23 March 2006

The Cullinane database problem

So, you've built a better mousetrap, but you're stuck with a sales process that is somehow broken. You don't have any real money to drive a campaign, so what can you do to generate interest in your product?

This situation isn't that uncommon. It is made worse in this instance because the solution is radically different and the market is discreet and conservative. Here are a few ideas:
  • Develop a White Paper which doesn't talk about migration of data, but talks about the difficulties of managing and maintaining data on old software and hardware
  • Place a teaser ad in a print journal or an e.zine with an FD readership to encourage people to sign up for the White Paper
  • Send out the White Paper and follow-up gradually with other teasers and case studies
In this model, the major cash costs are for the ad in the e.zine or the print journal. The other costs are essentially time. I'm deliberately painting this as a high level summary - there are a range of things that you can do, but like this approach, they rely on well-written copy which sets out an invitation which people find difficult to ignore. Providing that everything is truthful there should be no disappointments.

I don't want to suggest that White Papers are guaranteed to succeed. Most White Papers couldn't sell their product or service if it was free of charge. There is a careful balance to be struck between content and eulogy. Writing an effective White Paper is as difficult as writing an effective advertisement - but, once again, it is a skill that can be learned.

Why will this approach work when the direct approach fails? One reason is that it is a process which attempts to begin a dialogue with the influencers in the company which raises the issue that people in their organisation may resist the change. It isn't going to change a highly conservative organisation to a knee-jerk response organisation overnight, but it may deflect the efforts of the database and hardware team to derail the idea.

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