B2B Tech Companies: Marketing is about more than just supporting sales

June 5, 2013

Marketing is more than just sales supportLast week, along with 250 other marketing professionals, I had the pleasure of attending the ICT Marketing Directors’ Club (CMIT) annual Forum in Paris.

This association of mainly French-based, marketing and communications professionals from dozens of small to large technology companies includes marketing directors from international firms like Adobe, Alcatel-Lucent, IBM and Sharp.

This year’s forum focused on the main challenges and opportunities in marketing over that past 10 years. In particular, the topics discussed dealt with various outbound marketing activities: Creating market positioning; Generating leads in the digital age; The challenges of channel marketing, and how to manage branding and reputation on and offline.

While the forum was very interesting and informative on the whole, examining the discussions more closely, the topics addressed related mostly to generating sales and business growth; an important yet partial function of the marketing practice.

The main part missing was the key role that marketing plays in generating client and market insights to direct strategy, to in turn create new value for customers, and ensure satisfied, return customers. This is the added value of marketing. Read the rest of this entry »

Connect with your clients to co-create new value

May 27, 2013

Connect with your clients to co-create new valueThis past week I attended Salesforce.com’s Customer Company Tour in Paris, where they showcased the various products and services that form their Customer Company vision.

During the introductory keynote presentation, Salesforce co-founder Parker Harris laid out 5 questions that companies must answer in their quest to become a customer company.

Viewed more broadly these issues are about becoming more relevant to clients by connecting, listening and collaborating with them through direct, interactive relationships, leading to the co-creation of more relevant and unique customer value propositions. Read the rest of this entry »

How a market-focused approach leads to products that customers value and will pay for

May 21, 2013

Products customers love

Innovation and new product development are hot topics in today’s market, especially in technology sectors like IT, software, Web, telecoms, and related areas.

Every organization has its own approach for developing new offers to bring to market. Today’s firms invest up to 15-20% of revenues on R&D, depending on the sector, for creating, testing and trialing new technologies and new products.

At the same time, when it comes to developing new products, what matters is not just the amount of resources allocated to new product initiatives, but how they are applied. Read the rest of this entry »

Externalize marketing? Why it makes business sense

May 6, 2013

Externalize marketing? Why it makes business senseMarketing has become more specialized and strategic than ever. Customers are more vocal and increasingly deal with companies on their terms; New companies can serve clients in new markets and compete with established ones more easily, and companies have an increasing range of ways to create and deliver targeted value to their clients, while precisely measuring the effects.

To thrive in this ever changing, high-stakes world, business leaders must invest in professional marketing capabilities to better serve clients and compete.

So what what does this mean for today’s technology firms? Read the rest of this entry »

Web Start-ups: How a customer-marketing approach will jump-start business

April 25, 2013

Customer marketing approach to jumpstart businessThis week I spent an evening discussing product and marketing strategy with a dozen up-and-coming Web-based start-ups, currently hosted by Silicon Sentier’s Le Camping, a Paris-based start-up incubation program.

In general the products and services being developed during this 4th session of the Camping were interesting, well-designed and helped solve a range of practical, everyday issues.

Among them was a product for easily planning and coordinating events among a group of friends, and a pricing recommendation service for e-tailers that are trying to remain competitive without systematically giving away their margins.

In particular, I sat down with 3 chosen start-ups to examine some of their more pressing issues, going beyond product-related aspects. Read the rest of this entry »

Intel: How a tech leader can lose its mojo

April 17, 2013

Intel - How a tech leader loses its mojoAs one of the powerhouses of the personal computing revolution, Intel, along with its partner in crime Microsoft, came to symbolize the Wintel era of increasingly powerful (read energy-hungry) and standardized (read price-driven) desktop and laptop computers.

Despite the rise of smartphones and more recently tablets – both requiring small, low-cost, low-power chipsets – Intel continued to back its PC-driven empire, which continued to crumble at a historic double-digit rate.

Following the release of it’s latest quarterly results on Apr 16, this translated to a -17% decline in net income, its 5th consecutive quarterly fall.

How did this tech leader like go from great to dismal and how could they recover? Read the rest of this entry »

The power of consultative value selling: Get from “maybe” to “yes”

April 11, 2013

The power of consultative Value Selling. Get from maybe to yes.Today’s technology companies use different commercial approaches to attract clients, with some more effective than others.

Examining most commercial pitches reveals consumer and business propositions that are constructed in one of the following ways:

  • Direct sales propositions focus on the features and characteristics offered to clients by a product or service. (e.g. a PC with 2GHz processing speed)
  • More on-point client proposals focus on the practical benefits that clients can receive from buying a given product or service. (e.g. a quicker and higher performing PC)
  • Even more relevant propositions highlight the favourable points provided by an offer relative to the next best alternative. (e.g. a quick and high performance PC offering more choice of software than a Mac)

However, the most client-driven proposition is one that resonates with a customer’s particular needs and demands, offering them what they really value. (e.g a PC that provides “the right mix of performance, design and value-added services to meet your everyday demands.”)

Designing and selling a custom client value propositions is especially applicable for complex offers, where clients have a lot to consider, and for uncertain times, where they may need to be fully convinced before buying.

So how can companies get more clients from “maybe” to “yes”? Read the rest of this entry »

Interns to power your company’s marketing activities? The pros and cons

March 29, 2013

Interns to power your company's marketing?Given the continuing pressures and constraints from today’s market place, most companies are constantly on the look out for ways to control their costs. In particular, growing companies are often more cash-strapped than most, and are always trying to do more with less.

From a staffing standpoint many growing business owners and managers increasingly look to hiring interns as a way of handling many of today’s must-have activities, which wouldn’t otherwise get all of the resources they really need.

For many growing technology companies marketing is often one of those ‘minimum-resource’ activities that are partly powered by interns.

While this is mostly a win-win approach for both employer and intern, there are several pros and cons of using interns to handle an important business activity like marketing.
Read the rest of this entry »

Young tech companies must operate less like products and more like client-driven businesses

March 19, 2013
Satisfy client needs

Focus on satisfying client demands

Today’s technology sector is a very innovative, fast-changing and competitive area, where dozens of new multi-device services come online daily.

In this setting there are many early-stage companies – particularly in Web, Software and devices – that have become quite good at designing elegant and useful products to serve their initial clients.

However, to thrive early-stage companies need to operate less like product development houses and more like businesses. Read the rest of this entry »

Marketing is now a 2-way street, which not even technology companies can avoid

March 5, 2013
Marketing is now a 2-way street

Marketing is now a 2-way street

Marketing is experiencing drastic changes as interactive and digital technologies begin to replace mass media as its foundation. Both consumers and business clients are no longer a passive audience waiting to be showered by company ads and billboards.

Today’s digital, interactive and social media capabilities empowers any customer to speak up on their experiences and opinions, whether good and bad.

This has created a fundamental shift in customer-supplier relationships, that not even small or specialized technology firms operating off of the business main-street can escape. Read the rest of this entry »