A year of blogging about bringing technology to market

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By Francis Moran

This blog was launched one year ago yesterday.

On February 1, 2011, we officially re-striped our long-standing inmedia Public Relations blog to indicate that I was evolving — pivoting would be the verb if I was a tech startup — my consulting practice. While the (now) 13-year-old technology PR agency I founded in the heat of the dot-com and telecom bubble in the late 1990s would and does continue, I wanted to spend more of my time tackling the higher-level marketing issues with which every B2B technology company must grapple. “For too long now, I have been painfully aware of just how dimly acquainted technology is with marketing,” I wrote in that first post a year ago, and I set out to change that.

A huge part of my effort to start a more constructive conversation around technology marketing was this blog. We launched it with an ambitious special report series we called “The commercialization ecosystem,” something we anticipated might span a dozen or so articles. A year later, we are still publishing pieces in a series that now counts more than 70 entries. In the meantime, we have launched two additional special series of articles. “A startup story” is tracking three — and soon to be four — tech startups at various stages of their early lives while “Technology marketing 101″ is a running case study of best practices as implemented at one technology company. In between, we run posts on a whole host of technology marketing issues and solid tactical counsel.

Every metric has been achieved. Save one

Those of you who know me know that I am a measurement fanatic; I insist that unambiguous and readily measured objectives be established for all marketing programs. It was the same for our new blog. Recognising that it takes a long time for any marketing activity to achieve the only objective that really matters — new revenue — we began by setting targets for what we could measure.

In the first instance, as with most marketing endeavours, we measured activity levels — how many posts a week would we run, how many authors would we recruit, and so on. From the very outset, we have demolished our four-posts-per-week target, running a total of 252 posts, which translates into more than 4.8 per week. Similarly, we have over achieved on the contributors front — I wanted at least 20; to date we have had 28 different authors share their wisdom and experience with us.

The next set of targets were around traffic levels, and I set goals for what I wanted those to be by the 90-day, 180-day and one-year mark. We blew through our 90-day target in our first month and our 180-day target by the end of the first quarter. Traffic dipped during July and August but recovered in the fall, hitting our one-year target in November. Numbers dipped again during the holidays but have been trending back up over the last couple of weeks.

Our focus from the outset was to generate a readership beyond Canada, particularly from the United States and, to a lesser degree, Britain. We seem to have achieved this, with the U.S. accounting for 32.44 percent of all traffic, followed by Canada at 29.76 percent. Britain is third (6.75%), followed by India (5.29%) and Australia (2.7%). Altogether, our blog has been read in 176 different countries.

So much for interim objectives. I can almost hear you all saying, “Show me the money!”

Like any marketing program, this one must start producing a clear ROI. Again, generating new revenue is a process, one that begins with lead generation. I wanted the blog to produce one unsolicited new lead per month starting at the six-month mark. I wanted at least one of those leads to convert to revenue before the end of the year, and then convert one every six months thereafter. (This may sound like a modest objective. However, I wish to work more intensively with a much smaller number of companies, so having the blog generate two new clients per year, companies with which I would never otherwise connect, would be just dandy.)┬áHere’s where I provide full disclosure. Our first lead came in halfway through month five, and we have had at least one per month since. Wonderful. However, none of those leads has yet converted to revenue, although some good conversations continue. (This is not to say that Francis Moran and Associates has been without clients, just that all of our new business this past year came from other activities, mainly referrals, word of mouth and networking.)

Now, setting objectives is not a guarantee that the desired outcome will be achieved; it’s a yardstick against which performance can be measured. Whether you hit them, overshoot them or fall short, objectives provide a frame of reference within to evaluate whether a program was successful, and why or why not. Our blog has fallen short on the most critical objective I set for it, and I have to ask why. The answer I came to, and one that has been borne out by many other people I asked, is that the blog is far too subtle a marketing tool. I am sure that many, many of our regular readers probably don’t even realise that behind this blog, there is a consulting company that can be hired. We’re going to get a little more assertive about that, without in any way compromising the very high editorial standards that have made our content so popular.

Thank you all for your readership, your many comments on the blog and your many encouragements when you talk to me about what you like about the blog. If you have any suggestions about how we can make it an even more useful tool for entrepreneurs seeking to bring their technology to market, please let me know.

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