technologies to enterprise and government customers.

“We are reinventing our dot com to better communicate our full array of offerings,” Esparo explained, referring to Nuance’s corporate Web site.

She offered a number of tips learned from this massive Web overhaul:

--Reflect a corporate personality
--Stick to concise copy
--Categorize content by user needs, rather than how you sell
--Guide visitors to social media in context based on the types of solutions that interest them
--Incorporate customer success stories whenever possible

Similarly, Belinda Hudman of Motorola is also plagued at times by brand confusion brought on by a more recognized set of consumer products. Hudman’s charge is to help identify sales opportunities for Motorola’s government, enterprise and telecom businesses, which collectively account for 60 percent of the company’s global revenue.

Hudman talked the audience through the array of communications tactics Motorola employs in what she referred to as her “interactive tool kit.”

Perhaps most innovative is the company’s construction of trade show specific micro-sites that feature content aggregated from multiple sources and social media channels. This approach creates a lead-oriented program that is well aligned with Motorola’s goals for attending the conference.

(Note: Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) has employed a similar approach in its own marketing. Here is one example: What’s New at Satellite 2010.)

From his presentation it was apparent that IBM’s Drew Clarke is all about mission-focus. For him, that means more rapidly identifying quality sales leads for the company’s Cognos business line.

“If you can improve your sales funnel from acceptable to best in class, you’ll realize a 7X return on revenue,” he explained.

(Photo: IBM's Drew Clarke speaks with Eric Glazer of Cambridge Healthtech Associates)

Clarke shared with the audience the four types of nurture programs Cognos runs with the help of tools like Eloqua and Salesforce:

--Multi-touch programs
--Follow-up campaigns to live events
--Ongoing communications tactics
--Reactive follow-up to prospect response

While Clarke’s best practices focused on the numbers, Monster’s Janet Swaysland reminded the event attendees that effective marketing is also dependent upon relationship building. (Disclosure: Monster is a Strategic client.)

“People trust people more than they trust companies,” she said.

Swaysland shared some guidance on how Monster crafts more intimate connections with its core audiences:

--Monitor the conversation in social networks to determine the customers’ agenda. Too often, she explained, companies focus solely on their messaging.

(Photo: Monster's Janet Swaysland answers a question from an attendee.)

--Prioritize audiences based on their influence, recognizing that when it comes to making a buy decision not everyone is equal.
--Engage in the conversation with content that adds value and builds a relationship through personalized interaction.

(Photo: After the event, moderator Chris Hosford of BtoB Magazine chats with Forrester's Tracy Sullivan.)

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