Well put! This reminds of the inspiration I felt after reading the cluetrain manifesto. There's a new sherif in town and it happens to be the customer!
Is The Conferencing Industry Clueless About Marketing On The Web?
The hot issue remains pretty much the same. Here is an industry, dynamic, fast growing and exciting with new tools and technologies showing up on my radar on a weekly basis now, but with no real voices, personalities and character as the audiences they are targeting are expecting to find.
The lessons taught by the Cluetrain Manifesto over four years ago are still alien to many of the CEOs and entrepreneuring businesses operating in these industries.
The sacred Press Release reigns supreme as the major vehicle of informing audiences of facts and achievements no-one can trust. PR agencies are often called in to facilitate exposure and visibility while the true voices behind anyone companies are kept silent for fear of breaking the perfect, blissful "brand" created with fancy animated home pages and orgies of nonsensical phrases in the product description pages.
Where are the screenshots of your tools? Where is your free try-out area? Where is the forum to ask direct questions to your people? Who is really sitting behind the fake press releases you keep pushing out?
I can't even find the names and profiles of the people that in your company communicate with me. Who are they? Why do they have no face, communication channel, or voice into this marketing conversation?
I have no clue of why you are hiding while pushing a fake image of yourself we can all peek through.
What do you think? That we are all blind and naive to buy into that crap?
Customers, scholars, analysts are all much smarter than you have been willing to realize.
We test, experiment, verify, talk to each other and exchange so much information about your very technology without you even realizing how much an influence, this underground conversations can have on your marketing and credibility campaign.
We are your best marketing agents, but you are not paying much attention to us.
You think about banners, advertising and more press releases.
Your focus is too much on numbers, sales, profit margins. You have forgotten that to survive and prosper in this new markets you need to be:
- Transparency - credibility is the word. Too few companies show who they really are and what they are after.
- Honesty - the market is not made only by business entities to be
exploited. There is opportunity for differentiation and fair pricing across tools and market sectors.
- Truly willing to help - this is an industry that should help people and companies communicate better and more easily. How many people inside your company are skilled communication specialists, understanding the implications sitting beyond tech buzzwords as app sharing, http tunneling and VoIP?
- Listening - I don't see any channels to have some direct and open communications with you guys. It's either too formal and automated or just too private and "protected" to create any substantial feeling of open communication. You get me to share my best ideas and critiques with you and then you hide that information for no-one to benefit. Where's the gain?
- Actively taking steps to adapt to what is being asked of you -
It's hard to tell where you are headed, what you will change and improve, if you will really solve this problem or let it there for another year while adding other features. You have cut us out from the dialogue. How can we be loyal customers?
- Competent about your competition - You brag so much about your
great tools and features, but why when I ask you how come competitor X sells the same toolset at 1/3 the price you stare at me with that surprised look and scramble for URLs you don't have in your bookmarks?
- Humble and open about your own strengths - How much more do I enjoy and appreciate working with those few companies in these industries that show ongoing interest in finding out what they can improve, refine, simplify or altogether drop from their feature list. These companies are listening and as a consequence they are making progress at much faster speed than you are, and get this, at a fraction of the what is costing you to pay a designer and another programmer to give a little lift to those long unupdated facilities of yours.
- Curious - Unless it is in your DNA to truly seek betterment, there is no amount of feedback or complaints we can contribute back that is going to improve your weaknesses and rough corners. It's all about your sincere curiosity and ability to convert good ideas into prompt action. Have any of that left?
- Technically competent - I am a bit tired of seeing marketing people playing the technical experts and talking to PR people who have no clue or experience as to what streaming or application sharing truly mean. Let's be serious, with this stuff. You can't play the expert when you are not one.
- True to your mission (walk your talk) - Can you really preach about the greatness of your conferencing and collaboration tools when you spend 85% of your time on the phone, 10% writing emails and the rest in physical meetings. When are you going to experience in full what it really means to seriously collaborate and work (giving "demos" not included in this) online?
My kudos go to those companies that have chosen not to build a highly secure fortress from which launching products and services is a PR feat, heralded by Web page fanfare and marketing fireworks.
These are frequently (though not always) small companies, lean, smart and highly competitive in their little own ways. You can immediately sense that they are riding their fate, and that connecting with them empowers both them and you.
I cherish their contribution to the evolution of this market and I would like celebrate some of the ones that have, in multiple instances that integrity, openness and dedication to service that are going to be trademarks of success anywhere in the Web-enabled marketplace of tomorrow.
Here is an honorary list:
- Groove Networks
- GRC Live
- Glance Networks
- Data Connection
(You may not like their tools, but these are the companies that have truly honoured some of the traits and ethics I have outlined above. These are companies willing to question their choices and positions to improve and provide a better service to their customers at all times.)
There are other companies, whose people and ideas are just fine too, but whose overall infrastructure and "political" make up relegate into more static and less rapidly evolving interlocutors for us users. So my vote here is not clearly to tools, but to companies as such.