Tag Archives: Marketing

AoIS Interviews Heather Deem, Part 2

Welcome to the second part of Art of Information Security’s interview with seasoned Information Security marketer Heather Deem (part 1 link). In the first part Heather discussed the importance of having reasonable time and resource expectations. In this part we will start off by discussing some low cost marketing techniques.

Erik: Are there any ‘free’ (but effective) marketing activities that organizations can pursue?

Heather:  All Marketing activities have some cost in terms of development or execution time, however, the following activities can be considered “free” or low cost:

Webinars: If the company has an internal content expert available to develop and deliver educational presentations (industry or technology focused, not vendor specific content), and if the company has an enterprise-level web conferencing subscription, the marketing team can host webinars for relatively free.  Partnering with channel partners for joint promotions can also help both companies educate and propel their prospects through the sales cycle.

By-lined or contributed articles: Developing industry-relevant articles for trade journals can be another relatively low cost activity to gain credibility and exposure.  Similar to webinars, this requires an internal content expert to develop the article and either internal PR or an agency to pitch stories to the media.

Erik: What have been some of the biggest misconceptions about marketing that you have experienced in your work with start-ups and growth companies?

Heather:  Two misconceptions spring to mind: the value of producing quality marketing materials, and the time and resources required to roll-out a program that has real impact.

I’ve seen companies who don’t hesitate to spend thousands of dollars to attend a tradeshow or who don’t bat an eye at an egregious entertainment bill submitted by sales, yet they balk or refuse to invest in a graphic designer to create a polished looking datasheet or direct mail piece, or refuse to spend time and money on developing the proper marketing materials for moving prospects and customers through the sales cycle.

The second misconception surrounds the required level of strategy, planning and resources required for successful marketing programs. Some executives underestimate the time required to plan a marketing program or what is required for execution in terms of personnel time, media lead time, engineering contribution to whitepapers, etc.

To develop truly integrated and impactful marketing programs, the marketing team needs to work through and understand the challenges faced by the sales team, the needs of the target market and align these key inputs to develop the appropriate campaigns to support the marketing goals.  Prior to executing these campaigns, companies typically need to develop new or update existing marketing materials to support these campaigns. The entire process can take a month or more.

Erik: So, how can organizations promote marketing and messaging into the culture so that everyone is involved?

Heather:  Establishing clear and effective marketing messaging and materials is the first step.  This includes both internal and external websites, datasheets and presentation content. For example, develop a concise positioning and messaging document for sales, channel partners and other company staff. 

I would also encourage the Marketing team to take advantage of all-hands meetings and either monthly or quarterly internal email updates to educate personnel on the latest marketing activities and messaging development. 

Marketing or corporate executives should also address any marketing challenges that surface and instruct employees on how to respond publically.  For example, if a known competitor is using under-handed sales tactics such as falsifying information about your company or product, executives should clearly indicate how sales and marketing is addressing the issue and reinforce that the corporate communication policy does not condone negative messaging or competitive bashing in retaliation.  Similarly, if a company is dealing with a sensitive press issue, employees should be educated on the appropriate public response. Even if they are not considered company spokespersons, they need to be educated on what or what not to say.

Erik: What do organizations need to do, to determine if their marketing is effective?

Heather:  The two exercises I would recommend are: mapping the marketing programs to the marketing goals for post-program evaluation and soliciting frequent feedback from analysts, customers and channel partners.

Prior to each marketing campaign, map the marketing goals to the campaign or activity and measure the actual results post-program.  This will typically require a pre-defined lead follow-up plan and collaboration between sales and marketing.  Metrics to include may be Cost per Lead, Response Rates, Website Hits, Lead Quality, Opportunities Developed, Opportunities Closed, etc.  Of course these efforts will only be as good as the level of accountability required of both marketing and sales to input and maintain prospect and customer data throughout the sales cycle.

Measuring the effectiveness of messaging and marketing materials can be achieved through feedback from the sales team, prospects/customers, channel partners, and analyst feedback.  It is very important to reach out to all of these audiences to gain a fresh perspective on your messaging and content from time to time.  If possible, try to incorporate feedback from each of these groups, since each group brings a unique perspective.

Erik: Heather, you have worked with a number of start-ups. How early in the genesis of a new organization should a marketing plan be developed? 

Heather:   Even if a start-up doesn’t have a dedicated marketing budget, a marketing strategy and plan should be developed before any customer facing activities are initiated.  If hiring a marketing professional (either employee or consultant) is not an option, then this effort can be lead by one of the executives.  The key is to develop a baseline strategy covering product pricing, positioning, messaging and the go-to-market strategy.  Even a rudimentary go-to-market strategy will serve as a foundation for guiding sales and developing marketing materials.  As the company goes to market and gains additional intelligence on customers and competitors and as product enhancements are rolled out, this strategy should be reassessed and revised.

In addition to the marketing strategy, an initial marketing plan should be developed.  While a marketing budget may not be established, you still need to devise a plan for the development of marketing materials such as the website, collateral (datasheets, solution overviews, technical manuals), presentations, whitepapers, demos, product packaging.  Factoring in public relations efforts, such as the development, the out-reach and the response to media and analyst relations should also be considered, even if the company is not planning a formal PR program.

Thought should also be given to how prospect and customer data will be managed.  Even if the company has yet to deploy a CRM system, it is important to plan an efficient process on how this data is maintained, how leads and customers are managed and how this data can be ported to a CRM solution in the future. If the strategy for  managing customer data is not instituted with the sales team from the get-go, management will never really gain solid data to support the business metrics and marketing will loose invaluable data for establishing and managing marketing programs.

Erik:  What are the first steps for companies, especially resource-strapped start-ups, to take in starting their marketing efforts?

Heather:  Refer to my answers regarding the top marketing activities and “nearly free” marketing activities.  Development of even a baseline marketing strategy, marketing plan and marketing materials assessment will go a long way in laying the foundation to drive effective yet budget conscious marketing programs. 

I will also offer a free one-hour “Ask the Expert-Marketing Consultation” to the readers of Art of Information Security blog.   During this session companies can jump start their marketing by gaining free marketing advice specific to their website or marketing plan and bounce ideas off a marketing expert who specializes in the IT Security industry.  Schedule your free session through the contact page at www.candescomarketing.com

Many Thanks to Heather !

Thanks for taking the time for the interview, and for the offer to Art of Information Security’s readers. I hope that it will help provide a more rounded perspective to folks we are struggeling with organizing or understanidng their marketing needs. 

Heather can be contacted through Candesco Marketing.

Cheers, Erik

AoIS Interviews Heather Deem, Part 1

The Art of Information Security has the great pleasure of interviewing Heather Deem. Heather  is the driving force behind Candesco Marketing, and has extensive experience developing and executing marketing programs for Information Security firms. Given the current economy, Art of Information Security felt that there might be broad interest in Heather’s ideas and insights in marketing Information Security products and services.

For more than ten years, Heather has supported marketing efforts, from framing the strategy to executing on the fine details, for a wide range of technology companies including Websense, Finjan, MarkMonitor, F-Secure, and others. I met her at last year’s RSA conference at one of the networking events, and really appreciate her taking the time for the interview. Let’s jump right in…

Erik: How much of a corporation’s resources and energy (capital, time, etc.) should be reserved for marketing?

Heather:  Many companies underestimate the hours and timelines required for campaigns and programs.  Timelines of course vary depending on a company’s goals, budget, the team’s availability, and turn-around times, but in general, it is advisable to allow the following timelines:

Collateral Development: 3-4 weeks to develop a new datasheet, 1-2 weeks for datasheet revision, 4 weeks to develop a new presentation, and 2-3 months to gain customer approval and develop a case study.

Tradeshows: Reserve booth space about a year in advance in order to acquire the best booth location.  Begin planning 4-6 months prior to the event date.  Start development of booth messaging, collateral, and demonstrations at least 3-4 months prior to the show.  Direct mail campaigns, exhibitor service orders, logo’d giveaways, and advanced shipments should be completed about one month prior to the event.

Online Demand Generation Programs: The first step in planning your demand generation program is to define the target market and the offer.  Is the call to action going to be a whitepaper, webinar, podcast or other?  Creation of a new whitepaper can take 2-4 months; 2 months if outsourcing, 4 or more if using internal sources to develop.  For a webinar, you need lead time to engage and schedule your guest speaker, usually an analyst or customer.  Once the target market has been determined and the development of the offer has started, you need to identify the right media company for promotions. Most media sites typically require insertion orders to be placed 2-3 months out.  While some advertising sites have availability 1-3 weeks out, sites with reputable performance typically sell out key promotional categories or banner spots several months out.

Direct Mail Campaigns: Similar to the online programs above, you need to identify your target audience and offer, but will also need to determine the direct mail list for your campaign.  You may have a solid customer and prospect database for your targeted mailing or you may opt to rent or purchase a 3rd party mailing list.  In both cases, you should take the time to segment the list to the specific contact titles, verticals, or geographic areas which are most relevant to your targeted audience.  It is also worthwhile, especially if utilizing a 3rd party list, to confirm the contact information and the mailing address of each recipient.  Depending on the size and quality of your list, the process of scrubbing the list may take days or several weeks. This step is less necessary if you are mailing an inexpensive post-card, but quite necessary if you have developed a higher quality mail piece or offer.

Depending on your offer and the complexity of your direct mail piece, it may take 2 weeks to 1 month to develop content, design the graphical layout, and print the direct mail piece. You will need to allocate another 2-3 weeks for mailing house services and delivery.

The above examples illustrate very rough timelines, but hopefully provide a baseline for planning typical marketing projects. While I’ve worked on and successfully delivered similar projects within shorter timeframes, it is advisable to integrate ample timelines into your project planning to avoid rush fees, team pressure, and depletion of resources which may be needed for other team projects/goals.

Erik: What are the top marketing activities that every organization should make happen?

Heather:  Development of a Marketing Strategy & Plan, and Development of Marketing Materials & Tools.

While this advice sounds almost too simplistic to relay, I cannot tell you how many companies tend to overlook or half-bake their marketing strategy or plan, yet have high expectations of marketing activities which have been based on undefined goals and limited budgets.

Strategy: Identify your target market and develop your positioning, messaging, go-to-market plan, and marketing goals as these elements will serve as a tool for making informed decisions and will be the foundation for your marketing plan and materials.  Ensure that key decision-makers from executives to sales are aligned on these areas.  For example, based on the revenue goals, how many raw leads does marketing need to produce each quarter to support sales, and conversely, does sales have enough resources to appropriately handle follow-up for this volume of leads?

Plan: Based off the marketing strategy and goals, develop the tactical plan to meet the marketing objectives. This plan should include an estimated timeline and campaign results.  Identify if the allocated budget and resources will sufficiently meet the marketing goals.  If not, additional investments in marketing may be required, or the marketing goals may need to be readjusted.

Some companies may feel overwhelmed, not know where to start, or feel that their limited marketing funds don’t justify a full-blown marketing strategy or plan; however, in start-ups, where ever dollar and hour counts, planning is even more crucial as there is less margin for error or waste. Advance planning will strengthen the management of marketing by helping you stay goal-focused, adequately allocate resources, avoid spikes and dips in lead generation, and reduce gaps in your marketing materials.

Marketing Materials: This is one area that deserves more scrutiny. Organizations tend to focus more on lead generation and creating awareness, overlooking or undervaluing the necessity of creating and maintaining a proper marketing library of collateral and tools.  Frequent development and updating of marketing materials is vital to supporting the sales team and channel partners, and for propelling your prospects and customers through the sales cycle.

Almost every company has a datasheet, sales presentation ,and whitepaper, but many overlook other essential marketing materials like positioning briefs for the sales and channel team, ROI calculators, customer case studies, flash demos, and frequent development of new industry whitepapers or webcasts. These tools are like the oil that keeps the sales and marketing engines running smoothly and helps transport prospects through the sales cycle.

Look for Part 2

The second part of this interview with Heather will be posted in a few days. Stay tuned…

Cheers, Erik