As MacWorld turns, Virtual Events rise!

While people are gearing up for the annual migration to MacWorld (despite the absence of Steve Jobs), truth is such events are on the decline. Costs are high, and planning can be a drain on company resources. As a result, we are beginning to see a rise in virtual trade shows and events.

Viewstream has worked on a number of virtual events, for Autodesk, Microsoft, HP and others. Over the years, we have seen the concept of the virtual trade show develop and, to certain degree, mature.

We’ve also seen virtual event providers come and go. The biggest problem with these new companies is the insistence on taking the cookie-cutter approach, generally characterized by corny 3D worlds for attendees to navigate. These companies following the same model for every event, creating scalable products for virtual shows.

This approach is faulty from the get-go. Users don’t care to have a 3D navigable environment-there is Second Life for that. And that is to say nothing of the lowest-common-denominator delivery. (Sorry, 240×180 pixel videos just don’t cut it!)

We all know that success comes from standing out from a crowd. In these similar 3D environments, people loose interest because they’ve seen it before. Viewstream’s approach is a more customized professional services offering. We take the right approach – by making you stand out and by delivering your message to the right audience. We take advantage of all the possibilities of the online world to create true “social” experiences and deliver stunning content.

Here are a few of reasons why more companies are doing virtual meetings and events, and the value attached to them:

  1. Saving Costs: Bottom line – virtual events are cheaper then flying in customers or team members from around the world.
  2. ROI Measurements: Even if you track leads from a trade show, how do you really measure the ROI? And how often does the investment in a trade shows lead to a return on your investment? There is no solid proof of good ROI from external events, particularly when compared to online events. With online events, everything is measurable and results can be tested. In fact, if your ROI measurement tools in the online world are already in place you can easily extend with little cost to virtual events.
  3. Content Archives: All content created for online events become mini websites in themselves, and user’s questions, social media elements like blogs, etc., are very valuable to leverage to other marketing arenas.
  4. Search: Having a “spiderable” set of world class content is nice, and is surely a consideration for high ROI in itself.
  5. Extend Reach: Online events are not limted by geography-meaning more people can attend from around the world.

72% of IT Prospects Use Online Video to Make Purchase Decisions

Couple of points from this TechTarget Presentation:

1 — Prospects WANT video — shows that marketers produce less video then prospects want. 72% of users use online video to research tech solutions.

2 — Syndication is critical (one video leveraged to many places). Prospects view video content on multiple sites (youtube, corporate sites, content providers, etc.).

3 — Users like diverse amounts of video content (demos, case studies, testimonials, conferences).

4 — IT Buyers like COMPARABLE content.

Thanks to Tanya at Xinify for sharing the presentation!

How To Make Product Demos Sell

Flash Presentations, Flash Demos and Online Demos are VERY effective tools to help sell your products and solutions. Most companies have product demos on their websites, and most of them are not very good. Considering that if you look at web analytics, product demos are the type of content that people actually click on and will watch, companies ought to invest in making quality product demos—and leveraging this communication across various mediums.

Viewstream has a lot of experience in creating product demonstrations — and we wanted to share some of our tips and tricks. So we wrote an article, that shares some of our insights. It’s a little long for a blog posting, but check it out here.

Please make comments to the blog!

The Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog

There is a great case study here of how to use a multi channel media strategy to bring a product to market, and align everything around keywords and key messages supported by varied media types. I have seen this integrated marketing and PR strategy work very well for many of Viewstream’s clients. If played right, using this strategy creates significant competitive advantage.

As companies like google continue to dominate, vertical content sites are growing slower than the big content sites (Social Networks, YouTube, Google) – which means an integrated communication/search strategy is a better place to spend your dollars then on online advertising. From the data that I have seen, the long tail is beginning to look like The Stumpy-Tail Cattle Dog (a dog that has no tail).

I am simply amazed at how many times clients tell me that they got a call from someone who found them on Google and then closed a huge deal. By the same token, ROI from online advertising has never looked sadder – with a decline in online ad click through rates and the unreliable data from advertising properties. Search drives sales – we have always known that – and the data shows this more and more.

Viewstream is well positioned in this changing environment as we are able to work quickly in many mediums (integrated search, digital media, website, creative, messaging) to get companies to market faster, better and cheaper than the slower advertising conglomerates that companies have traditionally relied on.

Pushing the Blogging Curve

Automattic has recently acquired Intense Debate. For those not familiar, Intense Debate takes the blog commenting system to a whole new level. Traditionally, blog commenting is linear, but with Intense Debate, commenting becomes more like a social site. It allows threaded comments, user profiles, comment voting/reputation points (think Digg or Reddit), as well as integration with other social sites. Also, when you make a comment, it can automatically send an update to Twitter or Facebook.

From a strategic perspective, we like technologies that can push the curve of user generated technology – making blogging more authentic.

A lot of these things will likely be folded into the Buddypress project (http://buddypress.org), but we’re hoping they’ll make it into WordPress itself in a future version.

A service like Intense Debate should do great things to improve the entire commenting and blogging experience.

You can read more on Automattic’s acquisition by clicking here.

Keyword Espionage

Google may not be too happy about this, but check out these two new keyword comparisons tools:

http://spyfu.com/
www.KeyCompete.com

The way they collect the data (at least KeyCompete) is that they are constantly doing automated searches on all kinds of keywords to see who is advertising on what keywords.  Since these are done automatically, and by the millions, Google’s servers are made to work and Google gets no benefit.

Both of these are great services, though, that Viewstream uses to help in our competitive and market research. This allows us to better formulate the right language around your brand, and optimize organic and paid search.

More and more, the ability to define keywords and integrate within organic and paid search is one of the most critical aspects of creating competitive differentiation in today’s marketplace. Viewstream tries to extend the value of those keywords to the entire, integrated brand message.

Browser Wars 4.0

A new browser war is upon us — as Google’s Chrome running JavaScript, Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight all compete for different slices of the Internet pie.

Chrome’s JavaScript compiler vastly increases JS performance, meaning applications in JS can result in decent user experience, and developers can already do a lot with JS.

Flash is a notorious memory hog — and Viewstream developers are always looking at the implications of flash animations on processor performance. You will probably know what we are talking about if you have multiple browser windows open with youtube videos, flash animations, and other sites: your computer will crawl to a halt.

One of the big questions — when will JavaScript natively support video? And despite the performance issues inherent in Flash, Flash is 98% strong in the browser world. Silverlight is new — and getting more traction (how many people were annoyed at having to download Silverlight to watch the olympics coverage?). Of course, Silverlight can easily become an extension to Windows — and become instantly ubiquituous.

The party line at Viewstream is that we support all three technologies, depending on the client, and depending on the client’s requirements. Until Microsoft, Google or Adobe, invest millions in our development teams, we will be experts in all three — and continue to determine technology choices based on client needs. Isn’t that the way it ought to be?

Here’s a decent discussion:

http://ocstatic.com

The World Wide Cloud

Dell has lost its bid to trademark the buzzword “cloud computing.” The USPTO declared “cloud computing” to be a generic term largely because of Dell hardly being top of mind when thinking of “cloud computing.” Cloud computing is a broad category – and nobody thinks of Dell when it comes to cloud computing – maybe you think of Amazon (the S3 service) or Salesforce (they have done the awareness campaigns), but not Dell.

Dell’s application was officially rejected mid-August: check out this article: The Register.

Also, check out Microsoft’s Cloud offering: https://www.mesh.com/Welcome/LearnMore.aspx And we would like to thank the development company for using Silverlight in the product tour – we have seen too many Microsoft projects done with Flash. We love Flash and we love Silverlight – but please, if you are doing work for Microsoft and you don’t have Silverlight developers, give us a call!

CMS: Don’t lose your shirt

Think Vitamin recently published a solid article that outlines the “five hidden costs” of running a CMS. These hidden costs are a function of your business model, your website requirements, and technical level of your team. At Viewstream, we have seen both sides of the coin, clients who do really well and save a lot of money with CMS, and then others who get stuck with bad systems and poor code that require complete redevelopment.

We recommend a reputable agency or consultant to determine your website requirements in the context of you business objectives before you make a decision. My advice to clients is be risk adverse, treat a CMS decision as any other business decision in terms of best practice decision making process, and give your organization plenty of time to make the right choice. Because many CMS systems inject a code layer between the html and the cms edit functions, once you install and integrate your CMS, it is pretty much a complete website redo if you decide to change your CMS later. Also, your CMS imputes a certain website code structure onto your site, one that is also not easy to modify in the case of new business requirements, marketing initiatives, and the myriad other forces at work that influence your website.

Viewstream has developed and worked with many CMS systems – and we recommend MODx, WordPress, and Clickability.

Choosing the right social media tools for your marketing needs

With all the hype today about social media and conversational marketing, companies need to keep in mind marketing basics about who your customer is and how you reach them before quickly engaging a social media strategy. Blogs may not be right for every company — and conversational marketing just might not be perfect for your customers. So before you jump onto the social media bandwagon, take a close look at your business model, your current customers, how your customers engage and your growth objectives. With that said, the list of social media marketing tools is growing, and companies like Viewstream are certainly benefiting with the growing interest in our solutions. Viewstream is particularly strong on the digital media side, including screencasts, social media videos, community videos, podcasts, HD videos, embeddable web videos, and product demonstration overviews. Beyond content marketing videos, digital video content that considers the landscape of your solution, and positions your company within this landscape, can be more powerful then a sales video. At the end of the day, social media is about building a stronger relationship with your customers, and more easily attract new ones. But like any marketing strategy, it needs to conform to how you do your business. Just a reminder – before you jump on the bandwagon!