Bruce Frymire at CyberSource would like to exchange ideas with reference managers who find themselves under-funded and over-committed. In particular, he runs CyberSource's reference program by himself with no outside resources. If you'd like to explore forming a community of similarly strapped, smaller scaled programs, please see Bruce's email to me, below. I offer this space to start the discussion for those who are interested -- just use the comment feature, below.
At the moment, Bruce is under pressure to develop case studies and other customer collateral. If you have some creative ideas on this, feel free to comment on that as well.
Bill: I think you're doing a tremendous job in the reference world. I do feel that the contingent I represent (small companies with even smaller PR or reference-development budgets) remain largely under-served--even by your outstanding efforts.
My interest at this point is not really listening to people who have two staffers, two agencies and a part-timer in Europe working for them. I'm focused on how one begins a program and makes it work alongside my standard PR and IR functions. At this moment, I, working solo with no outside resources, have about 40-50 ready references for sales purposes. Taking these people to the next step of providing material for case studies or white papers seems almost inconceivable both to them and to me--particularly from a time perspective. I have explored the notion of hiring outsiders to probe our customer list and then actually do the interviewing/writing, but so far the powers that be have refused to provide budget for that purpose.
I seem to be capable of keeping our existing references pretty happy. And I can grow the list by, say, a dozen or so a quarter if I work at it. But the pressure is on me to turn these references into bigger resources, capable of developing reference collateral. The only success I've enjoyed recently works as follows:
1) Learn (usually by luck) about an especially happy customer.
2) Call the customer and get details about their problem/solution search/resolution.
3) Gain permission from them to communicate that story to a trade press editor.
4) Get the story in print and then use reprints as our resulting sales/marketing document.
If you learn about any people who find themselves in my under-funded and over-committed position, I'd be glad to join in communicating with that group. I’m sure they’re out there, but hard to find.
Director, Corporate Communications & Investor Relations