Archive for April, 2010

GTM360 Turns One

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

GTM360 turns one.

logo_02A year ago, I founded GTM360 Marketing Solutions with the mission to enable high-tech companies derive incremental value from their existing ideas, products and capabilities. In the year that’s gone by, our all-round go to market solutions have helped a widget maker to grow revenues, a payments solution provider to boost sales pipeline, a network access control equipment maker to shorten its sales cycle, a learning management solution vendor to raise ticket sizes and an SAP Services Partner to access several new markets.

While we started with the goal of enabling a modest ‘incremental’ value, that fact is, many of our engagements in the past twelve months have helped our customers gain manifold value along various dimensions.  

So, as GTM360 enters its second year, we are recasting our mission statement to best reflect our true capabilities and proven accomplishments:

GTM360 provides all-round go to market solutions to enable high-tech companies multiply the value they derive from their existing ideas, products and capabilities.

Faithful to our mission of providing solutions – not just services – we have already launched two products, namely, TechSearch360 and SAP MAILING LISTS, the former making it easy to find the proverbial needle in the haystack and the latter blazing the trail by being the only mailing list to carry a full moneyback guarantee protection from inaccurate contact information. In the coming year, we intend to bring a few more products to the market viz. EMAIL360 and HEATMAP360

I take this opportunity to thank our customers, employees, mentors and others for their custom and guidance in the past, and look forward their continued support going forward.

Saviors Or Villains – Part 2

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

A couple of months ago, I’d written about the controversial subject of overdraft protection in my post called Saviors Or Villains?

On the back of the increasing realization that banks cannot extend overdraft protection for free, I’d predicted the debate to center around how much fees banks can charge for extending overdraft protection and at what point they should inform their customers about it.

In the aftermath of the heated debate that raged through the American financial industry for the past six months, the second topic has been addressed. As per recently introduced regulation, banks can charge fees for overdraft after Aug 15 only if their customers opt-in to their overdraft protection programs – in the the past, enrolment was automatic at the time of account opening. The new regulation is only applicable for ATM withdrawals, store checkouts and other one-off transactions. For repetitive direct debits, such as those set up for automatic payment of telephone and utility bills, overdraft protection will continue to apply as in the past. This shows that the regulator and the general public have acknowledged the good deed done by banks in bailing out people whose accounts run dry when such bills come due. Without this protection, people would end up paying far more to their telcos and utilities by way of penalties and reinstatement charges than the US$ 25-35 fees levied by banks for extending overdraft protection.

Having scored a win on the topic of “when should banks inform customers”, consumer protection groups have turned their attention to the interesting subject of “how much can banks charge”.

FOX Business reports that a coalition of consumer interest groups comprising of the Center for Responsible Lending, the National Consumer Law Center, Consumers Union, the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the Consumer Federation of America has urged the American regulator FED to adopt additional rules to make overdraft fees reasonable and proportional to the bank’s costs. The subtext makes it obvious that, according to consumer interest groups, banks are overcharing for providing overdraft protection.

This is likely to get interesting.

Already, a few banks have vehemently opposed any form of regulation to decide overdraft protection fees. According to Robert A. Steen of Bridge Community Bank, one of the bankers quoted in the FOX Business report, fees are “outside of the role of the Federal Reserve. We decide what we charge for our products and services …”.  Can’t fault this viewpoint in a a free market, can we? Besides, banks could argue that additional staffing is not the only cost of providing overdraft protection, with others like risk premium – the cost of covering the credit risk introduced when banks extend overdraft – being very difficult to estimate.

I think we’re somewhere at the halfway mark of this debate. Watch this space!

Mine OOO Messages To Bolster Effectiveness Of Email Marketing

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

A recent email campaign we executed to announce the launch of our SAP CUSTOMER & PARTNER MAILING LIST gave us another occasion to be reminded about why we love Out of Office messages. 

You can mine OOO messages to bolster the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns by growing and enriching your mailing lists. Here’s how:

  1. Many OOO messages contain names (and quite often contact info) of other people who are responsible for related areas in your target company.
  2. Some of them will tell you the names of the contact’s assistant and, if you’re lucky, their telephone number and / or email address.
  3. You might spot mobile phone numbers (not that we advise cold calling to mobile phones), updated titles, among a raft of other useful information in a few OOO messages.  
  4. Lastly, the very fact that you received an OOO message – and not a Non Delivery Notification – reassures you that your contact information is correct. Since accuracy of mailing lists averages around 70% in the high-tech industry, this by itself justifies the efforts of mining OOO messages.

Have a look at these sample OOO messages and you’ll get the picture.

OOO1_500

We’re sure that experienced business development executives and other practitioners of email marketing might have many more ways of mining OOO messages. We encourage them to share other techniques by way of comments to this post.

Bottomline: We launched our campaign to a mailing list having 450 contacts and collected 63 additional contacts by mining the OOO messages we started receiving soon thereafter – that’s 14% growth in a span of few hours. We spotted updated information for 20 contacts. At 4.5%, this enrichment rate is commendable considering that we started off with a very high quality mailing list – one on which we’re offering full moneyback guarantee for any inaccurate contact information. 

Of course, in all this, let’s not forget the basic purpose of an email marketing campaign is to generate qualified leads and not to grow and enrich mailing lists. To whip up interest in your products and services among companies in your target market and invoke favorable response from them, you need to create marketable items, which provide compelling reasons to buy by packaging your products and services as means to ‘solve pain’ or ‘create gain’. While that’s beyond the scope of this post, you click here to find out more.

TCs Are Forever

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Ever since banks introduced prepaid foreign exchange cards for overseas travelers, there have been several articles extolling their virtue. No doubt some of them have been inspired by banks that don’t do traveler’s checks and likely earn sizable income by issuing prepaid forex cards. However, most of them don’t seem to have the slightest idea of the practical difficulties faced by travelers in using such cards during their overseas trips.

It was a refreshing change to read a balanced perspective in this article that offers suggestions for overseas travelers. Based on my personal experience, let me add a few more tips:

  1. Many ATMs in the USA, UK, Germany and other foreign countries have a rather small daily maximum cash withdrawal limit, so for big-ticket expenses (e.g. putting up deposit for a service apartment for a fortnight), you’d need a lot more cash than you can get from a typical ATM in a single day. With a forex card, you’d end up having to visit the ATM several days in a row before you’ve accumulated the required amount! Not all establishments in this category accept credit / debit cards, so traveler’s checks are the best option. 
  2. A business associate recently received TCs entirely in USD 500 denomination from his company’s local forex dealer in India, only to find that there were very few exchange houses in any given city in the US that accepted such high value TCs. He had a tough time finding one and had to spend big bucks in taxi fare to reach it.
  3. Beware of forex cards handed out by banks on late Fridays or over the weekend. With many banks, the credit is uploaded to the card only on Monday, being the next working day. This means, you could get stranded at your destination without cash over the weekend. So, TCs are the best option if you’re traveling out on Friday or over the weekend.
  4. If you don’t mind the 2-3% surcharge that card transactions typically attract overseas, there’s perhaps nothing to beat the convenience and safety of a credit card. But this is applicable only in the US where credit card acceptance at stores is very high. In Europe, apart from a comparitively lower level of acceptance of credit cards, there’s another problem: magnetic stripe cards issued by banks in India, USA and the remaining non-EMV countries in the world are rejected by many establishments in Europe which has largely migrated to EMV chip-and-PIN cards several years ago.

All in all, it seems like a good idea to carry money in a mix of cash, card and traveler’s checks while traveling abroad.

NRA’s Slogan Is Also Applicable For Knowledge

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Thanks to Google, a lot of people believe that they should seek information only when they need it. Given the amount of information overload in today’s digital world, this seems to be a sane approach.

nra01_200However, when it comes to knowledge, this approach is not likely to work because you’ll not know that you need it when you do. Therefore, it’s better to absorb all relevant knowledge as and when you come across it. What if you never need it, you might ask. My answer to this question would be something along the lines of “it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it”. Once used by the National Rifle Association as its slogan to promote firearms in the US – a fundamental right guaranteed by the US Constitution, BTW – this proverb is equally applicable for knowledge.

In my experience, people can Google for information “just in time” only if they have some prior knowledge about a certain subject. Without that prior knowledge, they won’t look for the related information and therefore end up doing a lot of hard work without much results to show for their toil. Let me illustrate this with a recent example.

cd01A web design company had to use a certain color for all graphical elements on a page. They lacked the prior knowledge about the availability of standard tools like Color Detector that automatically carry out exact color matching. Because they “didn’t know what they didn’t know”, no one in the company thought of Googling for information about such tools. Instead, they did the only thing they could do – which was to manually match the color through a long and cumbersome trial-and-error process without realizing that there were over 16 million likely permuations and combinations. Unfortunately, despite several iterations carried out over  a long time, they couldn’t achieve an exact match, with the consequence that their customer was unhappy with their output and defected to another company for his next project.

If only this company had known about color matching tools in advance, they could’ve used Google to find sources for downloading them and used those tools to deliver far better quality at a fraction of the time. With that kind of smart work, they would’ve prevented the loss of an existing customer.