ESG's Mark Peters discusses marketing challenges during these challenging times with Eric Herzog of IBM.
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Mark: So in this edition of my blog, the Marketing in Challenging Times, I'm really happy to have Eric Hertzog. Eric, how'd you do?
Eric: Hi, Mark. How are you? Great to talk to ESG.
Mark: Obviously, you have the global aspects of the job, the product aspect, the marketing aspect. If it's not too dumb of a broad question, how has life changed over the last few weeks?
Eric: Well, you know, instead of me traveling every week, I'm now in front of a video cam, Zoom, Webex, ON24, whatever the platform is of choice, starting at about 3:30 a.m. Silicon Valley Time, and rolling on till around 4:00. Now, for me, that's a usual workday having done seven startups, but I get up at 3:00 in the morning anyway.
So what the heck? Might as well work.
Mark: Oddly, does that make you more productive? Is life more difficult? More challenging? Easier? Or I don't know?
Eric: Well, for me, I'm a morning person. So that's the same. But I am old school. I'm a child of the '60s, so I believe in shaking hands, and pressing the flesh, and, you know, not just doing everything over video. Not that I didn't do a lot of stuff over video anyway, IBM is a global organization. And yesterday, I did a demand gen event for one of our partners in Texas. And they had 125 end users on the call.
But that would have been a physical event, right? They would have rented a hotel. Would have flown to Dallas. And, you know, they would have had like a luncheon and I would have been the luncheon speaker. So this was done over... they did a Zoom as well. And that was just yesterday. I think it's very easy to do a lot of marketing stuff.
So demand-gen webinars, team meetings, what you need to do, for example, the marketing team working with the sales team, or product management, or finance. The real difference is really when you're dealing with customers, right, and prospects. That's where the real difference comes in. Because now, it's harder. I would argue it's harder to do a face-to-face meeting over webcam. So even with things you can do with your iPad connected or some of these automated tools that are out there, which we use at IBM internally, it's still not as effective doing it online as is when you stand up when they ask you a question, right?
You're sitting there talking about your PowerPoint for sake of argument. You get up, stand up, and walk over to the whiteboard and start drawing. That's more effective than doing it online. That's the one thing I think that you miss out. And then, obviously, you miss out on the kibitzing. It's harder to kibitz. It's like okay, we got a webinar.
Everyone's busy. Obviously, there's a crisis going on. They got to get back to what they got to do. So, you know, the chit-chatty, let's get to know people in a sales call meeting is tougher today.
Mark: Just briefly, what about within IBM? I mean, any big company suffers from bureaucracy. I guess IBM has been around a long time and had time to really get good at that. Have you noticed changes internally as well for your job?
Eric: Well, we were doing a lot of meetings already. We use Webex. So, we've been doing a lot of meetings over Webex already anyway. So that really hasn't changed things. Obviously, the normal bureaucracy is normal bureaucracy, the forms you have to fill out to do X, Y, or Z are still the same forms. They were online already.
You know, IBM's got an intranet, if you will, an internal website, all that stuff was already done this way, where it wasn't physical anymore. So that hasn't changed much. Again, it's more the external side that's changed way more than the internal side.
Mark: What do we keep from all this? I mean, are there any upsides to this? You've certainly said there are some things that can be replaced and are as good as, but also you've talked about some things which are not as good as. Are any things better and we'll keep them, or we'll just change it so you're not quite so early in the morning or you're on less planes?
Do we just go back to how we were?
Eric: I don't think we're going to go back to the way that we were, but I don't think we're going to forget the people part. You know, that human interaction is a big deal and video is not human interaction. It is not as effective on a sales call on a video. It can be very effective. I think marketing will change a lot, but IBM and a number of high tech companies were already heavily digital anyway.
So it is less expensive. You can do more webinars than you can do seminars at a hotel, for example. So the marketing dollars will go much farther. So that's a positive. But at the same time, sometimes you really do need to go to a big giant trade show as an end-user, because you can see 20 different vendors all in one time by just walking the floor for a couple of hours.
Over Webex, you can't do that. Over Zoom, you can't do that. So, you know, I think certain things will go away. I think there'll be less physical trade shows. But I think the trade shows that will survive physically again, will be very large ones and they'll be like once a year. So that's what I think how that'll change from a marketing perspective.
Mark: You make, in summary, I think, a very couple of good points. The difference between sales and marketing, and then also you passed out the marketing. There's still focused-marketing that can be done fairly easily replaced with video or whatever. But as you say, those broader marketing events where you have the opportunity to meet lots of vendors or lots of customers who might not have come to your booth or whatever, that will come back.
Maybe not to the same extent, but it serves a different purpose. So I think passing those distinctions was very useful. And, you know, Eric, as ever, thank you very much for the time.
Eric: Great, Mark. Thank you very much. And we always appreciate working with ESG.