Reference Point
a newsletter for customer reference professionals
April 2009
In this Issue:

Well, not exactly the underground, but some frank comments from several reference leaders I've chatted with since the February Forum - along with some of the senior marketing executives they report to. A few of the highlights:

- To get budgets and staffing, one director - who's been quite successful at this - is positioning references in the larger context of product strategy and customer engagement. In other words, she's not asking for budget for her reference program as a stand alone, but as (an important) part of a more strategic initiative. She's also
participating on the team that's developing the strategy.

- One particularly thoughtful reference manager sees a bright side to the current tight budgets and lack of funding: they are fostering much more creativity and collaboration with stakeholders. The unexpected result is that they're able to organize their program more effectively. Turf-conscious regional program managers, for example, are now happy to let global HQ take care of reference material publishing. Their reasoning: "Why would we do it?" A new sensibility. How can you and your stakeholders help each other in this economy?

- One VP of marketing has implemented an entirely new use for the good old case study.  The firm is transitioning from selling products to selling services and consulting. The new case studies are being used to develop best practices for using the firm's solutions. They'll be used not just to persuade buyers, but to help educate the firm's sales and consulting delivery teams - straight from customers' mouths.

For more, including how two senior marketing executives view customer engagement and social media, EMC's value proposition for attracting decision makers to its online community (the respected Studio E), how one ex-PR manager enhances the value proposition for her references, and more, please see my blog (link below).

All the best,

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- New Study: How Effective is Your Customer Engagement?
- Fall Workshop on the East Coast
- New Offering: In House Seminars on Reference Management
- Local meetings of reference professionals
- Jobs: Who's hiring? Who's seeking a position?
- Reports and Surveys
We're initiating a new, multi-company research project, which will do two things:

- Provide badly needed information on how to leverage key-customer relationships -- including references, advisory boards, customer communities, and so forth. As it is now, there's way too much speculation about the most effective ways to do so. We need serious, multi-company benchmarks on how to organize these programs strategically; how to integrate them to maximize their value; how to budget for new social media technologies; how to measure these programs; how to leverage their impact on revenues, and so forth.

- This research will also elevate the value of reference programs to the executive suite, by placing them in the larger context of an overall customer engagement strategy rather than as a stand-alone program. "How is our reference program doing?" isn't particularly interesting to a CMO. "How is our overall Customer Engagement effort doing (of which references are a critical component)?" will get the CMO's attention.

If your firm is interested in participating in this project and you'd like more information, please do let me know at your earliest convenience. Sponsorships of the research will be limited.

We're planning a workshop this Fall on the East Coast under this broader theme of "customer engagement"  It will include sessions on reference programs, customer advisory boards, and customer communities. The goal is to exchange ideas and best practices in each of these fields, find synergies between them, share interesting new initiatives by leading practitioners in these fields, and raise their importance as well as visibility to senior management. If interested in participating, please reply to this newsletter with "keep me informed about the fall workshop" in the subject line.

Can't make it to our conferences because of travel restrictions? We'll come to you and train your team -- whether it's to establish a reference program, take it to the next level, keep abreast of the latest advances in reference management, or for a more customized set of issues. The value of learning from best practices in a concentrated day or two vs. weeks wasted re-inventing (or spinning) wheels is tremendous. Plus we can also develop post-seminar support to make sure action items get implemented.

The Boston Area Reference Professionals Group  The next Boston area reference meeting is scheduled at 9:30 AM on May 15th at Kronos in Chelmsford. Topics will include "Early Adopter Programs to secure customer references on new products", presented by Jack Ferres of Kronos and "Online Forums for customers in reference program" presented by Nick Harris of Kronos. If you are interested in attending this meeting please please e-mail Kara Manfredi at karamanfredi@deltek.com or at 617-528-2601. Also, if you are not located in the MA area, but would still like to join the Boston user group please contact Kara. Kara's group has members that dial in that are located in NY, RI, CT, and SC.

The next Bay Area Reference Group Meeting  will take place later this month, but the date has not yet been set. If you are interested in attending, please send an email to amy.shever@sap.com.

The next SF/City Customer Reference Professionals Meeting will take place the second week in May. Please e-mail Lara McGurk at Lara.McGurk@SUN.com to be kept informed.

Who's Hiring?
inEvidence, Metia and Projectline Services hiring for Customer Reference Professionals.

inEvidence, the specialist global customer reference agency, is expanding its Asia Pacific presence and is currently seeking additional freelance writers fluent in Japanese, Korean or Mandarin Chinese to create compelling customer case studies for its range of technology clients.

Metia is seeking an Account Director for their Customer Reference Program who will be responsible for managing the Customer reference program in EMEA, providing tactical and strategic oversight for the region. This person will be responsible for achieving business results that support worldwide program goals, drive business impact, share dotted line management responsibility for local customer reference program vendors, and develop relationships with regional sales and marketing personnel.

Projectline Services, Inc. is looking for an enthusiastic marketing project manager to help their clients produce high quality and influential customer testimonial case studies.

For more information on these jobs please click here.

Who's Seeking a Position?

Chris Jennings, formerly of i2 Technologies,  is seeking a new position. Chris has been the Customer Reference Manager at i2 for seven years and has facilitated over 1,500 references during this time and has helped close nearly $75M in new business. Chris is based in Connecticut and can be reached on his mobile phone at 203-895-2026 or chris_jennings22@yahoo.com. To view his resume, please click on his name.

Mary Olian, who formerly managed the client reference  program worldwide for IBM's InfoSphere brand, is seeking a full-time or consulting position. Mary is an accomplished marketing professional with expertise  in developing and executing marketing programs aligned with corporate  objectives across multiple organizations and distribution channels worldwide. She is known for leveraging persuasive communications with customers to secure their participation in reference activities, to help drive sales growth, demand generation, and brand awareness. Mary can be reached at maryolian@gmail.com. To view her resume, please click on her name above.

Carol Blumberg has 20+ years of Customer Programs and Marketing experience, including developing and implementing Customer Reference programs, Customer Satisfaction programs, Customer Outreach and Loyalty programs. In addition, her skill set includes database management, corporate communications, lead generation and training/corporate events. To view her resume, please click on her name.

Adobe's Mary Lachapelle, an experienced enterprise-level Customer Reference Manager. She  recently achieved success in launching and managing the Plantronics Customer Reference Program and is now seeking a full time or consulting position. Mary's creative and resourceful approach has led to her award-winning customer reference programs that have measured success in the support of strong revenue 
growth, product launches, and happy customers! To view Mary's resume, please click on her name.

Wendi Wolfgram, an experienced leader with a strong record of achievement in building comprehensive customer reference teams, is seeking a full time or consulting position. An expert at defining, building and executing new programs, Wendi would like to utilize her strengths to grow and retain your customer base and increase productivity and profitability.  To see her resume, please click her name.

HP's Carole Flad a well experienced reference pro - is seeking a position. Carole is a highly motivated, results-driven Marketing Manager seeking a position with a rapid growth organization to help them attain success in bringing their products, service and solutions profitably to the market. To see her resume, please click on her name.

Laurene Price is seeking a part-time consulting or permanent position in the Customer Reference Management field. Laurene's experience includes working with customers and sales teams to develop and maintain references, creating systems requirements for reference reporting systems, and acting as a point of contact within the company for reference data and policies. To see her resume, please click on her name.

Microsoft's David Held, an experienced product marketer and reference pro is seeking a position. David is a highly motivated, ROI driven marketing manager with a passion for pushing the boundaries of new ideas. He is seeking a position with a dynamic organization to help them achieve success by adding excitement and realism through the customer voice to their products, service and solutions. David can be reached at davidheld@gmail.com. To view his resume, please click on his name.

We can let our community of more than 500+ reference pros know about your position opening. To post a job (for now, this service is free), please click here.

Check out our BEST PRACTICES REPORTS for tips on critical issues like: getting marquee customers to participate in a reference program; getting customers to reveal measurable benefits; developing customer communities; integrating your program with sales; gaining executive support, and more. For more information, please click here.

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