Earlier this week I was presenting at a gathering of software firms at a mini-conference on B2B marketing. The event was hosted by Technology Crossover Ventures and included many of its portfolio companies. TCV asked me to share some of my experience in how we built the business at MySQL and applied high-volume techniques at Sun.
In preparing the presentation, I was thinking about how much things have changed in the last 10 years. It used to be that marketing was all about the "big bang" launch: rent the billboard, hire a PR firm, call the analysts, buy a Super Bowl ad, ship the product (maybe), hire an enterprise sales team -- then wait for the sales to roll in. And in some cases, the model worked pretty well. There were a lot of $1 billion enterprise software companies built on calling on CIOs and closing 1 or 2 million dollar deals per sales rep per year.
Of course, those days are long gone. A lot of the traditional IT trade press are no longer in print, analyst firms have consolidated, trade shows have passed by the wayside. I would argue that very few of the old enterprise marketing techniques apply in the 21st century. Why? Because the Internet changed how people search for information. You don't have to buy expensive analyst reports or go to a trade show. Just look on Google and see what people are saying. Download the software and try it out.
Open source software companies were able to disrupt the market by courting an underserved market and using a radical distribution model. But how well do those same techniques apply in more traditional IT firms? A few months back, I showed the first calendar quarter of results of applying these techniques at Sun. We achieved a 13-fold in run rate improvement in top-of-funnel leads in the first quarter -- not bad.