Close-up with Chris Boorman, CMO, Informatica Corp.

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Chris Boorman is CMO of Informatica Corp., a Redwood City, Calif.-based enterprise data integration company. “CMO Close-up” recently spoke to Boorman about his company's changed approach to social media, marketing's relationship to sales and the role of events in a Web-centric world.

CMO Close-up: What are your marketing priorities in 2010?

Boorman: I am focusing on two goals. [The first is] to align with our sales organization to exceed our revenue targets, so that's really about enabling the sales organization and running programs that would generate opportunity within our target audience. The second goal is to raise brand awareness within our target marketplace. And that's PR, buzz, factors such as that.

CMO Close-up: How have Informatica's relationships with traditional media partners changed?

Boorman: We do very little advertising in print media. We will put an advertisement into online portals we perceive as being relevant.

CMO Close-up: How do you find those relevant portals and people?

Boorman: It's a question of understanding the profile of your buyer. We understand who are the influencers and buyers that we are targeting. Our job is to go to the various forums and put our story in front of [our audience] in those active forums, whether they be user group communities, LinkedIn communities where there are active forums around particular applications [or] traditional technology press focusing on the value we provide. It is very important to focus and differentiate yourself within a particular audience to ensure you rise above the crowd. Otherwise you're simply the noise across the Internet.

CMO Close-up: How has Informatica's use of social media changed?

Boorman: About a year ago, our corporate communications policy was that no one was allowed to go out and communicate in these worlds without very stringent checking and approval by our investor relations, legal and PR [departments]; and it would take three weeks to get anything out. [But] the Web is about immediacy; the Web is about right now.

So we actually approved a social media-guidelines policy that is empowering people to go out and participate in the social media world and put out our story. My job is to ensure that everything I do is about ultimately driving people to my Web site. And everything I do through blogs, Twitter and external sources is about focusing on particular areas in order to get people interested and cause them to come look at my Web site. And my marketing infrastructure is designed so that the minute somebody comes to my Web site, I know who they are and where they come from.

I like to think of myself from a sales point of view as an early warning system. We see people come to pages on our Web site who download things and touch our Web site. My job is to pass this holistic information on what's happening from an account point of view to the sales organization so they can have a conversation. And I have to get it to the sales organization as fast as possible because the half-life of a lead is a few days.

CMO Close-up: Is the variety of these sites and how expansive they are a challenge for you?

Boorman: The difficulty is twofold: focus and engagement. From a focus point of view, we have to focus on the communities that we think will have the biggest impact on thought leadership and cause people to talk about what we're doing. But the engagement aspect is almost a cultural change process. We're encouraging people within the company and experts outside the company to participate and discuss. The Internet is about having an immediate conversation and driving the discussion … to have a Twitter dialogue in real time, or to place a blog entry on a discussion on a forum and participating in that conversation, and to do it in real time. It's about the immediacy.

CMO Close-up: Is the definition of ‘qualified lead' evolving?

Boorman: Yes and no. There is still a clear definition of what a lead is, and … we have a very stringent and focused effort on ensuring every lead that comes into the system—whether it be someone we meet at a trade show, someone who downloads something off our Web site, somebody who responds to an e-mail—that we pick it up and it flows through our lead-flow machine.

CMO Close-up: What's the role, in Informatica's world, of physical, live events?

Boorman: There is a role for both physical and online events. On Nov. 10, 2009, we launched the most significant release in the history of Informatica: Informatica 9. We chose to do it online, and the reason is that I wanted to reach a much larger audience. When you run a product launch as a face-to-face event, you'll get a few hundred people there or even a thousand, depends on the size of the company. My belief was that we could get a much larger audience. So we built an online campaign that promoted this event through a variety of different communities, across different channels—and resulted in 10,000 people registering for our online event, which is the largest audience we've had in the history of Informatica for a single event. And we run worldwide user conferences and we'll get a thousand people. And this got to 10,000 people across the world.

CMO Close-up: Have you seen any difference in performance from that event compared with traditional physical product launches?

Boorman: Certainly, the obvious difference is the number of people who registered, and those are all leads. When you run a single, physical event, you get people who registered for it and they physically get to that location. So the most obvious difference is the volume of people interested, which was phenomenal. On the day of the event, the number of people who accessed our Web site was off the scale. Awareness of Informatica, which is a hard thing to measure, significantly jumped in terms of the amount talked about us, the people visiting our Web site. It was a big spike in a variety of dimensions.

CMO Close-up: Informatica's entire business is pulling together data from disparate sources. From a marketing standpoint, what do you still want to do better?

Boorman: Where I want to get to [involves] a couple of things. First, this concept of us being an early warning system. I still have work to do to ensure that I can deliver a complete, holistic view of an account activity through the Internet to a sales rep. I can flow leads quite easily, but what I want to be able to do is provide a single view of the account to a sales rep, to be able to say upstream, ahead of opportunity creation, “These are all the things happening”; because I believe passionately that is massively important to the salesperson. Actually, we've been implementing and working with our own IT organization to ensure that I can do that. In 2010, I think we will see the realization of that. The other thing is the world of social media. We have determined there are over 400 online places where Informatica is being discussed. There are Yahoo forums, technology forums, LinkedIn forums, where the things we are interested in are being debated. My biggest goal for 2010 is to push this organization to be much more active in that world so that we are participating and driving those conversations from a thought leadership point of view and causing people to go, “How did Informatica do that?” and then driving them to our Web site.

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