MAD Perspectives Blog

Let your Personality Shine!

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Tis the season to be jolly.... People are walking the streets and the shopping malls with a little extra bounce in their step this holiday season.  That may be due to stress or it may simply have to do with the joy of the season.  Do your communications to your customers and partners also enjoy a bit more "bounce" this time of year?  If there is anything that social media has tried to teach us over the past few years, it is to let your personality shine!

People relate to people regardless of the medium.  Yes, we want to share valuable insights about our company, our business, our industry.  However, people buy from people.  Think about walking into an party where you don't know anyone.  Who are you drawn to?  It's usually the individual with a compelling personality.  I've been told that I have a very identifiable laugh.  I do enjoy a good chuckle, but probably lean towards a guffaw if the topic really amuses me.  My point is that when you are passionate about your topic people are drawn to you.  So, simply re-iterating your product feature and functionality won't create a community or a loyal following.  However, the company that can inject a business conversation with relevant commentary and personal anecdotes creates a memorable interaction.  They show a passion for their subject that is infectious.

Your company's social persona should reflect your passion for your products and customers.  Who do you want to be?  I worked for HP for a loooong time.  For many years, the joke in Silicon Valley about HP and its marketing efforts was that HP would market sushi as raw dead fish.  They meant that HP was candid to a fault.  HP was not know for its marketing capabilities, they were a company of well engineered IT products (as well as test & measurement, analytical & medical product, at that time).  I think we can agree - they've come a long way! 

What is your company's personality.  Is it open?  Is it technical?  Is it fun?  Is it intellectual?  A company with a serious intent (say, pharmaceutical) can still be social in an interesting way.  Understanding what drives the R&D teams who are so committed to developing life altering drugs, can help put a face on the company.  Your company has its culture and it has a personality.  Let it shine through - especially in your social interactions!

What's your perspective?



Building Business Relationships a la Digital Media

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Business is about building relationships.  In the past these relationships were developed in buildings with offices, desks and phones.  They were fostered over lunches, dinners, holiday parties and golf outings.  We only have to watch "MAD MEN" to be reminded of that while these relationships seemed solid on the surface, they often crumbled under the pressures of other business needs.

Bottom line, business relationships are about one party fulfilling the needs and desires of the other.  The challenge is understanding those needs and desires.  In today's social business world, relationships can be initiated via various social networks.  However, the foundation for a relationship still evolves from a face to face meeting.  However, it is often maintained through the use of many digital media solutions.  These solutions include desktop video conferencing, webinars, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, newsletters and more.

I met with a client last week.  They are a small, privately held software company.  Their customers are global, yet their sales force is centralized.  You may be scratching your head wondering why.  I know I did.  However, they have found their salesforce to be more effective if they can leverage the knowledge gained from each other through discussions about their potential customers.  They fulfill their customer's desire for face to face meetings via desktop video conferencing.  They provide software demos using online tools such as GotoMeeting.  They provide product updates via email newsletters and weekly blogs.  They have leveraged the many solutions available to them to maintain their customer relationships in an efficient, cost effective manner that fulfills their customers needs.

How do we understand those needs?  We listen!  Thanks to constantly evolving social media platforms, companies have a unique opportunity to hear more than ever before.  In fact, this has become a daunting proposition for many companies.  Customers are very candid in the social stratosphere - they share the good, the great, the bad and the ugly.  However, it is critical for companies to gain social intelligence about their customers needs, goals and concerns.  They will gain competitive insight and candid feedback that can influence business process, product roadmap, market awareness and help build stronger business relationships.

By incorporating the many digital media tools available today, businesses can communicate in the manner best suited to their many audiences (c-level, marketing, purchasing, engineering, etc.).  In combining traditional business interactions with digital communication channels and social interactivity, companies will build a new kind of relationship with their customers.

What's your perspective?



Likes and Dislikes about B2B Use of Video Solutions

Peggy Dau - Monday, November 29, 2010

November's blogs have focused on the use of video solutions in the B2B market.  Some of you may be asking, well, heck why doesn't MAD Perspectives use video?  Bottom line, we're a small business who loves video and leverages it in many ways (webinars, online video tutorials, desktop video conferencing, etc.) but hasn't prioritized it's use - yet! 

What do I like or not like about how i see B2B companies using video?

I like:

- Executive Presentations -  Or, perhaps I like dynamic executives who can overcome the well scripted content to inject personality.  I'm happy when they focus on 3 key points and support these points with market perspective, customer testimonials or facts and figures.  I'm even happier when they inject personal anecdotes (even if they are scripted).  I want to see executives interact with their audience.  I want to see them get excited about their products and solutions.

- Product Demos - It's a great way to see and hear how to use a new product.  The best videos are those that have a passionate spokesperson who REALLY understands the product and its target market.  The demonstrater who can talk clearly, succinctly and knowledgably about their solution can win new customer while retaining existing ones.

- Webinars/Webcast - They are a great educational resource whether it is to gain high level knowledge, engage in Q&A, gather some market statistics.  Webinars are often the first step in the product/company awareness process for a prospective buyer.  The ability to inform, educate and differentiate using this format can arm the potential buyer with great insights before a face to face sales meeting.

- Video Conferencing - there is nothing better than being able to see the person to whom you are speaking!  Even if there is a slight time lapse (i.e., Skype, Windows Live Messenger) there is still the ability to see and read facial expression which add more context to a conversation.  These solutions continue to evolve and I can imagine a future where video conferencing is an every day occurence.

I don't like:

- Executive Presentations - that are sooooo scripted they no longer feel authentic. 

- Product Demos - that use a spokesperson who obviously does not understand the product nor do they understand the target market.  The script is bland and reflects the company's focus on marketing blah blah and ignoring the real needs of the customer.

- Customer Testimonials - that don't explain what the customer problem is or how the company's product helped them solve that problem and what improvement they've seen - in laymans terms!

There are a lot of moving parts when coordinating a video strategy and many of them are quite technical.  If you are looking for insights into streaming media solutions, check out www.streamingmedia.com or www.onlinevideo.net for some insights, best practices and vendor lists.   Understand what you are trying to accomplish before you get buried in the technology.  Who is your target audience?  What do they need to understand?  What information are they seeking?  What action do you want them to take after viewing the video?

We are going through this process here and wee hope to jump into the video world in 2011.  Hopefully, we'll be able to share that experience with you!

What's your perspective?





Are You Using Online Video?

Peggy Dau - Monday, November 22, 2010

Do you or your company use an Online Video Platform?  Video is a pervasive part of our lives from the content we watch on TV to the content we watch online.  Whether for business or for pleasure we consume a LOT of video content. According to Forrester Research, 71% of today's online audience watches video.  All of the Fortune 500 use video for both internal and external communications.   For business, video provides a forum to:

     - Simplify complex topics with words and actions rather than lengthy whitepapers
     - Demonstrate the use of a product or service
     - Share your company’s personality and culture
     - Increase customer trust

Strategy Analytics estimates that the Online Video Platform industry will be worth more than $1 billion by 2015, up from $200 million in 2010.   An online video platform (OVP) includes the basic components to put video on your website (and elsewhere on the web), in a professional manner.  It includes content hosting, a content management system, delivery to multiple players, customization, management tools to track and analyze consumption and the ability to monetize the content.  OVPs provide small, medium and large businesses with the opportunity to easily integrate video into their communication strategies.


Leading OVP vendor, targeting the enterprise market, include (but are not limited to):

  •  - BrightCove
  •  - DigitalSmiths
  •  - EdgeCast
  •  - Fliqz
  •  - Kaltura
  •  - Kontiki
  • Limelight
  •  - Move Networks
  •  - Oooyala
  •  - Sorensen Media
  •  - thePlatform
  •  - Twistage
  •  - VMix
  • If this is overwhelming, the site Vid Compare, can help you narrow down your options based your functional requirements.  However, it is more important to think about how and why you are going to use video.  Like every other communication strategy, video usage must be thoughtful and requires planning.   What are your tangible goals for using video?  Who is your target audience?  What kind of information are they interested in? Do you have a budget?  Do you have executive support?  These are just of few of the questions that should be driving your overall video strategy. 
  • Assuming your strategy is defined, Mark Brodie, at MIB MediaWorks, suggests the following when considering using online video for your communication efforts:

    Believability --- Make sure what you say is credible and that the visuals support and enhance that message.  Above all, demonstrate that you believe in your product or service.

    Visually Striking --- Images are the key to delivering a positive message.  Your vido must look professional and provide the view with a clear picture and understanding of your product or service.

    Look Professional --- Whoever you choose to produce your video, ensure that they know how to put your message and product or service in the best light.

    Words are Important --- The script needs to attract the ear as well as the eye.

    Personality counts --- Whoever is featured in should be able to project a positive, thoughtful image of your company.

    Where you shoot the video is important --- make sure the location reflects your product or service.

  • Additional thoughts, from Mark, related to planning your video production:

  •    - Video production can be complicated and expensive or simple and straightforward. The only way to keep it the time and money you spend reasonable is to take the time to answer the questions outlined below and give those answers to the professional producer or production company.
  •    - What is the specific purpose of the video?
  •    - Who is the audience?
  •    - What are the objectives of the video?
  •    - Where is the video to be shot?

   - Who is writing the script?

  •    - Who is making the final decision on the video?
  •    - Who is performing on camera, actors or staff?
  •    - What possible titles and graphics will be needed?
  •    - What is the deadline?
  •  
  •    - What type of distribution?
  •  
  •    - How will the video program be used or shown?
  •  
  •    - Are DVD’s or tape duplications required?
Is your company thinking about using video to connect more intimately with your customers or business partners?  These tips from a video production expert should help in the planning process.  My thanks to Mark Brodie for sharing his insights!

 

What’s your perspective?



Telepresence - Its Time has Come!

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When it comes to video conferencing solutions, telepresence is king.  Telepresence is an immersive video conferencing experience with enhanced audio/video enablilng an experience as close to face to face as current technology will allow.  Why is telepresence so compelling?  It provides a customer experience that puts traditional video conferencing to shame.  The key differentiator is the ability to look your participants in the eye, even when they are in a room half way around the world.

Telepresence (or dedicated video conferencing) solutions typically run on a dedicated network, provide very high Quality of Service, include high end audio/video tools and studio style lighting.  All of this provides the endusers an impressive alternative for avoiding airports, travel delays and overall travel expenses.  Most companies that install telepresence already have some experience with video conferencing and use it primarily for internal communications.  However, those internal communications often include executive briefings with customers.  Telepresence improves employee productivity, enhances effective collaboration, accelerates decision making and reduces your company's carbon footprint.

When it comes to companies offering telepresence solutions, Cisco leads the pack.  With their acqusition of Tandberg earlier this year, Cisco arguably has the broadest set of video conferencing/telepresence solutions for business ranging from small to large (and pricing commenserate with size of rooms, number of people and locations).   I have not had the chance to experience Cisco's solutions but have been impressed by their overall strategy related to all things video (for both business and consumer). 

As a former HP employee, I often leveraged HP's Halo Rooms for executive meetings, training sessions and team meetings.  With a global team spread across 3 countries, Halo helped my team manage its travel budget yet still benefit from virtual face to face meetings for internal collaboration, quarterly reviews and hands on solution development.  HP's solutions target the large, multi-national enterprise who may select to install and manage the services themselves or have HP manage it for them.

I recently met with a new entrant into the teleprsence market, Vu Telepresence.  headquarted in India with a keen eye on the U.S. market, Vu is targeting SMBs who cannot afford the high-end, elegant solutions offered by Cisco, HP or Polycom.  I participated in a live session connecting NY, Silcon Valley and Bangalore.  While the system does not enjoy the studio style lighting of the high-end systems, it does provide high quality audio/video, the ability to share a laptop screen and connect up to 6 locations.  The Vu Telepresence solution is a good fit for individuals in SMBs that need to connect between georgraphically dispersed offices.  Think of small to mid size law firms and technology companies with off-shore development or manufacturing.

I'm encouraged to see the investment and growth in this market. I am a big fan of solutions that enable employees and business colleagues to connect and collaborate quickly and easily.  Solution pricing ranges from the low end (Vu Telepresence) of $1500 for one station to the high end (Cisco, HP or Polycom) of $350,000 for a dedicated, private networked, custom built studio. IDC forecasts the dedicated video conferencing and telepresence market to grow to $8.8B in 2014 from $1.9B in 2009.  This is a collobaration solution whose time is now.  The economic recession has forced companies to re-think their travel options.  These high quality video conferencing solutions provide an attractive alternative to time and money consuming travel.

What's your perspective?



Video and Enterprise Communication

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Video is a pervasive part of our lives.  As consumers we watch TV to enjoy comedy, sports, entertainment and news.  We also go online for this same content and more.  We go to YouTube to check out user generated videos as well as professional videos.  We use Skype to for ad hoc video communication.  Enterprise business recognizes the value and power of video, but is still predominantly using video for internal purposes.  Consider the power of video and then consider video as a critical part of the enterprise communication strategy.

Large enterprises have been leveraging video for employee education, customer training, customer support, product promotion and market awareness for many years.  These large (think Fortune 500) companies are also targets for Unified Communication solutions offered by companies such as Cisco, MicrosoftHP and others.  However, there are also many vendors offering solutions for video streaming, video conferencing, webcasting, web conferencing and more.  According to Forrester Research’s Enterprise and SMB Networks and Telecommunications Survey from Q1 2010, within the next 12 months:

-          31% of companies  are interested in Desktop IP Video Conferencing solutions

-           29% of companies are interested in enterprise IP/Digital Video for internal purposes

-          32% of companies are interested in immersive video conferencing (i.e., telepresence)

However, few companies have actual plans to implement and deploy these solutions.    Adoption of these solutions will take into account business requirements, geography, feature/functionality, price, impact on corporate network and ongoing management.  Why should companies be developing actionable plans for video solutions?  Here are some pros and cons:

 

PROS

CONS

-          Video is expressive and compelling

-          Video solutions are complex

-          Video enables participants to see body language, facial expressions and reactions

-          Video infrastructure is expensive    

-          Video is more memorable than the written word

-          Video is time consuming to create, edit, process, upload and consume

-          Video enhances clarity, authenticity and credibility of messaging

-          Video needs to be distributed with multiple media player options (i.e., Microsoft, Real, Apple)

-          Video can be re-purposed across a variety of distribution channels

 

-          Video solution vendors offer increasingly cost-effective business models

 

-          Video can reduce travel expenses

 

 

As companies develop their plans for incorporating video into their enterprise communication strategy, they should consider:
1. How the company will use video

  •      - For internal communication and collaboration
  •      - For external communications and education
  •      - One to one, one to many or many to many communication
  • 2. Developing Content
  •      - Length of meeting or presentation
  •      - Goals for the meeting
  •      - Personality mapping (consider your audience and the type of presenter who can create best impact)
  •      - Metadata description of content
  •      - Search Engine Optimization (based on title and metadata)
  • 3. Post event activity
  •      - Availability of on-demand video “replay”
  •      - Posting/Distribution of content on website or 3rd party sites (i.e., YouTube, BrightTalk)

 

Video has become more than a solution for pushing information to a target audience.  It has become part of the real-time communication process.  With desktop video conferencing and immersive video conferencing (think telepresence) ranging from high-end to low-end, companies have greater opportunities to leverage video on a daily basis.  Whether you are a large enterprise or a small/medium sized business, video can help you communicate with your audience.  Aligning the use of video with your overall business strategy is critical.  Aligning internal business groups (i.e., Execs, marketing, sales, IT, etc.) is also important.  How is your company going to incorporate video into your communication strategy?

What’s your perspective?



Social Media at Compuware - a case study

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

As part of goal to share social media experiences at B2B companies, we are releasing a new case study this week.  Compuware has been providing software, experts and best practices to make your applications work and delivery business value for 25 years.  Compuware also embraces employee empowerment. 

Compuware's approach to integrating social media into their overall marketing strategy reflects this commitment.  Some key takeaways include:

     - Empowerment - Trust your employees.  You hired them because they possessed certain qualities which includes their ability to represent your company.

     - Collaboration - The ability to interact with fellow employees is as important as the ability to interact with business partners and customers.  Great solutions come from great conversations.

     - Culture - The culture of a company is a key element for prospective employees.  Social media allows companies to showcase all sides of their corporate culture.

Learn more about Compuware's use of social media by requesting the case study at:  http://www.madperspectives.com/contact .

What's your perspective?



Keeping Up With the Changing Face of Communication

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Last week, I attended an event hosted by Citrix Online.  We all know Citrix through their variety of collaboration tools such as GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar and GoToMyPC.  The theme of this event was the changing face of communication.  In addition to comments from Citrix CEO, Brett Caine, there were keen insights from Aline Wolff, associate professor of management & communications at NYU; TJ Keitt, analyst at Forrester Research; and, Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post.

Some key takeaways:

 

     - The flexible workplace is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.  However, face-to-face meetings have become a luxury.  Telecommuting has become the norm for many mid-size to large companies.  This is, in part, due to improved networking, security and distribution technologies.  it is also due to the mobile nature of today's business world.  Telecommuting does not necessarily mean working at home.  It also means woking on the go.  This requires devices that allow workers to access private and public networks from home, on the train or at the airport.  Thank goodness that those devices and technologies exist, along all aspects of the communications value chain.  They enable secure, reliable access and delivery of content.

    - Technology is helping us build trust and rapport between colleagues and between businesses. Trust is the number one concern for many individuals when selecting a vendor.  Unfortunately, the financial melt-down, CEO misbehavior, federal government partisan stonewalling and high unemployment help create an atmosphere of skepticism and mistrust.  However, the advent and near dominance of social networks as an avenue to personalize business and government, can also foster rapport between geographically disperse colleagues and influence trust.  Companies are sharing more information in a dynamic, ad hoc way.  They are soliciting input from their customers and responding (most of the time) to their questions and concerns.  These networks, and the ease of accessibility to these networks via many devices, cultivate intimacy, personality and yes, trust.  We feel like we have “insider” knowledge of the company and its products.

     -However, this in turns leads to our addiction to the technology.  We are online 24x7.  We are anxious if we cannot access email.  We purchase the latest devices in the form of smart phones, iPads and tablets so that we can tweet, Facebook, read and consume content.  We are setting expectations that we are available and accessible to our companies and our clients all the time.  With this addiction, how do we focus on the things that are really important?  How do we make smart decisions if we are exhausted from consuming so much content?  We crave the data, but can we actually take in so much data that we aren’t capable of making decisions, simply because we think there is more information that will help us with that decision?  Or, because we are distracted by the device and content it provides?

Net, net, communication methods and styles are changing.  The days of tops down marketing have already shifted although big brands still push their story across multiple communication channels.  The difference is that they must listen to their customers to validate that their story is relevant.  We all must be aware of and consider adoption of those technologies that simplify our lives, enable real time communication, streamline access to solution and allow collaboration.  We do need to be cautious about becoming addicted to these technologies, but we cannot hide our heads in the sand, like the proverbial ostrich. 

Are you communicating on the go?  Are you using social networks and mobile devices to "keep up"?  How much time do you spend on business vs. personall communication?   Are you able to put your device down and spend quality time with friends and family?  I'm interested in your thoughts!

What’s your perspective?



Benefits from B2B Communities

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 18, 2010

Community is a hot topic this week as we are amazed at the successful rescue of 33 trapped miners in Chile.   They seemingly happily co-existed in extraordinary circumstances for 69 days.  They formed their own community based on their circumstance.  However, they were already part of a community when they went into the mine.   I celebrated a milestone birthday this weekend and was surrounded by a community of friends who represent different parts of my life.  Dictionary.com defines community as “a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.”

We live in communities built of houses, schools, shops, restaurants, roads and local government.  We work in communities defined by the structure of our respective businesses.  However, since the rise of the Internet, we also exist in many virtual communities.  What makes an online community? How do we develop, foster or join these communities? We join groups based on our desire for:

    •      - Shared experiences
  •      - Knowledge on products, services and solutions
  •      - Q&A with perceived experts
  •      - New, or insider, information and/or documents
  •      - Status, visibility, connectivity


Now, think about communities as it relates to your customers.  Where are they going to obtain information, share content or ask questions?  You want to be in the same places.  You can probably make some assumptions based on your industry.  However, you can also use some simple tools such as
Trackur to see what social sites your contact database is accessing.  Of course, the simplest way is to just ask them!

By participating in communities, your business will benefit from:

  •      - Live interaction with potential customers
  •      - Understanding customer concerns and priorities
  •      - Gaining feedback on product feature/ functionality
  •      - Brainstorming new ideas
  •      - Greater awareness
  •      - Better qualified leads


That said, is important to think of a community from a sense of participation and interaction.  The purpose of a community is not about marketing your business.  It is about learning, probing, exchanging, and listening.  Isn’t that what you do in your local community?  Why would it be any different for your business?

What’s your perspective?



Social Media at North Plains - a Case Study

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MAD Perspectives is releasing its first B2B social media case study today.  As we've talked to and worked with clients, we've realized that there is a a lot of confusion and concern at B2B companies about how to integrate social media into their overall marketing strategy.  While social media can be leveraged for more than marketing, this is often the starting point for most companies.  Given the growth of social media consumer centric origins, the concerns of B2B companies are valid.

We have reached out to colleagues in different industries to understand how they have pursued their social media strategies.  The companies reflected in the case studies are not necessarily MAD Perspective clients.  They are companies are who experimenting with social tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs and wikis.  My thanks to the subject of our first case study, North Plains Systems.

Some key learnings at North Plains include:

- "committment and intention" are critical to social media success

- promoting webinars across social platforms, particularly LinkedIn Groups, will increase webinar attendance

- a small marketing team can benefit from a cross platform tool to manage posting simultaneously to multiple social sites

To request the entire case study, please click here: http://www.madperspectives.com/contact to fill out the form and a copy of the case study will be emailed to you.

What's your perspective?