Posted by: chasker | June 22, 2008

The Ultimate in Marketing

What’s the most effective way to market? Tough question, and the answer is obviously ‘it depends’, but despite the rise of email marketing, online networking, RSS feeds, video and other ways to grab attention I got a good reality check last week that maybe the oldest methods can still be the most effective.

We held our first SQL Server Customer Advisory Board last week in Laguna. We flew in 11 customers from all over the States, stayed at a nice hotel, had great meals, and conducted two days of very intense meetings. I had been a little skeptical as to whether the attendees would actively contribute, but I should have had no cause for worry. Watching people, who had only just met, sharing common challenges, talking solutions and providing feedback and direction on our tools was fantastic.

Although these customers were already predisposed to liking the company, I have no doubt that each of them left the event in a more positive frame of mind, and no doubt have told loved ones, friends and colleagues about their experiences. To me, this is the most effective form of marketing – customer evangelism.

We do it all the time; we love something (I was just made aware of two products recently – Flock and Xobni, which I am now evangelzing (or boring people with)) and we spread the word. We actually overcome people’s objections and sell hard; probably a lot harder than the reps who get paid to sell. There are tons of methods to creating customer evangelists, but for me (for now at least) an in-person event, where honesty, mutual respect and transparency are the order of the day is going to take some beating.

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