Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Very Influential Assets™ - Part II What Are They?

I am finally seeing some daylight in my inbox, voicemail, and snail mail after 10 days in Peru, and quite appropriately the avalanche of information that accumulated in my absence begs some answers relevant to Part II of my musing on the concept of Very Influential Assets ™ and how their identification and promotion in the customer relationship and reference dialogue elevates our conversation with various audiences and hopefully introduces a focus and efficiency to our attempts to delight and attract new audiences to our particular messages. As always, a big fan of the dictionary, I find all five of Merriam's top four definitions interesting in the context of VIA ™ in the B2B customer relationship world:


1 a: an ethereal fluid held to flow from the stars and to affect the actions of humans b: an emanation of occult power held to derive from stars2: an emanation of spiritual or moral force3 a: the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command b: corrupt interference with authority for personal gain4: the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways : sway5: one that exerts influence

It is axiomatic that certain pieces of evidence collateral are expected and de rigueur in sales cycles and in our marketing efforts. What I have begun to posit in this sense, is that certain of our evidence assets appear to achieve the almost "occult power" suggested by the dictionary. As I have suggested in the past, our presentation and identification of these assets has become a chicken and egg exercise in the absence of comprehensive measurement and evaluation tools for using case studies, interviews, press releases, and most importantly customer reference collateral in our sales and marketing exercises. Often, we consider an asset influential simply because it is associated with our largest clients; it was used by the majority of our sales team; or we just "believe" that it is a strategic and key piece of our information arsenal. I gingerly suggest that we often fall into the trap of believing that information that we present to our prospects and other external audiences is considered influential simply because we have "always" used certain case studies, they become known commodities and we leave it at that. In this part of the Very Influential Asset ™ series, I begin to discuss my definition of influential assets and how we might begin to mine for other pieces of evidence that have the "capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways" in our customer conversation. I make no pretension about providing an exhaustive list of potential Very Influential Assets ™, but in the spirit of this concept and breaking our traditional approach of churning out case studies. The idea here is to kick off our collective creative brain power in terms of thinking about non-traditional assets:

  1. Customer conversation goes on in many more places than we think and influential assets are not always produced by us or our key reference clients.
  2. Just because it isn't a pretty html page or marketing piece with our careful branding, doesn't mean it isn't influential.
  3. Our competitors may provide us with fodder or material to which we can react or that will inspire ideas.

What are the potential buckets of Very Influential Assets ™?

Think internal and external

Think customer and non-customer

Think "People" and "Content"

    VIA™ We May Already Have/Use

  1. Okay, of course we include our existing library of audio/video interviews, case studies, press releases, survey results, data sheets, etc. But let's apply some analysis to the determination of whether they are influential or not.
  2. The laptops of our top sales people. What hidden documents, slide decks, and email messages do our top sales people use?
  3. Technical documentation, training, company videos. Why not? A well-scripted "how-to" guide may be a better indication of our bench strength in a sales cycle than a quote that says we provide great implementation support.

VIA™ To Consider

  1. New customer references-always.
  2. Communities, blogs, and networks that are focused on our industry and solution.
  3. The Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. profiles and information from our employees.
  4. Ditto for our customer, our vendors, and our partners.
  5. Our competitor's blogs, websites, and collateral.
  6. Comments and posts about our companies, solutions, people, etc. anywhere, anytime, on any topic
  7. Negative Tweets
  8. Comments from any employee in your organization; interviews with any employee in your organization-NOT JUST SALES, SME's, OR EXECUTIVES.
  9. And many, many more.

My intention with this exercise has been to emphasize the hidden caches of content that social media and networking participation has exposed as customer collateral possibilities. The next parts of the series will begin to address ways in which we might assess the "very" modifier of your influential assets and how we might align our focus to elevate those assets in new ways in our customer dialogue.

I very much welcome comments and thoughts and as always, warmest regards until next time.

Copyright 2009 Lisa M. Hoesel






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