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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM (Part 7)

Posted on Monday, Oct 27th 2014

Sramana Mitra: However, right now it’s very inadequate. We only actually do content marketing. Our strategy, in terms of marketing, does not consist of advertising. However, the infrastructure around that content marketing in terms of analytics and being able to tie those pieces together is absolutely and terribly difficult.

Larry Augustin: That’s an interesting comment on your part. This is a digression for our discussion today. I see content marketing as incredibly valuable. I agree with you that we’re just at the beginning of an industry of the right tools to really help and enable content marketing in a significant way. That said, I think content marketing is a piece of an overall strategy. We have to understand sometimes that a tool like content marketing, which is still early, is one of the set of tools in the toolbox. I have in fact seen a number of companies in recent years, who’ve been highly content marketing focused and have had great success driving their business that way, step back and say, “Just because content marketing is great, it doesn’t mean we should be doing exclusively that.” I’ve seen a number of companies look at the success of content marketing and say that’s great.

There are a certain set of customers and people that we reach through content marketing, it isn’t the full set. I do see a blended marketing strategy as one that’s being more typical today and one that I think works well. I guess what I would say is, as you think about your business strategy, it is important to think about the broader set there. Maybe, it’s not advertising. By the way, I’m not sure advertising is the way anymore at all.

Sramana Mitra: In some businesses, advertising works very well. In some businesses, they don’t. We are in a kind of business where I don’t think advertising works as well. But if you’re doing e-commerce, advertising works very well. It has a very definite conversion metric. It’s dependent on the nature of your business of what works and doesn’t. By no means am I trying to say that you should only do content marketing and nothing else. From the point of view of entrepreneurs who are looking for gaps in the CRM to build new technology and innovative products, I think content marketing and social media interaction are actually areas where there is discontinuity. It’s early in the evolution of those trends. There are opportunities to innovate and build new products.

Larry Augustin: I agree completely. That’s part of the reason why I see the whole CRM industry as ripe for innovation. I’ll give you another example of ripe for innovation around that. I think it’s an interesting one because many people look at it the problem as solved, but I would argue that it’s exactly the opposite. We are in the early days of the problem. That’s the outbound sales prospecting function. To me, you look and say there’s this world of cold calling. Like advertising, there’s a whole segment of the market for which cold calling is just a horrible experience. It’s talking at people as opposed to engaging them in a conversation. You’re not delivering something of value.

In fact, there’s a generation of what some people call cold calling 2.0 or prospecting 2.0 that’s about interacting with prospects using various social media tools. Content marketing can be a piece of that but it’s not just about content marketing. It’s about a way of interacting and prospecting and understanding who’s a potential customer. We’re early on in terms of tools that support. A lot of it is related to cold calling.

Sramana Mitra: Actually, cold calling works. As long as you surround the people you’re cold calling with content through which they can make a judgement whether you’re a high-value person or not, and make that decision to engage with you or not.

Larry Augustin: You’re not really cold calling. You’re finding the right person who has a problem that aligns with you and you’re presenting information to them. It’s not dialing the phonebook the way cold calling 1.0 was. It’s more about identifying those people and getting in front of them and bringing them, in many cases, content that helps. That’s an area where I see an opportunity for innovation of tools to help that function.  That’s another example of it. I just think this is a wide open industry right now.

Sramana Mitra: That was a great discussion. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM
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