Strategic Outreach

Managing Change Via Communications

One ERP Vendor Product Page Scores High

B2B home page rating scaleBy its nature, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) installations are complicated and broad in scope.   Below, I rate the product home pages of three top ERP vendors, using my Core Score method (see point criteria at right).

NetSuite (an ERP package combining CRM, ERP and web activity) is the winner, awarded all the points except for “News headline and link,” totaling  11.  But they also get 4 bonus points, with 3 of them for effectively differentiating their product/service from competitors.  So the grand total is 15.

I love the use of many customer logos that are links to Customer Success Stories – although it would be better if the stories were on web pages rather than downloadable PDFs.

By comparison, Microsoft Dynamics ERP and SAP Business All-in-One product home pages both score 9.  Sage MAS 500 did poorest among those examined, with 4 points out of 12.

All companies got one bonus point for not using “leader” or “leading” in the text, although NetSuite succumbed on their “About” page. All are clearly leaders in the ERP game and can prove it – nothing would be gained by proclaiming it.

November 8, 2010 Posted by | B2B home page, B2B messaging, Brand and Reputation, Issues That Worked, Tech Sector Thought Leadership | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Borrow Best B2C Campaign Themes for B2B Messaging

My workday adrenaline is fueled by the fact that business innovations are exciting, new technology enthralling.  Likewise, B2B marcomm messaging should tap into new and engaging energies, rather than reverting to hyperbole and braggadocio.  And why do we need to always be as serious as a funeral home?

So, here’s my first in a series entitled:  “Best B2C Campaign Themes to Borrow for your BtoB Messaging.”

First up:  KIA Motor’s “You Can Go with This, or You Can Go with That”  TV Spot for the Soul.  Gotta love it.  Amusing nonsense.

I can imagine the ad people pitching the idea to KIA: “Yeah, so we’ll have these really badass rappers from the hood, but they’re hamsters.”  The use of small appliances is brilliant; it takes me back to my irreverent/irrelevant college radio days back in Ann Arbor, with Fraser Smith, John Giese, Daddy Wags (where are they now?) and occasional Firesign Theatre guests.  Lots of non sequitars.

So now, imagine this. Your next B2B campaign.  Bag the “solution” laden copywriting mode, and instead use vivid images captioned with “you can get with this” (your offering) in contrast to the chaotic alternative if you “get with that.”  Obviously, you can’t use KIA’s actual rap tracks; we’re talking about parody or similarity here.

More to come.  If you’ve got a favorite, please let me know.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | B-toB Advertising, Brand and Reputation, BtoB Marcomm Creative, Business Storytelling, Issues That Worked | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

No, Advertising Can’t Save a Brand Under Siege

I believe that Toyota’s TV commercial offering reassurance is an example of “too little, too soon.”  This post is an addendum to the previous blog post and discussion on adding value to a brand through information-rich advertising.  Due to expanding recalls and government-voiced allegations, Toyota is a brand under siege.  The TV spot that has been running heavily this month begins with something most of us already know: Toyota has had a reputation for reliable vehicles for 50 years.  So what?

As Gerson Lehrman Group put it:  “Before Toyota can raise its image from the ashes, the world’s largest automaker must make sure the fire is out.”

In my mind, the public is not ready for the feel-good stuff in a commercial.  This is ineffective advertising; it offers no new valuable information, and right now the marketplace craves insight and answers.

While Toyota is showing happy families in their TV spot, we’ve got Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc., saying “Not totally” when asked in a congressional hearing this week if he could say with certainty that the fixes now being undertaken will completely eliminate unintended acceleration problems.  Is there a “smoking circuit” yet to be found? And now allegations that Toyota deliberately withheld key vehicle design and testing evidence in lawsuits filed by Toyota drivers injured in crashes.

So, bottom line, this ad content may remind Toyota owners of their past good experiences, or it may be greeted with indifference, but it may also inspire lots of social media conversations like this double Tweet from today: “I’m sorry, but this set of Toyota commercials where they are trying to convince us they are ‘so concerned’ about this recall – -I’m not buying it. They pretty much were forced to do it by congress, and now they want us to believe they are doing this cause they care.”

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Brand and Reputation, Content-Inspired Conversations, Issues That Worked | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Tech Sector Thought Leadership Enhanced by a 12-Year-Old Student

You know that you have succeeded in articulating a business opportunity or trend when a 12-year-old student “gets it,” participates in the Q&A, and offers ideas about an application. Especially if it’s highly technical.

The venue? Jim Whitehurst, the plain-talking visionary CEO of enterprise Linux application leader Red Hat (Raleigh, NC), did a session on Tuesday for Fidelity Investment’s lecture series “Leadership in Technology” at a North Carolina university.

The program was geared toward graduate students, but 12-year-old Chandler Willoughby was there and suggested that both iTunes and Microsoft would become easier to use if Open Source gave users the opportunity to provide input on design and how the interface operates.

Jim Whitehurst knows that business thought leadership doesn’t mean pontificating with “high-minded language” and “lots of detail.”  In the case of Red Hat, it means articulating a value proposition. He likened the Open Source model to Wikipedia, and even American Idol. He uses terms like “power participation.”

A comment that Whitehurst directed to the investment community: “Here’s the problem. In the twenty-first century, where much, much more of the capital is information, locking up that information suboptimizes the value of that capital.”

And directed to the grad students: “Many companies are still in the physical world, with physical products. Go in and recognize these companies weren’t structured to enable and inspire the workforce. Do your best to work in the system. They’re not trying to stifle their workforce; they just haven’t thought of it.”

In terms of forward thinking and Thought Leadership, Mr. Whitehurst continues to be one to watch, and emulate.

October 1, 2009 Posted by | B-to-B Case Studies, Content-Inspired Conversations, Issues That Worked, Tech Sector Thought Leadership, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

B-to-B Outreach via Perspective Papers

Perspective Paper content doesn’t need to be lengthy to be effective (i.e. don’t need long videos, 20-page white papers) just because it’s B-to-B and may involve a complex problem, technology or value proposition.  It just needs to have well-articulated ideas that provoke dialogue.

Here’s some good examples of opportunity-oriented content made readily available on company websites, and via search. Two are from IT/business systems leaders.  The third is from the human resource / training services industry, a sector where you’ll find a large quantity of high-quality content.

Colloboration: The Next Revolution in Productivity and Innovation (6 pages)

  • Cisco, building on their aggressive “momentum brand,” has been acknowledged many times during the last decade for thought leadership based on articulating over-the-horizon concepts.

Quantifying the Value of Your Information Center by Rewarding Your Customers

  • Dialog (part of ProQuest) provides online-based information services to business, science, engineering, finance and the law industries…giving users the ability to precisely retrieve data from more than a billion and a half unique records.  Dialog’s Libby Trudell (VP Market Development) says that the company plans to increase their information flow from contributed articles.

Generations: Harnessing the Potential of the Multigenerational Workforce

  • From training specialist Vision Point, one of many Perspective Papers offered on a variety of topics.

September 24, 2009 Posted by | B-to-B Case Studies, Content-Inspired Conversations, Issues That Worked, Perspective Paper Strategies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment