An Interview with Rosemary Remacle: Is Technology Changing the Face of Startup Marketing?
We continue our series on marketing evolution with a conversation with Rosemary Remacle, principal of Market Focus and past venture partner at Sevin Rosen Funds. Join us to learn what has changed and surprisingly, what still remains the same when it comes to marketing at startups and early stage companies.
Rosemary, fill us in on the trends in the venture capital (VC) market over the last couple of years.
In terms of areas of investment, some of the traditional IT companies are still getting money but the really hot areas are Web 2.0 and green applications. Green is a huge category with lots of subcategories of innovation and some of the big VC houses have even started a separate green fund.
Are Web 2.0 applications driving the Internet these days and why is it such a hot investment option?
It is drawing the attention of all companies, big and small. Big software giants like Microsoft are keenly watching these little business applications that offer cost-effective alternatives to their expensive, enterprise-wide offerings. They too are beginning to offer their own Web 2.0 applications targeted at small businesses. Customers like it because they can buy an application a bit at a time with immediate results. Today, these are mostly used by early adopters but there will be wide scale adoption in the next couple of years.
Social networking applications are another high impact area. Most companies haven’t figured out exactly how to make money off of them yet, but it’s certainly influencing how we live and communicate on a day-to-day basis.
Technology has changed that forever. Any marketer that isn’t taking advantage of technology and the power of the Internet will be left behind. Startups need to build a company culture around building customer and partner information databases. Marketing then has to figure out how to leverage that information, generate better quality leads, create tighter relationships, and design more effective marketing campaigns.
One of my first mandates to startup companies is that they must capture customer information and build a corporate database from day one. This is not just persons who’ve signed a PO but others in the customer organization, potential customers and partners.
How do the large companies score on relationship marketing?
This is a huge opportunity for companies to rethink the customer experience from the user’s point of view. American Airlines’ frequent flyers program is a good example of great personalized service. Given the tough fiscal environment in which airlines operate, AA knows that its frequent flyers are its most profitable passengers, and, these are the customers that it wants to keep happy the most. They use the Internet and AA.com to maintain a dialogue with those loyal customers.
Such large scale relationship marketing is possible with a systematic approach that allows marketing to figure out how to take the data from multiple of back office systems, turn it into marketing programs, and use the Internet, social networking, etc. to either deliver products or to build relationships with its customers and partners.
How should technology companies and B2B companies run their marketing in today’s Internet environment and social networking capabilities?
A big change for all technology companies is that they have to also seriously consider end-user or consumer behavior. In the past, they focused just on B2B buyer behavior and the complicated buying decision process, but now they have added complexity of consumer behavior.
Another area is segmentation: many companies still don’t devote enough time, energy and importance to it. Again, it has become easier as there is a lot more data available behind decisions whether entering a new market, creative programs or Web marketing.
If you want to use a social networking site like Facebook as part of your marketing strategy, it must match your targeted segment’s demographics. Facebook is oriented to people, usually younger, who are really comfortable with technology. If your customers aren’t using Facebook already, developing a Facebook-centric program is unlikely to be useful. An email newsletter may be a better way to reach this constituency. At the end of the day, it just provides it’s another tactic to reach customers - you have to start with a customer and work backwards to the optimal marketing mix.
What’s the impact of marketing technology on tracking ROI and results?
As we all know, a buying decision is generally not made based on any one marketing promotion or customer experience with a company. Companies have to map potential marketing programs to the various situations where a buyer is exposed to the problem addressed by the product and then, the product itself. If everything works perfectly, the effort of mapping those activities and developing a closed loop marketing and sales system can provide insights into which marketing tools work best, generate the best leads, drive strong customer relationships, and uncover its most valuable customers.
What’s the multiplier effect of Internet + globalization on market adoption and product development?
In terms of innovation, something entirely new, think the I-Phone, starts off as a niche product in a particular market. As it matures and becomes a more broadly adopted product, it’ll be introduced in other markets once suitable modifications have been made. It does put more pressure on developers to be thoughtful about the sequence of customer adoption of their innovative product. A product should always be designed or defined to solve a customer problem.
Finally, marketing: a science or an art?
See the 2005 interview with Ms. Remacle.
Rosemary Remacle is a principal at Market Focus (www.mktfocus.net) and leads consulting engagements focused on the development of strategies for technology products and services for clients in the US, Europe, and Asia.
Over the years, Rosemary has consulted with management teams in large global corporations such as Hitachi, National Semiconductor, Adobe, AMD, Sun Microsystems, IBM, SGI, Oracle, Toshiba and HP. Most recently, her consulting efforts have focused on developing positioning and market entry strategies and supporting plans for venture-backed companies such as Southampton Photonics, Fuego, Pharmquest, Neoforma, LightConnect, Innerwireless, BeVocal, NovusEdge, LightPointe, Virtutech, Gloo Labs, FusionOne, and Epicentric.
Prior to becoming a strategic marketing consultant, Rosemary held a variety of executive management positions with Memorex, Intel, Zilog, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and was a partner with Regis Mckenna, Inc. In addition to her MarketFocus consulting, Rosemary joined the venture capital firm, Sevin Rosen Funds, in 2000 as a Venture Partner to consult with the firm’s portfolio companies.Rosemary is an author, speaker and guest lecturer at Stanford, Pepperdine, and the University of California at Berkeley. She serves on the advisory boards of venture backed startup companies and is on the Board of Directors of the Silicon Valley Association for Start-up Entrepreneurs. Rosemary earned a B.A. degree from Arizona State University and an M.A. from San Jose State University.