Welcome!

XML Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Roger Strukhoff, Trevor Parsons, Lacey Thoms

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, XML, Web 2.0

Cloud Expo: Article

Technology Marketing "Done Right"

SaaS Vendor Zendesk's Customer Hero Tour

Most technology companies, especially software companies, do marketing all wrong.

Zendesk is NOT one of them.  Their "Customer Service Hero Tour" - taking place in various cities including Austin (where I'm currently based), Denver, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and New York, is a great example for other technology companies to follow.

If you're connected with customer service in any of those cities, you should attend the event - any software company smart enough to spend their marketing dollars in this fashion is worth getting to know.  If they're smart enough to do "this" so very right, they're probably smart enough to do a lot of other things really well too.

Plus, it sounds like a great event - I will definitely attend.  Check out the "registration page"...then read on for my perspective on why I love this event in so many ways.

Me-Me-Me Marketing - Odious (Even on a Good Day)

I (mostly) hate software and technology marketing.  I've written a lot about how terrible it usually is and how immature the marketing profession is at technology companies.

Most technology companies stink at marketing.  They make a habit of committing a mortal sin - they make marketing all about "them", and they will all surely go to Marketing Purgatory when it is their time to pass.

I call it "me-me-me" marketing.  And I detest it.  It's even worse than meeting some loathsome bore at a party - where all they can talk about is themselves (and have no ability to connect with the person they're talking to, or the rest of the world for that matter).

Marketing for technology should be about "the customer".  Best-in-Class software marketing is about how to make the customer successful in their ventures by using the technology.

Examples of software technology marketing done right are few and far between - one of them is Zendesk with their "Customer Hero Tour".  This is an "out of the ballpark" marketing hit.

The Customer Hero Tour from Zendesk caught my attention when I got a LinkedIn "InMail" from someone I used to work with back in 2003 back when I worked in Silicon Valley.  This guy was reaching out to his contacts in cities (such as Austin, where I am currently living).

What is a "Zendesk"?

Zendesk is not a piece of laid-back office furniture from Ikea.  It's software.

Specifically, Zendesk is a Cloud/SaaS-based HelpDesk software provider.  Their product helps companies achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction.  I don't know much about it, don't use it, don't have any professional or financial connection to Zendesk and I'm not trying to get a job there.  But their Customer Hero Tour email caught my attention - and I love this marketing campaign - so I'm writing about it as an example to other technology providers out there on "how to do it right".Legacy Modernization

And any vendor brilliant enough to market "this way" is worth learning more about.

Marketing or Education?

I would not be entirely surprised  (assuming someone from Zendesk reads this) to get an email from someone complaining that I've misrepresented the Customer Service Hero Tour.  I'm calling this a "marketing campaign", and someone will probably object to that and ask that I re-characterize it as a customer service education event.

Who says that Marketing can't be beneficial and educational for the customer?

To take one step beyond that, I would argue that Marketing SHOULD be beneficial and educational.  That is the difference between "spam" and effective marketing.

Marketing is nothing to be ashamed of when it's done right.  In fact, bringing value to customers is something you should be proud of.  The fact that Zendesk is piling a ton of educational value into a marketing event that will reach a LOT of people is WHY it's such a brilliant move.

I am not at all afraid to admit that I've learned a marketing thing or two by studying this event.  If you are a technology marketer (software or otherwise), you should do the same.  Zendesk has raised the bar on this one.  I'm glad I actually read my InMail from time to time.

Why the Tour is Valuable - and Awesome Marketing.  Yeah, Educational too.

Here's why I love this marketing (errrr... education) event:

1) They are coming to us.  Yup.  I'm in Austin, and they're coming here.  None of that superior "west coast software" attitude.

2) They are making it interesting.  5-star (on Amazon.com - including a review from Steve "Woz" Wozniak) author Micah Solomon is coming along on the tour.  He's the author of "High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service: Inspire Timeless Loyalty in the Demanding New World of Social Commerce".

I'd visit a toilet-bowl cleaner marketing event to listen to this customer service celebrity speak.

3) They help me do my job better.  Zendesk is sharing best-practices benchmark data from their 15,000 customers and is also hosting a Customer Service interactive panel discussion.

4) They're making it fun.  Everyone always hosts these events at some boring Marriott or Hilton.  Nothing against those hotels, but they're not very fun - I've had beers in about 10,000 Marriott "Champions" bars and none of them are fun.

I don't know about other cities (they promise a "Hero Party" in every city), but the Austin event is being held at "The Parish" - an ultra-cool live music venue in the heart of Austin's hot 6th St. district. Super smart - playing on Austin's reputation as the "Live Music Capital of the Planet".

5) It's free.  If Zendesk wanted to, they could easily charge for this event.  People pay hundreds of dollars (or much more) all the time to attend various "symposia" that are less educational and valuable than this.  Call it a "Seminar" or "Symposium" and get rid of the super-hero graphics, and they could turn a profit on this tour.

What's NOT to love about this event?  Check it out....see you there.

Note:

Hollis Tibbetts is a Software Strategy Director for Dell Inc.'s Global Mergers and Acquisitions organization.  He writes on a number of software marketing and technology topics, including marketing "best practices", growth strategies, Data, Integration and Legacy Modernization.

More Stories By Hollis Tibbetts

Hollis Tibbetts, or @SoftwareHollis as his 50,000+ followers know him on Twitter, is listed on various “top 100 expert lists” for a variety of topics – ranging from Cloud to Technology Marketing, Hollis is by day Evangelist & Software Technology Director at Dell Software. By night and weekends he is a commentator, speaker and all-round communicator about Software, Data and Cloud in their myriad aspects. You can also reach Hollis on LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/SoftwareHollis. His latest online venture is OnlineBackupNews - a free reference site to help organizations protect their data, applications and systems from threats. Every year IT Downtime Costs $26.5 Billion In Lost Revenue. Even with such high costs, 56% of enterprises in North America and 30% in Europe don’t have a good disaster recovery plan. Online Backup News aims to make sure you all have the news and tips needed to keep your IT Costs down and your information safe by providing best practices, technology insights, strategies, real-world examples and various tips and techniques from a variety of industry experts.

Hollis is a regularly featured blogger at ebizQ, a venue focused on enterprise technologies, with over 100,000 subscribers. He is also an author on Social Media Today "The World's Best Thinkers on Social Media", and maintains a blog focused on protecting data: Online Backup News.
He tweets actively as @SoftwareHollis

Additional information is available at HollisTibbetts.com

All opinions expressed in the author's articles are his own personal opinions vs. those of his employer.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Disruptive macro trends in technology are impacting and dramatically changing the "art of the possible" relative to supply chain management practices through the innovative use of IoT, cloud, machine learning and Big Data to enable connected ecosystems of engagement. Enterprise informatics can now move beyond point solutions that merely monitor the past and implement integrated enterprise fabrics that enable end-to-end supply chain visibility to improve customer service delivery and optimize supplier management. Learn about enterprise architecture strategies for designing connected systems tha...
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, will discuss the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. The presentation will also discuss how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics to discuss are barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold.
Whether you're a startup or a 100 year old enterprise, the Internet of Things offers a variety of new capabilities for your business. IoT style solutions can help you get closer your customers, launch new product lines and take over an industry. Some companies are dipping their toes in, but many have already taken the plunge, all while dramatic new capabilities continue to emerge. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Reid Carlberg, Senior Director, Developer Evangelism at salesforce.com, to discuss real-world use cases, patterns and opportunities you can harness today.
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices – computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be!
Noted IoT expert and researcher Joseph di Paolantonio (pictured below) has joined the @ThingsExpo faculty. Joseph, who describes himself as an “Independent Thinker” from DataArchon, will speak on the topic of “Smart Grids & Managing Big Utilities.” Over his career, Joseph di Paolantonio has worked in the energy, renewables, aerospace, telecommunications, and information technology industries. His expertise is in data analysis, system engineering, Bayesian statistics, data warehouses, business intelligence, data mining, predictive methods, and very large databases (VLDB). Prior to DataArcho...
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
There will be 50 billion Internet connected devices by 2020. Today, every manufacturer has a propriety protocol and an app. How do we securely integrate these "things" into our lives and businesses in a way that we can easily control and manage? Even better, how do we integrate these "things" so that they control and manage each other so our lives become more convenient or our businesses become more profitable and/or safe? We have heard that the best interface is no interface. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Co-Founder & CTO at Octoblu, Inc., will discuss how thes...
Last week, while in San Francisco, I used the Uber app and service four times. All four experiences were great, although one of the drivers stopped for 30 seconds and then left as I was walking up to the car. He must have realized I was a blogger. None the less, the next car was just a minute away and I suffered no pain. In this article, my colleague, Ved Sen, Global Head, Advisory Services Social, Mobile and Sensors at Cognizant shares his experiences and insights.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) ir...
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT. Attendees will learn rea...
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, will share some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder ...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to create new business models as significant as those that were inspired by the Internet and the smartphone 20 and 10 years ago. What business, social and practical implications will this phenomenon bring? That's the subject of "Monetizing the Internet of Things: Perspectives from the Front Lines," an e-book released today and available free of charge from Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue management.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges.
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at 6th Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, to discuss how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other mach...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Erik Lagerway, Co-founder of Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice s...
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehe...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, will discuss single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridsto...