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Developer LogiXML Makes "Chocolate Cake" Video, Software Shoppers Gobble It Up (Page 1 of 2)

When a software company does something new and different in its marketing, we take notice.

When that something is fun, all the better.

LogiXML, a business intelligence company based in McLean, Va., sent us a link to a video designed to explain and promote their web-based BI application suite, and we were charmed.

So, we talked with LogiXML CMO Ken Chow, the "cook" behind the "cake," to ask him about the genesis, the creation, and the results of the video.

Chow has 25+ years of technology marketing experience. Before LogiXML, he was VP marketing at R2integrated, an internet marketing and technology company. Prior to that, he was the marketing hotshot at SafeNet, Group1 Software (now part of Pitney Bowes), and other Silicon Valley firms.

Here's Chow's experience and insight about software marketing in general, and videos in particular.

Tip #1: Do something to cut through the platitudes and get to the pain.

"We're in a pretty competitive space," Chow says, "and for any software company in a space like that, the marketing conversations are quickly taken up by platitudes. Everybody has a better-faster-neater way of doing X.

"I realized realized pretty quickly the reasons people buy aren't the reasons you sell on. We made IT and the tech peoples' lives so much easier -- even though the product might have been purchased for a different reason.

"Going to them with a list of features gets lost. I wanted to go after them according to their pain -- not the technology of the product, but their jobs.

"I have to get the attention of my audience in a knife fight with big, powerful companies. There are probably a dozen or so key players, and half as many monsters. Companies like Microsoft, Cognos, IBM, SAP, plus any number of medium-sized firms, plus open-source vendors.

"There are all kinds of people going after BI in different ways -- but everybody tends to say the same things. Some companies have distinctly different approaches to BI, but it's so easy to get lost in it. Maybe that's OK if you're talking to huge firms that talk to everybody, but if you're in the SMB market, you've got to be more clever, you've got to be more relevant.

"The longer people have our product, the more they love it. We have the Hall of Heroes -- it's on our website -- and that's also been valuable to us, because those are the people we go to out to ask, 'Would this work? Would you find this funny?'

"A lot of companies we compete against sell around IT; in other words, buy this, you can make IT use it. There are some that sell direct to end-users, saying you don't need IT. Unfortunately, with that approach there's no data stewardship, and it's a huge headache for IT."

Tip #2: Use an analogy to highlight your differentiation.

"We are different in that we are not a huge enterprise application, and we are not a toolset," says Chow. "We are a development app, and that makes us different. That sort of brings us to life.

"I had been at the company less than a year when I came up with the analogy that we are like a cake mix. Nobody has ever hear of before; they have no concept of cake mix.

"My PR guy said, 'Why don't we do something on that basis?'"

Tip #3: You can create the foundation, but look for an agency for the finish.

"I wrote a script, I did some blocking," Chow says. "Then we talked to a couple of agencies, and chose 15Four, an agency in Baltimore.

"It worked out well for us, because we had a script in mind. They did the creative, and I did the voiceover. It was fast, economical -- we did this one for about $10,000 -- and got our point across.

"More important, it got our message across to the IT audience that we want to talk to. Basically, the video says, 'Take a look at our technology, which is great, but first know that we understand your problem.'

"We talked to a couple agencies. We asked for references, we asked for examples, and 15Four seemed to understand, and they had examples of the exact same kind of thing. Their team was very humorous, and were able to feed back to us images that we thought were spot on.

"Working with them long-distance created no difficulty at all. I had already decided what the script and blocking was going to be. If we'd had to hire talent, or asked them to write the script, it would have added cycles and difficulty.

"We had the internal marketing capabilities, and I think a lot of companies have that and don't realize it. Too often, all marketing does is take something and dress it up in platitudes and BS -- and that tends to move things away from people and into product."

Tip #4: Keep it short.

"We felt that we had to keep it as close to two minutes as possible," says Chow. "I think this one runs two minutes and 10 seconds.

"Typically, you'll lose people after about two minutes. You're narrowing your audience when you go longer. But we all have time in our lives for two minutes. We're in the world of two-minute videos and 140-character statements."

Tip #5: "Effective" trumps "fluffy" every time.

With such a light-hearted video, we wondered if Chow was worried that prospects would see LogiXML a simply light -- a non-serious contender.

"I don't think that's a problem," Chow says. "It was clear that delivering the message in the same old way wasn't going to move the needle for us. You've got to take chances, you've got to be agile, you've got to try things.

"We do regular win-loss analyses on our customers. We know these people, We were pretty certain it was going to resonate with our customers. We didn't go into it blindly.

"I've had a couple folks who are gluten sensitive who said that that reference in the video is no joke, but they are outnumbered about 100 to 1. Most said, 'This is awesome, you understand our pain.' We're trying to be the weapon that IT uses in their battle to keep up with user demand."

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