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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Marketing a New Concept

One of my Business Partners has a dilemma, how to get their new SaaS product found on Google Adwords, and get the correct leads.

For those unfamiliar with Adwords, you can subscribe to this Google marketing platform and specify keywords that you would like your advert to appear next to in the search results. Each time a user clicks on your advert, you are charged by Google dependent on the bids other advertisers placed to get their adverts listed as well. So, its a bit of an advert auction.

The concept of Adwords is great, you sign up, you specify your budget, identify your keywords, and hey presto you're advertising online! You can't overspend, because as soon as your budget is used up Adwords takes you out of the auction, until you top up again.

The challenge comes in trying to identify keywords that attract the right type of customer to click through the advert. That's the dilemma. Choose the wrong words, people click through, you get charged, they get to your site, realise it's the wrong thing and move off to another site.

So, in this particular case the company in question has an event networking SaaS application to enable visitors to register their profiles, look at other visitor profiles and click to meet them at the event, in a designated area and time. It's speed dating, but for business people.

The company in question want to target people who run events to subscribe to the service, register their events, allocate a meeting area and publicise this feature in their event marketing.

But what keywords will catch an event managers attention? 'Event Management software' attracts the totally wrong person, as that is IT geek stuff to manage their systems. You don't really want to use the word software, as there is none, it's software as a service.

Networking is not a new concept, but being able to see who is visiting an event and arrange to meet them at the event, in a designated area, is new. The system is fully automated, and allocates all your desired meetings within the parameters the users specify.

So, I throw down the gauntlet to you dear reader, visit the site MustMeet.com and see if you can suggest what the keywords should be?

Friday, 15 May 2009

The Trust Pillar

This week in the UK has seen a flurry of publicity surrounding the expense claims of Members of Parliament, from all parties.

Most claims are related to allowances to which they are entitled as part of their jobs. But the scandal surrounds the inappropriateness of some of the expenses in relation to the claimants jobs.

The allowances have rules under which MPs should claim, but the publicity has come about as to the extent to which members have stretched the rules. In all rules there are written as well as implicit meanings, and the latter are entrusted to individuals to interpret them with good ethics and morals.

The episode has tarnished all MPs, and has further broken the trust we empower them with to represent us in Parliament. In a bid to win back that trust many MPs are now making public apologies and committing to paying back monies for inappropriate claim items.

Trust is a very powerful thing and a founding pillar of all civilised societies. People and businesses build their reputations on trust.

One company that has built it's business on trust is Salesforce.com. They knew that for them to be successful, people had to believe that their highly sensitive and valuable data would be safe and secure out in the cloud of the Internet. So, the company has to be transparent in its operations and set up a dedicated website - trust.salesforce.com to show the performance of its systems and security state.

When you break people's trust, you can't win it back in an instant. The British MP's cannot believe that by offering to pay back expenses, that somehow people are going to start trusting them again. Trust has to be earnt, and companies such as Salesforce.com run their business on it, for them to break that, in this on demand world, would be the death of them.

There are many SaaS and Cloud Computing companies and the first thing they have to win from potential customers is trust. You can almost forget all other aspects of the relationship in the shadow of that most important pillar.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Customer Service - It's a System Problem

I watched the BBC TV Watchdog programme on Monday 4th May and was amazed at some of the comments from BT, 3, Sky and Tiscali, all communications companies that the programme investigated over their answering of telephone calls. Sky was the winner with a wait time of 2 hours and 10 minutes!

What perplexed me about the responses was that all the call waiting issues were blamed on technology and not on call volumes. BT's system was slower than normal due to a recent system upgrade and the ensuing teething problems. Sky apparently could not take calls for a WHOLE day due to a telecoms problem. 3 had also just recently upgraded their systems and were experiencing problems.

Well, the programme made 100 telephone calls to each company over 3 days, and to me it is an amazing coincidence that several of them upgraded their systems at the same time!

So, two things were lacking. Either, the companies didn't have enough call centre operatives or they can't scale their call centre IT systems, to handle the call volumes. Based on their responses to the programme, the latter seems to be the 'problem'.

If I.T. was to blame then you don't do a system upgrade that is going to give you a worse system performance or roll out a system that hasn't been capacity tested. Similarly, all these communications companies shouldn't do their upgrades at the same time! Maybe they need to consider running Software-as-a-Service applications and or utilising Cloud Computing, both of these paradigms are designed to be highly scalable, resilient, responsive and have SLA's of at least 99.9%. If I was the managing director of these companies I'd be asking awkward questions of the CTO/CIO.

But why don't the companies admit, having seen the programme and all their responses, that it's a manpower issue and maybe there might be a system performance issue as a secondary cause. Their reasons for failure are too similar for them to be real.

Friday, 1 May 2009

The Lucky Penny

Well 24 hours can be a long time, and in my case a good time also.

My daughter found a penny on the walk to school and gave it to me. I said a single penny is a lucky penny, and so it was to be.

I previously mentioned that someone had 'nicked' the .com domain of the website name I was going to use, and what made it worse was I knew the person in question. I went to chase this person up, to see if he would let me buy the .com name off him, and thankfully after some intervention by a friend I am soon to have the domain transferred to me. So, with the .com, .co.uk and .net domains secured let the website design begin.

No sooner than getting that good news, I get an email from one of my previous customers offering some temporary part time sales work. When you are in start up mode there is nothing better than the opportunity of some income to top up the coffers whilst you get up to speed.

To top the day off nicely, a contact who has helped me develop the brand name, then offered to do the logo design for me and we could sort out the pennies later. Nice one.

Suffice to say, the penny my daughter found has turned out to be lucky and is now safely secured on my study wall.

Long may the good luck continue.
 
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