Tuesday, November 29, 2011

b-to-b social media. Harder than it looks....

By Mark Helfen

Social media has become something of a code word that can mean many things. A way of keeping personal connections. Networking with professional associates. Keeping up with the news.

Not to limit to using Facebook. Twitter has become a way to both keep in touch, communicate, and sell a brand or product. LinkedIn for business connections.

But in addition to person-to-person connection, Facebook in particular has become a way to manage a brand, promote and generate consumer interest, and just plain old sell stuff to consumers.

But what about business-to-business? Not only selling, but also communicating with everyone in your sales channel, keeping people informed, motivated, and helping their success. And yours.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What's Hot, What's Not - in Mobile Marketing

By Mark Helfen

Marketeers seem to have a wealth of new ways to reach their market. In fact, so many ways that the technology seems to be well outpacing a clear marketing understanding of how to use the tools and the data. And how to spend money wisely.

Last month the topic was social media engagement via Facebook, with a presentation by Justin Kistner of Webtrends.

This month's MarketingSIG meeting - Monday November 14 - will be a panel on using mobile technology to reach your market. And as you will learn, the abundance of new tools, channels, and information sources is only matched by the new questions that are raised.

The panel discussion is titled What's Hot, What's Not - in Mobile Marketing. I spoke to moderator Giovanni Rodriguez. Rodriguez has the title Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, Deloitte Postdigital Enterprise , and is a contributor at Forbes.com. You can see his latest blog posting here.

Rodriguez listed four questions that the panel will address:

Mobile devices give businesses the opportunity to collect lots of new data. As two examples, smart phones add location data to the mix of other types of information a company will know about you. Advertisers can also develop applications that supply value to customers, but also collect data at the same time. For many people, they're smart phones are always on - people even sleep next to them. Maybe even more so than a laptop or desk side system, smart phones seem to be a personal part of people's lives.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Until you have squeezed significant value from Facebook, forget all the other social marketing channels.

By Mark Helfen

Social media marketing is all Facebook. Forget the others.

Or so says Justin Kistner, speaker at the next SVForum MarketingSIG meeting, October 10 at our regular place, EMC. His topic will be Feeding the Beast - Taking Advantage of Facebook's New Marketing Opportunities.

Kistner is Director of Social Products at Webtrends, and was a key player in developing their Facebook Analytics products. He will be joined by Hope Frank, Webtrends Chief Marketing Officer.  Webtrends has a range of marketing and analysis products, including a free version that can be used by small startups he describes as the "Swiss army knife" or social marketing tools.

Kistner has been around the internet marketing world for a while, starting out as a blogger attempting to get noticed, eventually helping other companies with the same problem, then on to Search Engine Optimization. When Facebook first was available, he "hated" it, and compared it to the "internet on training wheels."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You would "be surprised by the degree of listening involved" in your social media strategy. You don't just "deposit information," it's a conversation

By Mark Helfen

You would "be surprised by the degree of listening involved" in your social media strategy. You don't just "deposit information," it's a conversation.

So says John Thyfault, speaker at the next MarketingSIG meeting. Thyfault is Vice President Search Engine and Social Media Marketing at Beasly Direct Marketing. His topic will be Search and Social: Making the Sum Greater Than the Parts.

The meeting will be on Monday, September 12 at our regular EMC location. Please sign up in advance on our Meetup page - a requirement of EMC security.

Thyfault has been at Beasly Direct for 5 years, originally managing their Search Engine Marketing practice. But it turns out that there is a lot of synergy between search engine optimization and using social media for promotion. Helping clients with both is his current focus.

Social Media marketing, if done properly "naturally reinforces your search engine ranking," said Thyfault. Mentions of your product or company on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin in and others increase the "social authority" of your web site, and can get noticed by Google and other search engines. The effect can be long term, or immediate. Google can "quickly pick up" mentions on social media and can change search ranking.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Social Media 101: The First Question To Ask Yourself Before Getting Started With Social Media

By Natascha Thomson

As a social media professional at SAP, I get many questions from colleagues who are new to social media and would like to add social media to their marketing mix. The learning curve on social media is still steep for most people, and in this blog, I have aggregated the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Many of my consulting engagements start with the sentence "My team wants to have a Twitter handle" or "I need to increase the number of fans for our Facebook page".
To that, there is only one answer: "Why"? And ,"Let's take a step back".
Before you get engaged in any kind of social media project, please ask yourself the following questions:
1. What are my social media objectives (these should align with your marketing, and on a higher level, your business objectives)?
  • Maybe you are trying to create awareness for a product offering?
  • Maybe you want to extend the reach of an event beyond a physical location?
  • Maybe you are tasked to generate leads?
  • Maybe...(fill in here)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The tech folks tend to over estimate the state of thinking. There is an impedance mismatch between the state of the art and the state of the buyer.

By Mark Helfen

"The tech folks tend to over estimate the state of thinking," said Kelly Dempski. "There is an impedance mismatch between the state of the art and the state of the buyer."

Dempski is the speaker at the next SVForum MarketingSIG, 6:30 on Monday, August 8 at EMC, our regular meeting place. In his presentation, titled "Social Media in the Real World," he will discuss what he has learned in his 17 years at Accenture, where he currently holds the title of Senior Director, MultiChannel Interactions R&D Group at Accenture Technology Labs.

Dempski's role at the labs is to investigate new products and ideas, targeted to keep Accenture's client base educated and ahead of the technology curve. He both produces written documents of what he learns, and presents to executives. Given the customer base of Accenture, its not surprising that the viewpoint of the executives he interacts with is different than the typical Silicon Valley crowd. The majority of Accenture's 200,000 consultants are installing and implementing IT systems at "old line" companies - CRM systems, or financial systems like SAP. A typical example might be a manufacturer, selling to other businesses. Dempski used the example of a business that sells large tanks of compressed gas.

"Its eye opening what real people say about technology trends, like social media," said Dempski. The differences are not only generational, though that's a partial explanation. Industry, location, culture, and market all can affect this. People in a "different context" have different preconceptions.

"The rest of the world is quite different than we have in the valley."

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The main cause of the death of Marketing VPs are Sales VPs....

By Mark Helfen

"The main cause of the death of Marketing VP's are Sales VPs," said Dave Kellogg, speaker at the July 13 SVForum Marketing SIG.  
(You might notice that the SDForum is now the SVForum. New name, same pizza....)

Kellogg's history gives him a unique viewpoint. Starting out in marketing as a product manager, he eventually moved up the ranks and became CEO at Marklogic, a software firm.

He views marketing as a service organization. The marketing department "doesn't have to exist. It's only purpose is to make others productive," particularly sales. As soon as the marketing VP forgets this, he and his department are in trouble.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Use "gutsy, scrappy" marketing to bend Facebook to your will....

By Mark Helfen

Can you get rich using Facebook? How about not just get rich, but get rich quickly?

Well, maybe not. But Facebook can be a low cost but very effective part of your marketing strategy. You can connect to a large number of very targeted Facebook "friends," with little cash investment, and make a real bottom-line difference in your small company's finances.

So says Evan Bailyn, speaker at the next SDForum MarketingSIG meeting, June 13 at our regular meeting location, EMC. His talk is titled "How to Build a Massive Facebook Audience that Converts to Profits," which is a pretty clear explanation of what you will learn.

Bailyn, CEO and founder of First Page Sage, has shown it can be done. When I interviewed him, he said that he had started eight internet-based businesses and sold five of them, some for multiple millions. The businesses were of different types and products, but all used his expertise in Google and Facebook to find and communicate with his market.

His strategy is to "beat the system" - to go right up to the edge of Facebook or Google rules, but not cross the line. Definitely an example of guerrilla marketing. But what would you expect from someone who wrote a book called Outsmarting Google: SEO Secrets to Winning New Business. The Facebook version is in the works.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Marketing Operations can save your life. Or at least your marketing sanity.

By Mark Helfen

If you've been in marketing for a while, you know that the job can range from merely difficult, to completely impossible.
  • It's hard to manage the individual parts of the marketing mix.
  • It's very hard to do well
  • It can range from hard to beyond hope to control, or even influence all of the other parts of your organization that have to work in sync to make your marketing strategy effective.
Or to paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield, marketing gets no respect.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Successful marketing operations is "a much bigger hairball than meets the eye."

By Mark Helfen

Mastery of marketing operations is key to the success of your business, and may be a key to your own career success.

Or so says Gary Katz, President, CEO, and founder of Marketing Operations Partners, a consulting group that helps companies get their marketing operations in shape.

Katz will be the speaker at the May 9 SDForum MarketingSIG, with a talk titled Marketing ROI: It's Simpler... and Way Harder...Than You Think.

His history includes more than 20 years of experience with marketing, change management, and public relations. In various roles, he has directed or managed corporate marketing, communications, public relations, lead generation and qualification programs, investor relations, and employee communication programs. He is a past president of the Silicon Valley chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Panel forecasts explosive growth for cloud computing

By Mark Helfen

Cloud computing has an "explosive" growth forecast, driven by a better economic model, faster implementation time, and less risk. But along with the upsides, security is still an issue that requires close attention.

These were some of the conclusions or the panel discussion at last Monday's (4/11) Marketing SIG. Included on our expert panel were:

Bernard Golden - CEO of HyperStatus, a Silicon Valley Cloud Computing Consultancy.
Mathew Lodge - Senior Director of Cloud Product Marketing at VMware.
John Morley - Director of EMC's West Coast Executive Briefing Center.
Chenxi Wang, PhD - Vice President and Principal Analyst for Security and Risk at Forrester Research.
The panel was moderated by Sheryl Chamberlain, EMC's Senior Director for Technology Alliances. (More detailed biographies for the panelists are in the SDForum Marketing SIG meeting preview.)

The panel forecast rapid growth in the cloud computing market. In response to a question about which segments will grow the fastest, Golden's answer was that all segments were growing.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Have your head in the cloud? Hear expert insights on marketing Cloud Computing at the SDForum Marketing SIG

By Mark Helfen

Which part of the cloud market is growing the fastest?

Does cloud computing make it easier to launch a new product?

Clouds computing, along with mobile applications, are two of the top technologies getting both media and industry attention. Both are new concepts, not fully defined. Both seem disruptive, changing the competitive landscape. If you are responsible for developing or implementing marketing programs, the disruption offers both advantages and challenges.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Product Camp Silicon Valley - Apr 2 - a free barcamp for product managers

P-Camp - Product Camp 2011 - is an annual barcamp for people who are product managers and in related fields. I have been at the last few, and it is a day well spent.

Barcamp's (barcamp.org) are free or near-free, open source meetings - the agenda is usually set at the start of the day.

Product Camp this year will be April 2. It's free. but you must register to get a space.

Sponsored and organized by SVPMA - which is a great service for the Silicon Valley tech community.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Your Linkedin network - the one you already have - can be the key to getting your startup moving, with investors, partners, customers, or employees. Hear one of Linkedin's founders explain how.

By Mark Helfen

As you try to start up your startup, you have no brand, or at least no brand recognition. Making it difficult to attract investors, partners, employees, and customers - the very things that would get you some recognition. The result, according to the speaker at next MarketingSIG meeting (March 17) is a "catch-22."

But by using Linkedin and the personal network you already have, you can break this cycle, and get the contacts you need to get your business going.

Our speaker, Konstantin Guericke, was one of Linkedin's founders, and its first marketing VP. He is currently a partner at 50505 labs, which helps entrepreneurs get the business running. Before that, he was CEO at Jaxtr, a social communications startup.

In speaking to him about his presentation next week, its clear he is both a fan or Linkedin, and expert on startup entrepreneurs using the network, and he will share some of that knowledge in his presentation.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Content is (still) king, and email is (still) a "really efficient" way to deliver it.

By Mark Helfen

At last weeks SDForum Marketing SIG meeting (February 14), speaker Daniel Greenberg presented examples of a carefully designed strategy for internet B2B sales. 

But given all of the technological sophistication available, the monitoring and distribution tools that can be used, a couple of older ideas are critical - content is still king, and email is still a "really efficient" way to deliver that content.

Greenberg is Chief Marketing Officer for Simply Hired. But his presentation discussed strategies he used when he worked (also the CMO) at TrialPay.

Simply Hired is a web aggregator that searches job listings on many web sites - a specialized search engine. This was not the focus of his presentation, and Greenberg gave only a brief overview of the site. The conclusion is that if you are looking for a new or different job you should check it out.

TrialPay's marketing strategy was the topic of the evening. TrialPay "helps online companies sell more by placing advertising around their transactions," and his task was to get more of this business at a minimum cost, with the least human intervention. From his perspective, marketing's budget is decided by how much revenue the marketing strategy delivers, which is a motivation for an effective plan.

Marketing is moving from an art to a science. The web has made things much more measurable, and new tools allow you to measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Closing B2B business without your prospect being touched by a human being...

By Mark Helfen

Find business prospects .. nurture them to close .. with no human intervention?

Its common in the consumer world - when was the last time you called someone at Amazon for a book recommendation? But less so in business-to-business marketing, where customers expect to speak to a human before purchasing.

But at Monday's (February 14) SDForum Marketing SIG meeting Daniel Greenberg will explain how it's done. In his last position, he designed a closed loop system to get business without sales intervention. 

Greenberg is currently Chief Marketing Officer at Simply Hired. He has more than 20 years of marketing experience, including 5 years as a C-level executive. He has a BA in economics from Oberlin College, and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

According to Greenberg, you can close business "without your prospect being touched by a human being."

Greenberg's system sources prospects from social media, and then nurtures them along to a close with marketing automation and CRM software. While the tools are high tech, the products sold don't need to be. Greenberg says that a wide range of products can be sold this way, all except the very high end.

Designing his initial system was hard said Greenberg. So he has some techniques, tips and tricks so you gain from the benefit of his experience.

A few examples:
- How to set up a flow chart to manage prospect nurturing.
- How to do mass customization of emails.
- He will share the metrics and measurements he uses to manage the process, and the "CMO dashboard" he used to monitor the marketing process.

Please note that the MarketingSIG now has a Meetup page - Please sign up if you plan to attend. If the meeting lists full, please sign up to be wait listed.


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

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/markhelfen

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mark.helfen

Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mark_helfen


Friday, January 14, 2011

By Mark Helfen

"Your brand yourself every day."

"You have a brand, whether you like it or not."

"Great work does not equal a great reputation." (Perhaps this last one could be the most difficult for engineering types.)

These were a few of the things you would have heard at the last SDForum MarketingSIG (January 10) from speaker Karen Kang, an expert on personal and corporate branding. Kang is principal of Branding Pays, a consulting practice that helps both corporations and individuals brand them self. Or maybe more accurately, helps them establish and manage a reputation that helps with their marketing.

Kang, a former partner at Regis McKenna, one of the valley's premier PR firms, spoke to an overflow audience at the regular monthly meeting held at EMC. (And thanks to EMC, both for the space and the food.) Her presentation focused on the idea that your brand, or the reputation that you have in the eyes of others, needs to be managed. Just doing your work expertly isn't enough.

"Brand is both a noun and a verb," said Kang, meaning that your brand is your image and reputation, but developing or changing your brand is an activity that requires work.

The work starts with both your professional competence, and your core values. Your brand starts with results you can actually deliver.

You need to "start getting expert in something, to make you stand out from the pack."  Most people have skills and competence in their background that can be the core of their brand. But as with all marketing, doing everything isn't a good strategy. You need to focus on a small number of things that match your core beliefs and objective, and that will make a memorable impression with your target market

Kang's model is a cake with icing. The cake represents what you are really good at - what you can deliver. The frosting is your presentation - the outside layer. Maybe your personality - the immediate thing people feel when you walk into the room. Being "attractive, engaging, and likeable."

Once you have developed your brand, at least to your own satisfaction, the next step is to make it visible to others. One step is developing a "third party reference structure of endorsements." This could include writing, blogging, or speaking.

Kang also has a 90/10 rule - 10 percent of the people have 90 percent of the influence. Part of your branding strategy is finding those 10 percent - your brand "eco-system" that helps transmit your branding message.

The end is a reputation that is focused, clear, and compelling - what people will remember about you - your brand.


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

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/markhelfen

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mark.helfen

Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mark_helfen


Monday, January 3, 2011

You don't have to be a brand victim... Personal Branding at the January 10 SDForum MarketingSIG

By Mark Helfen

You don't have to be a brand victim...

At next Monday's (January 10) SDForum MarktingSIG meeting the topic will be personal branding. Our speaker, Karen Kang will give some insight in how you can manage your personal brand.

You might think of branding a company, or a product, but you also have a personal brand, whether intentional or not.

Kang is a positioning and brand expert and founder of Karen Kang Consulting. She has experience as a newspaper reporter, with advertising firm BBDO, and was a partner at Regis McKenna. Her practice includes both helping businesses develop their branding, and helping their executives develop their personal brand.

"Some people have a very quiet brand," said Kang. Others have a strong brand, but the image could be positive or negative. Branding that doesn't fit your objectives can hinder your progress.

"Some people guide their brand, but most do not," said Kang. "It's a competitive environment now. People have to differentiate to stand out. 

The idea is to define your own brand, instead of letting other people define you.

There are two parts to your brand  -  rational and emotional components. The rational portion includes your skills, education, and accomplishments. The emotional part is how you connect with people, and could include how you dress, carry yourself, or your energy level.

Kang makes the analogy of a cake. The cake itself is your rational positioning  -  the foundation. The emotional part is the frosting. (Given that this is an SDForum SIG, pizza might be a better model - crust and cheese. I'm not sure where the pepperoni fits....)