I spent the past two days at the Software Marketing Perspectives Conference & Expo. The conference brought together "leading experts in high-technology product management" and marketing to "transform your business to the next level" and was organized by Software Magazine and John Desmond's King Content. I enjoyed the event and learned a great deal.
First up was Kristin Zhivago, author of the terrific book "Rivers of Revenue" with her conference keynote: "Selling Software in the Age of Skepticism: How to break out of the pack." Kristin talked a lot about the importance of talking with customers and prospects to understand what they require so you know how to sell. Some of Kristin’s best quotes: "Customers WANT your solution – make it easy for them to buy." "Want to break out of the pack? Do what your ego-driven competitors refuse to do." And my favorite, "if your CEO is a jerk, quit."
Steve Johnson delivered the morning keynote "Rising to the Challenge of Managing Multiple Products." Steve is an instructor for Pragmatic Marketing and writes the Pragmatic Marketing blog. His experience presenting in front of groups every week showed with his engaging delivery that kept the audience laughing. Steve says that a Product Manager needs to be the "President of the Product" and he had some anecdotes throughout his talk about good and bad product management. I particularly liked when he described poorly designed presenter tools such as wireless clickers and screen controls. As someone who also speaks regularly, I could totally agree with this example of bad product marketing.
I wound up the first morning with my industry keynote: "Shorten Your Sales Cycle: Marketing programs that deliver more revenue faster" -- a subject that I’m passionate about. Sometimes it's difficult to get a sense of how your own speech is going, but as I looked out into the audience, 200 pairs of eyes were pointed my way and the question and answer section at the end was lively. Email me if you want a copy of my slides.
After lunch, participants had a choice of three concurrent sessions. I attended a session called "Challenge the Equilibrium: Public Relations for disruptive marketing" by Stephen O’Keeffe, Founder of O'Keeffe & Co. He presented a really interesting take on doing research on an important subject for your target market and then "disrupting the market" by revealing the results at key times during the year such as appropriate holidays or anniversaries. Mark Organ, CEO of Eloqua presented his "Cutting-Edge Marketing Concept: Factory-Thinking in Customer Acquisition." Mark quoted extensively from Sirius Decisions Lead Spectrum data and showed how the lead generation can be more predictable and understandable.
Adele Revella, who authored and teaches the fantastic Effective Marketing Programs course for Pragmatic Marketing delivered her entertaining "Buyer Persona Profiling: Know your audience to grow revenue or plan a launch." Adele says, “If you are marketing to someone you don't know you will not be effective" and advocates that you "Grok your buyer." Grok is slang meaning "to understand profoundly through intuition or empathy." Judging by the huge number of people crammed into the room (sitting on tables, standing, hanging at the doorway) this is clearly a topic of interest. Adele's focus on understanding buyers BEFORE you develop a marketing strategy my seem obvious, but in my experience most companies just don’t do this.
I caught William Leake, CEO of Leads Customers Growth LLC talk about "Avoiding Search Engine Marketing Malpractices." He had interesting examples of SEM black arts and what marketers need to do to avoid shady practices that could get them black-balled by the search engines. And by showing what NOT to do, he was very effective in providing ideas for what works.
In a highlight for me, Larry Weber, CEO of W2 Group delivered a tour de force with "Pandemonium and the Rise of Digital Influence" (which is also the title of his book, which is due out next year). Larry says that we’re in the "third phase of the Internet" which he describes as the "social Web" – an online place just like a physical one, similar to walking into a room. He also says we are in the third phase of marketing: phase one was broadcast advertising, phase two direct marketing and phase three is what he calls "community-based marketing." So the convergence of the two third phases makes for an interesting marketing environment. He provided some fun examples of a micro-segmented world with blogs, community spaces, online news outlets, reputation aggregators and other cool stuff. Larry's definition of branding today: "The dialog that you have with your customers." A result, "Marketers need to be aggregators of customers" on the Web. I really enjoyed Larry's talk and look forward to his book.
I'm told the next Software Marketing Perspectives Conference & Expo will be in Silicon Valley in June 2006.