Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene and Marketing

Those of us living in the Northeast US and New England are bracing for this weekend’s onslaught from Hurricane Irene. Between cleaning my gutters, recharging the household lantern, and putting away the kids’ yard toys (to prevent them from turning into lethal projectiles), I’ve been tracking the storm on the excellent website.  As you may recall, the Times recently shifted to a digital subscription model, providing everyone with 20 articles free per month, after which paid access is required.

Looking through the hurricane coverage, I noticed today that the websites states “During this emergency, The New York Times is providing unlimited free access to storm coverage on and its mobile apps”.  This policy decision is a testament to both the central role that the web now plays in our lives, as well as the ongoing importance of the media  in their classic role of good journalism -- (performing primary research, as well as capturing official information), and distilling and packaging so that it has maximum relevance and impact for their target audience.   Think about this – how wonderful it is to have dedicated, intelligent people focused on pulling together raw information from city, state, and federal government agencies, weather forecasts, and local businesses, and presenting it to us in a single place, in a readable and engaging format. (Can you tell that I’m a fan?)

In addition, this decision also great marketing – reinforcing the New York Times brand as a trusted provider of valued information – while simultaneously providing a public service in a time of crisis for the region.

So, how is this relevant to us in the enterprise software space, or (more broadly) those of us marketing and selling to businesses?  We need to be very careful not to fall for the First Fallacy of B2B Marketing** – believing that B2C approaches, principles, and metrics apply to us. Very often, they don’t!

For me, as an enterprise software marketer, the lesson is not to be afraid of giving things away.  When we have an audience, a customer base, or an ecosystem, it’s often better to err on the side of freely providing more information, rather than trying to charge for everything.  What do you think? What are you charging for today (or hiding behind registration) that might be more valuable if freely available?

** More (much more) on this topic in future postings.

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