16 February 2010

One Way Personal Post - and Social Media's Impact

This is going to be somewhat short - plus a whole lot more personal than even I imagined when I started this blog. This past weekend, a wonderful lady lost her battle to ovarian cancer. She fought valiantly for 18 months - and while she was battling this horrific disease, she still kept teaching and providing a wonderful example for a group of young women that are part of my HS Alma mater.

Vicki impacted a plethora of school peers and chums - and in the hours leading up to her death, our tight community of grads and current students rallied on Facebook to share support, prayers, and memories.

It was a way that as a community, unbounded by geography, gathered together, felt comfort, and ultimately, grieved in her passing. Then the most amazing use of social media (outside of business) occurred: a young woman started a Facebook page for us to post our memories of her.

Keep in mind, that - on average - a typical graduating class from our high school is less than 30 people. In a matter of hours of its page creation and the following days, there were 360 "fans" for that page plus even more contributors. There were pictures, videos, and postings so numerous that I lost count. In essence, this page became a way for us to connect and share our loss.

The next step (that just started) is that we are trying to remember Vicki by sponsoring the lacrosse field to be officially named on behalf of her. Unfortunately, I couldn't be there for the wake or funeral - but because of the idea of a "social marketplace" due to social marketing, I get to contribute to making the lacrosse field the "Oakley Pitch" while miles away. The Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter chatter has been prolific about making this a reality - and I hope that we achieve our goal in making this field named in her honor.

If you'd like to know more, please visit the following links:
The Facebook page that we've been contributing content to: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=299860902150&ref=ts
The Social Network that we've joined to support Ovarian Cancer: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2229317294&ref=mf
To make the "Oakley Pitch" a reality by donating, please donate here: please use PayPal here: PayPal on www.ashmi.org.

12 February 2010

Knowing and Explaining Your Value

Today, I'm going to take a moment to write a bit more personal post than most of the professional demand gen topics I cover - but the two areas cross together.

In early December'09, I was laid off from my last company.
This week (Feb '10), I joined my new company.
I was officially unemployed for 69 days.

Most HR and Employment analysts believe that it takes 3-6 months for a professional/manager level person to gain new employment - however, with the soft economy, some predict that it could easily be 6-12 months now. This post is not meant as a "pat on the back" to myself for doing it faster than the industry standards.

In successful demand generation techniques, one must truly understand their solution/service/item's value - and explain it to prospects in a manner that makes sense and addresses their needs. In this case, I was selling myself.

Professionally, I have been successful at selling/marketing whatever my company sold; personally, I was raised as a good Irish Catholic girl that does not boast (heck, even plays down) her strengths. But to fight a sea of other demand gen folks also in the job market, I had to shout my value from the rooftops.

In the course of those 69 days, I learned to refine the ways that I described my previous experience, started to use certain terms that appealed to those I was speaking with, solidified gold references who could vouch for me, and made sure that I was as visible and relevant to employers. I never sent out a generic cover letter or resume - every time, I tried to show my value to an employer in their terms. I got to know their business, their lingo, their culture.

In professional demand generation, the same principles apply. Like the HR manager who sifts through hundreds of "qualified" applicants, companies routinely evaluate numerous vendors for a single purchase. As a vendor, if you cannot articulate your value proposition in the client's perspective, you won't make it past the audition with Simon (just a little American Idol reference). Go home and try again.

A good litmus test for checking your value proposition is to reach out to a friend in a different industry and ask them to read your email/call script/webinar slides - and see if they can explain back to you how your company can help them. I'll bet you'll be surprised at the result.

Personally, I was very lucky to have a strong network of friends and colleagues - and even one "Brigid-evangelist" - in my corner during my job hunt. Without that support, I think that more days would have come off the calendar in my job search. Professionally, I am very lucky to join the fantastic team at Nuxeo - it is exciting to be a part of the industry leader in Open Source ECM software!

01 February 2010

Demand Generation via Lady Gaga

In a recent WSJ.com article, staff reporter John Jurgensen wrote an interesting article on "The Lessons of Lady Gaga" in which he discussed the marketing or demand generation tactics that this young chanteuse has employed to sky-rocket herself (and her brand) into everyone's lexicon is less than 18 months from virtual obscurity. In fact, he thinks that her business model is a new way for success.

As I watched the Grammys last night, Lady Gaga opened the show with Sir Elton John - showcasing a melodic, slow-tempo'd, haunting song - that was brand new to the general public. She won two Grammys - neither of which was televised (they were for the Dance/Electronica categories) and she wore some crazy outfits. So was the night a success for her business model?

Well, in the past 24 hours, there have been over 27,000 news stories that include Lady Gaga and the Grammy performance. According to Amazon.com, she is number #2 for both MP3 album and song downloads (just behind Beyonce and the Black Eyed Peas).

This from a performer that just a year ago was brand new to the general music scene.

As a fellow graduate of the Sacred Heart life, I do have an affinity for Lady Gaga - I admit it. :)

She had crossed the crazy boundary of trying to know your digital audience...she spent months cultivating relationships with celebrity bloggers like Perez Hilton (who gave her mad press) who spread her name/fame/bio to his fans for over a year, and she always wants to be accessible to her fans (she calls them her "little monsters"). At days end, she is accessible. Heck, she's even re-tweeted me on Twitter. Is it actually her? Don't know - but it gives the audience a good feeling.

She keeps praising and reminding where her inspiration comes from (Madonna) - and that is what most vendors don't do.....they like to claim that they are the first ones doing something....but don't you think that you'd be more credible (as a vendor) if you THANK your predecessor (client/vendor/etc) and how you got to today?

She's not afraid of using backing (from her record company) to get her word out - and she is willing to pay for it. As a vendor, we're always trying to get something for nothing - but sometimes you just have to pay! If you have a partner that can get you new market for your product, are you being a bad partner by not acknowledging your partner?

Basically, Lady Gaga believed that a vendor (whether songstress, software vendor, etc), has to believe in its audience - they are not better than their audience - and they wouldn't be part of the "party" if it were not for their audience.

A very interesting concept that most vendors do not - nor have any idea how to - adapt to.....

An interesting link to a similar topic of achieving value: http://blogs.nuxeo.com/cmckinnon/

No KISS Question for today - just a request: are you trying to portray yourself better than your audience?