Are virtual meetings the way ahead? The new normal?

Webinars by their very definition are a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the web using video conferencing software.

With the increase in employees working from home, the explosion in the use of video conferencing software and the requirement for Vendors to still engage with their target market, should this be something you are looking to do?

Simply put, yes!

There are, however, a few guidelines that we would like to point out.
Ensure the topic is relevant to the now. Don’t schedule a webinar and call it “How to exploit the fact that people are staying at home more.” No kudos will be gained, head straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Think of the time allotted for said webinar. Statistically it has been proven that 30-45 minutes is the optimum length of a webinar. Longer than that and the temptation to jump off for a quick cup of tea, or to catch up on another call, or simply to leave because they are bored, takes over with the participant.

Make it interactive with a live Q+A and/or a poll. Simple enough concepts from a creative and technical perspective, but essential for engaging your participants in the first place and keeping them engaged right to the end. One simple trick is to pose a question and advise that the answer will be discussed at the end. See? Keeps people engaged.

Make sure those that are presenting are engaging people themselves. The subject matter could be the most interesting in the world, but if it is fed line by line, sentence by sentence, by someone with the charisma of a snail then people will switch off. We aren’t looking for the next best thing in TV presenting, but a person who is articulate, interested in the topic (and this interest is clearly demonstrated) and who has a bit of personality is definitely someone that people will watch and listen to. Not the aforementioned snail!

Make sure the audience you get is the audience you need. Sounds simple and something you’ll probably think doesn’t need to be mentioned but it does, it really does. Click here to find out about audience generation

Record the Webinar and make it available to people who register but don’t attend. People often get side-tracked but could still be a prospective customer.

Have a policy where participants are on mute, as background noise often brings many webinars down.

Try to have someone as a Compere and someone taking questions by comment during the webinar and then asking, on behalf of the participants, to make it appropriate and keep participants connected.

Many of the webinar providers online will have a database of previous registrants/participants. These will be sent mailings daily, weekly, monthly, advising them of the new webinars being hosted. The webinar might even have some relevance to their role, it might be highly appropriate to the role they carry out, it might be the most appropriate webinar to their job and looks from first glance to have been created with them in mind but.. do they work at a company that you want to target, is their role in the industry that you have the specialist knowledge of, do they work for a competitor?

Some of the databases from the webinar providers will be mailed indiscriminately, with no criteria set and with the hope that the numbers promised for registrants will be the numbers achieved.

Telemarketing can solve this issue.
Telemarketing? Want to know more?

The agency you decide on, will have the same goal of achieving the required number of registrants but, and this is a huge but, they will be doing this based on the criteria you have set. – which companies, which roles, seniority in a company, etc.

That means the webinar that you have invested time and money on creating, the subject matter, or solution you will be discussing, which you have invested time and money on developing, is being presented to a group of individuals who have been personally invited to attend. They would not have registered and more importantly taken part if there were not some measure of interest there. If you also let them know that people of similar roles, in similar organisations are attending, then they will feel it’s more appropriate. Think on that.

Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that digital marketing will bring responses. It plays a part in marketing overall, but emails generally are lucky to get a 1 in 20 opening rates, never mind any kind of response. Only telephone calls directly to contacts guarantees any kind of positive response. It also prevents ‘opt-outs’ to meet GDPR regulations.
Digital marketing and calling?

Lastly, choose well. At eCS, we have worked in this space for nearly 20 years and our contacts, expertise and guarantee of success sets us apart.

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Sacred Cows: The Digital Marketing and Databases

Digital marketing may have a low barrier to entry making it easy and inexpensive to reach out to target companies/contacts and, albeit with some risk, to create brand awareness (if not executed deftly, spam does anything but create a positive brand image). But these advantages come at a price.

For one, if you are either using Linkedin or emailing regularly, you run a high risk of the contact ‘opting out’ of future communication. Once they have done this, you have lost a target forever under the GDPR regulations, before you have even had any engagement with them. This should give digital marketers food for thought, although all too often it doesn’t.

This, in a way, is surprising. It’s always been axiomatic in marketing that the key component of success is building the right list of prospects. Crudely, a great campaign sent to a weak database will fail. A less-than-polished campaign sent to the right target list is far more likely to succeed. If you can achieve both, you’ve cracked it.
 
This is where telemarketing comes in. Telemarketing allows companies to approach their target job profiles to discuss a solution, identify interest, allow us to qualify and only then gain the agreement for further information to be emailed. The italicised words are important; collectively, they imply interaction. An unrequested marketing e-mail is spam. An e-mail following up a conversation is information. Not only are mailing a pre-qualified prospect but in the process, you’re also protecting your investment in your database.

There’s more to gain than just that. Telemarketing also makes it easier to discover who else in a target organisation would be appropriate contacts for your solution, hence allowing you to not only maintain but also expand your database with additional qualified prospects. And because there is at least minimal engagement with that contact, they are far less likely to unsubscribe to subsequent approaches meaning that as an organisation, you can contact them in the future. Better traction into an account and better qualified qualification are critical components of marketing success.
 
Since the introduction of GDPR, within the first year of eCS contacting, by phone, thousands of contacts for different clients and campaigns, we have had only 2 contacts asking us to unsubscribe from being further contacted by our client. This is extraordinarily low compared to returns from digital marketing.

All of this is not to compare digital marketing to telemarketing but it is to suggest that a failure to spread marketing investment across multiple sources or to believe that digital-only marketing is a low-cost panacea are wrong. Most marketing jigsaw puzzles are incomplete without both digital and telemarketing components.

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MWC: and now the great not to be missed opportunity for Telco Marketers

Well, Mobile World Congress 2020 was “interesting,” wasn’t it?

It ended up an event that may well live longer in the memory than many of its predecessors if for entirely the wrong reasons. Epidemiologists rather than technologists dominated the field of play this year (alongside accountants) and with more and more similar events falling like dominoes and, as I write, the British Prime Minister suggesting that up to 20% of the UK population could fall victim to COVID-19, one wonders if the world itself hasn’t shifted on its axis.

Seriously. I’m not exaggerating.

The shrinking planet made possible by easier and cheaper travel and the breaking of various socio-political barriers over the last fifty years is now delivering its arguably inevitable sting in the tail to go alongside the quantum benefits we’ve all reaped from progress in recent years.

What’s this got to do with telco though? Possibly, I would argue, quite a lot.

If one aspect of the fallout from COVID-19 (and, for that matter, the climate change movement as well) is a more circumspect approach by both business and individuals to moving around the globe, it’s quite likely that telecoms networks buried under the land and sea with their low carbon emissions and lack of requirement for wearing face masks when being used will pick up the slack from abandoned jet planes. Why poison the atmosphere when you just jump on the phone?

I’m thinking out loud here (as well as laterally), but there’s a nascent opportunity for telcos to make hay (ideological and financial) out of this changing landscape.

That notwithstanding, there are two immediately salient questions beside the longer-term ones. First, whether there’s a permanent behavioural change driven by COVID-19 or not, there is beyond doubt a short term one. Event cancellations mean telco marketers are in 2020 at least are going to have to find different ways to stock their sales pipelines whether they want to or not. There’s no other option. Second, what about future planning? If face-to-face business recedes-and the guess here is that it will, the reality is that the telephone will step in to replace it.

The far-sighted marketers in the telco arena will now be looking at the changing industry landscape and asking themselves what they should be doing to future-proof their strategies as fundamental change takes root? Clearly, working closely with agencies that know the industry, have the contacts, and have proven able to generate opportunities that can be progressed without either a plane ticket or exposure to a virus will be a cornerstone of these strategies. The leading telco suppliers will be identifying prospective agency partners and building relationships with them now, then leveraging those relationships immediately.

eCS is globally known in the Telco vendor industry, having been in this niche sector over 20 years. If you’d like to discuss the ideas above and find out more about how eCS can help you re-orient your approach to marketing, content, and lead generation in the newly emergent landscape why not give us a call to learn more?

We’d be delighted to walk you through the new telco marketing and discuss how to put a next generation marketing strategy to work for your company.

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Mobile World ‘Cancelled’

The importance of Lead Generation in the wake of GSMA collapse

What was meant to be an exhilarating week together for decision-makers drawn from all quarters of the telecoms industry and a networking-fest with the potential to reshape the direction of the market, has ended up with months of preparatory sound and fury, in the end signifying nothing at all.

The last-minute cancellation of MWC due to the COVID virus has left many businesses wondering ‘what happens next?’ as a large chunk of their marketing budgets disappear into the rearview mirror without the prospect of any return. For telco suppliers, these are troubled times.

Particularly for companies that aren’t brand leaders (which is most of them), the situation is serious. MWC is a time of optimism, as the industry showcases its advances in technology and beyond. This year it’s become a hotbed of anguish for vendors who’ve missed their big opportunity to grab the attention of their prospects.

From a marketing perspective, the term ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ has never been truer than it is now. A cancelled MWC is a harsh reminder that the long-term effect of doing so can have real consequences for businesses, if things go wrong.

The GSMA’s decision to call off the largest organized trade show in the world will be felt by all and there will be a domino effect among industry players. The question most face, urgently, is how to compensate for the lost event and in particular, the leads that they would have accrued in Barcelona but now will not? How to recover from the meetings that now didn’t take place?

Without MWC, how will telco-related businesses increase their marketing ROI, which subsequently stands at zero (or worse)? How will they reach the best possible partners and prospects to feed their sales pipelines going forward? How will they communicate with existing clients who they planned to meet in-person at MWC but now cannot?

The simple, if unfortunate answer, to all these questions is, “with difficulty”. But difficult doesn’t mean recovery is impossible.

This is where an effective Lead Generation and Communications agency comes in, if you like, in the role of the Batman in the fallen Gotham City of MWC2020 (and let’s be honest, FIRA Grand Via is more than a little Gotham-like).

Which brings us to eCS. Agencies (such as ours) operate in the background, with telco specific Lead and Audience Generation expertise delivering results for organisations ranging from SME businesses to multi-national actors, all of whom are now looking to compensate for MWC losses, as well as to expand their client databases generally.

eCS’ comprehensive understanding of the telco industry is augmented by our 120k+ pipeline of professionals whose expertise dovetails with the target criteria of the clients who work with us. Our clients rely on us to make MWC a success when it does happen. Now that it hasn’t happened, our role has become more critical than ever.

By bringing a multitude of cultures to the centre of Barcelona, MWC would have, as it always does, provided the ideal hub for businesses across the globe to engage in new commercial relationships. But not this year.

That’s why eCS’ ready access to contacts across the globe is now putting to rest the present worry many companies will now be feeling about their missed opportunity to fuel their 2020 business planning. As a company which puts its clients at the head of its priorities, eCS is capable of picking up the pieces now MWC is gone.

Ask yourself this question: “what I am doing to stock my pipeline, now that my existing plans have hit the rocks?”

No one can escape the collateral budget damage of the show being called off, but everyone can invest in rebuilding their pipelines so that the effects of cancellation are mitigated to the fullest extent possible and year-end revenues don’t suffer.

In this case, bad news provides an opportunity (or, if not, the motivation) to act.

If you are looking to strengthen your client database and maximize your marketing ROI in the wake of recent events, please contact eCS for experienced and qualified guidance on how to do so.

Contact: +44 1555 666 344
Email: info@econtactservices.com

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MWC2020: Missing World Congress?

While Hamlet didn’t have a trip to Barcelona in mind as he pondered “to be or not to be”, one imagines that the companies attending, the GSMA and the Spanish authorities have been addressing the question in recent days via a high-stakes game of “who blinks first?” in relation to Mobile World Congress which, by the time you read this,  has been cancelled.

Who blinked first? Each party would surely have liked the other to call the show off for, on the one hand, financial and on the other reasons of political expedience. 

As I write, we know that the show has been decimated by the impact of the Coronavirus. Industry-leading companies on both sides of the telecoms industry divide, service providers and their suppliers, were dropping out at record pace. Ericsson, Amdocs, Sony, Intel, Amazon, Cisco, Facebook and a growing raft of others  all withdrew earlier. More were expected to follow in what most were calling a ‘fluid situation’ (the polite descriptor employed in the trade media whenever the **** hits the fan.)

Anyone who’s ever attended MWC, which is to say likely everyone reading this eCS blog, can imagine the impact of the above; if the show had proceeded, the cavernous empty spaces in the already-cavernous-even-when-it’s-full FIRA that would follow in ten days’ time. To mix Shakespearian metaphors, Banquo’s ghost would find no shortage of vacant exhibit stands on which to linger in the hollowed-out event. Whether he would find anyone to meet there is a matter for debate.

While what happened next (to the event itself) , what (at eCS) we DO know is that one inevitable result of MWC2020 is now this: Sales pipelines will suffer and marketing budgets for the rest of the year will be under immense pressure to deliver more with less.

Put simply, with no MWC, Companies are not going to deliver the results – measured in leads, that they’ve invested what’s often the most significant part of their annual marketing budget – they are relying on. 

We’ve heard first-hand from many of our clients that tackling this issue is now a major priority.

So, what to do?

For one thing, a major marketing campaign like MWC  on ten days’ notice` doesn’t give telecoms vendors the luxury of having six months to figure out how to respond. For the majority in the industry, the sales cycle is long (measured in months and sometimes even years) so leads generated in September to compensate for those lost in February have little chance of contributing to 2020 revenues. What has happened with MWC, vendors have to address the impact on their pipeline now. That’s ‘now’ as in NOW.

This puts a premium on immediate and proven-effective lead generation campaigns which need to swing into action as soon as possible to fill the 2020 sales pipelines that will now almost certainly be inadequately stocked by the end of this month. Competition for lead generation resources will be fierce and the supply of expertise is not infinite.

At eCS, we’ve been working both around MWC and with the world’s leading telco network and infrastructure providers for over twenty years. With that experience, we’re leading the way for many of our clients in resolving the problems that MWC2020 cancellation has thrown up. We’re leading the way in partnering with them to compensate for the pipeline damage caused by the compromised event.

If you’d like to schedule an immediate call, to learn more about how you can overcome the difficulties you’re facing around the cancelled Mobile World Congress and more importantly, ensure your sales pipeline doesn’t suffer, please click on the link below and we’ll get in touch with you without delay.

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The recipe for Lead Generation failure

Let’s talk about ourselves: the recipe for Lead Generation failure (despite the fact that nearly everybody still does it when they should know better)

In a survey that informed its recently published 2020 CIO agenda, analyst firm Gartner reports on the types of disruption CIOs have faced over the past four years. Most of them are, in one way or another, linked together.

Severe operating cost pressures, funding shortfalls, shifting consumer demands, IT service failures, product/service failures and disruption of the business environment, are among the issues Gartner has identified. It’s easy to see how the effect of one (say, funding shortfalls) is the cause of another (IT service failure).

The challenging environment described by Gartner should be an opportunity for telecoms network and infrastructure suppliers who, while they may suffer from some of the problems listed (funding shortfalls and cost pressures being the obvious candidates), should nevertheless also be the solution to others (IT and product/service failures, to identify two). Understanding how their products and services enter into the ‘problem matrix’ is a key to effectively articulating the supplier’s value proposition. And yet…

All too often suppliers still take the approach that the best way to build pipeline and sell products is to talk about themselves and the inherent greatness of their own products and services (sic). They’re presumably then baffled when this strategy doesn’t work.

This is despite the fact that, one imagines, many of them spend their weekends shopping for cars but don’t buy vintage Alfa Romeo’s, despite Alfa dealers telling them they’re the most reliable vehicles on the market (eCS tip: Older model Alfas look absolutely great but reliable they’re not.) Cynicism and self-analysis clearly aren’t natural bedfellows.

All of which is to raise the question, what does make a great lead generation script?

For a start, it’s listening to the results of Gartner’s survey, rather than just reading them and nodding sagely. If you know the challenges CIOs face, then you’ve been given the framework of the sales conversation free of charge. And the conversation ISN’T about your products; it’s about solving their problems.

The “why our technology is good” bit comes further down the line. The starting point will almost always be the Use Case; explaining how you’ll use our technology to overcome your challenges – the initial emphasis being on their challenges and not your technology. It’s only once the buyer has understood the outcomes in a context relevant to him or her that the functionality and robustness of the product will be investigated. “Find the pain points and deliver the medication”

At eCS, years of holding conversations with telco CIOs have made it abundantly clear to us as to how to help infrastructure and technology vendors create lead generation strategies and support content that has the best chance of success. We’ve learned how to craft and deliver messages that resonate.

If you’d like to discuss what we’ve identified in more detail, please click on the link below and we’ll be happy to set up a call.

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Selling BSS transformation? So are we…

Analyst firms tell us that investment in next-generation Operational Support Systems (OSS) and Business Support Systems (BSS) are markets valued at around $40bn USD globally while, at the same time, investment in legacy OSS/BSS is around half that. The former is growing, the latter shrinking. If, like many eCS clients, you supply technology in one of these domains, you’re competing for a part of a sizeable pie.

While support system investments, in an immediate sense, are measured in operational terms (do they make it easier to do business?), the outcome of investments is eventually assessed on the CSP’s balance sheet (do they make more money?) It remains a fact today (although things are changing) that for many, the core parts of their traditional BSS stack – mediation, rating, guiding, billing, customer care etc. still reflect an approach that was conceived to address the challenges of a landscape that is now outdated; namely the communications market of the mid to late 1990s which is when, in large part, the early versions of today’s still extant BSS products were originally coded.

Today, those challenges are barely recognizable, let alone relevant. The telecoms industry has moved on. And infrastructure has far from fully kept up. The problem is growing; with the latest generational changes in operational technology, 5G, IoT, XaaS for example, new investments in support systems are becoming unavoidable. Workarounds are enough. In many cases, there’s simply no more shelf-life to be had.

This reality is a challenge for telcos and an opportunity for eCS’ customers. It’s a challenge because the new telco landscape requires entirely new infrastructure solutions, and building those demands investment in products, first, from suppliers. It’s an opportunity because innovative products that can be proved to deliver innovative Use Cases can be game-changing for CSPs and infrastructure vendors alike.

At eCS, we’re deeply familiar with both sides of the equation which puts us in a unique position not just to generate leads for our clients but to broker a critical conversation. Because we speak to thousands of operators every month, we understand the requirements driving the transformations of their stacks and what they’re looking for as they evaluate progressive support technologies. From ongoing interactions with our many vendor clients, we understand how products are evolving and, not least through years of experience, how they can most effectively be positioned to the telco buyer.

Telco infrastructure transformation today isn’t a matter of like-for-like replacement of old systems with new. The moving parts in this evolution will not simply involve new processes for handling old functions. It’s the functions themselves…the way the telco operates, and how it generates revenues, that are changing.

If you believe that your company’s technology can enable the new business models that CSPs are now adopting and you want to get a foothold in the market, please give us a call to further discuss this blog, and how we can help you to achieve your targets.

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