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Trade media top all other purchase-influencing sources, Forrester says

By Jill Pyle

At inmedia Public Relations, we work incredibly hard to generate media coverage that will help our clients meet their business objectives. Being in the high tech B2B space, industry-specific publications often make up the vast majority of our clients’ Tier 1 media targets. While company and product-launch announcements sometimes spark some interest from local, business or daily media, coverage in trade publications, though it can take longer to come to fruition, has proven to generate a far greater ROI for our clients.

The 2007 Forrester Research Study on B2B Media & Marketing, released in October, has some interesting figures about the media consumption habits of business decision makers. This finding really stood out for me: “Business decision makers find industry-specific media invaluable for informing and validating their business purchasing decisions and helping them do their jobs better. 40%-45% rely on traditional industry-specific media to validate purchase decisions – again, more than other options”

Also interesting to note was business decision makers’ adoption of new media. According to the report, business decision makers rely heavily on digital media, with 70% relying on industry-specific web sites for their jobs and over 75% having used or planning to use emerging media at work. View the following chart for more details:

BDM WEB 20

Click to enlarge

From consulting service to software product

By Francis Moran

My colleague Danny last week highlighted the worthy achievement of Scotland’s Graham Technology in winning Best Product at Call Centre Expo for its customer interaction platform ciboodle. The award capped a year of focused marketing since ciboodle was first launched.

But the achievement was much more than a year in the making. Like many software product companies, Graham Technology had its genesis in consulting; in its case, first with big systems integration projects starting more than 20 years ago, and then with the development of business process-based contact centre solutions. But at some point, Graham Technology had to begin a conscious process of evolution from consultancy to software product company. When we first started talking with the company, it was still fully conscious that “we can do anything for anyone,” but it was committed to this new path that would see it eschew one-off bespoke application development in favour of seizing a specific market opportunity and seeking to be a global leader in its chosen space.

It’s an evolution we have seen many companies wrestle with, and at which some of them balk. It can’t be easy, after all, to leave the comfort of an assured revenue stream where your big computer brains are fully engaged on new and exciting client challenges every day. As a guy who’s been a consultant for his entire PR career, I completely understand the lure of this challenging dynamic.

But it’s a tough model to scale, and that’s why so many software consulting companies, recognising that they may have something that looks like a product, decide to go for it. Sort of.

Unlike Graham Technology and other software companies whose new products we have successfully launched into global markets, too many only sort of go for it. And I think it has to be one or the other. It’s not that a consulting company constitutes an inherently inferior business model; it’s just that I think you have to decide which you’re going to be — service, or product.

Bottom line: Graham Technology unreservedly made the leap, and is reaping the rewards for having done so.

Marketers shouldn’t use bad marketing to sell themselves

By Linda Moran

Every day for the past week or so I have been receiving emails – via the company’s general delivery box – promising me “Leads! Leads! Leads!” and that I will “get so many leads my sales will go up!” Though faintly reminiscent of Viagra-type communications, I’ve been reading these messages from a “marketing publicity” agency. As a marketer, I pay a lot more attention to the brochures, magazines, direct mail pieces and emails that are sent my way than most people would. As a person who also buys marketing services, I get a lot of this stuff.

OK, so the emails are promising me leads and huge increases in sales if I use them for my media relations program. Do I want more leads? Yes. Oh yes. That definitely plays into what most B2B tech companies are looking for. Do I want to work with a company that sends me multiple unsolicited emails, with hyperbolic claims, no Web site link and a call to action that involves clicking to have someone other than the signatory get in touch with me? No. And if this is how you are trying to engage prospective clients, how are you approaching editors? Because, surprise surprise, I actually know something about PR. (An aside: why do so many vendors assume we marketing communications professionals are a clueless bunch and need every single thing explained to us in detail?)

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BPM, POS, CMS… Acronyms causing confusion

By Linda Forrest

Working in the technology realm as we do, it is inevitable that we encounter many, many acronyms in our daily work. A quick scan of the blogosphere reveals that it’s a hot topic amongst technology marketers like Chris Hoskin and analysts alike.

There are so many acronyms in play and unfortunately a lot of them overlap. When you see CMS, do you think it means content management system, or contact management system, or code management system, or client music synthesis, or…

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Not another bloody PR agency blog!

By Francis Moran

Blame it all on Alec Saunders.

By that I mean, Saunders is in good part responsible for our inflicting on the world yet another PR agency blog.

Over the past year or so, I’ve had several engaged conversations with Saunders, a tech company veteran and compulsive blogger, about the role this no-longer-new social marketing tool can play in a public relations company’s activities. There are two clear sides to that role.

The first, which I will address at greater length in a future post, is the role blogs play in reaching and influencing our clients’ target markets. On that score, I have never needed any convincing, and here at inmedia, we have included the right bloggers in our pitches for as long as there have been bloggers. But, as I said, more on this later.

The second role, around which I have long been much more skeptical, is whether a blog can be an effective outreach tool for a public relations agency or, indeed, for any company. Here, my skepticism lies not so much in the nature of blogs themselves as in the same sort of critical analysis I bring to the consideration of whether any communications tool is appropriate in a given situation.

Saunders thought me a non-believer. Not so. My thinking could well be summed up in the phrase, “A blog if necessary, but not necessarily a blog.”

By which I mean that, just as with any other communications tool, a successful company blog must be as effective as possible and must deliver a competitive ROI. Let me expand briefly.

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