Cumulus Partners

11. April 2010 03:33

I'm looking for some good examples of how Chatter or other social media software helped your business

11. April 2010 03:33 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

If anybody out there has a good story about how they used Chatter or any other social media program to improve or enhance a business process, or to improve internal collaboration or collaboration with business partners, please contact me and I will be absolutely delighted to include the story in my new book about how businesses use social media and social networking tools to improve existing business processes, or invent new ones! Social media is an exciting development in the history of business, and I would love to hear some real stories from the front lines. Thanks in advance!

9. April 2010 17:05

Enjoyed Cloudforce 2 event at the Sheraton; Chatter will be huge success

9. April 2010 17:05 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Here's something I don't usually say about vendor events: I really enjoyed it! The Cloudforce 2 "roadshow" at the Sheraton in Manhattan last week was both entertaining and educational. OK, it was basically one long sales pitch for, but it was still extremely useful and very interesting. I think that Chatter, which is's social media platform for business, is absolutely fantastic. I'm a major fan of Marc Benioff, one of the first software geeks to envision "the cloud." I'm also impressed by the way he hasn't lost his contempt for enterprise software and the whole philosophy behind it. At any rate, I predict that Chatter will be a huge success. And no, I don't work for Benioff and I own no shares of stock.

Apart from the cool technology ideas, three things about the event struck me:

1. Excellent finger food -- lots of raw veggies, chocolate chip cookies and some very tasty micro-cheeseburgers. Everything a writer needs to stay healthy and alert.

2. Unusually high level of rapport between the presenters and the audience. The presenters really knew their audience, and the audience seemed genuinely appreciative.

3. Did anyone else notice the absence of senior IT people in the audience, or was it just my imagination?

31. March 2010 12:11

Why wear your B2C hat when doing B2B marketing?

31. March 2010 12:11 by mike barlow | 1 Comments

My friend Ruth Stevens wrote a great post for her new blog on the Harvard Business Review web site. I recommend it highly, since it deals with some thorny issues facing B2B marketers. The comments are especially illuminating because they reveal what seems to be a fundamental misperception of the role of B2B marketing. Many of the readers immediately applied their B2C marketing sensibilities to Ruth's excellent B2B advice, and as a result, they really missed the point of the post. Check it out when you have a chance, and leave a comment. I know that Ruth will appreciate it.

22. March 2010 05:48

Writing a new book about corporate social computing strategy

22. March 2010 05:48 by mike barlow | 1 Comments

It's official. I'm writing a business book for John Wiley & Sons on the topic of corporate social computing strategy. Basically, it will examine the many ways in which smart companies use social media to encourage and support internal collaboration, innovation and communications. If you know people involved in corporate social media who would like to be interviewed, please ask them to contact me via email ( or phone (203-209-6061). Don't hesitate to contact me if you have suggestions, advice or ideas. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks in advance!

12. March 2010 18:58

Keep 'em guessing ...

12. March 2010 18:58 by mike barlow | 1 Comments

Is unnecessary complexity "sticky" or just irritating? Ben Kunz deals with this question in a fascinating post, "Confusion as a design tool" on Thought Gadgets. He notes that despite its constant tinkering and tweaking, Facebook remains extraordinarily popular. Len Kendall suggests that part of the appeal is the complexity - it's like a puzzle or a game where you move to higher levels as your skills improve. Has Facebook stumbled upon a brilliantly counterintuitive marketing strategy -- keep 'em guessing, and keep 'em slightly annoyed ... and they'll keep coming back for more?

9. March 2010 03:13

B2B networks bring efficiency to business operations

9. March 2010 03:13 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Kevin Costello, the president of Ariba, has an interesting column in, "More Useful Than a Social Network," in which he reminds us that B2B networks have been around for years, and that many of the Fortune 100 already use them for reducing the inevitable friction created by routine business transactions. That friction, BTW, has a huge cost, which Costello pegs at $650 billion annually in lost productivity.

I mention Costello's column because it argues agains the grain of the common complaint I hear from business executives about social meda, which is that it has yet to prove its business value. B2B networks have more than proven their worth, so the idea of questioning the value of a network approach to business process optimization seems a tad outdated. At any rate, it's good to remember that networks come in many sizes, shapes and flavors -- so don't rule out the notion of leveraging social networking to achieve tangible business objectives.

8. March 2010 09:31

Comments better than original post!

8. March 2010 09:31 by mike barlow | 1 Comments

Hey, I'm the first to admit when I'm in over my head. The comments I received on my post, "The End of Marketing," were better than the post itself. So I want to share them with you right here on the ol' homepage:


beg to differ, mike

Marketing 101:  find a need and fill it , 5 P's of marketing (price, product, promotion, etc.)
Marketing 102: branding , differentiate yourself from competition
Marketing 103:  once you have a brand and positioning that resonates, sell the hell out of it!!!

So, my friend, sales is down the chain.  You can say marketing is a subset of sales, but it ain't so.


Yeah, I have to challenge this POV -- not that I am a defensive marketer or anything. Marketing, by and large, is prone to making itself subservient to sales. But this is the sign of an immature enterprise. Indeed, roles should be reversed. Sales should be a channel under Marketing's leadership -- one of many. The one who creates the demand should rule the world. This will happen: Once Marketing learns to capitalize on the new tools of marketing technology to track, measure and predict, it will move into a more dominant role. That's already true in B2C. I expect it to be true in B2B within the next decade. Actually, my preferred solution is a VP of Sales and Marketing or a Chief Revenue Officer -- someone who owns it all.


Ah, shake the tree Mike, nicely done. Two rejoinders:

1. First, this is a debate about semantics. I think we could all agree with Michael Porter's old "value chain" in which there are five basic activities that lead to margin: inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics, marketing/sales, and service. Those are irrefutable. We can argue about what we call each step and about which executive team should oversee what area, but all those steps exist in any business, from Apple to Walmart to an ice cream truck vendor. Marketing seems worthy of broader control than sales because it has a view on the entire marketplace -- including competitors, market entrants, substitutes, customers, and cultural trends that must guide the entire enterprise production flow. Apple didn't launch the iPad because it has good salespeople, but because it is building a market for a new tool.

In simplest terms, sales is a byproduct of effective marketing.

2. At the broadest macro level, beyond any single enterprise, you could argue that our entire culture is based on marketing. We buy products that we have no innate use for (brushes for teeth, sneakers for feet, diamonds for fingers) simply because a culture of marketing has told us we "need" these new tools. Because marketers are creating new demand for new products, in a way these leaders must guide the logistics of supplies, operations, sales and service. Marketing in this sense is "building a market," and companies do this all the time.

So in the most nuanced of terms, sales only exist because a vast organization has built a structure to create a new market.

It's all semantics, of course. Which reminds me: Shouldn't human resources be in charge of everything? ;)

Wow, thank you all. Now this is social media! Cheers!

5. March 2010 02:50

The end of marketing

5. March 2010 02:50 by mike barlow | 4 Comments

You can't generate profit without generating revenue first, and you can't generate revenue without sales. In business, everything is about selling.

The more I look at it, the more the whole idea of marketing seems loony. I would be much more comfortable if marketing were redefined as a sales support activity. OK, it's fair to ask: What about demand creation? Isn't demand creation an essential part of marketing?

Demand creation is an essential part of the business process. But that doesn't mean it has to be part of the marketing process. Demand creation should be a subset of the sales function, and it should be called precisely that: Demand Creation.

Here's a simple model that any business can follow:

R&D => Product Development => Demand Creation => Sales => Fulfillment => Customer Service

End of story. End of marketing. Voila!


3. March 2010 15:35

My new favorite blog: Thinking Outside the Inbox

3. March 2010 15:35 by mike barlow | 6 Comments

If you haven't had a chance to read "Thinking Outside the Inbox," the excellent blog by Luis Suarez, you're really missing a great experience. Luis is a true pioneer in the post-email universe, and he makes a strong argument for the end of email as we know it. The logical replacement for email is, of course, social media. Luis, by the way, is a social media evangelist at IBM. So he really knows how to make the case for using social media in a corporate environment. When you need to start convincing your boss that social media is the way to go, Luis is an valuable resource. And he also posts wonderful photos of his home island, Gran Canaria. Hey, it's nice to work from a gorgeous remote location!

1. March 2010 17:32

A good reason for rereading "The Tipping Point"

1. March 2010 17:32 by mike barlow | 5 Comments

Because the basic activities of social media strategy often play out in solitude -- lonely figures hunched over their laptops, typing furiously -- it's sometimes hard to remember that a core characteristic of all social media is multiple cycles of human interactions. In other words, social media is very social! Social media strategy doesn't work without lots of human beings -- their thoughts and emotions are the raw fuel that keeps the process going.

I thought of this as I considered a question being raised by some of the more farsighted executives I know. The question is: Does a person need special talent to succeed as a social media practitioner, or can just about anyone do it? Or more pointedly, they ask, will the organization have to go out and hire a bunch of specialists to develop, manage and execute successful social media campaigns?

The correct answer is probably yes, and no. Yes, some people with special talent will be required to staff an ongoing social media function. But some of these people can be recruited from the ranks of existing staff.

Anyone who is considering these questions seriously needs to reread "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. I know, you've already read it. That's what I thought when they asked us to read it for the class on social media strategy that I'm taking at SUNY Purchase. I thought, hey, I've read that book twice, and I thought it was kinda interesting, but obvious, shallow, pop culture, etc...

But I was hellbent on keeping a positive attitude, so I reread it. And I'm glad I did. Gladwell's take on the difference between Paul Revere and William Dawes contains some terrific insight that every manager needs to keep front and center when making hiring or staffing decisions for key social media positions. Basically, Gladwell notes that you need three kinds of influencers to make things happen: Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.

His observation applies to staffing up for social media initiatives; you'll need the right mix of talents to make it work. And before you start hiring, do yourself a favor and dig out your old copy of Gladwell's book.