Installed Base Marketing –Focus on Your Company’s Most Important Asset!

When I work with clients to build their outbound programs I always start with first things first…their installed base. The reasons to do this are two-fold. First, it demonstrates where they’ve been most successful and, if your know where to look, provides a blueprint to their ideal market. The second reason is it’s one of a company’s MOST important assets. Let me expand on this with some statistics from a CMO Council study*.  Beware — these statements are a little scary.

  • The average American company loses 1/2 its customers within 5 years
  • Acquiring new customers can cost 5X more than retaining current customers.
  • A business is 2X as likely to successfully sell to a lost customer than a brand new prospect
  • A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect on bottom line profits as cutting costs by 10%.

Given statistics like that, it only makes sense to interact and market to the people who buy your product.  Here are the rules to live by:

  1. Segment your database by product and solution or vertical market and size of customers
  2. Know and understand your market and market to their interests (not what you think they are interested in)
  3. Build a quarterly plan and target goals by segments
  4. Build your communications plan to “Touch” your customers every 6-8 weeks (make sure they’ve opt’ed in to hear your message)

What kinds of materials and messaging are good to “push” to your customers?

  • Newsletters that consolidate information such as PR and white papers, and news into one place either monthly or quarterly so you’re not spamming your customers all the time.  Make sure you have a place for them to sign-up for your newsletter whenever you communicate with them.
  • Promos and specials that are offered to your customers first
  • Free product training to your top customers.
  • Software or product updates or trial offers of new products

Social Media Keeps You Close to Customers

Use the Internet to interact with your customers and to monitor the health of your relationship.  By using social media, you’ll know right away if there’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

  1. Twitter is useful for tech support and company news- make sure you FOLLOW your customers…so they in turn follow you
  2. FaceBook allows your customers to join your Fan page and enables communication whenever you want.
  3. Live chat on your website creates a two-way conversation and makes it easy for customers develop a conversation with your company.
  4. YouTube enables you to show a “demo” of your products or present your opinion to millions of your customers 24X7.

Getting Started

Start by acknowledging that your customers are your most important asset.  Identify the segments within your installed base.  Implement marketing programs that foster on-going, interactive customer relationships.   Follow these simple rules to KEEP from losing your companies’ most important asset.

*Business Gain From How You Retain Executive Summary & Full Report, Addressing the Challenge of Customer Churn & Marketing Burn, CMO Council,


Waxing Poetic on the Virtues of Data Standards

After days and days of working with our team on getting data cleaned for analysis or lead generation, it’s time to constructively vent. Tech firms need to practice what they preach and have their IT departments create data standards.  Our marketing colleagues really should to encourage IT to adopt them and encourage sales to adhere to them because today’s spreadsheet grows into tomorrow’s biggest corporate asset – your company’s customer data.

Why are data standards important? They provide an objective set of structures to ensure consistency of data element usage throughout an organization.   They also provide important guidelines regarding data element definitions and entry to everyone in the organization,  so the business can effectively access and use data. Let’s look at an example.  Take my pet peeve.

  • International Business Machines
  • IBM
  • I. B. M
  • Itty Bitty Machines

Or in other words, all the same company but depending on who inputs the information, you wouldn’t know it’s all the same company unless you look at each line of data and clean it into a standard format.  A standard format is one where you agree how punctuation, capitalization, abbreviations are consistently handled. Even basic standards on just contact information can enhance data quality and assist in creating data that is more easily:

  • Understood
  • Comparable
  • Usable
  • Accurate
  • Complete
  • Consistent types of information included (important dates, synonyms, etc.)
  • Consistent with business processes

Due to the nature of our industry, where companies start in spare bedrooms and grow very quickly, it’s easy to see why data standards are an afterthought.  Most technology companies’ databases start life on a spreadsheet.  Customer databases begin with the hasty set-up of a few seats in

Even using a spreadsheet, technology companies would be well-served by a few tips:

1.  Set up a form in Excel by adding the Form button to your quick access bar.

2.  Think about what that form should include.  Instead of contact name, split out the contact name into first name and last name.  Address should be two fields to accommodate a suite number.

3.  Establish common naming conventions and be consistent in how text fields are completed.  For example, if it’s a State… stick to using the two-letter abbreviation, like “CA” instead of writing “Calif” or “California.”

4.  Establish common and consistent date formats and stick to using them.

5.  Establish customer or partner ID numbers, so you’re less dependent on getting company names 100% consistent and correct.

6.  Develop a product numbering scheme that goes along with your product names, instead of having to rely on text fields alone.

7.  Complete every item or field in your form when you add an entry, so the record is complete.

8.  From time to time, review for your spreadsheets for consistency in text fields.  Fix what isn’t consistent.

9.  Spot check your data base every so often to be sure folks are entering data correctly.  It’s easier to clean as you go then to tackle it once it’s gotten away from you.  And, it’s easier to correct mistakes folks are making quickly than to let bad habits get entrenched.

10.  Encourage and reward sales people for good data practices.  After all, a prospect information quickly entered into today’s spreadsheet grows into tomorrow’s biggest corporate asset – your company’s customer data.


Reflections on RSA – Security is Really a Control and Data Management Problem

By Sarah Sorensen March 4, 2010

This week, I spent some time at RSA, an event where security vendors and professionals connect. As I have mentioned in past blogs, security is paramount to the sustainability of the network. If we are to leverage the network as a powerful tool for change, we need to be able to trust that the information and resources on it are secure.
As recent headlines have demonstrated, attacks on the network are ever-present; 2009 saw malware and social networking attacks surge (spam carrying malware was averaging 3 billion each day by the end of the year) and increasingly sophisticated mobile attacks emerge. Just as in the physical world, there are individuals motivated by greed, power and personal gain (the riseand co-opting of the Zeus attacks, which originally targeted financial institutions, is just one example – to date it has infected about 74,000 PCs, and that’s just one attack), and there are those who are looking to achieve political or ideological ends.
But, as the show floor and conference discusssions demonstrated, there are a lot of technologies out there designed to help organizations combat and mitigate against all these attacks. There are literally thousands of companies, focused on everything from user and data authentication to spyware and cloud security. So why is it that even though there is an answer or feature out there for almost every threat or need, organizations are still struggling to protect the network? I think it’s because security is more of a control and data management problem than a feature-set issue.
I heard Palo Alto Networks talk about controlling exactly what should and should not be allowed on the network, based on the user and their role, the application and exactly what they are trying to do. This approach makes sense because with a focus on control, you can eliminate a lot of the risks right off the bat. You can restrict peer to peer traffic and file sharing applications that can be used by attackers to gain access to the network (through malware/trojans) and all its resources. The key is to have this level of control over every aspect of your network, from the edge to the core and within the hosts themselves, and then, for what is allowed, look for threats and mitigate attacks within that “allowed” traffic.
This gets us to the data management problem; a typical network’s security infrastructure contains multiple different devices, each with different management consoles, each producing a lot of logs that can contain thousands of pieces of information. Linking all this data and making sense of it all requires a lot of manpower and expertise. Oh, and don’t forget that physical security measures, which can also provide clues and contain indicators of risks, are kept almost entirely separate from the network security activities (typically they are run by two different groups with very little connection, though I did see a company that was trying bridge that gap).
I think it is telling that it took Google and a host of other companies targeted by attackers originitating in China MONTHS to figure out exactly what happened (in fact, I believe the investigation is still going on now). So, under the cover of the data deluge that network administrators are under from all these different security devices, attackers can infiltrate a network and operate undetected.
All of the calls to better manage business information and increase the value derived from insights and analysis of that information (take a look at last week’s Economist’s special report) need to be applied to network security. Organizations need a singular, meaningful view into the network that helps them identify in real-time what is going on and any threats to that network. To date, I haven’t seen big advances on this front, sure there are the large, generic platforms offered by the likes of HP and IBM and security-specific management platforms from folks such as ArcSight. I would love to hear from you if you have seen promise in this area. Right now, I think we need more innovation; we need truly comprehensive visibility and the ability to easily and actively control and manage of the network. The security and ultimate sustainability of the network as a platform for change is reliant on it.


Marketing on “ROIDs” Takes a Different Look

Take a look at Dick Patton’s blog

“Putting Marketing on “ROIDs” 

It’s a great new way to look at marketing.  Customer-centric view to supplement the traditional marketing mix of “4P’s” (product, place, placement and promotion).


  • Customer-centric view will driven by new analytic techniques for “Insight about customers”.
  • You can’t be “Responsible” or take “Organizational leadership” if you don’t know and thoroughly understand your customer’s care-abouts
  • Mastering “Digital marketing” is great, once you know what you want to say.

Analytic services such as Know Your Installed Base help companies understand who their customers are, what and how they buy (by vertical, geo, time, purchases in relation to other products, channels of acquisition, etc).  Done correctly, analytics should move beyond basic demographic to detect underlying relationships not easily identified by simple analysis.  Analytics should enable you to identify underlying groups of established technology product users, how they’ve changed, whether they are solutions-oriented or ad-hoc buyers, size and breadth of your products’ deployment or anything else you need to know.

Analytics is more than data in an Excel pivot table.  Using the ability to transform data into the most suitable forms for analysis, combined with analytics,statistical and quantitative analysis allows you to explain, explore and predict markets in completely new ways.  Reliance on data and quantitative analysis simply means no more guesswork or assumptions.  It gives you the power to know.