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DemandGenLogoRed“We recently held an educational event with David Stelzl as our keynote speaker to explain the 7 Essential Mindsets of securing critical data.  The event was held at the right time, with the right people, and at the right place and was a great success!  We had 74 people in attendance which represented 31 actual companies.  Of those, 65% signed up for a Risk Assessment that night and an additional 5 companies wanted project work done.  Since then, we’ve had two of 31 companies actually call us for help with security issues.  Both have engaged for project work.  They definitely would not have called without us doing the event.”

This quote (above), written by Nate Freeman of Network People in Largo, FL, appears on the comments page of my blog – events work, but only when done with conversion in mind.

This morning I had the privilege of meeting with various resellers from the US to talk about demand generation and exactly what it is that differentiates success from an expensive lunch meeting.  I covered the seven steps presented in my most recent book, Event Marketing, 7 Steps to Profitability Using Lunch & Learns.  One of those steps, and the one asked about this morning, involves using the right speakers – without the right speaker, you’ll just end up with an expensive lunch.

On a recent call with a reseller on the west coast, we were discussing the agenda with a proposed vendor partner/sponsor – a partner willing to support the event with JMF.  On the call he said, “If we are going to fund this, we want a speaking slot.”  The reseller on the call deferred to me, asking me what I thought I of this.  What happened next is the important part…

I simply said, “It doesn’t really matter to me who speaks – in fact, I don’t even have to speak at this event.  The only thing that matters is conversion.  Will more people move from the Attendee box to the Doing-something-about-it box if you speak or I speak?  At the end of the day, the only thing that matters in this event is conversion between these two boxes.”  It would be rare for someone to actually buy a product or service right there at the event, however , converting them to some sort of assessment or strategy session is not that hard given the right message and the right people group.  In fact, the length of the meeting, the location, the food…every decision we make should be based on maximizing conversion. Nothing else matters.

When the vendor heard these words it finally made sense – he had never thought of it quite like this.  From there we stopped worrying about who was doing what from an ego standpoint and started talking strategy – what will bring in the right audience and what will yield the highest conversion rate?

You can find more great tips in my ebook – or wait for the recording link on this webinar to be announced.

© 2013, David Stelzl

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Lexington Airport

Lexington Airport

Yesterday I met with over 60 business leaders in Lexington Kentucky, representing more than 40 companies, along with NetGain Technologies and representatives from Cisco Systems…I shared with them some of my major concerns in the area of cyber security for the coming 12 months.  Studies show that over 80% of small business leaders are not concerned with security, feel they are pretty safe, and consider the Internet a critical part of their IT infrastructure.  Yet, nearly the same number have no formal security plans, have no way of detecting an intrusion, and worse, 90% of Visas reported cyber incidences come out of small business.

At the end of our session, NetGain extended an offer to provide a some simple tests that would allow their guests to see if they have been under attack.  The FBI tells us that it is often more than 14 months before this type of intrusion comes to light – often too late to recover. Some simple diagnostic tests can often prevent a disaster down the road.  Just about every attendee agreed that this was a necessary next step in the right direction – over 70% scheduled right there in the meeting and will be conducting these tests over the coming three weeks.  Several of the larger firms also committed to getting more user awareness training into the hands of their end-users.  This is by far the biggest point of vulnerability and must be addressed by business if they plan to protect their data.

© 2013, David Stelzl

Opportunity

Here’s an opportunity for Cisco resellers to gain some important insights on building pipeline through Demand Generation.  This Thursday at 9:30 EST (that’s November 29th, 2012), Cisco will be hosting a “Quick Hit Briefing” focusing on demand generation and marketing activities in the SMB/Commercial space.  Don’t miss this – if you haven’t seen my new book, Event Marketing, 7 Secrets to Profitability Using Lunch & Learns and Sales Events, I will be going through the major concepts in a free 45 minute webinar.  You can grab the eBook in advance right here (CLICK).

Quick Overview

If you are looking for new ways to grow your business in 2013, this is it.  Over the past 12 months I have conducted dozens of highly successful marketing programs with SMB focused resellers all over the country.  Most of these events have been well attended, with mostly decision maker audiences – even in the major metro areas.  The response has been incredible.  On average, 75% of these audiences are signing up for a “next step”, which might be a strategy session, assessment, or other compelling event.  A recent event I was involved in – in Chicago, turned up a 100% response – and yes, these were C-Level attendees.  The bottom line is, Events do work, if you know how to run them.  On Thursday I plan to explain exactly how they work.

Signing up

This event does require registration and is meant for Cisco resellers – so make sure you are on the reseller list before signing up.  A password will be required to access the session.  Looking forward to seeing you there – and thanks to Cisco for sponsoring this event.  Let’s get busy getting ready for 2013 – it’s right around the corner!

© 2012, David Stelzl

Thanks to NetGain, Cisco, HP, and VMWare for sponsoring yesterday’s business leader event in Cincinnati.  We had over 40 business leaders for this educational event…

Eye Opening, Compelling, and Scary…

Eye opening, compelling, and scary.  These are the comments I heard after sharing some of the growing threats I see coming our way in the coming year.  Our material on cyber crime trends was well received and much-needed by many of the executives I spoke with during the seminar. Small businesses are being affected by security breaches every day, yet many are unaware of what is really going on inside their servers and mobile devices…According to the Wall Street Journal, most business leaders (over 75%) believe they are fine, yet Visa tells us that 90% of their business fraud cases are SMB related!

Individual Conversations

I spoke with one CEO of a Cincinnati based law firm after my session.  His business deals with highly sensitive legal information – the kind of information that, “Can’t get out!”  He was concerned that, while his company uses passwords and firewalls, he has no way to monitor who is accessing what, or to see if systems are being compromised, or to know if internal people are emailing sensitive information in an insecure way.  We talked about the cost of implementing technology that does this type of monitoring – “It’s out of reach for the small business.” he said.  This is led into a discussion on the value of using a managed solution through a third party provider…

In another conversation, I spoke with a man running a healthcare company.  He was concerned that his staff didn’t really understand how to assess their current security posture.  This is the case with most small business. They don’t have the tools or the expertise to do this in house.  Here again is an opportunity to engage an outside provider of assessment services, which NetGain, our hosting company has, to help ensure their applications are unaffected by today’s malware threats.

In the afternoon we heard from representatives of Cisco Systems and VMWare, as well as Microsoft, sharing how their companies are working to provide more secure products to protect these companies from growing threats in the coming year.  NetGain concluded the meeting by offering to meet with these businesses one-on-one to review their security needs, something every business should be doing on a regular basis.

© 2012, David Stelzl

Entrepreneurship and the Big Company Mindset

“Many entrepreneurs are sworn enemies of large corporations, and many policymakers measure entrepreneurship by the number of small-business start-ups.” This quote comes from an article published in the Economist, March 2009.  Today, in the Wall Street Journal, guest contributor, Irving Wladawsky-Berger writes about disruptive technology and entrepreneurship in larger corporations – the need for innovation in these larger companies.  As I read this, I am convinced that IT personnel cannot really fill the role described by Wladawsky-Berger; this kind of thinking requires outside expertise from strategic partners.  Can you firm play at this level?

The Economist defined the entrepreneur as, “somebody who offers an innovative solution to a (frequently unrecognized) problem.”  Wladawsky-Berger comments,  “…The defining characteristic of entrepreneurship, then, is not the size of the company but the act of innovation.”  This sounds a lot like Seth Godin’s comments in his book, Linchpin.  If you have not read it, you should.  Today’s employees seem to be stuck in a rut of being average.  Innovation requires getting out of the rut.  But can IT actually get out of the rut of daily operations?  I don’t think so.  Having worked for two very large firms, one a bank, the other pharmaceuticals, the daily grind of IT, with it repressive, bureaucratic management and lack of leading edge training, makes it a place where innovators may enter, but policy eventually destroys.  Those coming out of IT generally have little ambition or innovation.  They have succumb to  a life of mediocrity.

What do Big Companies Need?

In today’s article, Wladawsky-Berger compares the small start-up to the large company with it’s complex (what I would call sluggish), collection of processes and systems – and people dedicated to keeping things going.  In my opinion, some are investing in continuous improvement, however many are just doing whatever they can to stay alive.  My clients are getting first-hand exposure to unprecedented financial pressures inside these larger companies.

Wladawsky-Berger writes, “For a startup, a disruptive innovation is an opportunity to take on established companies with new products that offer significantly better capabilities and/or lower costs.” We certainly see this in the technology business.  Large companies with their end-to-end solution, competing with single product start-ups offering best-of-breed point solutions.  He describes the large company reacting to innovation as if they are being attacked. Wladawsky-Berger calls this a big mistake.  I have summarized his recommendation on what big companies need:

1. First, realize that the company with larger companies have several years before the start-up really has something.  But you can’t ignore the small company’s innovations – early recognition is key.

2. Get a plan together to compete – change and innovation is inevitable, so get ready.  Denial will kill these large companies.  (What if US auto manufacturers had done this a few years back?)

3. Consider how to integrate new innovations into the already-existing bigger solution.  I just got off the phone with the president of a technology company that offers a comprehensive MSP platform.  He admitted that he can’t keep up with all of the security product innovation out there, so instead, he has developed a simple way to integrate their new developments into his architecture.  This sound like a Ray Norda comment – if you remember Novell and Ray’s frequent comments about co-opertition.

4. At this point, the larger company may either help that start-up bring their product to market, or acquire them, making them part of the larger solution.

His conclusion on this: “With few exceptions, the assets that have made a company successful over the years are invaluable if properly deployed – from their products, services and loyal customer base to their brand reputation and financial strength.”  By leveraging these, the larger company can hold their position as they partner with the smaller firms.

Where Are They Going to Get It?

Part of the discussion here points to a flexible IT architecture that allows the larger company to take advantage of the innovations coming out of these small start-ups.   Solution providers have a unique position here, acting as a strategist and IT adviser to the CIO who must provide the infrastructure for change, but who does not have the time or ability to stay on top of new technology developments.  Some companies, like Cisco and Oracle, have recently announced changes to their IT direction to provide a more responsive IT organization at the field level, but most are not doing this.

In the mid-market and down, IT people don’t have the skills or experience to contribute anything at a strategic level. As you move up to the enterprise,  there may be some higher-level skills, but the bureaucracy of that organization has built a wall, blocking any meaningful contributions from IT.

As a solution provider, selling or marketing, or perhaps providing that presales consultant aspect, you have an opportunity to be that strategic adviser.  All it takes is a passion for doing it – enough interest to read, study, ask questions, listen to answers; Followed by the confidence in yourself and the team behind you, to make your way into the board room with answers.

© 2012, David Stelzl

August is almost here, and I want to thank Cisco for sponsoring me to speak to a select group of their partners…Seating is limited, but if you sell Cisco and plan to attend either the BlackHat or Defcon conferences this year, you can register here to attend this special session on selling security solutions.

We are meeting at the Rio on August 4th – in the evening; the location of this years BlackHat conference.  I’ll be covering some of the strategies and materials I personally use as I meet with executives all over the US, showing them why companies, no matter how much they spend on security, continue to be victimized by hackers.  I will also show you how my clients are leveraging this material to gain access to decision makers, and how justification is created to move forward.  Please plan to join me – I look forward to seeing you there!

Sign up Here (Click) while there are still seats available.

© 2011, David Stelzl