Niche Marketing/Reference Customers
While I'm blathering on tonight, I'm going to give some other kudos to the folks at The Phelon Group, though I don't know much at all about them. If their website is any indication of how they're marketing their capabilities and they even do an average job of selling and delivering what they say they do, they deserve a pat on the back. Read this blurb, from a prominent spot on their homepage:
The Phelon Group helps enterprise technology companies build and sustain high-value reference programs that enable a distinct advantage in the drive for customers and corporate growth.
Now for those of you who don't know much about the tech business or niche marketing - here's the key. Find a niche - smaller is better in most cases if you're a small firm (it sounds stupid, but for many software companies its a challenge to find a market SMALL enough to address) - then start making it very clear what you do and how you add value for those you'd like to do it for (or to, as the case may be).
If I had a nickel for every high tech company that has floundered around trying to figure out how to make the last customer and sale count somehow to the next one (read Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm if you're in this boat right now), I'd be a very rich man. Selling services to enterprise software companies struggling with how to make customers referenceable - now THAT's a niche - and a profitable one I'll bet!
On a side note… my partners and I got really good at making our customers referenceable at my old firm... once it became a priority and our sales and marketing folks understood a) you won't get them to say anything if you don't ask them to (so start asking), b) asking them won't get you shot, and c) when you ask, be specific about what you're looking for and why. Kind of like this example, an industry presentation we jointly delivered with our Boeing customers...
Paving the Road to E-Business
Business Forms Management Association
Symposium Proceeding : Forms Management
by Chris Church, VP Business Development Shana Corporation
Clearing the path
Paving the road for e-business first requires clearing the path ahead and then laying a foundation. That foundation is management of the inputs or triggers to the company’s business processes - its business forms. The Boeing Company understands that its business forms are critical; therefore, an alliance between Boeing Forms Management, Boeing Information Systems and Shana Corporation focused on the different facets of construction - process, project and product, respectively.
Motorola, Boeing, NASA, General Electric, Liberty Mutual, State of Washington, FileNET... its amazing what customers and partners will do with and for you when its mutual -when they understand how it benefits you AND them. The meek may inherit the earth at some point, but meek software companies won't.