Use new technologies to enhance your education and information delivery strategy! I think we all agree that education and learning is critical – for students, educational institutions, corporations, and governments. An educated workforce delivers competitive advantage of nations, and our educational institutions and information resources must deliver the best possible learning experience. Corporations and governments need to address the full spectrum from concept education to on-demand learning, information delivery, and electronic performance support. These organizations need to educate their audience with new concepts, processes, policies, procedures and products on a continuous basis and deliver insights and help at the point of delivery and execution.

The traditional classroom education paradigm is no longer adequate to ensure students receive the education and learning insights they need. We know there is significant value in the face-to-face, instructor led educational experience, but the traditional model needs to be enhanced with new information delivery models that take advantage of the new second circle technologies available today. What are some of the challenges we experience with the traditional model?

  • It is difficult for educational institutions to deliver a compelling and accredited educational experience to students while under increasing cost pressure
  • Students learn at different paces and preferring different learning styles and media and need to balance group learning with individual study to avoid distraction
  • The classroom schedules are not always convenient or accessible when restricted to specific times and locations – especially with the competing classes, sports and extracurricular activities
  • Not all instructors are created equal (see Bill Gate’s talk at TED) and with Virtual Learning, we can scale our very best instructional talent
  • Companies need to continuously educate their rapidly changing employee base and inform customers and partners on new products, procedures, policies and processes – these programs must satisfy the full spectrum from learning broad concepts to gaining tactical content at the point of customer interaction.
  • Employees move rapidly between companies, positions and roles while procedures change; companies need on-demand learning and support solutions especially for high turnover positions
  • The costs of traditional in-person classroom education is high and with increased pressure to manage the cost/value equation for students and meet difficult budget constraints, new models must be considered

I worked with a large insurance company with a non-captive agent workforce spread broadly across geographies. They needed a solution that delivered critical insights at the point of client delivery and communication, but they also needed to deliver a broader educational foundation for these agents. Delivering formal educational programs to an audience this diverse was prohibitively expensive and couldn’t support the day-to-day support needs. They needed both a performance support solution AND an online teaching solution. Increasingly, educational institutions need new sources of income while providing the services that are being demanded by students. Major online education providers are signing up well over 20,000 new online students a month – I think we can confirm the demand is here. Prestigious educational institutions should naturally preserve the integrity of their educational brand and foster the complete on-campus educational experience that includes personal relationships, but they can also begin to more effectively compliment their delivery model with enhanced delivery methods and media.  Tufts is working on programs that will deliver the Tufts-brand of education through distance learning to places like Dubai. In another business example, a leading retail bank needs to better leverage their expert knowledge about innovative products and services across the branch store network. Why lose a valuable product cross-sell or adoption because branch platform personnel were not yet up to speed on key product features and advantages?  Use experts to deliver content on-demand at the point of sale. They need both a broader educational content foundation and live video services that deliver   real-time branch to branch and web-based video conferencing and delivery services. Education and learning delivery should blend traditional classroom learning with new on-demand virtual teaching and information delivery models. New virtual education and information delivery technologies provide the mechanisms to deliver education at the pace students need and provide critical knowledge content on-demand to a company’s customers, employees, partners and students. One example is Panviva’s Supportpoint solution which is being used by companies that need a performance management solution delivered at the point of delivery. The technology integrates with existing applications to provide context-sensitve help and educational performance support. Another compelling solution is being delivered by Retrieve Technology in Henniker, NH.  Retrieve’s vBook technology delivers rich educational content in video /multi-media on-demand to governments, corporations and educational institutions. Teachers and publishers can record their content/classroom using green screen technology and  blend text book, assessments and evaluation structures. The teacher can collaborate with students both on-line and in person using collaborative web 2.0 services to deliver a rich educational experience.  These technologies can be applied in a wide range of contexts – including traditional education, corporate and government training and individual eBook authorship. Some of the features to look for in a winning new media education solution include:

  • Deployment flexibility using either cloud-based or installed platform
  • Human factors oriented design (e.g. using familiar and proven metaphors: books, chapters, sections, book shelves, index, FAQ, etc)
  • Efficient online course creation and delivery with user/ content owner controls
  • Powerful Boolean Search and browse access methods to gain access to the full range of content and zero in quickly on what you need to see
  • Full multi-media – text, graphics, images, audio and video – to enhance the learning and engage audience
  • Tools that facilitate grading and evaluation and certification
  • Branding flexibility to allow institutions to control the learning information and content assets and distribution
  • A balanced approach that facilitates a blend of virtual and live instruction
  • The ability to manage individual content segments and manage version control
  • Notification for students and users for changes to subscribed content
  • Asset and content manageability for individual accounts and groups with full accounting and tracking
  • The ability to track detailed usage and apply custom commercial models with maximum flexibility

Take a look at the new second circle solutions that are out there – the industry is changing quickly, and solutions – like Retrieve Technology – are transforming how we educate and learn. Please comment at Revenue Architects or contact me if you want to learn more about these exciting technologies and the economic value they create!

I am looking forward to visiting some friends in Napa Valley over the weekend of June 30-31 where I will get to see how the other half lives! 🙂 After that, I will be heading to San Francisco to facilitate a workshop at the Gilbane Conference on June 2-4. My topic: Social Media and the Digital Marketing Platform. Everyone is talking about social media. Social networks are growing by the day with more and more people joining. New networks are popping up all over the place. Companies are challenged with building out community platforms around their products and services. Corporations are trying to figure out what social media is and how to integrate both the corporate communities and public social media platforms into their businesses. Where do you start? Should you be on Twitter? What about Facebook? How do you go about building out a platform solution? This workshop will teach new media techniques, including blogging and social media as well as how all of this ties into business strategies and goals. The session will provide a roadmap for building out and integrating these solutions.

T.J. O’Connor and I are looking forward to speaking on June 25-7: Ritz Carlton-Lodge Reynolds Plantation One Lake Oconee Trail Greensboro, GA 30642 Abstract: Companies are undergoing a massive shift in investment away from traditional media toward online media. New web sites and social networks are accelerating brand awareness and audience engagement. Customers are making their product purchase selections and engaging brands online. While they follow a familiar buying process, the selling process needs to adapt to a more dynamic online environment that you can’t fully control. How do you capture customer value in a complex online environment? The answer is to use new online marketing strategies to nurture and engage your direct and indirect audience across the buy-sell process. opei_newsletter09_spread

When setting out to develop an Internet Marketing strategy, you need to connect the dots between a wide range of business,  marketing, technology and project elements.

A web strategy today involves a lot more than your web site. In the late 1990s it was very much about defining your branded online presence via the web site and related web services and online applications. Today, with the important roll of  Search and Social Media, your brand presence must now consider delivering impact and engagement across the broader social web and involves a far more sophisticated strategy for inbound marketing and lead capture.  With that in mind, if you are about to embark on a comprehensive Internet Marketing Strategy, you might want to get answers to a range of questions. So, here is a list, but let’s add to the list- what have you found as critical success factors and key issues that should be addressed in developing your internet strategy.

1) Market, Audience and Sales Model – You need to define the underlying business model for marketing and sales so that you can tie your Internet Marketing Strategy to business goals:

  • What is your revenue generation strategy?
  • How will you capture market share?
  • Who is your customer and what are their needs, intents and values?
  • What are the major market segments we wish to target?
  • What defines these segments and what are their major characteristics?
  • What is the typical customer life cycle for each segment?
  • What are the various dialogue needs across the life cycle chain and what implications does that have for the business operations model?
  • What are the demographic, psychographic, and channel preference factors of the targeted audience segments?
  • What capabilities will be needed to meet this targeted audience’s needs?
  • Who is the competition and what are their strengths, weaknesses?
  • What is the overall differentiating business strategy to capture market share?
  • What is the closed-loop marketing model and funnel process?
  • What opportunities are being created by the emergence of new media and technologies?

2) Functionality and Services – Now that you understand your core business model and your audience, what are the capabilities that your audience will be seeking to engage your brand online – both at your site(s) and across the social and mobile web?

  • What segment needs and intents will be addressed?
  • What is the unique functionality required? (transaction, database, content, syndication, lead capture, community, collaboration, forms, Configurator, eCommerce transactions, search, customer service, eNewsletters, events, eMail database, browser requirements? Privacy and Security? Accessibility?
  • In addition to basic site requirements, will the project seek to include interactive web platforms (such as logins, BLOGS, Forums, and Q&A chat rooms) in aims to enhance outreach tools?
  • Have you considered strategies regarding mobile devices/ web / social media?
  • Do you currently have any site utilization monitoring tools in place?
  • What role will your supplier play in determining the audience analysis?
  • Design concepts development and selection

3) Branding and Design – maybe you already have a brand identity – including logo marks and look and feel -but  you may also need to develop a “brand architecture” that ties together all your related product and services into a unifying identity – both on and offline.

  • Do you have an overall brand strategy? Offline and Online?
  • Have you a set of creative concepts under consideration?
  • Have these creative concepts been mapped to specific audience needs and/or business strategy drivers?
  • Which existing sites best approximate the desired look and feel? functionality?, info architecture?
  • Do you need a logi, brand architecture or single mark?
  • What are the various branding concepts that will suit our identified target segment?
  • Is the brand achieving Completeness, Transparency, Flow and Dialogue with the user?
  • How will we roll out the branding?
  • How will it be represented and communicated to the market?

4) Content and Information Architecture – How do you arrange your content into a clear information architecture that your audience can understand and access?

  • What content will the business will deliver (media types?)?
  • Do you have readily available content?
  • What effort is needed to design and develop the content? Initial? On-going?
  • Are there content partners and providers/ syndication that we have to consider?
  • Is there an archive of photos or other art that might be used for the site?
  • If appropriate, would the company commission original illustration or photography?
  • What is a representative site map?
  • Is their a wire frame model outlining envisioned experience?
  • How do the navigation scheme and content schema function?
  • are we considering tagging models? taxonomy? semantic models?
  • How should the content be organized for usability?  What IA works best given known constraints?

5) Marketing and Promotion – After you build out your sites, Internet presence, content and services, how are you going to attract the audience?

  • What are our traffic growth estimates and how do we intend to achieve them?
  • What is our awareness strategy, advertising strategy?
  • What are the SEO/ SEM marketing requirements?
  • Are their viral or velocity marketing opportunities?
  • How are you engaging the social web and online influencers?
  • Do you have a print and media marketing plan?

6) Technical Architecture Design – Once you have defined an overall business and functional blueprint, it will be a lot easier to select the right technology foundation to handle your needs.

  • Do we need to address an existing systems/ technology assessment, existing technology?
  • Are there preferred technology standards?
  • What content management and web services platform is required?
  • What are the hosting and managed services requirements?
  • What kind of user volumes will you expect at the site?
  • Do you need listening platforms to gauge sentiment on the broader web?
  • How effective is your audience intelligence platforms and data management skills?
  • Do you need specialized technology for mobile deployment, database marketing?

7) Operating Model – This is a key step to your strategy – defining a core business and process model that will ensure your digital assets and systems are well managed and that your content and services are up to date.

  • What are the operational procedures that will need to be in place to deliver the Internet Marketing Strategy?
  • What are the staffing skills and capability needs? Content? Service?
  • Do you understand what the potential impact on your existing organization will be?
  • Is there a team currently in place for site management? Do they require continuing training and support?

8) Implementation Plan – With all the core business, marketing and technical elements framed out, you can now better layer in an overall project time line driven by critical business commitments.

  • Is there a compelling event or critical implementation date? What is the required time line/ milestones?
  • Is there a project charter?
  • Is there a Business Case in place? Benefits?  Investments?
  • Is there budget to match ambition?
  • Have stakeholders & team members been identified?
  • What are the key assumptions, constraints and risks?
Feel free to add to the list and contribute to the discussion..

With the advent of new media and digital marketing, marketing and sales needs to be joined at the hip. There is a lot of focus now – even more than usual – on sales and the revenue model and how to make it work. With tougher economic times, business leaders are looking with even greater scrutiny at how the revenue model is working and what levers to pull to make it work better. The usual focus is on the sales team– putting in harder metrics and drivers in place to force the issue and make sales happen. The real opportunity, however, is by looking a little more broadly and connecting the pieces that make an overall “revenue architecture” work. There are 100s of drivers for revenue generation – including pricing and product quality – but what is often overlooked is how effective marketing and sales are coordinated to link the complete value change from awareness to closed deals. With the advent of digital marketing and social media models, the line between marketing and sales is increasingly blurred. Organizations need to be thinking less about one-off campaigns and more about continuous conversion strategies across the value chain funnel from brand awareness to closed deal. Successful organizations are using a new marketing model – increasingly centered on using digital marketing platforms to drive end-to-end awareness and demand, nurture opportunities and close business. Here are some elements we see within high-performing organizations- put these in place successfully and your marketing and sales machine should begin to work well: Setting and communicating clear strategy

  • Identifying the differentiated market positioning
  • Organizing the target market into durable segments
  • Tailoring messages and offers to each segment
  • Setting a go to market strategy that aligns resources to opportunity
  • Price your products and services competitively

Driving visibility and awareness

  • Create awareness and brand identity with the right mix of new and old media
  • Become visible digitally with SEO, your web presence and your digital outposts in social media
  • Provide value to your audience across each stage of the buy-sell process
  • Offer a consistent and quality brand experience at each interaction

Engaging across the funnel

  • Use information and tailored offers to nurture prospects across the funnel
  • Work all the channels with your content- web, events, blogs, social media outposts, digital video
  • Maintain achievable metrics for frequencies (e.g. sales calls)
  • Ensure sales force effectiveness – including product/ service knowledge and sales skills
  • Motivate your sales teams effectively based on your target markets and product mix
  • Use your customer evangelists to help you articulate your value
  • Recognize the value of your investments in sales people
  • Increase share of existing clients with crop rotations, continuations and colonization’s
  • Deliver to drive client satisfaction – keep clients from going out the back door while you’re new clients are coming in the front door