ISA Teaches Marketing and Sales

After a gangbusters start yesterday with over 40 people attending the pre-conference short courses taught by me, John Kuensler of ARC and Jim Geisman who is one of the two leading gurus of pricing for technology products, and a terrific keynote by Julie Fraser, Principal Industry Analyst from Cambashi, Inc.

Julie's talk was "Bridging the Engineering-IT Divide" and she's agreed to produce an article for Control magazine on the subject.

This morning, Kim Miller-Dunn, who is the first woman to be President of ISA, came and discussed some new initiatives that she (and I) believe will eventually save ISA: the workforce development initiative, and the cybersecurity initiative to use ISA99 as the National Cybersecurity Standard.

Kim also formally announced that the ISA Expo will in fact be held in storm ravaged Houston after all. She said that the city of Houston told ISA that the best relief effort we could help with is to come and bring our business.

She also touched on the proposed name change of ISA to the International Society of Automation. This is something we desperately need, and if you have a vote, please vote in favor.

Then Jim Cahill, who is the self described "Chief Blogger" of Emerson Process Management's systems and solutions group. gave the morning keynote: The Challenges, Perils and Opportunities in Web 2.0 for Automation Marketing." Cahill twittered last night that he'd posted his slides so here's the URL so you can read them too.

Describing himself as a "keynote virgin" Cahill described the vast seachange in marketing where we are no longer in control of the conversation. "One way communications directed at our audience doesn't work like it once did," Cahill said.

He quoted cartoonist Hugh MacLeod,"If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they'd punch you in the face."

"In finding answers, our audience seeks a dialog," he said, "And Web 2.0 (aka Social Media) helps bring back the real-speak."

Cahill said he'd attended web2.0 expo earlier this year, and heard Clay Shirkey give a presentation called "Here Comes Everybody." You can see it yourself on

Cahill went on to define Web2.0 in the words of the Wikipedia entry which he noted was a "quick definition of Web 1.0 from a Web 2.0 application.

"Blogs, short for weblogs," Cahill said, "are conversational and human-voice web pages." He mentioned the major industry blogs as well as his own, and provided a link of choice blogs to help people get started looking at blogging:

Microblogging sites like twitter are a combination of a blog and a SMS text message. "For a marketer, like me," Cahill said, "this is incredibly challenging because you have to get your message across in 145 characters. Not 145 words, 145 characters."

Interestingly, both Gary Mintchell and I are twittering from the conference...

Cahill went on to describe getting the information you want the way you want it using RSS feeds. RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication" and he provided a way to import his favorite automation feeds:

He then went on to discuss the social networking sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo. These social networks connect people to business and personal friends, and make it possible to increase the value of professional networking.

Tagging sites, like and StumbleUpon, allow you to express to others what interests you, and saves it for later.

Cahill went on to cover wikis, photo sharing sites,video sharing sites like YouTube (which have real professional marketing opportunities) and many more as he concluded his tour of Web 2.0, including services to pull your online presence all together, like FriendFeed.

So what are the challenges, perils and opportunities?

"Let's start with the challenges," he said.

We know the status quo of marketing and we're good at it. Or rather we were good at it when it worked. But our audience has more and more ways to tune us out. Marketing defenses are increasing. Who do you pay more attention to when you look for a book on Amazon, the "editorial description" or the customer reviews?

We are getting lost in a sea of spam. Less and less are we in control of the message-- it is more public than ever.

Let's move on to the perils.

Another story-- the textbook case of loss of control of the message. He described the case of Dell. Dell wasn't paying attention to social media. In the summer of 2005, Jeff Jarvis in his blog BuzzMachine wrote a post entitled "Dell Lies, Dell Sucks."

There were over 250 comments. He wasn't the only person having customer service issues with Dell. The bloggers linked to each other until in about a month, when you went to Google and searched on "Dell" the first set of posts was "Dell Lies, Dell Sucks."

There's a night and day difference at Dell in 2008. They now have a staff of 20 people monitoring Web 2.0 media and providing customer support and thank yous when somebody says something nice.

The number one peril is just getting started. There are lots of legal issues to sort through.

"Here's what we have recommended to Web 2.0 participants.

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinging sppeed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter-- and getting smarter faster than most companies. But our customers may not wait for our well-crafted messaging.

Our work may be openly critiqued:

"It takes more time to participate than you might suspect," Cahill ruefully announced. Sometimes the conversation may go on..."

"And once you've started, expect to feel the pressure to publish or perish."

"Have I scared you off yet?" Cahill asked. "Well, what are the opportunities?"

Monitor your company and brands with RSS Searches or email alerts.

Use Twitter and other tools to create closer relationships with the editor community, and use their Web 2.0 media to discover editorial opportunities.

Another opportunity is building ad-hoc communities. "We've started a twitter group for's early, we're only in double digits, but these things can start quickly and stop quickly."

VoIP Chat like Skype can also provide another avenue to contact and be contacted.

Connecting people to solve problems and find opportunities is a terrific use of Web 2.0.

You can even use twitter to create impromptu meet ups based on your travels.

Contributing base-level knowledge by posting information to Wikipedia and other information storage and search locations.

Online listening and response helps turn negatives into positives. Jeff Jarvis's Dell case made Business Week as a positive.

Listening and doing customer research in real-time.

"It's been an exciting 2-1/2 year journey," Cahill said.

Slideshare for the presentation (see the URL above)

Start by listening with RSS-- news feeds, blogs, persistent RSS searches. Try some of the applications like LinkedIn and Twitter. Consider reading the books ClueTrain Manifesto and Groundswell for philosophy and strategic framework behind your Web 2.0 plans as some baby steps to consider.