Over the past four years, hundreds of marketers have attended
Diane Di Cioccio's daylong intensive "Software Marketing
Bootcamp" workshop. We contacted her to ask for some of her most
practical tips; the really good stuff:
(Note: Even if you are not in the software industry, most of these
tips will apply to you as well.)
-> Do not Put ALL Your Sales Materials on Your Web Site
If you are selling products with an extended sales cycle, Di
Cioccio says the last thing you should do is make all your sales
and marketing materials readily available for every site visitor
who happens to drop by.
Why not? "The prospect disqualifies you without ever contacting
you," she explains. "Always parcel out marketing materials over
time. The more touches you have with them, the more of a
relationship you'll build, and people buy because of
She compares putting everything (your demo, your white papers,
your case studies, your tech facts, etc.) on your site to the
offline tactic of sending new sales leads a "huge folder" packed
with all the information they would ever want to know about your
"When the salesperson calls to follow-up, people say, 'It's
sitting on my desk, I haven't had a chance to look at it.' How
many times have you heard that? It's because you gave them too
Instead, Di Cioccio suggests rationing out materials based on
where prospects are in the sales cycle.
Initially a prospect might need a brochure, then you can use the
offer of a white paper about their industry as another teaser or
hook, and then when the prospect needs Case Studies to use when
evangelizing your product within their organization, you provide
those, etc., etc.
"It's a fine line," says Di Cioccio, "You don't want to piss them
off; you do want them to say 'yeah could you send me this?' for
This means your publicly available site should be designed to
specifically get visitors involved in that first stage of your
sales cycle, and secondarily to provide useful contacts for those
in other stages.
Di Cioccio's other top design tip is to give visitors multiple
ways to find the same information. "If you and I sat down at the
same Web site, you and I would navigate it completely
Some people like drop downs, some routinely click on navigation
bar options, others rely on search, and still others just look at
whatever is in the middle of their screen. You have to make sure
all of these navigation paths are provided for, and that all lead
visitors through a path that solves your needs, getting sales
-> How to Succeed with Email Despite Overloaded Inboxes
Between the s*pam glut and the popularity of email marketing,
your prospects' inboxes are overwhelmed right now. You will
have to try a bit harder to stand out.
Di Cioccio's advice:
- Do not rent big lists without testing first. "I see so many
people in my class who say, 'We sent 500,000 and we got less
than 1% response.' They are ready to scrap email marketing.
I say, 'Did you test your message with maybe 5,000 at the
beginning? Did you learn and modify the message? Did you
test three different subject lines?"
- Try small niche lists. Association members and tight title
selects from trade publications you already advertise with
are both good bets.
- Gorgeous graphics or a big fat logo may not be your best
bet. Most people don't want to see what looks like 4-color
brochures in their email in-box. Some people can not even
view HTML. "Design for your target, look like your target,
speak to your target," advises Di Cioccio. Before
developing campaign creative, take a look at the design of
the email your target market eagerly subscribes to. What do
they like to see in their in-box?
- Your email newsletter to prospects and clients should look
and sound as much as possible like a newsletter written by a
great independent journalist who really gets the market's
interests. And your company just happens to be the sponsor.
Instead of announcing your new product release, do a story
from the perspective of one of the beta testers. Instead of
selling, prove your expertise with informative, useful
information that is not directly about your product.
Your newsletter is a relationship building device, something
to keep that sales lead warm and impressed. It is not a
marketing brochure or a substitute for a sales rep.
-> How to Decide Which Trade Show to Exhibit At
Guess what? Your best choice for exhibiting is probably *not*
COMDEX or one of the other huge expos. Di Cioccio also advises
against picking a show because your competitors will be there.
Instead, do some demographic research and look for highly
targeted niche shows that your key sales prospects attend.
Two stories from her own experience:
1. When selling software to golf course owners, Di Cioccio
avoided the huge annual PGA show in Florida in favor of a
regional golf course owners' association event in Phoenix.
"I received incredible leads from that, and in talking to
those people, they said, 'I never go to the PGA Show, it's
2. When making accounting software for legal firms, Di Cioccio
first considered exhibiting at costly Bar Association
events. But after researching her demographic a bit
further, she invested in exhibiting in events held by
regional offshoots of the legal administration association.
"They were very strong, and it was all for a fraction of
the cost of those ABA shows."
-> High Tech Media Relations - How to Impress Reporters
Di Cioccio says marketers and PR pros for high tech companies
routinely write such boring subject lines and headlines that
journalists ignore their press releases.
Her advice, whenever you write a headline or an email subject
line to send to the press, first look it over and ask yourself
three questions, "Who cares? So what? Can you prove it?"
If your headline says something like 'XYZ Company Launches
product Release 2.3' or your email subject line says 'Press
Release from Company XYZ' you just lost the reporter's attention.
Di Cioccio says, "Those reporters are inundated with hundreds of
releases, they are going 'delete, delete, delete' through their
email. Your subject line needs a hook."
"For example instead of saying 'We released a new version of our
database software,' say, 'New database software is 20X faster.'
If I'm a reporter and that's my beat, I'm going to click on
She also admonishes her students for the most common mistake of
all: "Do you just cut and paste copy from your brochure for the
release? I always get quite a few giggles in my class at this
point. So many marketers are guilty of it."
Reporters do not want a sales pitch, they want a story. They are
not employed to get your marketing message out to the masses,
they are paid to write stuff people will find enormously
Five tips for a release that rocks:
1. Do not start with an introductory paragraph that places
your news into a broad context. "I call that once-upon-a-time
approach, 'How I spent my summer vacation,'" Di Cioccio laughs.
Cut to the chase. If your intro paragraph is interesting enough
for their targeted audience, some reporters may just cut and
2. Boasting that you are 'A leading provider of' or other
such general sweeping claims are viewed as empty puffery unless
you can prove them with an actual fact, such as 'According to
XYZ research we have 35% of market share which is the largest
slice of any company in our sector.' (Do not make up a
special sector only you qualify for. Being 100% of a faux niche
is also puffery reporters will see straight through.)
3. Do keep your release to four paragraphs or less if
possible. "There's a feeling that since it's email therefore I
can make it scroll to eternity. Editors don't have time. Nine
times out of ten the first four paragraphs are all they'll read
4. No attachments. Reporters fear viruses just like
everybody else. Plus, many newsroom's IT systems stop all email
with attachments from ever reaching the staff. Instead add links
to pertinent information on your site. Links to downloadable art
files with photos and graphics suitable for print publishing are
often especially appreciated.
5. Make sure the phone number on the release (and one your
site) is one that reporters can catch you on at any time of the
day or night. If for some reason they hit your voice mail, call
them back as quickly as humanly possible.
"You have to respect the fact that editors are on deadline," Di
Cioccio says. "I am religious, if an editor calls me, I will
call back as soon as I can. I've returned calls in airports,
golf courses, the wildest places. The reporter always gets
She adds, "That builds on itself. You begin a relationship with
them. Then when you do want to announce something that's not
going to set the world on fire, they'll give you a little ink."
(NOTE: Di Cioccio's Bootcamps are over for 2002, but you can take
the Bootcamp via CD ROM at your own desk. Includes 7 hours of
audio and video, plus 97 Powerpoint slide and a printed workbook.
If you are interested in getting your own copy: