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SAP Ecosystem - 31 Keys to Success: Keys 22-31 - Why Buying Influence Doesn't Work Print E-mail

22. Have you made a careful, long term decision on your web site architecture? Have you chosen a content management system that makes it easy for those with no programming skills inside your firm (including executives) to easily post content?

 Does that web site framework also include social sharing plug-ins to make it easy for visitors to share your content socially? (Yes, for some firms, this action item should be higher up if you are planning a near-term web site launch or upgrade). The pain and investment of designing great site architecture will cost you in the short term, but it will pay off big in the long term. You won't have to pay your designer every time you want to make a change, and your people across departments will be able to easily add content, including  your executives if needed, which will have a noticeable impact on the amount of content on your site over time and the credibility of that material.

23. Have you considered hiring a talented young journalist or writer to help manage your content creation process?

There are some real editorial talents out there - folks who have been shaken up by the changes in media - who have a lot of offer a site that is passionate about getting content out into the world. Investing in a talented content creator or editor is a far better investment than expensive SEO or social media "gurus".

24. Have you seen through the lie that email is irrelevant in the age of social?

Even taking into account tighter inbox controls and spam filters, a well-maintained, truly opt-in list is an incredibly valuable marketing asset, unsurpassed in terms of getting folks to events and getting "warm" leads to sign up for additional content items and promotions. Make sure you have plenty of content consumption and email frequency options for subscribers, rather than a clunky "one subscription gets all our correspondence" approach.

25. Kick ass content, fueled by a true passion to contribute to the SAP community and solve customer problems, is what gets the job done - not trying to buy influence or pay for page views.

 By and large, inbound marketing and lead generation is a natural byproduct of this process. You earn your community and then the rest takes care of itself. Yes, you want to measure and evaluate, making course corrections based on your analytics and campaign successes, but all the analytics are driven by solving genuine problems and creating value.

26. "Teased content" doesn't work.  You have to give away some intellectual property to create the value that builds the trust that leads to client engagements.

This document is being issued for free, even though it contains info that took me years to compile. Sharing openly is a great incentive to learn more and create more, and in the process, earn "virtual trust" which has an amazing way of creating leads. If you haven't already, consider reading Chris Anderson's Free for more on the power (and harsh realities) of the digital economy.

27. Is your web site "sticky" and interactive, with action steps you can measure?

Too often, SAP web sites are all or nothing, with the option to kick tires on a product demo (often with minimal pre-sales information) or buy. No other action items are offered, such as subscribing to newsletters, commenting on executive blogs, signing up for webinars, responding to polls and surveys, live customer chats, etc. All those action items can be measured and evaluated via Google Analytics or other marketing analysis tools. Of course, if the web site is just an online brochure, then a newsletter sign up won't mean a thing. You need compelling content and a generous attitude about sharing it in order to inspire people who aren't ready to formally enter the sales funnel to complete action steps. Without inspiration, no action steps will be taken. Without welcoming content and a human touch, visitors won't want to prop up their feet on your virtual living room table and learn more. They'll want to get away from your "always be closing" web site as soon as possible.

28. Are there immediate (real-time) ways to engage on your web site, including instant message live help or video chats?

And is that help knowledgeable in SAP and ready to take appropriate action steps? Are email inquiries responded to in 24 hours? Fast is definitely a competitive advantage for SAP vendors since so many bigger players are sluggish - as long as fast means fast, relevant, and thoughtful.

29. Put a human face on your corporate web site and social media presence.

People don't want to interact with brands, they want to interact with people with opinions, personalities, and a desire to learn what makes them tick. Having pictures, including pictures of your team at informal community events, makes a big difference. Yes, professionalism is important, but too many vendors still err on the side of polish over community. Be wary of stock photos and overly polished videos. Informal often works better when it comes to building enterprise trust. Why? Because so many customers are wary of over-produced vendor messaging that is loaded with technical hype and is designed to keep the sales pipeline flowing, rather than speaking specifically to their problems.

30. Do you make it easy for prospects to interact with other customers and get the information they need?

Beyond case studies and video testimonials, do you have a customer reference process where your most passionate customers agree to co-present on webinars, at user conferences, and act as references for other customers? Do your sales people get customers to agree to such testimonials early in the sales process? Example: If the prospect is getting a deep product discount for a deal closing that quarter,they  agree to do a testimonial or reference in return. It's often much easier to get a customer to agree to act as a reference up front during initial negotiations. Of course, leave them an out if they aren't 100 percent satisfied with the result.

31. Have you connected the dots between your online and your "face time" strategies? Have you incorporated all the relevant SAP trade shows and user group meetings in your focus area?

No, in most cases you don't need a booth - certainly not until you are extremely well established - but you do need an integrated plan for community building online and off. The online activity often comes to fruition face to face. The interconnections between the online relationships and the personal meetings cement the connection and make the prospect feel like you are a consistent resource in their lives.

Conclusion - That's a wrap - for now

There are 31 keys to get you started. I've seen each one very effectively - though not all by the same firm at the same time, so don't worry about reckoning with all of them immediately. If you even have partial answers for most of these, you are ahead of the game - even if many of the action steps are still in the early stages. You don't need to be moving on all these points at once - you simply want to incorporate them within an overall multi-year strategy. Preferably, you will put that document in writing so you can return to it and assess your progress. As I was going to press, one of my clients said to me, "Remind folks that this stuff is hard." Indeed it is. I don't want to give the impression these approaches are easy - if they were, more firms would pursue them. But they are effective.

You may have noticed I didn't mention product quality in this document. Yes, you need to have a quality product or service. Make that a phenomenal product or service! And yes, it needs to be SAP certified for customers to take it seriously. There are indeed pitfalls on the product side, some easily avoidable, some not. My only advice there remains: Don't go for "game changing" pie-in-the-sky stuff. Go for products that solve real customers' pain points right now.

Yes, your products can be delivered in modern "cloudy" or mobile forms with sexy and/or efficient user interfaces, but for most third party SAP firms, the quality of the product or service is not the biggest obstacle. The biggest obstacle is that either no one knows who the firm is, or in some cases, the firm is somewhat well known but not well liked due to their tone deaf approach and spammy marketing style. If you work these 31 points, you'll get a better result.

Read on for more links to (free) related content and ways to reach me.

Here's the clickable Table of Contents for the four part web version: 

Keys 1-4 - Avoiding SAP Marketing #Fails (and Report Introduction)

Keys 5-12 - The Challenges of Transparency

Keys 13-21 -  Don't Get Fooled by SEO and Social "Gurus"

Keys 22-31 - Why Buying Influence Doesn't Work

Download this entire "31 Keys" feature as a PDF (128KB)


Links to additional articles cited in this document:

SAP, social media and decision makers

Power of pull and ERP content curation

How to avoid getting ripped off by SEO "gurus."

On SAP Mentors and leadership

Have follow up questions?

Contact me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.

About Jon Reed

jon-headshot-150x150.jpgJon Reed is an SAP Mentor and independent analyst who blogs, Tweets, and videocasts on SAP market trends. Jon is the driving force behind, an interactive web site that features Jon's long-running SAP podcast series - unscripted conversations about SAP trends. Jon's client services are focused on the creative integration of media into a mold-breaking business strategy. Jon is also an Enterprise Irregular, an influential consortium of enterprise bloggers and practitioners.

Jon has been publishing SAP market analysis for more than fifteen years, and he is the author of the SAP Consultant Handbook. Recently, Jon and partner-in-video-crime Dennis Howlett launched - a video commentary web site for the on-demand enterprise. 






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