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January 29th, 2015

Make 2015 about growing (and appreciating) technology sales

Make 2015 about growing (and appreciating) technology sales

Finance concept: Growing Sales on computer keyboard backgroundI’ve worked in technology marketing for, well, a long time. I remember America Online, AltaVista, Sun Microsystems and paper press releases. I’ve written case studies by hearing IT directors enthuse about water-cooled mainframes.

I was never originally headed for a career in technology, sales or marketing. It was originally more dinosaurs and journalism. It’s funny how things work out. But fro 16 years I have worked in a business that I love covering a sector that constantly fascinates me. And yet while technology changes at break-neck speed, I sometimes find that marketing is constantly playing catch-up in order to connect more directly to sales. I understand and appreciate the value of sharing a vision, showcasing a product, demonstrating business benefits through customer case studies and testimonials. But I still feel that marketing in all its form needs to have stronger links with sales.

Some sales professionals seem to have developed a fixed perception of marketing people, and it’s fair to say there is a similarly skewed perception in the opposite direction. I’ve worked in technology sales cold-calling and loved everything about the sales process. But I think many people have an under-appreciation for sales and misguidedly think of it as pushy. I realize that sales involves, well, selling – but it’s so much more than that. It’s also about solving problems, and having the right answer for the right people at the right times. Whatever business you work for, dig deep enough and they are certain to be selling – a product, a service, a notion, a principle, or maybe just a new way to do something.

Marketing needs a much firmer foothold in sales. It should link back to sales, be tracked in relation to sales, and connect more directly with the leads and prospects which ultimately contribute to any organizations’ success. This is why we have launched PRISM, our PR and Insight Sales-based Marketing methodology. PRISM outlines steps and processes to help technology companies to target, plan and execute sales-guided marketing. While whitepapers, messaging documents, visibility, understanding, engaging influencers and securing column inches remains very valuable, for many businesses sales is the most important metric.

Want to hear some of the things that we know work? Register now for a free Friday webinar that is all about how to communicate, connect and sell: ‘Get more customers: A sales workshop for technology startups‘. Meanwhile, happy selling!

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Posted in Technology sales | Comments Off on Make 2015 about growing (and appreciating) technology sales

 

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October 11th, 2013

‘Ten ways to promote your technology product, service or app’: A free Prompt webinar

‘Ten ways to promote your technology product, service or app’: A free Prompt webinar

Technology marketing specialist shares ideas, opinions and experience on how to communicate technology benefits, differences and features to prospects  

October 11, 2013Prompt, a digital PR consultancy based in Boston and London, is hosting its first webinar in a series on PR, positioning and sales tactics for tech vendors. The webinar: The webinar: Ten ways to promote your technology product, service or app, will be held on Thursday October 17 at 11.30am EDT / 4.30pm BST.

The 45-minute webinar will outline challenges, tactics and opportunities facing technology vendors in communicating, planning and executing marketing and PR plans to drive sales – and offer suggestions to tech entrepreneurs and marketers that want to increase business momentum, drive marketing results and shorten their sales cycles.

The webinar will be hosted by Hazel Butters, a technology marketing specialist with 15 years’ experience of working with tech start-ups, early-stage VC-funded software companies and global technology companies.  It will cover:

  • Messaging and positioning to increase relevance and drive sales
  • How to identify and target key audiences
  • Ways that PR can support technology sales
  • The role of customer testimonials
  • Advice on demonstrating thought leadership
  • How to work with industry analysts

Hazel Butters, CEO of Prompt said: “This webinar is the first of a series of event and will be an introduction of ideas and examples of how to use PR and marketing to effectively communicate the relevance of a technology product or service – regardless of whether it’s high technology, like a high-end storage enterprise application; a consumer-leaning gadget or app; a green technology application or a medical technology device. Whatever the technology type, there’s an underlying need to be able to explain its intricacies, features and benefits to potential users. Meanwhile, buying technology has become a complicated and time-consuming activity: IT prospects are overwhelmed and uncertain. In many cases buyers find themselves inundated with content, and yet short of facts.”

Hazel concluded: “At Prompt we thrive off technology – it has an impact on how we live, communicate, work, and travel. I’m personally thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to work with global technology leaders, software companies across the globe, and some of the most fun and creatively innovative emerging tech vendors. As marketers our task is to present compelling, appropriate and honest details to relevant audiences to increase the understanding and knowledge, or to motivate a behavior – such as wanting to buy a technology product, service or app. I’m looking forward to sharing our ideas, forging new relationships and hopefully giving attendees some food for thought.”

Attendees will receive a copy of Prompt’s e-book: ‘Ten ways to promote your technology product, service or app.’

To attend ‘Ten ways to promote your technology product, service or app’ on Thursday October 17 at 11.30am EDT / 4.30pm BST, please register here.

For more information about Prompt’s technology PR, social media and copywriting services, please email info@prompt-communications.com

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 About Prompt 

Prompt is a digital PR agency that enables marketers and entrepreneurs to increase sales and marketing effectiveness. Specializing in innovative markets including technology, green tech and sustainability, Prompt helps its clients communicate effectively and authentically with core audiences online and offline through PR, media relations, copywriting, webinars, market and industry analysis, social media, video content and customer reference programs. Prompt Communications has head offices in London and Boston.  Prompt’s current and former clients include Adeptra, Adobe Systems Incorporated, Aperture, Crimson Hexagon, Dell Compellent, Genesys Telecommunications, GenSight, Grouptree, IBM, Ipswitch File Transfer, jovoto, KANA, NTT Com, Oracle Corporation, Sepaton and Webtide. www.prompt-communications.com

Media contacts: Jackie Fraser | press@prompt-communications.com | Tel: 617 401 2716

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Posted in News, Prompt news | 1 Comment »

 

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September 13th, 2013

Why PR and technology make such good bedfellows

Why PR and technology make such good bedfellows

“If I had two dollars left, I would spend one on PR.”

This quote is frequently attributed to Bill Gates, and although I have never found a specific source for it, I’d really like to believe he actually said it. I’ll have to assign it to the category ‘hearsay’ until proven otherwise, but this mantra is still used frequently by PR people as a heavyweight endorsement of their trade, and compelling encouragement for companies to spend their money on PR.

I have to admit I didn’t grow up dreaming of a career in either technology or PR, let alone a combination of the two. I trained in Molecular Pathology, studied Zoology and wrote a dissertation on dinosaur homeothermy (a topic, along with Robert T. Bakker, that I am still fascinated by) before working in cancer research. So when I hear scepticism of the role of PR in communicating the value of technology, I do sympathise. I was equally unconvinced when I started out in PR 16 years ago, working with Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).

Over time (as well as many press briefings, analyst calls, client meetings, phone interviews and, um, faxes) I came to realise the deep value that PR has in clearly communicating the benefits, features and differentiators of new technologies. Today I can share many thoughts on the subject of why technology and PR go hand-in-hand (or hand-in-glove, to coin the American term), but here are my top five reasons:

1. Complexity. Technology is inherently complex, whether it’s due to the sheer scope and choice available, the underlying scientific know-how, the phenomenal range of features and benefits available to buyers, or the frustration at some vendors’ inabilities to simply state what they sell and what makes them different. The challenge of evaluating, buying, implementing and justifying expenditure on enterprise technology solutions is huge. Public relations, media relations and analyst relations all provide a means to dissect, review and understand this complexity

2. Pace. The sheer pace of technological development is so rapid that I’m surprised we can’t hear it grow like a stand of bamboo. Now, I don’t consider myself to be that old (yes I know I mentioned the whole fax thing earlier), but even in the time I’ve worked in the market, it has evolved constantly. Change is the law of life, and technology is certainly a vivid example. The ways in which consumer and business technologies are developed, viewed, marketed and adopted have changed beyond all recognition. This pace demands our attention, as it alters the way in which we need to communicate, as well as how we live and work. There are so many valuable technology stories to share, so PR must embrace a continuous and newsworthy conveyer belt of innovation

3. Credibility. This is a complex market with more than its fair share of ‘me too’ vendors, as well as an abundance of self-claimed ‘leading providers’. Buyers, investors, potential business partners and employees all need assistance to understand just how credible, unique and innovative these companies really are. The press and analyst communities are key to this clarity, with editors, staffers, freelancers and analysts all keeping a steady eye on the market, evaluating relevance and impact, and sharing their perspective and commentary. You might even argue that this is a key difference between PR and advertising – advertising helps a company claim it has a brilliant, relevant or ground-breaking product or service, while PR allows someone more objective to say the same

4. Reach. The increasingly global application of technologies is expanding all the time. Today it’s not just about competing with your local competitors, because markets are no longer defined by geography, but by technology area. More than ever before it’s crucial to be able to clearly differentiate products and services, and to do it consistently. Relevance and repetition of key message are vital.

5. Buzz. Both PR and technology are disciplines that thrive on excitement, energy, dynamism and invention. The high-tech sector is an amazing and fascinating market to, well, market. As someone who never thought they would end up flourishing in the world of technology, I now feel blessed to be part of such a vibrant, innovative and fun community. Each day I encounter amazing new products and services, ingenious ideas and life-changing concepts. I can no longer even imagine working in a market that wouldn’t have the constant element of surprise and buzz.

Bill Gates [or was it?]: "If I had two dollars left, I would spend one on PR."

Bill Gates [or was it?]: “If I had two dollars left, I would spend one on PR.”

Want to get great PR to impact your technology business? Please get in touch with us to find how we work, to hear more about our new ‘First Byte’ PR packages designed for start-ups: please check out the packages or email us at first@prompt-communications.com

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Posted in Hazel Butters: Opinion, PR Practices | Comments Off on Why PR and technology make such good bedfellows

 

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September 4th, 2013

Everyone’s a tech marketer (especially tech salespeople)

Everyone’s a tech marketer (especially tech salespeople)

A friend of mine has a great career as a bus mechanic, but nobody seems eager to do what he does for a living, or advise him on how to improve his processes. Compare that to being a tech marketer – or a marketer of any guise (I consider PR, my main discipline and daily dollar, to be a subsection of marketing). Whenever people hear what a marketer is planning, or spy marketing plans scribbled on a whiteboard, they all seem to want to get involved in some way. People voice their opinions, recall their own experiences, and dig out their red pens – it’s just human nature.

Please don’t misunderstand me, it’s not that I think input and opinions are bad things. I enjoy hearing other people’s views, and friends and colleagues who know me well will tell you that I also like to articulate my own opinions -especially on a topic that I’ve chosen to specialise in, such as technology PR; it’s a quality that makes me a good consultant. But there is a specific group that seems to get under the in-house tech marketer’s skin in a way that others can’t. No, not the competition. Not even persistent ‘pay-for-play-it’s-advertising-veiled-as-editorial’ callers. No, I’m talking about tech marketers’ own sales teams.

Time and time again, whether working in-house at software companies, running European-wide marketing campaigns, or partnering with clients from an agency standpoint, I have witnessed unsolicited input from sales get the collective hackles up across a marketing team. But why does this happen? And how can a more productive relationship be achieved?  Well, I believe there are two sides to this problem that must be resolved.

Firstly, sales people need to nurture effective marketing, because their very success – and salary – depends on it. Yes, we all know that some tech sales people are fully marketing-independent, self-sufficient, and proud of their independence. While some of that stance is admirable, it can also create a broken system and not one to boast about. Sales teams need leads – relevant and receptive individuals and businesses that are interested in the products and services being offered. So those sales teams turn to marketing for this interest to be piqued, and for strong messaging with a perfect balance of relevance and swagger (if you hate this word, think ‘market ownership’). Sales people need marketers to help them engage and connect with people they can work with. As they say, nothing happens in business until someone sells something.

And secondly, some marketers need to be a little less defensive. Marketing is a discipline that is spurred by the creation and nurturing of ideas, and so it’s bound to be just a little tempting for other people to want to, well, chip in. Whoever those people or teams are within your company with sudden interest in what you are working on, they really should be applauded and encouraged. After all, it’s no bad thing to have a sales team that is eager. A sales team that wants to see, be involved or have input into marketing should be regarded as a good thing. Just consider the alternative; a sales team that doesn’t care or want to know what marketing has in the pipeline.

What to do if you’re in technology marketing?

So, if you’re a tech marketer that wants to be open and amenable to fresh ideas, but also wants the sales team to stop looking over your shoulder, I’d advise keeping them so busy with hot leads, that they don’t have time to help. Not sure where to start?  Well, if you’re a tech startup then check out our new designed-just-for-you PR packages, or contact us via leads@prompt-communications.com to set up a call to discuss how you can increase leads / distractions for your sales team. 

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Posted in Hazel Butters: Opinion, PR Practices | 1 Comment »