The world of Enterprise B2B Marketing is always go, go, go and, like planning a vacation, event planning and execution is so intense, we spend months planning, there is the high of the event itself and then it’s over and we are onto thinking about the next one. As I type, our teams are planning eight major Micro Focus-owned events, more than 40 third-party events, and 400+ other marketing activities in the next few weeks.
So it makes sense to review what we are doing, why we do it – and the secrets behind making it a success. I have just returned from our largest event, Micro Focus Universe Europe in Vienna, Austria.
Oh, what a feeling
Most major events mix track sessions, breakouts, workshops and the show floor. At Universe, the team used an interactive and educational display that took our customers and partners back to their childhood, and explained the #MFAdvantage in a fun and engaging way.
The problems of digital transformation for the enterprise have been illustrated in many ways. Swanky presentations with beautiful graphics, videos, demos. We did all those. But we also tried something new. The Micro Focus Lego City mirrored our customers’ world; from the ‘roller coaster of Quality’ to the ‘Release train’. In other words, Micro Focus Lego City showed the functions, challenges and approaches customers often use when transforming to a Digital Enterprise, all through plastic bricks. It succeeded by creating a feeling. People were interacting, smiling, engaging and sharing.
We marketers would do well to remember that while we feel deeply passionate and connected to the words we create or select, they only work if they create a feeling. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, “people will retain a feeling, and the memory of who was responsible for it, long after the memory of the words has faded”.
Never ending story
In business, insight builds foresight and I really enjoyed hearing our customers’ and partners’ stories throughout the nearly 130 breakout sessions we held across the two-and-half-days. Like creating a feeling, telling a story resonates more than a purely fact-based presentation. A recent Forbes interview with Geoffery Berwind, a professional storytelling consultant, outlined universal truths we should all remember; “When we share our own real-life stories….our audiences feel they get to know us as authentic people… who have struggled with problems and ….figured out how to overcome them”.
This is true for Micro Focus. While having a prescriptive and a consistent, company Point of View (POV) is imperative, we place high value on the stories our customers share with us and the community. In fact, at the heart of the Micro Focus POV is ‘customer centricity’, and this takes many forms.
Our marketing activities, either digital – this blog – or in person, like Universe, promote the message, reinforce the brand, or strengthen the platform; but it is the contra-traffic, the customer and partner stories coming the other way that really matter. While we can churn out stats and facts on our solutions’ superior ROI, or our products unequalled ‘fit’ in the technology landscape, it is these testimonies that provide the ‘proof in the pudding’.
For all the marketing flair at my disposal, there is nothing stronger than a customer-generated story about real world challenges overcome, practical problems solved and business value delivered. The customers we already have are a great way of attracting the attention of new customers.
That’s why we put customers front at center at Micro Focus Universe and on our website too. Our best sales asset is our customers’ success, and how we enable it. As we say in the event game, Show – don’t tell.
For now, I’m signing off because as I said at the start of this blog, life moves pretty fast during event season, and in the true spirit of B2B Enterprise Marketing, we are already onto our next series of major customer events. These include our Application Delivery Management Summit in the US or our series of Realize events in Asia Pacific or the continuation of Micro Focus Universe on the road in Europe and on-Demand.
Thanks for listening to part one of my Micro Focus Universe story, and get in touch to share yours, I’m always here on Twitter