What the Heck Is Digital Transformation (DT)?

It's a buzzword! It's a concept! It's a technological advance! “Digital Transformation” means something different to almost everyone. The term is bandied about along with other phrases and neologisms like Internet of Things (IoT), Unicorn Companies, and Disruptive Technologies. But could digital and technological advances really have an impact on YOUR business? To get a practical, real-world perspective, the authors of this white paper interviewed technology experts in the trenches of modern business for their definitions of Digital Transformation. Then collected real-world stories from businesses that are actually using ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and the cloud to rethink their future.

Download it now to help you understand what your own digital transformation might look like.

The Many Flavors of Marketing

As Marketing Matters nears its first anniversary on June 1, I find myself reflecting on the variety of assignments I have completed for my clients. It made me think about Baskin-Robbins and their famous "31 flavors" slogan. The idea behind that slogan was that a customer could have a different flavor every day of any month!

I can’t claim to have executed 31 different marketing campaigns for my clients, but I’ve probably come close to that.

My projects have included:

  • eBooks
  • Blogs
  • Articles
  • Web sites
  • Logo design
  • Call scripts
  • Email campaigns
  • Newsletters
  • Case studies
  • LinkedIn profiles
  • Social media
  • Search engine optimization
  • Event planning
  • Infographics

The topics I’ve written about include:

  • ERP
    • Microsoft Dynamics GP
    • Microsoft Dynamics NAV
    • Microsoft Dynamics 365
    • Acumatica
    • Intacct
    • ERP comparisons
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • The Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Digital Transformation (DT)
  • The "Skills Gap"
  • Partner-to-Partner (P2P) collaboration
  • Software selection
  • Software upgrades
  • Business Intelligence (BI)
    • Power BI
    • Solver BI360
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Custom software development
  • Cloud, Cloud, Cloud
  • Inventory and warehouse management
  • Legacy software
  • Millennials in the workplace
  • Managing risk
  • Azure Cloud, Azure workloads, Azure Machine Learning
  • Supply chain
  • Building a Microsoft practice
  • Cybersecurity
  • Malware
  • Managed IT services
  • The Virtual CTO
  • Outsourcing, Nearshoring
  • Social media marketing
  • Industry news

Wow! Until I set out to write this blog, I had no idea that I would exceed Baskin-Robbins’ 31 flavors. But I did! Now, I can’t wait to see what year 2 at MARKETING MATTERS will bring my way.

 marcia.doron@mktmatters.com | 508-735-3454

 

Words!

I’m a marketing professional. So naturally words are my stock-in-trade. I love words. I love language (and I speak several). I love understanding the etymology or words. Where they came from. When they became part of our language. And I love neologisms, which according to Webster means: a new word or expression or a new meaning of a word.

In this blog, I’m going to focus on two words that have taken on very different meanings in recent years. Disruptive and unicorn.

These are not new words. We all know what they mean. Or rather we knew what they used to mean! Because they have taken on very different meanings in current business parlance.

Disruptive

The first known use of the verb disrupt was in 1793 and it meant “to interrupt the normal course of.” The adjective form of the word, disruptive, carries the same meaning. Children can be disruptive when they demand attention while a group of grows ups are attempting to have an adult conversation. A person who is coughing in the audience during a classical music concert is disruptive. Until recently, in everyday parlance, disruptive had a negative connotation.

But put it together with the word technology, and “disruptive technology” takes on a whole new positive meaning in modern parlance. According to WhatIs.com, “A disruptive technology is one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry.” Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen coined the term disruptive technology in his 1997 best-selling book, "The Innovator's Dilemma."

Disruptive is now a good thing. Disrupting the status quo has paved the way for innovations that have made our lives easier and have made our businesses more agile. Disruptive technologies and innovations don’t wait for traditional methodologies to slowly adapt to change. They are game changers that quickly transform the way we do business.

Think about the speed at which computers replaced typewriters. Think about how email has become a faster mode of communication replacing mail, which we now fondly refer to as “snail mail.” Think about how cloud services have eliminated the need for costly on premise hardware.

Change is good and disruptive is good, too.

 Unicorn

First used in the 13th century (!) we all know that a unicorn is a mythical animal often depicted as a very beautiful horse with a long and pointed horn extending from its forehead. Now you can forget that definition.

Because in today’s parlance, according to that omniscient source of all information, Wikipedia: “A unicorn is a start-up company valued at more than $1 billion. Canadian tech unicorns are known as narwhals. A decacorn is a word used for those companies valued at more than $10 billion, while hectocorn is the appropriate term for such a company valued at more than $100 billion. According to VentureBeat, there were 229 unicorns as of January 2016. The largest unicorns included Uber, Xiaomi, Airbnb, Palantir, Snapchat, Dropbox and Pinterest.” These are not definitions that appear in Merriam-Webster. I checked. 

See how language has changed! It's positively astonishing. Unicorns are popping up all over the world, and I'm certainly not referring to the mythical beasts.

Fortune magazine publishes a Unicorn List and explains as follows: "they're called "unicorns" - private companies valued at $1 billion or more. The billion-dollar technology startup was once the stuff of myth. Today they're seemingly everywhere, backed by a bull market and a new generation of disruptive technology." Note the phrase "... backed by ... a new generation of disruptive technology." Thanks goodness you now know what that means!

Today, tomorrow, or the day after that, there will likely be more new words and more old words with new meanings. I, for one, am pleased that our lexicon is keeping up with the pace of change. Otherwise, my words would lack appropriate meaning. And that would not be a good thing.


 

 

 

 

#wheretostartwithsocialmedia

Social media is no longer just “good to have,” it’s an absolute must for all businesses that want to remain competitive. But faced with the requirement to constantly deliver new qualified leads, many small marketing departments have pushed social media to the wayside for traditional demand generation campaigns, emails and events that are a sure-bet, and easy to track, when it comes to filling the sales funnel. Other marketing professionals have been fearful of traipsing into digital territory, perhaps nervous about making a public mistake or breaking the internet (not in a good way), or maybe just suffering from a good old-fashioned fear of the unknown.

If your budget doesn’t have room for dedicated social media staff or outsourcing but you want to get in the game, never fear. The new Avalara Social Media Guide  delivers the information you need to get up and running, with minimal investment of time or money. This handy primer provides an overview of the different types of social media, introduces all of the most popular and relevant platforms for B2B marketers (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter), breaks down some of the common (but often mysterious) terms, and walks you through the process of how to start small, and grow from there.

Read the guide, start posting, and see for yourself how simple it can be to expand the power of your brand online.

Who is Avalara?

Famous for our orange branding and the hilarious (but educational) Will’s Whiteboard tax video series that is a favorite on the web and social media, Avalara helps businesses of all sizes achieve compliance with transactional taxes, including VAT, sales and use, excise, communications, and other tax types. We deliver comprehensive, automated, cloud-based solutions that are fast, accurate, and easy to use. Learn more about becoming an Avalara Partner at www.partners.avalara.com.

Thanks to my friends at Avalara for this insightful post. No matter what business you're in, Marketing Matters! And this blog will help you get started and reap the benefits of social media marketing.

Dynamics 365 - Is it here yet?

I came across a couple of short videos that I wanted to share now that Summit is over and the ins and outs of Dynamics 365 are no longer confidential. The videos are not particularly revealing. They just touch on the highlights of what Dynamics 365 can do for your business. Be that as it may and for what it's worth, here are the links to two new videos:

https://youtu.be/T2yUaQewGU4

https://youtu.be/huIzvemfTtA

I have also been collecting additional materials about Dynamics 365, because I see it as a game changer, certainly for partners, potentially for clients, absolutely Microsoft as it fulfills Satya Nadella vision of a "cloud first, mobile first" company! If you'd like me to send you more information, just email me a request. I can be found at marcia.doron@mktmatters.com.

Is choosing a keynote speaker for your event like choosing a couch for your new house?

red-couch-580.jpg

Does that sound like a strange analogy? It really isn’t. Here’s why.

I have an aunt who is an interior decorator. But she’s more than that. She’s a very wise woman in addition to being a gifted painter and sculptor. She has a clear philosophy when it comes to decorating a room. And that is: You can start with anything. If you fall in love with a rug, start with that and build your room around it. Buy a couch and you can just as easily start with that. It doesn’t matter what you begin with. What matters is how creatively you integrate the rest.

Planning a company or a client event is much the same. You have to start somewhere. If you already have a theme for your event, choose a speaker that fits your theme. Or, if you already have a speaker in mind, go right ahead and book him or her. And then build your theme around your speaker. But don’t go off in all different directions. Either the speaker or the theme should dictate every other element of your event, from the decorations to the giveaways, to the way you name your breakout sessions, right down to the confetti on your registration tables.

For example, if your theme is “Technology: The Next Generation” you’ll want a visionary speaker, a “futurist.” If your speaker is Sam Parker and he’s going to talk about “212, the extra degree” then your theme should be all about heat. For example “Hot New Technologies.”  

How do you go about finding the perfect keynote speaker? I’ve used speaker bureaus like Big Speak, www.BigSpeak.com, and The Harry Walker Agency, www.HarryWalker.com. Those sites let you search by topic and type so you can do your own research. Sometimes, though, it’s easier to hook up with a member of their support team. You can let them know what your theme is as well as your price range and they’ll send you a relevant list that fits your criteria. That way you have short list. Otherwise it can be too time consuming. But whether you’re doing your own research or using a short list provided by an agency, view the video clips which are extremely helpful.  

What features are you looking for in the videos? In my expert opinion, you don’t want a speaker who just stands behind the podium and goes through a PowerPoint script. That’s boring. You want a speaker who moves around the stage and interacts with your attendees. You want a speaker who challenges your attendees to think. And for Pete’s sake, don’t skimp on price. A great keynote speaker kicks your event off in the right direction by creating excitement. That buzz at the beginning of your event means that your attendees will be buzzing all day long.

Marketing Matters is committed to making your event unique, engaging, colorful, fun and successful. www.mktmatters.com/event-planning

Top 10 Elements for an Event that Will Stand Out as Unique, Engaging, Colorful, Fun and Successful

Do events have to be fun?
Sure they do.  

Corporate events are often overly PowerPoint heavy. Yawn. Of course, your audience wants great content. They come to hear about new ideas. But if your event is not also fun, you run the risk that your messaging will go in one ear and out the other.

I speak from experience, having organized client events that have been touted as “The best partner events in the Microsoft Dynamics channel.”

So without further ado, here are the top 10 elements for an event that will stand out as unique, engaging, colorful, fun and successful (in no particular order because every element is critical):

1.      Go easy on the PowerPoint presentations to avoid yawns

2.      Start prepping and organizing at least 6 months ahead

3.      Choose an influential and dynamic keynote speaker

4.      Create a unique theme and use it to define your giveaways, your topic titles, … everything

5.      Give your attendees a thumb drive pre-loaded with all of your content

6.      Pick a venue that’s easy to access from several main arteries

7.      Make sure your attendees have plenty to eat, drink and make merry

8.      Celebrate your attendees! Your event is not all about you.

9.      Use a highly detailed checklist so that no detail is forgotten

10.   Follow up with all of your attendees within 2 days of the event

11.   Did I say 10? Here’s a bonus: Think outside of the box!

I’d be happy to elaborate on any of the points above, and will probably do so in several upcoming blog posts. However, if you’d like more information now, please don’t hesitate to contact Marketing Matters. Visit us at www.mktmatters.com. Email me directly at marcia.doron@mktmatters.com. Or just pick up a phone and call me at 508-735-3454. 

Make your events matter!

Creative ideas. Thinking outside of the box. 

The Indisputable Power of Group Blogs: 3 Million Visitors!

Let’s not argue the point.
Let’s just look at the stats.

And we’ll do that. But first, let’s understand what a group blog is. It’s a class of individuals who share common attributes. In the cases we’re examining, the class is comprised of the members of the ERP Software Blog and/or the CRM Software Blog who are all Value Added Resellers (VARs) or Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) in the Microsoft Dynamics ERP and/or the Microsoft Dynamics CRM channel.

The power lies in their numbers and their monthly contributions of valuable blog content to the group blogs they are members of. The volume of content is high and varied, which drives the search engines to recognize them for scores of relevant key words. More than any individual blogger could hope to achieve.

Here are the indisputable stats:

In the month of June alone, there were more than 41,000 visitors to the ERP Software Blog and more than 24,000 visitors to the CRM Software Blog.

CRM Blog Logo new.png

Since their inception in 2009, there were more than 2 million (2,000,000) visitors to the ERP Software Blog and more than 1 million (1,000,000) visitors to the CRM Software Blog.

One of the most popular posts - How Much Does a Typical ERP Implementation Cost? – has been viewed more than 1,800 times.

We are not disputing the value of individual blogs that will surely drive traffic to your individual Web sites. And that’s well worth doing. But… if your individual blog can beat the stats for either of the two highly respected group blogs above, by all means, let us know!

If you are interested in membership details click here or go to info@erpsoftwareblog.com.

7 Essentials of a Well-Written Newsletter: Penguin Infographic!

Thanks to Michael J. Katz, Chief Penguin, for allowing us to share this super cool infographic on the Marketing Matters blog. I've been a Penguin fan for many years and enjoy Michael's weekly newsletters. I've learned a lot from him. Hopefully you will, too.

"For a professional service firm, email newsletters are a marketing home run. They demonstrate both your knowledge and your personality; they promote trust and visibility; they fuel your social media activities; they have (nearly) zero variable cost.

But you’ve probably noticed that most of them are as dry as dust. Fear not! Follow these simple guidelines and your email newsletter will remain forever moist.

Seven letters (P-E-N-G-U-I-N), each one representing a critical variable that needs to be present in every newsletter you publish if you expect your audience to hear it, understand it and share it with others." 

Visit Blue Penguin Development for more fun!

Why Marketing Matters

Marketing, in my humble opinion as a marketing professional, is the life blood of a company. Marketing is the communications vehicle that allows companies to be seen and heard. Marketing is how companies are found on the Internet. Marketing prepares the turf for a company's sales team to step in and close business. Ideally, every employee in a company plays a part in marketing. For example, if your company is marketing a physical product and you're a worker on an assembly line, doing your job well means that your company is producing a superior product. Or if your company is marketing field services and you're a technician in the field, doing your job well enhances the reputation of your company. Every action, from the way a receptionist answers the phone to your CEO's profile on LinkedIn, is part of marketing. 

The tactics have evolved. Social media platforms have replaced many traditional forms of marketing. Email has replaced mail. Web sites have by and large replaced slick pieces of collateral. And all of these innovations rely more heavily on marketing than ever before.     

A Brief and Intriguing History of Microsoft Dynamics SL: The Wisdom of Solomon

I am first and foremost a story teller.
The tale of Solomon is an intriguing story, so I enjoy recounting it.

A Very Brief History of Microsoft Dynamics SL:
From Findlay, OH to Fargo, ND to Redmond, WA

Perhaps you all know this and perhaps you don’t. I, for one, never really stopped to think why this giant of software companies was named Solomon. For all I knew, Solomon was perhaps the first or last name of one its founders. NOT so.

Founded in Findlay, OH in 1980 as TLB, Inc. (The Lord’s Business), the company was soon renamed Solomon as a continuing reminder of its original purpose, which was to conduct business according to biblical principles (see footnote)*. Its first accounting software products were released in 1981.

Over the years, Solomon won many prestigious awards and its client base grew exponentially. All this, of course, made it a prime target for an acquisition. Indeed, in 2000, Solomon was purchased by Great Plains Software (now Microsoft Dynamics GP) out of Fargo, ND. And in 2001, Great Plains was purchased by Microsoft, which I can safely assume we all know is headquartered in Redmond, WA.

Eventually, Solomon was renamed Microsoft Dynamics SL. Read more about SL

*Footnote: I'd like to take a leap of faith there and suggest that the phrase "according to biblical principles" includes the ideals embodied in what is known as "The Wisdom of Solomon." Which leads me to yet another captivating story.

Solomon was the Biblical king famous for his wisdom. In 1 Kings, he sacrificed to God and prayed for wisdom. God answered his prayer, promising him great wisdom because he had not asked to self-serving rewards like long life or the death of his enemies. 

Perhaps the best known story of his wisdom is the Judgment of Solomon in a case involving two women, each of whom laid claim to being the mother of the same child. Solomon resolved the dispute by commanding that the child should be cut in half and thereby shared between the two. One of the women immediately renounced her claim, proving that she would rather give up the child than see it harmed. King Solomon declared the woman who showed compassion to be the true mother, entitled to the whole child. 

The Judgment of Solomon, painting on ceramic, Castelli, 18th century, Lille Museum of Fine Arts

The Judgment of Solomon, painting on ceramic,
Castelli, 18th century, Lille Museum of Fine Arts

Solomon was also considered to be the author of several Biblical books, including not only the collection of Proverbs, but also of Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, and the later apocryphal book, the "Wisdom of Solomon," also known as the "Book of Wisdom."