Have you ever felt at the end of the line on a topic or hobby that you really love?  That’s how I’m feeling right now about social media … that I just haven’t been growing much with it lately, haven’t been helping TempWorks and our clients out with it like I should.

I’ve thought about going to one of the many marketing or sales conferences that go on all the time.  But you know the routine and if you read StaffingTalk regularly you know how I feel about them.  Polished but generic speakers – deja vu.  Exhibits staffed by newbie sales types that will call you for months after the fact.  Time for a renewal.

On Tuesday, April 13th I’ll be attending Chris Brogan’s New Marketing conference in San

Francisco. I’m a big fan of Chris and follow his blog studiously. He’s given me so much wisdom for free I’m not hesitant to plunk down the $100 for what he promises is a hand-picked set of speakers and exhibitors.

I have no doubt that the conference will be worth it just to hear Chris speak, but how about those exhibitors? Who are they? Here’s a brief list:

Brickfish is a community of “movers and shakers” with “insanely clever solutions” for clients like Nieman Marcus. OK …when you’re a 52 year-old programmer, it doesn’t hurt to at least shake hands with some who moves and shakes.


Genius.com

Genius provides software that uniquely integrates all marketing channels. OK, sounds a lot like what part of my company TempWorks does. Email marketing, web analytics, CRM … it’s all there in a centralized database accessible by everything from your PC to your Iphone.

But wait, they do more. They “track and score” prospect behavior. “Scoring” sounds interesting. I relate it mostly to B2C-type activities, not B2B which is my business and that of my clients.

I’m interested to see if Genius works for B2B as well.

HiveFire

HiveFire enables brands to be the center of their industry conversations and establish online authority. They “tame the flood in B2B social media” and “curate content."

This all sounds good but really, I don’t get what it is they actually do.  I can see how having a really great writer/editor help you do these things, but a product?  Not so clear. They have a rather lame-sounding quote on their home page from a client saying they were impressed to get sales leads from the HiveFire portal, but what’s the connection between their portal product and content curation?

Perhaps their product is aimed at companies much bigger than mine. In any case I look forward to hearing more about curation, something that social media desperately needs.

Promise to Cover These Vendors Later

It’s Easter, and I want to go hit a couple buckets of balls on this lovely Minnesota Spring morning before joining the family reunion and Easter egg hunt, so I’ll stop now but promise to finish covering the rest of the exhibitors later.

OK, I’m back

Powered
I’m trying not to be unpleasant or difficult in these reviews, but I’m seeing a trend that marketing-oriented companies don’t know how to say what they do. First, the spoiler on Powered: they do content management software.

But you wouldn’t know it from its home page.  There you learn that they “drive top-line revenue, build better brand loyalty, and deliver measurable ROI” which distinguishes them from virtually no one.

You wouldn’t know it from their tagline either, which says “social marketing, evolved."

Deep into their product page, you get the first glimpse that their product is a content management system but that fact is buried in other information offered as of equal importance, for example, that they do “program insights capabilities."  Huh? Call the stack-noun police.

Awareness

Ok, I like Awareness from the get-go because their name and their tagline tell me what they do.  Also, from their attractive home page you learn that they “Publish, Manage and Measure across multiple social channels.”

The rest of their website is the same with very clear writing and visuals.  First A+ StaffingTalk can offer so far.
Blue Sky Factory
Blue Sky is an email marketing company. Very straightforward site with videos, humor and calls-to-action. I am interested in comparing what they have compared to our internal system within TempWorks.
Constant Contact
Constant Contact does email marketing, surveys and event marketing. I know people that use this service and like it very much. Their website, like Blue Sky, communicates their value proposition well.

One negative: they have “how it works” videos (great idea) that are front-loaded with a lot of “aren’t we great” braggadocio.  So the video has the effect of reducing trust and creating anxiety … the exact opposite of the effect desired.
Focus

Focus researches products and offers white papers like “Comparison Guide: Hosted CRM” and “Business Printers Comparison Guide." It’s like a webzine except that any attempt to get information presents the user with a form to fill out. I’m guessing their business model is to charge vendors for the contact information of people who submit requests to get the white papers.
GX Software

GX does enterprise web content management.  Their pitch is that they’ll create more visitors to your website and convert anonymous visitors into engaged customers.

They communicate their message well, but now that I’m seeing several CMS-related exhibitors here, the question that comes to mind is, why not WordPress?  I’m a late convert to WordPress and Thesis. I wish I went with it for my corporate website and blogs a long time ago. Why would anyone want to use a less-traveled CMS?

That isn’t to say that GX and others aren’t already doing the enterprise CMS work in a great way for key clients – I’m sure they are.

Radian6

Radian does social monitoring. It offers a console product that lets you keep up with many different social media at the same time.
Green Leads

GreenLeads stands from all the vendors listed here in that that they have a core non-web component, phone-based appointment setting services, that they combine with their web offering.
Unica Corporation

Unica does marketing software with an emphasis on web analytics. They recently released support for Silverlight apps. Interesting. Looking forward to seeing it.
Wiley

Wiley publishes and markets all manner of knowledge-based products – books, apps etc.

Summary

Many of the companies I’ve covered here do very similar things related to the web and marketing. As is always the case when product descriptions themselves offer little differentiation, it is the face of the product – the sales representative – that makes all the difference.

I’m curious to find out more about them at the conference.

Tags: Social Media, TempWorks, CRM, San Francisco, Staffing Talk, B2B, ROI, Chris Brogan, Industry, Awareness, B2C, Blue Sky Factory, Brickfish, Constant Contact, Content management software, Easter, Enterprise web content management, Focus, Genius, GX, HiveFire, New Marketing conference, Nieman Marcus, Powered, Radian, Silverlight, Social media monitoring, Thesis, Unica, Web analytics, Wiley, WordPress