On the fly wireless security…

We’ve all been there. We’re on the road and we need to take care of some stuff – like pay some bills. So we go online, but at this point I have a slightly queasy feeling that maybe my information is not safe on this public network.

Here’s a quick fix that’s just out. For $6.99 per “session” you can sign up for TrustConnect and you can rest assured that your online activities are secure and encrypted. You can sign up on the fly and then you’re ready to go. Here’s the link.  

https://accounts.comodo.com/trustconnect/management/signup

Wireless security – on the fly, even as you sip away on your double expresso latte …

Yes Virginia, there is such a thing as a free lunch.

Skepticism abounds in the online world and rightfully so. Even the web savvy visitor can be duped by offers that really sound too good. And the old adage – “if it sounds too good to be true – it probably isn’t legit “– applies doubly on the Internet.  So with all the caveats above – if I said, “here is a free firewall that really works well…” I am sure you are skeptical.  “Oh – it must be crippleware” would be a natural cautionary response. Or “There is catch – like a renewal or subscription fee”.

Wrong and no.

Comodo Firewall Pro boasts unrivalled protection against viruses, worms, Trojans and malware with “out of the box” settings (OK – I won’t bore you with the product spiel because dear Trenchwar Warriors I know you will research it anyway ).

So now let’s even pretend that you accept this is a great high tech, leading edge solution. Now you must be thinking – “What’s the catch? If this product beats comparable solutions from the “large” software companies – why offer it for free?”

Well we are offering it free because as a Certification Authority our revenue comes from the online business community. These businesses can only grow if consumers feel safe surfing and shopping online. Unfortunately, in today Internet environment, trust has eroded and so has online sales growth. We want to reverse that trend.  The more people trust the security of the Internet the more they will shop online. The more consumers shop online – the more online businesses that will be created. And the more products and services we can sell to these growing businesses.That’s why we developed this for free distribution.  So you will never, ever have to pay for renewals, auto updates or subscription fees (and we mean ever)!

So try it out. If you like it spread the word. Better yet, we’d like to start a conversation with you. As a Certification Authority, Comodo has a special responsibility to keep the Internet secure and safe.  Your input will help us come up with more and more ideas to make every PC safer. Like you, we’re crazy about the net but not the fraudsters on it. And, so we’re developing top line products every day to counteract every trick (of theirs) in the book. We have launched a few new solutions (some free – some not). And more on the way – like a new service that actually does the heavy lifting of restoring your good name in case you do get victimized. It’s a revolutionary approach that can save you hundreds of hours of hassle.  

But we can do better with your insight and intelligence! We want to hear your feedback on what you feel is extremely important for making the internet a safe place to communicate and interact. So join the good fight and help us make the Internet truly safe for all users. To help guide us in our development efforts, we want to hear your creative ideas, concerns and observations. We know they’re valuable. 

Now whenever someone says, “…there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. You can just smile at them because you know that it not always true. Bon Apetit!

Judy Shapiro

To know the name of something is not the same as knowing its essence.

I was reminded of this truth today well discussed by philosophers ranging from Zen Buddhists to Renaissance theologians. It is worth repeating because it offers far more interesting ways to live – it offers a way to live beyond the labels.  In the business world, it offers a rich way to tap into the most valuable resource any company has – its people. It is far easier to talk about the concept than to actually live it which is why it is worth repeating. It’s a lesson that’s easy to forget.

To function in society, we are all compartmentalized and we compartmentalize others  – by title or ability or a combination of labels.  But these labels do not reflect the essence of any of us. By putting people in “label pens” we limit them.

Labels limit people’s ability to contribute. And labels tend to crystallize into hard and fast boundaries which don’t evolve to reflect the reality of the moment.  Look beyond the label – look to the essence of the person. Once you capture that about a person, you understand where they are brilliant, where they good and where they still need to learn. To know the essence of someone lets you realize their full potential without constraint.  

It may not be easy to reach this level of perception about those around us – but it always worth the effort – in our business and personal lives. Live beyond the labels.  

Judy Shapiro

The making of marketing miracles

“What is a marketing miracle?” you ask. In my world view, a marketing miracle is when a small entrepreneurial company can “out brand” the largest established companies in their space – without breaking the bank in marketing and advertising costs. Or a miracle can be the launch of a company that was considered as dull as watching paint dry become a poster child for the prosperity of the dot com boom. Some miracles have a David versus Goliath feel to them, others are miracles of timing. It’s useful for marketers to recognize marketing miracles because if you are lucky enough to be in on the ride, it is always exciting and rewarding on many levels in one’s life.  

Does it happen a lot. No, which kinda of explains why it is called a miracle. But they do happen and I know because I have been lucky enough in my career to have seen two, spread over a dozen years.  

Why I got so lucky to have a ring side seat not one miracle but two – who knows. But I know a miracle when I see them and I am always in awe. It restores my faith in the possibilities of what marketing can really do for a company. It is restorative and inspiring which is why I want to share it with you.

 Miracle #1

My first miracle was when the Lucent brand was launched. (As a side note – Lucent rise and fall of Lucent was in my opinion a case when marketing was actually better than the products the company had to sell. It was only a matter of time before the product realities overwhelmed our ability to create a compelling brand message. But that’s another story L )

Anyway, I was an AT&T employee at the time, and I was drafted (literally) to go to the equipment side of the company, yet unnamed. I was not happy. I wanted to stay with AT&T but an ex-boss of mine convinced me it could be fun. “I’ve never actually launched a brand” I said. He said, “we’ll learn”. We did and fast. I became part of a small core team who had the full responsibility to launch the Lucent brand. My role was corporate brand management and I had to deal with all sorts of rebranding requirements – from buildings to stationary and everything in between. I was responsible for product naming and worse I had to enforce a set of corporate marketing communications guidelines across 11 very very independent business units who all had their own idea of how to market their brands which often did not adhere to the greater Lucent branding good.

And yet, after just 12 months, the brand was awarded a best-in-class brand by the American Marketing Association. We continued to win that award two more years. Stock had gone up a lot. After 18 months, we won the APQC Branding award (American Productivity and Quality Council). Harvard did a case study. In other words, we made boring telecom equipment sexy – to employees, to customers, to partners and most importantly to investors – big and little ones. In fact, we overtly targeting individuals to invest in Lucent as individual investors tend to “buy and hold”. After two years, a stock that had started at about $5 had risen so much it had split.

So what was the miracle? The miracle was that we were able to market Lucent to reflect the optimism the emergence of the Internet was having on the collective psyche. The miracle was one of being able to capture the core essence of society’s imagination just at that moment in time.

Miracle #2

I admit it. I was a non believer. I was almost (gasp) blasphemous. The CEO of Comodo in June or July of 2006 set what seemed to me to a highly optimistic goal regarding the number of installations of our consumer firewall solution.  I was not sure the number was even possible. We were after all starting from a cold start. The first 6 months or so were slow. We celebrated when we hit the 1,000 mark with great glee. But then, we got our viral marketing engine into gear. Forums were set up, web pages were SEO’d and so forth.

In about 15 months since launch we had reached download rates that I thought were unattainable. After 20 months, I realized how right the CEO was. In just under 24 months, we have just launched the first of a line of identity management solutions for end users starting with a new No Worry Warranty. No one else in PC security comes close. The sales goals have been set. They are optimistic. But this time I do believe. We will achieve it – sooner rather than later.

Which leads me to miracle #2.

The power of this strategy has resulted in Comodo being more searched on the Internet than the $3B company VeriSign. All on the fuel of emarketing. It’s not free – but it doesn’t cost $80/ barrel either.

Do you believe in miracles?

Judy Shapiro

The Three “M”s of Marketing

 

It seems that marketing has been defined is such ridiculous and out-of-date terms lately that I thought a mini guide to what marketing is and is not was in order. (This little tirade was prompted by a marketing graduate student I recently encountered who seemed to have no clue what marketing actually was.)

Let’s start with that classic marketing definition  … the Four Ps – product, place, promotion and price. This well worn definition worked well in the dominant days when a product manager (PM) at a large packaged goods company had total responsibility for a product  – from development to marketing. The PM at Gillette or P&G had total life cycle management for that razor or fruit juice and the four Ps worked well in that model.

Today though that model is wholly inadequate for many businesses particularly technology companies. Product development in technology is not about buying pineapple juice concentrate or manufacturing packaging. The products are often complex technology platforms requiring a level of expertise beyond a typical product manager. 

Or let’s take marketing in an online world. A marketing plan for an online business would look nothing like a marketing plan for a traditional packaged goods product. It would include sections outlining viral marketing and SEO plans and it would spend a lot of time analyzing site statistics.

So you see why it does not work. Let me, therefore, put forward a definition of marketing that is broad enough and relevant enough to apply to virtually any business model out there.

I call it the three Ms of Marketing.

It breaks down into the following –

M #1 = Magic

M #2 = Muscle

M #3 = Method

#1 – Magic

Marketing requires a sense intuition, imagination, insight and ability to see the world through your prospects eyes. Traditionally, marketing spent a lot of time researching these questions but in the fast paced almost real time business environment of today, by the time the research is done – the market has moved.

 

It is sometimes hard for people not very intuitive to be willing to let go of research to guide their decisions. These people either are not intuitive or don’t have faith in their intuition. Either way, they need research and facts to shape their ideas. This to me seems too inefficient. If you start from a reasonably well grounded theory based your intuition, there are free and quick validation tools out there (e.g. free survey tool  http://www.surveymonkey.com/to give you some feedback.

In the end, M #1 is the sizzle behind the product or brand. It is what people react to when deciding if they will purchase your product.

#2 – Muscle

This is the personal leadership skills to get people to believe in you and how you imagine a product’s positioning, plans and tactics. This is where M #1 is first tested. Can you convince your peer group that your intuition and insight are right.  

This is not as easy to accomplish as one might think. First, this M needs time, 6 months maybe more. And you gain their trust by being true to yourself. Not always easy in some environments. But if you are consistent and proven over time to be right – then they will follow where you lead.

Patience and persistent.

#3 – Method

This is the executional nuts and bolts of marketing, a.k.a. marketing operations. In today’s complex marketing that has a lot of technological tactics and programs built in, marketing operations is the engine for the marketing organization’s success.

No ideas – no matter how brilliant – is not worth much if it never sees the light of day. The marketing operations of marketing is not what one typically thinks of as a marketing requirement – but it is nevertheless one of the pillars of marketing.

So that dear friends is what I believe the new marketing model looks like. A good marketing leader understands this model and populates a marketing department with people who collectively have the three Ms covered.

Forget the four Ps – this new model is how to win in the marketing wars.      

 

Judy Shapiro

“But it’s not fair!”

As children, we cling to the notion that life is fair. It is how we, as children, can make sense of a world. After all, if there are 3 candies and 3 kids – fairness helps kids know what they can expect.

This notion of fairness unfortunately is not how life often works. Long ago I abandoned my childish attachment to fairness and replaced it with a more mature devotion to balance.

While superficially “balance” just seems to be another word for “fairness” – they are really quite different.

Fairness is used to manage expectations, like 3 candies – 3 kids. Everyone knows who gets what. But it is also a passive, static activity. The principles of fairness drive the action and the participants are subjugated to the rules of fairness.

Balance, on the other hand is a created thing. The participants are the ones who create the energy of equilibrium creating the balanced state. And balance is always shifting – never static.

This week I was reminded of this lesson and how it pertains to emarketing. Stuff happens in the big city. Sometimes in marketing great stuff happens – you get a great review from an important publication. But sometimes – you get a bad review because the editor did not understand your solution. How unfair you rage.  On first instinct you want to call the editor and appeal to his sense of fairness.  You want to scream into virtual cyberspace … “But it’s not fair…”

I had the chance to relearn this lesson when we recently got an unfair review by a reporter for a desktop security solution. Sophisticated technology can take a bit of time to fully understand and it would be easy to overlook a feature. And that’s what happened here. The editor just got his facts wrong. And based on wrong facts this editor posted a blog entry on his popular technology blog declaring our product unreliable. Not good for a security product.

Not good at all and I immediately launched into my instinctive crisis management action plan. Get to the editor, show him the error of his ways and then I imagined, he would change his posts to be “fair” to our solution.  

But I was able to observe that crisis management in the online world isn’t about fairness. I learned this week that crisis management in the online world is about balance. It is about owning the trajectory of the balance that is to be created. The party that drives pace of the equilibrium is the one that wins the emarketing war.

That translates into closely monitoring how the incorrect blog cascades through the blog-o-sphere and responding to the incorrect assumptions. That translates into being very vocal and very candid about your concerns in public. That translates into being sure that your point of view is visibly out there.

It’s not a perfect science. How far do you push? But the fundamentals are straightforward. Quickly get your perspective out in as many places and ways as you can. Control the conversation so you can create the balanced state.

Fairness won’t win an emarketing battle – balance will.

Judy Shapiro

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