How does a software company founded nearly 50 years ago compete with startups? One of the first software companies ever, Cincom®, competes every day in this era of startups and quick evolution. What’s their secret? They continue to connect with their audience on a personal level at every opportunity. And for one of their product groups, that means a variety of events.
Cincom began operations in 1968 and bills itself as the “world’s most experienced software company.” It is an international company that has offered several different solutions over the years and excelled in many areas. One of those areas is with customer communications solutions, where Troy Gross is the Director of Product Marketing.
Cincom Eloquence® is the product name of the Cincom customer communication solution, and it goes to market with a very lean team. They recently moved from 11 to 4 in the Forrester Wave™, strongly positioning them as a “challenger.” They’re working toward the “visionary” level, and it helps that the solution has never been displaced by an outside sale. In short, the solution works. But with a limited budget, telling that story to the right audience efficiently is paramount. That can be a challenge.
Meet Them Where They Are
B2B marketing has changed dramatically in the last two decades. As the number of industrial trade publications available has decreased, businesses have turned to self-education and information finding through the web. There’s no doubt that the web and digital communications are important. However, one thing hasn’t changed: people still need to connect personally.
That’s why you’ll find a Cincom Eloquence presence at key trade shows and events in industries where they choose to compete. “We’re not the right solution for everybody,” says Troy. “But for the ones where we are a good fit, we’re the best. You can see that in our history of not being displaced. The industries where we are successful are very tight-knit. People talk. We need to be a part of those conversations and be a recognizable face.”
For Cincom, being at the events gives them a face-to-face advantage. “The whole world doesn’t know us, but the people we need to know us, do” he says. That’s because by leveraging even seemingly obscure shows consistently, they are able to maintain their presence, hear what’s new, and have a positive impact both on sales and future product development. These interchanges don’t happen by chance. Troy and the Cincom Eloquence team meticulously maintain their contact lists. They use them for email and direct mail to let their audience know where they’re going to be and what they have in store. “We always have some sort of fun and engaging ice-breaker at our booth that is tied to the communication. That way, they immediately make the connection with Cincom Eloquence.”
Just Like Dessert, There’s Always Room for Another Event—Make It Yours
The dedication to personal communications doesn’t end with events held by other people. To extend and drive even further into their selected niches, Cincom Eloquence has created their own event—a customer conference that cuts across industries. “While we are very niche, the industries in our niches have many of the same challenges across the board, even if their businesses are different,” says Troy. “Take compliance and privacy, for instance. Those are things that are critical to our customers and that we do very well. Bringing together disparate industries where that is important enables them to share and learn from each other. And for us to hear what is important to them.”
User conferences don’t have to draw thousands to be effective. “Our conference gives us a great opportunity to sell deeper across some of our bigger accounts. It’s a great place to bring prospects in and let them talk to current customers,” states Troy. “The customers that come to your event are your best users and biggest fans. It might not be all of them, but if it’s your top 10 percent it’s worth it. They’re the ones really striving to make your solution work. There is no downside I can see from having prospects talk to customers that are excited about your solution. None.”
Getting people to take the time and attend a conference away from work can be a challenge sometimes, admits Troy. “A lot of it can fluctuate with the economy. We try to keep costs down, but also make sure they have a great time while they’re with us.” To that end, one Cincom Eloquence conference was even held on a cruise ship, which was more affordable and provided more simplified planning than you might expect.
Nice to Meet You
As the saying goes, often it’s not what you know, it’s who knows you. By making the effort to get out to events and be where their audience is, Cincom Eloquence ensures that those in their industry know who they are. And by taking it a step farther and hosting their own event, they guarantee that their name and face are recognized when it counts. A lot has changed in marketing and sales, but one thing hasn’t and won’t. It is still about connections. At the end of the day, face-to-face is more personalized than the best smart content or personalized content plan could ever be.
(NOTE: Cincom Systems, Inc. is not a client of Wilson Advertising and Wilson Advertising is in no way responsible for the marketing of any Cincom products, solutions or services.)
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All trademarked and copyrighted names, marks and logos are the property of their respective companies. Image courtesy of Cincom Systems, Inc.