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Failure
Source: OnlineMBAToday.com

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Did you see this in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal?  “How Microsoft can become the next Apple. Struggling to regain momentum and capture the imagination of consumers and employees, Microsoft Corp. has pinned its hopes on the Windows 8 operating system, which powers tablets and smartphones in addition to notebooks and desktops. If Windows 8 doesn’t do the trick, its board may very well heed insistent investor calls for CEO Steve Ballmer’s head; if it does so, there may be only one person who can step in with the instant respect of Microsoft’s top lieutenants, and the clout to implement major changes in the company: Bill Gates. Just as Steve Jobs provided a fresh perspective and new singularity of purpose when he returned to lead the company he helped found, if Mr. Gates were to return to Microsoft’s helm, “people would get excited,”…

Simon Sinek provides a simple explanation, and even uses Apple as the example.  I’ve shared this video before, but in light of this quote, it’s worth repeating:

© 2013, David Stelzl

Who should speak at your next marketing event?  John Chambers, Steve Jobs, or Bruce Schneier would all be great choices, but chances are they won’t be able to fit you into their schedule this year.  You can go the other extreme and hire your own sales manager or perhaps convince a local channel manager, or worse, presales SE (Systems Engineer) to take the stage.  Both mindsets are wrong.  So who should speak?

Decision makers don’t want to leave the office for techno speak, and a product pitch is sure to put them to sleep.   But industry news with business relevance can be worth taking time out of a busy day.  Depending on the size companies you target, you will have variance here on the caliber of speaker you need.  But no matter who speaks, the person must understand the goal; “educating business leaders in our community.”  The speaker must be able to connect with the audience at the business level.   That means speaking in terms business people understand.  They must also understand how the marketing aspects of this event work.  Too analytical, and expect your audience to get bogged down in analysis paralysis or worse, fall asleep or leave.   Remember, sales are emotional, so we are looking for stories and events that solicit an emotional response.

At some level, this speaker should also be entertaining.  Not a humorist, but certainly able to tell their story in a way that draws in the listener and provides a fun experience.  They must also speak with authority – again, with respect to the market they speak to.   Most free speakers are free for a reason; they don’t add any value to this event.  Some of the speakers I have used successfully have included FBI Cybercrime Investigators, Gartner Group Analysts, technical superstars that may have started a company or invented something, and industry speakers who have authorship or have earned a name through some association such as SANS.  A customer case study can work, however, make sure your customer really can speak to a group.  I’ve seen some disasters that were hard to recover from.

© 2011, David Stelzl

The Ipad – Here are some sound bites: (Source: Wall Street Journal)

1 year old

90% market share

14.8 million devices sold

9.5 Billion in revenue in one year!

200 Million Apple Accounts world wide

And a new version out this month while the competition is still scrambling to compete with the first  release.

Innovation is key.  At the 2011 RSA conference, one of the most interesting presentations came from the founder of Palo Alto, Nir Zuk.  He talked about innovation, and repeatedly asked his audience who was using what – brands of cell phones, operating systems, etc.  Through this interaction he showed that many of the technology leaders just aren’t innovating any more, and people are moving to new technology – following the innovators.  These companies that lack innovation stand to lose significant market share if they continue.  This is a wake up call…not just to those with an iPad look-a-like, but for Microsoft and anyone else with significant market share.  Companies that are innovating will win over time.  The problem is, many of these new innovations compete with the margins resellers have depended on!

Example:  How many resellers are still selling PCs to make a profit.  Perhaps yours doesn’t, but there are thousands of SMB focused resellers still in this game.  Will they start selling iPads?  Well, maybe, but that is not very strategic.  A $500 device, already set up with an operating system that doesn’t require a daily reboot to recover from the blue-screen isn’t going to make up for the loss.  And with other technologies commoditizing and companies like Google putting free tools online (Have you tried Google Apps?), the market is bound to change – expect resellers to be out of business within a year if they are waiting on the economy to pick up, hoping to be placed back into the business they drove two years ago.

Innovation for Apple means, new cool looking products that appeal to the new mobile generation.  But to the reseller and high-tech sales person, it means finding new ways to help clients innovate, automate, secure, and become efficient.  It means finding new areas to help companies with technology that puts them ahead of their competition and cuts cost out of their current IT program.  And it means helping them secure what they have before they lose everything.

© 2011, David Stelzl