Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dump the Plug! - your wireless future at the SDForum Marketing SIG

By Mark Helfen

Next Monday's Marketing SIG meeting (December 14) will be about wireless power - a future where wall warts, extension cords, and floor spaghetti will all disappear. Eventually....

I managed to talk to two of the evening's panelists. Christopher Surdi of PowerBeam, and Afshin Partovi of Mojo Mobility, and here are a few predictions:

  • "In 5 to 10 years, the word 'recharge' will be deleted from every day vocabulary"

  • "Your sons and daughters will never have to plug anything in for power"

  • Furniture will be designed and built so that wires will disappear. Simply by putting your cell phone, desk lamp, or wireless on your desk it will be powered.

  • People at the local Starbucks will no longer compete for tables close to wall plugs. Just by being there, your cell phone or laptop will be recharged.

In addition to Surdi and Partovi, Steve Day of Malabar Technologies will also be a panelist.

PowerBeam and Mojo Mobility both have different technologies, but both panelists believe there is a large consumer demand for wireless power. Think WIFI, but instead of a data signal, the power necessary to run the device, or charge the battery, will be available without a physical connection.

The initial products are charging pads that are plugged in, and cell phones or laptops that have batteries with "receivers" to get power.

The market is just starting up. According to Partovi, Dell has released a laptop with a wireless charging unit. The Latitude Z business laptop can be placed on a special stand that recharges the battery. But the stand and laptop only work with each other.

The eventual idea is "ubiquitous access to power. In your car, at Starbucks, built into furniture, on the tray table of your airplane seat. In any public area," said Partovi. "Easy, universal access."

Think about the stuff you need to haul along when you travel - chargers for each of your battery powered items, maybe an extension cord. The idea is to leave them all at home

This future is still a ways away. Both companies are working with OEMs to design their technology into products, and said that consumer products will be available in late 2010 or early 2011. And both forecast wide consumer adoption in the 5 to 10 year time frame.

Standards are also just starting to be developed, to allow power supplies and devices to interoperate. Both products are intelligent and don't consume power when there is no demand.

So come to the MarketingSIG on Monday - we promise that everyone will get a charge out of the meeting. You might even walk out with your cell phone battery topped up.


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Marketing the new-new v.s. the old-new: clean tech v.s. high tech marketing

By Mark Helfen

The new-new was on display Monday, as a panel of marketers from clean tech businesses described clean tech marketing, and compared it with marketing the old-new - high tech products.

The panelists, both with high tech marketing backgrounds, said that clean tech marketing has similar tactics, but different strategic thinking - with a different language, a different technology, different customer motivations, and a different eco-system.

The panel, held Monday November 9, included Kate Gerwe, COO of Lucid Design, and Marcia Kadanoff, Vice President of Marketing at Sustainable Spaces. Moderators were Kathleen Gilligan and Karen Janowski of the EcoStrategy Group.

Before Lucid, Gerwe had been in marketing leadership positions at Yahoo, and Netscape. She also led the volunteer "Green Team" at Yahoo, which was a factor in her move to Lucid.

Lucid describes itself as "The pioneer in real-time resource use feedback technology." They offer instrumentation and software to help evaluate building energy use and other factors of environmental impact. Gerwe says that universities are one of their principle markets.

Kadanoff held marketing leadership positions at Zannel, a social media company, and had positions in marketing and management at other technology companies, both startups, and Apple. Her company, Sustainable Spaces does "green energy remodeling," both to reduce a homes energy footprint, along with making it a more comfortable place to live.

So how does clean tech marketing compare with high tech marketing?

"At some level, marketing is marketing," said Gerwe. The hardest part is figuring out what customers are looking for, and how you solve their problems. But from that point, the tactics fall out and are similar to high tech marketing.

Kadanoff had a similar view.

"I was hired because I knew the technical side of marketing." The company wanted her background in social media, knowledge of how to build a web site to drive business, and strategic pricing.

But at a deeper level, the marketing is different. For one thing, it's a "different language, a different ecosystem," said Kadanoff. Instead of dealing with computer scientists, you're dealing with building scientists.

And the customer drives are different. Return on investment is lower on the requirement list. It's less an economic decision, or the coolest product. It's more about sustainability and improving the global environment.

Moving from high tech to clean tech marketing requires some extra steps. Both panelists said that current tactical marketing skills, while a requirement, were not enough.

"I don't think I would have been hired without some previous experience in clean tech,' said Kadanoff. In her case, she had been a customer of the company some years before, and had her house remodeled to be more energy efficient. It would be fair to say that she was happy with the results. In addition, she had done a consulting project looking at franchising a home remodeling company.

Gerwe concurred. Her time managing Yahoo's volunteer Green Team made the difference.

Knowledge and demonstrated passion for clean, green products and ideas need to be in your background.

"Take a pro-bono, or low-bono project in clean tech," said Kadanoff. "I know I would not be sitting in this chair if it were not for that experience."

Seek out people in the business, and learn the language. And you need to be really committed.

"I'll be honest with you, clean tech pays 20 percent less" than comparable high tech jobs, said Kadanoff. "The salary scales are lower."

Gerwe had a similar answer.

"We used Linkedin when we post jobs, and we do want to see some sort of commitment to something in the green space," said Gerwe. "If I hadn't been on the Green Team for a couple of years getting into that mind space I wouldn't be here."

"We recently hired someone who had a couple of different volunteer things where he was interning for free, and was really passionate about it. You could see that. It comes through."


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Marketing - Moving from High Tech to Clean Tech

By Mark Helfen

It will be a clean, green evening at the November 9 SDForum Marketing SIG meeting, where an expert panel will discuss marketing clean technology, and in particular how clean tech marketing differs from high tech marketing.

The moderators, Kathleen Gilligan and Karen Janowski, are co-founders of the EcoStrategy Group, a consultancy that helps companies in "Bringing Clean Technology Products to Market" and "Helping Businesses 'Go Green.'"

I spoke to Janowski about what to expect during the evening.

For people who are interested in marketing clean tech, they will "learn the kind of career paths that it takes to get from where they are," marketing high tech, to marketing clean tech, said Janowski.

Techniques and tools that come out of high tech marketing can sometimes be applied to clean tech. The panel will talk about where things are the same, and where they diverge.

The topic fits the "classic MarketingSIG audience," according to Janowski. She lists people who currently market high tech but want to move toward clean tech, marketing managers already in the clean tech space, and startups that plan to be selling clean tech products. People marketing high tech products will also gain fresh perspective about new marketing techniques.

I asked her about the three panelists will speak at the meeting.

Marcia Kadanoff is Vice President of Marketing at Sustainable Spaces. Sustainable Spaces describes itself as "Bay Area's leader in green energy remodeling." Kadanoff has been around the valley for a long time, and is an expert at creating "demand by key decision makers," said Janowski.

Kate Gerwe is COO at the Lucid Design Group. They describe themselves as "The pioneer in real-time resource use feedback technology." One of Lucid's primary markets is universities, and according to Janowski, Gerwe's background at Yahoo helps her "create communities" with early adopters, administrators, and students.

Tom Tansy is Vice President of Marketing at Fat Spaniel Technologies, who "the leading independent provider of critical monitoring and reporting services for the renewable energy industry." According to Janowski, Tansy has experience in several clean tech businesses. His prior job was selling clean tech to consumers, while Fat Spaniel sells to businesses.

Where does the "fat spaniel" come in? You will need to show up Monday to find out.


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing

By Mark Helfen

If you have ever worked in marketing, you probably have noticed a certain disconnect between corporate marketing and the field sales organization. There is a “constant tension” between the organizations, according to Sandy Hawke, who is a Senior Director of Product Marketing at BigFix.

But Hawke has had some success in “bridging the gap,” and will share some of her strategies in a talk titled The Zen of Sales and Marketing Teamwork, next Monday at the October 12 SDForum Marketing SIG meeting (details here).

I spoke to Hawke on Wednesday, October 7, and asked her about her presentation.

She takes a broad view of marketing – and includes not only product marketing, but also product management, marcom, PR, web development, and lead generation – anyone who helps sales but doesn’t directly carry a quota.

Working well with sales, especially in these tough economic times, can help both your company and your career.

Hawke was once one of those quota carrying sales reps, and when she went from a field position to a product marketing role back at corporate headquarters, she vowed to “remember how tough the battle is.”

“The sales force is my customer,” she said, and described herself as their advocate.

She will use her first hand experience to help you “get inside the sales person head,” and understand what its like to walk in their shoes.

“You need to understand the challenges in another department that you rely on for your success.”

Hawke explained how she considers special product feature requests from sales reps, something that happens regularly in large, complex software products – she evaluates the revenue the change will generate for the company.

But as a former product manager, I pointed out that there is a weak correlation between the revenue a new product feature will generate, and the noise level the request generates from field sales. After all, sales reps are particularly good at persuading people to their point of view.

“I will say no, but I’m not Doctor No,” said Hawke. “You can still get along with sales without saying yes to everything.”

Some of her response is based on the personality and reputation of the person who is requesting the feature.

“Within a month I know which ones to believe.”

You can learn how to decide who to believe at next Monday’s meeting.


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Your Launch Strategy - An Apple a Day...

By Mark Helfen

Responding to his client's request that he wanted to "launch products like Apple," Josh Weinberg developed "a whole new field of study." Perhaps "launchology" might be the term. (Not a word used by Weinberg.)

At the SDForum Marketing SIG meeting on September 14, Weinberg, President of the Digital Life Consulting Group, described his study, summarized in 11 rules, for successfully launching consumer technology products. His presentation showed examples of great launches, mostly starring Apple Computer's Steve Jobs.

But I would summarize his lessons with a single idea - that the launch, and planning for the launch, is an equal partner to every other part of creating the product, at least for products targeted to consumers. Equal to engineering, product development, product marketing, and all of the other functions in getting a product out of the door. Launch planning needs to start early, not when the product is almost complete.

Weinberg advocates appointing a launch manager to run the launch team, with the product manager one of the attendees at the team. The launch manager is responsible for the product launch, instead of the more typical approach of handing the job to the product manager.

By focusing on the launch, your product gets off to a successful start. This can help move your product out of the price wars. He supplied some examples (, the search engine - remember them?) where the damage of a muffed launch is never undone.

Apple figured prominently in Weinberg's presentation. In fact, it would be fair to say that launchology is largely a study of Apple launch strategies, which he has decoded from outside the company.

He may have picked the right target. Last week, the market research firm Interbrand moved Apple up four places on its list of the 100 best global brands, calling Apple "among the most iconic of relatively young brands in the world." Following the 11 rules in his list must play a part.

You can get the complete list of rules from Weinberg directly, but here are a few favorites:

1. It's a product experience.
Meaning it's everything about the product, not just the technology. The box it's packed in, and everything included in the box. The manuals. How it assembles, how you upgrade from the prior version, how you get support, and lots more. The complete experience of purchasing, opening the box, and owning the product.

6. Products have names.
Ipod, Flip, Blackberry are names. SGX2275 isn't a name, it's a number.

8. Communicate clearly.
As a writer, one of my favorites. If you live in Silicon Valley and work in technology, you speak a different language than the rest of the planet. Information about your consumer product needs to be written for normal people.

10. Launches are theater.
You will have to watch Weinberg's presentation and its video clips of Steve Jobs to see some examples. As a one time product manager (of business technology products) I have to admit that I never considered the product launches that I worked on even mildly entertaining, much less theatrical. But then not every company has Jobs to front for them.

You can contact Weinberg through his Digital Life Consulting Group Web site,


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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Monday, September 7, 2009

Don’t Just Plan the Party

By Mark Helfen

“The consumer technology industry needs to forget it’s a technology industry, and must move to being a consumer product industry.”

Or so said Joshua Weinberg, President of The Digital Life Consulting Group, when I interviewed him to ask about his upcoming SDForum Marketing SIG talk. He will be speaking at the Monday, September 14 meeting, and you can check out the meeting announcement here.

Weinberg has studied companies that do a great job of launching consumer technology products, and has developed a list of rules for the perfect launch. The idea is to have everything ready when the product publicly launched. The same rules that apply to physical products also apply to web based consumer products. Business products also benefit from following the rules.

Apple is a company that does a great job, and Weinberg studies Apple's product launches, which helped him crystallize the rules.

“A launch is not planning six weeks for a big party,” said Weinberg. “It’s a year long process that starts at the moment the product starts.”

He referred to his recent blog posting “Why would Sony launch a product that consumers can’t buy?” which compares Sony’s Reader launch to product launches from Apple and Bose.

“Sony is not a failure, but clearly Apple has mind share.”

The “little things” matter a lot, like the product having a name as opposed to just a meaningless string of letters and numbers. Every accessory in the box is as important as the main product. For a web product, the sign-up process is as critical as how the product works day to day.

While companies can be “somewhat successful” without using his strategy, they can be “more successful the more rules they follow.”

Here in the valley, there is a long tradition of delivering the absolutely newest technology even if it’s not fully productized. If you have purchased technology products recently, you may have seen that some, or many, companies don’t have everything together when the product is launched. I related my recent purchase of a (name brand withheld) router where the User Guide is not yet finished.

Weinberg’s response is that “if the only thing you have is being first to market, there is not a lot there.”

“Most of these rules are blatantly obvious,” said Weinberg. “But if it’s so obvious, how come people aren’t doing it?”

You can ask him yourself at our next meeting on the 14th.

You can reach Weinberg at


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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Pre-Networking Preparation

Leslie Butlar
"Public Relations Director"
SDForum Marketing SIG

September 14th's SDForum Marketing SIG is approaching quickly and I'm reaching out with encouragement for our first time guests, and suggestions for returning members, on how to get the most from your time at our events.

What might I do in Pre-Networking Preparation which would benefit might attendance for the upcoming meeting?

Networking Preparation 101!

There are some critical points you need to
consider prior to attending a networking event.
Then, before walking into the room, go through your checklist:

  • If this is your first visit, did you research this group?
  • Is this an event at which you'll find your target market?
  • Do you know the names of the board members so you can meet them first?
  • Are you wearing your million dollar suit?
  • Do you have the perfect haircut for the shape of your face?
  • Do you have the best make-up strategies in place?
  • Have you packed your business cards? (Make sure they don't look like they went through the wash)
  • Are you carrying your cards in a nice container?
  • Do you have a pen that works?
  • How is your overall hygiene?
  • Are you setting your intention prior to entering the room?
  • Have you left drama at the door?
  • Are you going in with your heart instead of your head?

If you are prepared for any event, you will
have a maximum return on your investments. It is
a good idea to make a list and be prepared.

You want to make sure that all these questions
are answered so that you have a GREAT experience
and your networking dollars are not being
wasted. You only have one chance to make that
"first" impression. Make sure it's a good one!

At each Event there is an "opportunity to
connect" when you share the space with another person.

Tips borrowed from Kathleen Ronald's Speaktacular Connection Newsletter - September 2009

Article Submitted by Leslie Butlar
"Public Relations Director"
SDForum Marketing SIG
Committee Member

Sunday, July 19, 2009

it takes a valley to raise a company

Strategic Partnerships for Early Stage Startups

By Mark Helfen

During his July 13 presentation to the SDForum Marketing SIG, Brad Reddersen played off the well known quote (and book title) that "it takes a village to raise a child," changing it to "it takes a valley to raise a company."

Reddersen is CEO of Stranova, a consulting firm that focuses on strategic planning through the use of Business Ecosystem models. In his experience, finding the right set of strategic partners is a key factor in the success of a startup business.

"These are people who are going to be with you for a very long time," said Reddersen. "A strategic community, not just partners."

The ideal place for a startup is to either create a new business ecosystem, or find an existing one where it can take a critical place, and this requires strategic partners.

Reddersen described a process or methodology to find a good match in strategic partners, first by carefully defining your business in the broader marketplace, and then evaluating potential partners. There are three steps or factors to consider.

I. The first step is to define your companies core essence. Reddersen lists three factors in your essence - the new field you are trying to create with your business, your core processes, and you're your core values.

The field is the environment, or ecosystem that the new business will either create, or fit into. This is the complex web of products, processes, services, and companies that provide value to customers.

The core processes are the way you supply value to your customers. Reddersen uses the example of the iTunes store, which while not a startup enterprise, was a startup business for Apple. The core process in this case was to supply single songs, at a fixed price, available for easy download, while preserving digital rights management. Since no on would pay to hear Steve Jobs sing, finding partners with content (record labels) was key to the iTunes store (and the iPods) success.

Core values define the positioning and competitive place of your business or products. For example, it could be where your products will be priced, how they will compete. Another example of values are attached to companies in the green space, and how they will effect the broader environment.

II. The second step it to understand at what level you want to compete in your ecosystem. He defines six levels of competition, from the lowest - your product meets minimum standards, to the highest - your company sets global standards, and your business is critical to the business ecosystem. Partners should want to live at the same level in Reddersen's model.

III. Third, decide on the type of strategic partner that is the best fit. There are three types - operational, product or service related, and blockers or enablers.

Operational partners help your company function more effectively by providing part of the product or service your offer.

"Don't do it all yourself, " said Reddersen, "[find] who can you go to, who can you partner with."

Product or service related partners provide a value added product or process, and depend on what type of value add your company and your potential product offer. Redderson has a six part model of different types of value adds.

Finally, blocker or enablers. These are partners that enable you to get into a space you couldn't on your own, or block a competitor from the market.

According to Reddersen, a good strategic partner will share five characteristics with your company:

1. Common business objectives.
2. Complementary strengths.
3. No obvious collision courses.
4. Common business practices.
5. Common competitive threats.

You can get more information, and a copy of his presentation materials, by contacting Reddersen directly at:


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Strategic Partnerships for Early Stage Startups

By Mark Helfen

Most technology entrepreneurs think "they need to do everything by themselves. But it doesn't have to be that way. Partners can improve you chances for success."

So says Brad Reddersen, CEO of Stranova, a consultancy in strategic planning and innovation for emerging businesses and startups. Reddersen will speak next Monday at the July 11 meeting of the SDForum marketing SIG about "The Role or Strategic Community for Early Stage Startups."

I spoke to Reddersen about his presentation a few days ago. His talk will cover how a startup can determine the kind of partners that can help a new business be successful. And for potential strategic partners of an emerging company, how to work effectively with a startup.

By finding the right strategic partners, a startup can create a "consciously created community" of people and businesses that can increase the chances of success.

Reddersen defines strategic partners as people or companies with who you share a common interest. People that you can rely on to do certain things. Companies that have a complimentary set of skills. A common way of doing business. Common competitors, or even common enemies.

A partnership results in mutual benefits to both sides.

"Companies need the right partners at the beginning," said Reddersen. "More than your board of advisers." Partners that are "strategic, not just someone who works on your web site."

The right partners can bring a variety of skills to your startup. Reddersen listed some examples: Technical ideas. A distribution channel for your products. Or a unique network of contacts.

In addition to guidance for startup entrepreneurs, the presentation will present information for marketing managers in established companies that might benefit from strategic partnerships with early stage companies: What to look for in an emerging company, and how to position yourself to be available.

You can find more details about the meeting on the Marketing SIGs web site, here

Stranova's web site is here


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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Monday, June 15, 2009

CLV – CCA = profit

By Mark Helfen

Its not a pipeline, it's a refinery…

When David Tabor spoke to the SDForum Marketing SIG on Monday (June 8) his objective was to show how to optimize the following equation:

CLV – CCA = profit

CLV = Customer Lifetime Value
CCA = Customer Cost of Acquisition
Profit = the part you get to keep.

Tabor is CEO SalesLogistix and the author of the recently published Secrets of Success: Best Practices for Growth and Profitability

His focus was on CCA, and his prescription for reducing the cost of getting a customer is to re-architect the way you handle leads in your company.

His methodology is targeted at large enterprise sales, where a direct sales model is required - real people who visit real, if still potential, customers.

Despite the advances of E-commerce models, Tabor lists three reasons why direct sales is still a winning, or at least a required, model:

  • For some types of products, you just have to.
  • Some types of customers won't buy any other way
  • There is no other way to do $100K deals.

But the cost of acquiring a customer this way can be more than $40,000.

Tabor's strategy is to move away from looking at the pure number of leads sent to sales. Lead number aren't what causes business to close. It's the number of sales cycles started. Leads need to be highly qualified. By the time the information is given to the sales force, prospects need to be ready to enter a sales cycle – ready for an appointment with a sales rep.

The strategy he proposes has three layers:

1. An initial response. In particular, this response need to be quick - within 48 hours maximum.

"By the time 48 hours have passed, most people will have forgotten their initial inquiry," said Tabor. " Business aren't losing to competitors, they're losing to inaction."

Tabor describes these leads as "low grade ore."

2. The "lead refinery." Instead of a pipeline that all leads follow, the refinery engages prospects over time, turning the low grade ore into qualified sales prospects. These are people who are expert at qualifying leads.

New leads are "new members of your community of interest." This new lead qualification layer communicates and keeps prospects informed about your business and products, and when a customer seems ready to consider a purchase, delivers a lead, in the form of an appointment, to the sales rep.

When it comes to qualifying leads, "marketing doesn't know how, and sales hates doing it," says Tabor, so the lead qualification team does it. Tabor suggests "burned out" customer support reps, or systems engineers, who have strong product knowledge, know how to talk to customers, but want to apply these skills in a different way.

3. Layer three is the sales force, handed fully qualified leads. Sales reps get only qualified leads, and don't spend time with the low grade ore of unqualified leads. Giving a rep a large pile of random leads "gunks up" the sales team. Instead, they are given prospects ready to start a sales cycle.

To understand how your system is working, you need to "go backwards," starting with closed business to see where those leads came from. Don't rely on peoples impressions – instead use some real statistical data.

You can see Tabor's web site here.

You can view a copy of his presentation materials here.


Mark Helfen is a journalist, writer, and marketing consultant.
He can be reached at:


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Who Needs Leads?

Who Needs Leads?

By Mark Helfen

On Monday June 8, David Tabor will speak to the SDForum Marketing SIG on the topic "Who Needs Leads?"

Despite the provocative title, Tabor is not suggesting that you throw out all of your sales leads. But he will explain how they need to be looked at in a different way. According to Tabor, 95 percent of your leads are worthless, and the job of sales and marketing is to find those that have value and use them start a sales cycle.

Tabor is the CEO of SalesLogistix, and the author of a new book, Secrets of Success. His consulting firm specializes in "re-implementing broken implementations."

"We don't do initial implementations," said Tabor. "People don't want to listen until they've tried it and goofed it up." Their thinking needs to change to reflect new ideas of how a sales force needs to in today's environment.

Sales management is too focused on getting more leads. They are very low value, a "low grade ore," in Tabor's words. Marketing management gets incented to just generate more numbers, and "leads will never make a sales guy's numbers." Its how you manage them to get sales cycles started.

Since most of the people attending the marketing SIG are primarily focused on marketing, I asked what benefit they would get from the presentation. Tabor has been doing technology marketing for more then 20 years, and has been marketing VP at a number of technology companies. He has experience in both the sales and marketing roles.

Marketing objectives change under Tabor's methodology.

"The right way to generate more business is for sales and marketing to both work on exactly the same measurement - revenue, not leads." Sales and marketing must act as one cycle. Just generating more leads doesn't get results.

Tabor will bring copies of his new book to the meeting.

You can find the meeting location and details on the SDForum web site, here.


Mark Helfen is a journalist, writer, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at
- or -

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Thanks to Nearsoft for hosting the food at our May meeting.

Here is a brief introduction, and a short video about them.

Nearsoft is a software product development, with operations in Mexico. We work with ISVs, SaaS companies and consumer-facing sites.

Clients come to us because they are,

  • Disappointed with offshore development
  • Frustrated that they can’t find developers with the right skills
  • Upset because they can’t scale their software development team
  • Tired of late product releases and poor quality

As a startup you can not afford to do it more than once, it has to be done right the first time. We help launch your product.

Thanks to our software engineering approach and experience, we help our clients get their products (and their companies) out to market faster. And we have the track record to prove it, with clients like INgrooves, TierraNatal, Axolotl, TIBCO, and others.

Here is a brief video introduction:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Would you hire you??

Would you hire you?? Notes from the SDForum May 11 meeting.

By Mark Helfen

Your resume is the principle piece of marketing material in your job search according to Denise Pringle. Yet many resumes do a poor job at addressing the key issues.

Pringle, a long time HR manager, was the speaker at the May 11 meeting of the SDForum Marketing SIG.

From the hiring managers perspective, your resume, your interview, and your references need to address two main issues - are you a good fit for the job, and will hiring you be a low risk decision. Not that you skills, education, and job history aren't important. But they are less unique, and take second place in the decision.

Hiring managers are "highly risk averse," according to Pringle. The cost of hiring the wrong person can be very high. It's difficult to fire an employee, and the manager might even lose the employee budget for the position.

During times of rapid economic expansion, managers make one judgment about hiring risk. In today's tight economy, with an abundance of highly skilled candidates, managers make a different decision, and are even less willing to accept risk in who they hire. Your marketing message, your resume, needs to create a "cushion of least risk," assuring a manager that they won't be making a mistake by hiring you.

Managers assess three things as they go through the hiring process:

  • can you do the job - do you have the necessary skills
  • will you do the job - meaning your work ethic. Will you show up every day, and get the job done.
  • your fit for the job. This includes chemistry, appearance, and personality. "Fit is huge," said Pringle. "It's not a fair world out there."

There are three ways that a job candidate presents their fit for the job - their resume, their interview performance, and references.


Many resumes look like job descriptions, listing the functions of the job you want, instead of showing the benefits to the manager of hiring you.

Resumes need to be concise and "crisp" and explain your accomplishments. "Crisp" is one of Pringles favorite words - in today's market a long resume will never be read.. Accomplishments should be quantified if possible - listing a percentage of sales increase, a reduction of time to market, an increase in customer satisfaction. Once you submit a resume to a company, it gets put into the company database and in future job searches that need your skills it might pop up.


Most hiring managers are very poor interviewers according to Pringle. It's your job during an interview to "gently guide the interviewer," to focus the discussion on your accomplishments, how you can help the hiring manager, and how you will fit the organization.

Pringle recommends thinking about the questions you will get asked, and practicing them out loud in front of a mirror. Just thinking about them, or writing them down isn't the same.


References are important, as a way of getting that cushion of least risk - someone who knows you can vouch for you. The person who is the best networked, best referenced, has the best relationships is the least risk.

Some references are more valuable than others, but any reference is valuable.

"Charles Manson is better than no reference at all," said Pringle.

A copy of Pringle's presentation materials can be found on the SDForum web site, here.

Pringle can be reached by email at


Mark Helfen is a Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. He can be reached at

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Going Viral (by Filomena U)

From SIG co-chair
Filomena U

Topic: Going Viral

The first article I read, when I get the latest issue of FastCompany magazine from my mail box every month, is Dan & Chip Heath's, co-authors of the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.

Their May 2009 article is particularly interesting and timely to me, as we hear every day how companies are slashing marketing budgets, amongst all kinds of other cuts. I also think the article is very relevant to Marketing SIG based on the feedback from our monthly surveys. The title of the article is: Three Secrets to Make a Message Go Viral.
Here's an excerpt:

"Viral marketing has become a hip, low-cost way to reach a lot of people very quickly -- with little effort. But as marketers, including giants such as Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, and Procter & Gamble, slash ad budgets, "viral" needs to mean more than "free" and "fueled by prayer." Making an idea contagious isn't a mysterious marketing art. It boils down to a couple of simple rules."

The article concluded with: "Viral doesn't have to be a crazy YouTube video -- Here's our CEO on nitrous! Start thinking about emotion, public service, and triggers."

I strongly recommend reading this article at FastCompany. It's also a fun read.

So, any suggestion on putting together a viral topic for the SIG later in 2009?? Email me directly or blog it here.

Filomena U

Marketing SIG co-chair

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Introducing the MarketingSIG team

The SIG doesn't run itself, and the volunteer team puts time and energy to help make it a valuable experience for our SIG members.

We recently held a planning meeting. Here is a photo of the team, and a brief introduction to each of them.

Marketing SIG Co-chairs:

Filomena U:
I'm one of the co-chairs of the SDForum Marketing SIG. I collaborate with the SIGs core team to ensure the SIGs overall program offers a rich learning experience and meaningful networking opportunity for the vibrant SIG community. Some of my responsibilities include seeking interesting topics and speakers, and managing operational details for monthly events.

I am a Program manager with over 15 years of R&D experience leading initiatives including customer requirements, design, development, usability, and delivery to the market. Domain specialty includes applications software and solutions, imaging, document management, and digital printing and publishing. Recently started my company,, creating, designing, and publishing childrens original art books.
You can reach me at:

Vladimir Gostrer:
With the help of my co-chair and the core team I do my best to take care of the details, big or small, that are required for the SIG to run as smoothly as possible.

I am a senior software engineer for Electronics for Imaging, or EFI. So far in my career I have been working exclusively on embedded software projects. I have BS in Computer Science from University of California at Riverside.
You can reach me at:

The rest of the team:

Leslie Butlar - Public Relations Director:
My role in the SDForum Marketing SIG is Public Relations Director to promote the best practices in "Marketing Yourself" and "Leveraging Your Strengths" in building new relationships and keeping former contacts current.

I am a Senior Events Manager specializing in managing strategic executive level/sales and marketing meetings/events in large multi-national corporations. Also a worldwide sales force development training coordinator.
You can reach me at:

Mark Helfen - Communications Director:
My role in the SIG is Communications Director, which means that I manage this blog. I try to give SIG members a preview of upcoming events, and at least the key points of a speakers presentation if you miss the meeting.

If you have an interest in contributing to the blog, and getting your 15 minutes (or maybe just 30 seconds) of fame just let me know and I will get you going.

I am a marketing consultant, journalist, and freelance writer, specializing in product marketing strategy and technology writing. And an extra hand when you need some marketing help.

I have degrees in Engineering and Computer Science from U.C.L.A., and experience as a reporter at a daily newspaper.
You can reach me at:

Paul Wcislo - Investor Relations Director:
The Investor Relations Director is responsible for sponsor development. My objective is to promote donor value in enabling ongoing marketing education on the best practices for entrepreneurs and the marketing professionals that serve them.

I am an accomplished marketing communications director. When I'm not running marathons, I bootstrap impactful communications, marketing programs, and sales tools for startups in wireless, telecommunications, and disruptive technologies that enhance the company image, attract buyers, and increase sales. I earned an MS in Journalism in integrated marketing communications (IMC) from Northwestern University.
You can reach me at:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Would YOU hire you? and a FREE resume analysis

On May 11, Denise Denise Pringle, has agreed to come and speak on the subject of "Would you hire you?"

Ever wonder what those recruiters and hiring managers think of your resume when they see it lying on their desk? Can you imagine what a person who has seen hundreds if not thousands applicants thinks? How do they dissect the resume?

Denise Pringle will use her expertise to help people who want to gain fresh insights into their resumes and interviewing skills.

And... a special offer...

If you would like to have your resume analyzed, mail a copy in to the sig - to
MarketingSIG (at) Ten resumes will be randomly chosen for an analysis at the meeting. And don't worry - you can remove your name, or we will do it for you - you will be the only one who knows its really you...

Denise Pringle has extensive experience in both domestic and international human resources. She has held executive HR positions in high technology and medical device industries. She has worked on transition teams for mergers and outsourcing and has had responsibility for training, organizational development, staffing and university relations. Denise received her Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences with a concentration in History from San Jose State University. She has been the principal for Pringle Consulting, an HR firm providing HR services and training and has held an adjunct faculty position at San Jose State University's Professional Development Center

The meeting will at the regular time, at the regular place...details here

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Social Media Marketing Best Practices

A few notes from Sudha Jamthe's April 13 presentation at the SDForum SIG meeting.

By Mark Helfen

On April 13, Sudha Jamthe spoke on the subject Social Media Marketing Best Practices - For You, Your Product and Your Business. Her presentation was wide ranging and covered many topics. Here are some of the key ideas.

  • Marketing jobs are changing. In two years, social media will be part of your job. Each of us has the power to change now and add value to your companies marketing, and to increase your value to your employer.

  • Over the evening, the three main social media sites were discussed - Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter. Jamthe is a fan of what she calls the "platform play" - using the API that these sites support to build applications that interact with them. Companies can use these applications to increase their brand awareness and loyalty.

  • The old model was to speak with customers at specific occasions, for specific purposes. In the new model customers are holding a conversation on-line, whether or not you are there, even if your not listening. You need to measure your visibility, and you need to be there now.

  • The objective is to form a deeper, longer lasting relationship with customers. An example is someone who is in the PR world, who forms a relationship with opinion leaders, journalists, etc... This relationship transcends a single job or product, the PR person knows at least some of the personal interests and facts about the person. Their value is in maintaining these relationships over their career.

  • Social media is an additional part of your marketing mix. One more area to assign budget to - not a replacement for any current part.

  • Even someone as "passionate" about social media as Jamthe can be overwhelmed. There are "too many sites, too many technologies." She focuses on Facebook. Her advice is to use the tool/site that makes you most comfortable, but for her everything is linked - she posts at Facebook, but her postings show up everywhere else.

  • There was some discussion of Facebook versus Linkedin. For Jamthe, Linkedin is another channel, Facebook is a two way conversation. But between the three sites, the particular choice for a marketing campaign depends on the particular customer base.

  • The first part of a social media marketing campaign is to try to analyze the current discussions about a product or idea - Jamthe's first action when helping a new client.

  • Facebook now supports profile pages. You can create a profile for a product, person, brand, company etc... At no charge. Visibility at no cost
Some of the tools that she discussed include:

These sites can give you analytic data to understand your current visibility, and the effect of your marketing programs.

A good source to follow to keep up on these is Mashable:

(As an exercise for the reader, go to, and enter your favorite consumer product. You might be amazed as to how much is being discussed. )

Jamthe related several stories about her experiences:

  • When she started consulting at Intuit, she first developed an "asset list" of their social media resources. The executives were "blown away" to find that there were 14 people using social media resources to contact customers. This is an example of the disconnect between parts of the company.

  • On the last election day, Starbucks gave a free coffee to people who voted. Jamthe went to the local Starbucks, took pictures of people waiting for their coffee, posted this on her Facebook page, and got a surprising amount of reaction - she described it as "the thread that wouldn't die". This "keeps the brand alive for people who are loyal, and gives a venue for people who are not loyal to comment." In any case, it generates lots of PR for Starbucks.

  • She told the story of "Natalie at Dell," a Dell computer employee who developed a following on Twitter about computers. Eventually Natalie changed jobs. She became "Natalie at Petco," taking her Twitter account with her. Suddenly all of those followers were seeing postings about pet food. According to Jamthe, the managers at Dell learned a lesson from this, as should all companies using social media, about who owns the on-line identification.

You can reach Sudha Jamthe at:
A blog:


Mark Helfen is a Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. He can be reached at





Monday, April 20, 2009


SMILE! A positive attitude is infectious...FIRST AND FOREMOST!!

1) Wear your name tag on the RIGHT side to provide easy viewing when shaking hands.

2) Stand with open arms instead of arms crossed, you want to look inviting and approachable!

3) Be sure to introduce yourself!

  • Say your name clearly: "Hello my name is Jane Smith. It's a pleasure to meet you."
  • Shake hands.
  • Use an elevator speech: Describe who you are or what you do in 10 seconds or less.
  • Be clear about who you help and what problems you solve so people can remember you and refer you business.
  • Include what might be a good referral for your business.
  • Offer a business card, and ask the other person for his or hers.
  • Be sure to ask about the other person's business. Be a better listener than a talker... listen for a reason to follow up.
  • Follow up with the people that you meet.
4) Make notes on the back of the person's business card of important information that you might want to remember later.

5) Follow up with a thank you note, email or phone call. 90% of all business cards exchanged at events don't get followed up on, so by following up you will automatically be in the top 10!

6) Don't sit down until the actual meeting starts. Some of the best contacts are made BEFORE and AFTER the actual meeting!

7) Don't stay too long in one place. After 5 - 6 minutes, excuse yourself with a pleasantry such as, "It was nice meeting you..." continue networking to meet new people & form new contacts.

8) Approach groups where you don't know anybody.

Select a dinner table where you do not know most of the people.

10) If you feel stressed, take a break & enjoy the moment! Networking is best when you feel relaxed!

Remember, you are here to build relationships, not make sales pitches.

Enjoy the process & HAVE FUN!!!

National Association Women Business Owners - Silicon Valley Chapter NAWBO

posted for:

Marketing SIG Public Relations Director

Friday, April 17, 2009

The MarketingSIG Marketing Dog.....

VIP Networking Tips = Play The Contribution Game

Step One. Connect deeply with everyone you meet.

Step Two. Find out about people
a. Be interested
b. Seek to understand them
c. Find out WHO they are
d. Discover thier Goals and Dreams

Step Three. Contribute to People. As you discover what they are up to, think about these questions.
1. How may I serve?
2. How can I help this person?
3. How can I contribute?
4. How can I support?

By following these steps in your Social Media Network, You will build a "strong personal brand".

Best Regards,

Marketing SIG Public Relations Director

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Check this blog out!!

Since I started as co-chair for the marketing SIG I have been exposed to an onslaught of information on marketing - how surprising.

Being a nerd of sorts and not used to taking things at face value I set out to make sense of all this information, by doing the one thing that we nerds do when we need to learn something new. I went to the library, checked out a hefty stack of books and set out to read them all. The reading material was very nice and educational but something was missing, there was no excitement in their writing. None of the pleasure that a live person makes you feel when they speak to you about the subject that is close to their hearts.

I figured I have a better chance of finding something like that in blogs about specific marketing subjects. This way I could pick out the ones I was interested in faster. Right now, after doing my blog research, one of the blogs that I enjoy reading tremendously is Seth Goldin’s blog ( ). In my opinion it is very well written, very informative, very concise and always up to date with amazing insights - exactly what I was looking for.

To conclude my long intro and the short point that I made. Books are great if you know what you want to read. If you are new to the subject picking a bunch of books may prove a disappointment and drive you away. Find a good blog (pick your own criteria for what constitutes a good blog) and go on from there. I hope that my blog pick will help you lay one more brick in your brick path to a successful marketing career.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Social Media Marketing Best Practices

Meeting Preview
SDForum Marketing SIG April meeting - 4/13/09
By: Mark Helfen

Your marketing job is likely to completely change over the next two years, as social media becomes an ever larger part of the marketing mix. So says Sudha Jamthe, who will speak at the next Monday's SIG meeting, helping you get ahead of the curve.

I spoke briefly to Jamthe about her upcoming talk. She said that social media - Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter among others - will become an increasingly important part of your job in marketing. A "social media mix" to add to the marketing mix.

"But only a handful of people know this. You should be one of them."

She believes that the combination of Web 2.0, and the new social media tools will change every role in marketing - product management and marketing, corporate communications, public relations, and the rest.

Jamthe works as a consultant to companies like Intuit, AOL, and Bebo, helping create a social media strategy in their marketing campaigns. She finds that customers are ahead of her clients in using products like Facebook and Twitter.

"Its more ubiquitous than people think," she said. Most of the marketing people she works with are knowledgeable about Linkedin. But her clients are "blown away" by what their customers are already doing, telling her "they had no idea that they can to that."

Jamthe's bio describes her as "passionate about social media," so I asked her what drove her interest.

She said the social media bug bit her about two and a half years ago. As a marketer, she likes to engage in conversations with customers. Before, she could only speak them at specific times - events, meetings, phone calls.

Now she can be connected all the time, and really get to know people. It takes the conversation to the "next level."

Like all good social media marketers, Jamthe has lots of ways to reach her:

A blog:

You can read more details about the meeting here

Getting in the spirit of the topic, I guess I should also show the following for ME....


Happy tweeting......

Mark Helfen is a Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. He can be reached at

Monday, April 6, 2009

Upcoming meetings - April 13 and April 20

This month, the SDForum Marketing SIG will have two meetings.

On April 13, at our regular meeting, Sudha Jamthe will speak on the topic:

Social Media Marketing Best Practices

And on April 20, the Marketing SIG will co-host a meeting with the Startup SIG:

Strategic Pricing for Start-ups, New Products and Innovations

I will try to post additional information on both of these meetings over the next week, but in the meantime mark you calendar.

You can see more information on the SDForum meeting schedule at the SDForum calendar

Mark Helfen

Photos from the March meeting

Here are a few photos from our March meeting, courtesy of SIG co-chair Filomena U.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Write a book for fun and profit

Meeting report

SDForum Marketing SIG March meeting - 3/9/09

By: Mark Helfen

You may have thought that writing a book was a difficult task, taking months or years to complete, with little chance of ever getting it published and even less chance of making the effort pay off.

But at the SDForum March meeting, Mitchell Levy painted an entirely different picture.

According to Levy, CEO of Happy About Publishing, the correct thought process is that writing a book will help you gain credibility and drive customers to your service, consulting business, or company. A book you can write in as little in a few weeks to a few months.

If you have a reasonably good idea and marketing plan, Happy About will be happy to publish it for you.

“A book is the number one tool for a person or company to drive business,” said Levy.

The difference in thinking starts with Happy About’s business strategy. According to Levy, most publishers have a “venture capital” model – they fund a number of attempts with the objective that at least a few are “home runs” – very profitable books.

But Levy isn’t looking for home runs. He’s satisfied if “every book is a single.” A book can turn a profit if it sells between 200 and 300 copies. While the author can make money from the book, Levy prefers that they think of it as a form of business development.

Levy claims that being a published author gets the same credibility as getting a PhD, but faster and with much less work.

Getting Started

So if you think you want to be a published author, what is Levy looking for? If you send him an email (see below) he will respond with an outline of the marketing plan he needs. But he summarized with three main points.

1. You have credible expertise in the topic you want to write about. Someone reading a short biography would believe that you have enough knowledge to write your book.

2. You can write a good book. It doesn’t have to be a great book, just a good book. Or, as Levy phrased it, at least good enough so “it doesn’t suck.”

3. You have a marketing plan that will sell at least 200-300 copies.

The first part of your marketing plan is to purchase the first 100 of those copies, a requirement. Happy About is not a subsidy or vanity publisher, where the author pays for and buys all of the books - they invest their own money in the project. But authors do have some financial skin in the game – about $1000 for those 100 copies. Authors pay about half the list price, which is usually around $20.

If you don’t have 100 clients, prospects, or business partners to who you could either give away the book at no charge and gain resulting business, or who would pay for the book, you might not be a prospect for Happy About’s publishing program. But Levy’s entire premise is that the credibility you gain will pay this amount back many times over.

The rest get sold, either by you, directly by Happy About at their web site, or on Amazon. You promote this channel by a combination of public speaking, blogging, or being active on social media sites like Linkedin or Facebook. If you want to sell off your own web site, Happy About has the tools to allow you to do this. Their strategy is to do “print on demand,” so there is no inventory to carry.

You might make money from books sales – Levy claims that 80 to 90 percent of what he publishes turns a profit. But your principle objective should be the credibility you gain as a published author, and how a book can fit into your overall marketing plan. Writing your book will typically take 50 to 150 hours, or about 1 hour a page from start to finish.

So… pick a topic you are passionate about, fill out Happy About’s proposal and marketing plan, and start writing. I hope to see you interviewed on national TV in the near future…..

Happy About’s web site is here. Take a look at their range of titles for an idea of what they publish.

Levy’s email address is:, where you can request a copy of “Happy About Author Questions” to get your proposal started. ---

Mark Helfen is a Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. He can be reached at

Friday, February 27, 2009

Marketing Yourself Through a Book: It's easier than you think!

By: Mark Helfen

Ever thought about writing a book?

According to Mitchell Levy, the speaker for the March 9 marketing SIG meeting, it's easier than you think, and will do great things for both your career and your business. The title of his talk is "Marketing Yourself Through a Book. It's easier than you think."

I spoke to Levy briefly about his upcoming talk at the Marketing SIG meeting. He is the author of 11 business books, and the CEO and Executive Editor of Happy About, and independent publishing house.

Levy says that the reputation you get from writing a book is the same as "spending 3 years getting your PhD."
The book will take 50 to 150 hours to put together, considerably less.

"It's instant credibility."

Anyone interested in establishing themselves as a "thought leader" should consider the idea, says Levy.

He expects to publish between 25 and 50 books this year, and says that 90 percent of what he publishes is profitable, so the author makes some direct income from the book. But the key benefit is "indirect income," consulting and speaking fees.

What if you aren't a consultant or independently employed? Levy recommends a book on your product, which could bring benefits both to you and your company.

He summarizes his talk with three points:

- If you ever had an idea that you thought should be in a book,

- If you didn't realize how easy it can be,

- If you have no clue to the significant benefits having "author" next to your name will bring you,

... than the Monday meeting is for you.

You can read more about Mitchell Levy's publishing business here

For the details of the next SDForum MarketingSIG, see here

Hope to see you there..


Mark Helfen is a Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. He can be reached at

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Job Resources II

I attended the SDForum Volunteers Meeting last night (my first one).

I want to thank Nixon Peabody LLP for hosting the meeting. The food was at least 10 steps up from the pizza at the SIG meeting - not that I don't like pizza, but its nice to take a break.

One discussion topic was how SDForum can help people who are looking for work in these difficult times. A few things that I learned (or knew but hadn't thought about recently).

The SDForum web site actually lists jobs available. There aren't a lot there (but you only need one)

at, -->resources-->classifieds

You kind of need to know where to look, but if you know of a job that would fit the profile of forum members you might list it here. I would vote for this to appear in a much more prominent place on the web site.

ALSO - did you know the SDForum has a Linkedin group?? Currently there are
1,235 members. I believe that you must be a paid member to join the group.

Groups on Linkedin are a great way to find out about people you are otherwise not linked to, and to communicate with them. If you are a paid member and aren't in the group, you can request membership from the web site.

We discussed how the forum can help members get work. I'm not sure we resolved anything specific, but the need came through loud and clear.

If you have an idea of what SDForum could do to help you, either email me (and I will post it here) or the forum management

Mark Helfen

Job resources I

At our meeting Monday, 12 Rules for Marketing Yourself, was packed. I would guess 75 to 100 people, maybe more - we had to move chairs in from another room.

Thanks to:

Sue Connelly,
Connelly Communications, Inc.
Founder of the KIT List


Gretchen Sand,
Senior Partner and Co-founder
Skyline Recruiting Corporation

For an excellent and informative talk.

The presentation slides (50 pages worth!) is slowly making its way to the SDForum web site. If you just can't wait, drop me a line and I will be happy to send out a pdf.

I plan to write a somewhat longer article on the meeting highlights in the next few days. But here are the 12 Rules:

1. Pay Attention to First Impressions
2. Focus on the Details
3. Make Your Interview Special
4. Choose your Attitude
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
6. K.I.S.S.
7. Dinosaurs CAN Fly
8. You Don't Have to Do It Alone
9. Button it Up
10. Dump Networking - its about Relationships
11. Have a Smart Job Search Strategy
12 Just Do One (Little) Thing More

Not much detail here - I will write more when I get a chance. But the slides are pretty complete, with lots to read and lots of detail.

Mark Helfen

Monday, February 9, 2009

Need a job/have a job???

Need a job? Please post a short bio in response to this post (ie: 1-2 paragraphs) and a url where people can see more information. Maybe your Linkedin page, or your web site.

Have a job? Please post a short description in response to this post and a url for more information.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Marketing Yourself in a Tough Market

Meeting preview
By: Mark Helfen

Our meeting next Monday (2/9) is on the topic:

Marketing Yourself in a Tough Market

Speakers are

Sue Connelly
Connelly Communications, Inc.
Founder of the KIT List


Gretchen Sand
Senior Partner and Co-founder
Skyline Recruiting Corporation

You can read the full details of their backgrounds, along with the meeting announcement here:
( )

I spoke to Sue Connelly briefly and asked her what people would learn by attending.

"We both want to share our life experiences" in the job market, said Connelly. She had tips and techniques to share, not only for a normal economy, but also for these "historic times."

The objective is not only find work, but to find a job you really enjoy, for which you are fairly compensated.

She said that the real issue is "people helping each other." While there are tools to aid this, the "person to person personal touch" is what is key.

People will leave the meeting with some practical steps.

"There are some commonsense things that people actually don't do. And some common mistakes that cause you to shoot yourself in the foot," she said.

If you aren't getting called back, aren't getting follow-ups and return phone calls, her advice can help you analyze why.

Connelly promises that you will leave the meeting with some practical steps that you can take the next day.

-- -- --
I saw an advance preview of part of the presentation, which included a bullet point "Dinosaurs CAN fly." This I got to see.....


Mark Helfen is a Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. He can be reached at

Monday, February 2, 2009

What's your mindset?

Meeting report
SDForum Marketing SIG 1/12/09
By: Mark Helfen

What's your mindset?

Or more importantly, what is the mindset of a successful entrepreneur?

That was the question covered by Frauke Schorr at the January 12 SIG meeting. Schorr, who provides "Coaching for Professional and Personal Excellence," discussed the results of her research that characterized the mindset of successful entrepreneurs.

She described the output of her work as defining "how successful people think."

A mindset is a specific way of thinking, leading to a specific way of acting. It might be described as how you see the world. Schorr claims that the success of entrepreneurs is only based 20 percent on specific skills, and 80 percent on the thinking and acting mindset.

Her May 2008 study was based on in-depth interviews with ten successful entrepreneurs. They ranged from 23 to 67 years old, were located in several countries, and owned between 2 and 42 business over their professional careers. They founded, inherited, or purchased their businesses, and at least one of their business needed to have "sustained, consistent asset growth for at least the last three years."

The types of business ran the gamut from photography to technology, and were not all the typical Silicon Valley high-tech startup.

Analyzing the responses to her questions, Schorr divided her subjects into "growers", and "maintainers." In each of these groups, they were either "satisfied" and "unsatisfied," for a total of four categories.

Schorr was asked if an individual's mindset could change over time. Her answer was that different people would have different answers, but in her opinion a new mindset could be learned.

Growers see their career as a path they are traveling on, and work at ways to keep moving along the path. Maintainers see their career successes as discreet points or plateaus, and work to maintain the success that they have.

"Growers are always looking at the next opportunity, there is always something else," said Schorr. "Their past achievements were not a success, but more of a stepping stone."

Growers tend to shift their roles within their companies frequently over time, "innovating who they are in their business."

Maintainers reflected on specific points in time when they felt they were successful. They said they "want to maintain that level," They like what they have and how things are working for them, and want to keep that level of success.

Some maintainers start out as growers, but over time shift their mindset.

The satisfied - dissatisfied scale reflected whether these entrepreneurs were focused on the present, versus feeling a constant internal pressure to either achieve more and focus on the future, or to keep themselves sharp and competitive.

"The satisfied growers were really curious,' said Schorr. "Lets see what's on the next level, lets explore the next thing."

The dissatisfied growers felt more "internal force."

"They said things like 'I really need to be uneasy, because as long as I'm uneasy and keep myself on the edge it keeps me going, If I get too comfortable I'm not going to achieve anything any more."

Overall, Schorr found that the satisfied growers increased the values of their business the most.

Despite their differences, all of the people she interviewed had a number of common behaviors, though they acted differently on them depending on their mindset.

You can view the presentation materials that were used at the meeting on the SDForum website, in the archives (listed under "resources")

You can find more information on Frauke Schorr at her web site:

Mark Helfen is a Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. He can be reached at

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Introducing - Communications Director

Hi -

My name is Mark Helfen, and I’m the new communications director for the SDForum Marketing SIG (which mostly means managing this blog) so I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself.

My objective is to make this blog as useful as possible to members of the SIG, and I encourage discussions of topics related (even distantly) to technology marketing. We’re going through tough economic times, and frequently a community of people generate the best ideas.

The initial postings have been summaries of meetings for those people who may have missed them. But I would also like to encourage everyone, whether you were at the meeting or not, to comment on the topic and the speakers ideas.

If you have something you would like to get posted, please email me and I will post it on your behalf. I’m also willing to consider making you a guest blogger for a week – just let me know, and keep your postings on-topic.

Any other ideas?? Please email me, I would be happy to consider them.

The blog software is set up to require registration before you can post comments to reply to postings (only the forum administrators – like me – can generate original postings.) Anyone with a Google mail account is already registered.
OpenID is also accepted (

There is a place at the top right to set up your RSS reader to follow changes as they happen, and to be a “follower” in blogspot terminology.

As for me: I am a specialist is researching, analyzing, writing, and consulting about technology markets and marketing. I have experience as a product marketing manager, marketing director, and print journalist.

You can see more about me at

You can reach me at mhelfen -at- wordpixel (dot) com (sorry for the anti-spam address).