Web Seminars are changing the way companies conduct business

During my 15 years at HP in sales, marketing and management, I have conducted and attended my share of trade shows, seminars and customer meetings. Back in the "old days"? of HP, selling involved bringing in experts to our customers to help them solve technology related problems. This worked great in that environment. When the cost of an HP instrument was around $25K, you could justify the expense of travel and time to do this. Global competition and the Internet have changed that business model completely. While there are still opportunities to have highly differentiated products that can garner a price premium, it is less frequent and the competition catches up much more quickly.

Over the last 8 years, I have been designing and marketing Web Seminar technologies and have seen first hand how Web Seminars can change the way enterprises conduct business. Now instead of flying in that expensive "resident expert," you can conduct on-line meetings that deliver a similar impact to your "remote" audience. When combined with local relationship management, this can be quite an effective sales and customer retention tool. In this blog series, I will plan on writing about my experiences in Web Seminars, offer some ideas that may help you "re-tool"? your marketing mix and blend in some tips and resources to help make Web Seminars a standard part of your marketing programs.

Web Seminar Series

This week, the ReadyTalk Web Seminar Series features three outstanding events in honor of International Women's Day on March 8th. The events feature women in corporate leadership positions, women who have founded their own organizations and women who are creating change through public policy. To read about the specific events, visit http://www.readytalk.com/iwd

 

The ability to choose and book speakers is one of the most satisfying parts of my work at ReadyTalk. Yes, this is a technology company. But really, it is a company with a global megaphone to connect people with audiences. We can communicate anything we want to anyone in the world. So we are going to spice up our educational series with outstanding content to make the world better. Celebrating International Women's Day is just the beginning.

 

Hire Me!

During the dot com boom, many companies were instituting policies to entice employees to stay and attract new talent. Concepts such as flex time were implemented, casual dress became the norm and employees became expert foosball players. A large emphasis was placed on keeping employees happy and, the logic went, more creative and productive. When the bubble burst, many of these policies were allowed to stick around (as it's nearly impossible to take a benefit away from people without huge repercussions); however, few companies put any resources into furthering any of these programs.

I've heard estimates that each new hire (for example, engineering students coming straight from college) cost a company > $200,000 in their first year.
This number includes first year salary and benefits, work-time lost by other employees to get the new employee up-to-speed, technical and non-technical training, and other expenses such as setting up benefits and the cost of recruiting that employee. If a company's philosophy is to treat employees as commodities, it should at least consider how much each employee is really worth and consider how much it costs to implement fewer restrictive rules and exercise greater trust in employees.

Here at ReadyTalk, the employees come first. Like Mike mentioned in a previous post, hiring the right individuals is very important to the company. Our dogs come to work with us, we have a kitchen full of community food (and it's not there to encourage us to work long hours), the ping pong table gets a fair amount of use and it's a rare moment when someone is unhappy to be here. There are few rules and a great deal of trust. It's impossible to tell the workspace of our CEO apart from the workspace of, say, a project manager. The list is long (it continues to grow) and it, indirectly, is another contributor to the success of our company. Have you noticed the difference in attitudes of employees who work in places where there is great distrust in management versus a place like ReadyTalk?

Does your marketing strategy go beyond the “I should hope so” test?

I've just recently completed a marketing course and it has made me aware of the amount of generic, boring, repetitive advertising that exsists out there. Is your company doing something to set your organization apart from the competition? Use the "I should hope so" test to determine if your messaging is just fluff.

For example, I can open the phone book looking for a local plumber to fix my leaky bathroom faucet and I'm faced with a decision and hundreds of options, but what is funny is the tactics used to attempt to gain my attention. Phrases like:

  • Quality workmanship
  • Certified plumber
  • quick service


Using the "I should hope so" test makes one realize how basic all these statements are. I should hope a plumber will use quality workmanship, be certified in his field and provide quick service, otherwise, I'm goin to have a leaky faucet again in a couple days because Joe from down the block did the work and it took him 4 days, and now my whole house is flooded.

 

So how does a plumber, or any other businessman differentiate his business from the competition? The first step is evaluating the market and developing a perception map that identifies where the opportunities in the market exist. Then you can target the right customers and attract the business you are looking for.