Partying like it’s (not) 1999

iStock_000007321918XSmallI attended the launch party for Marketo’s new sales application recently, and one of the attendees commented that “it almost felt like 2000 again, back in the dot-com days.”

I think he was referring to the free drinks and appetizers. There has been a dearth of corporate parties since those dot com days. But cocktails and appetizers aside, this gathering was nothing like the dot com party days.

Back in 1999 and 2000, it was enough to create a web presence, reel in millions in venture funding, and start celebrating. The hype would drive visitors, and some time later you’d figure out how to turn them into revenue-generating customers. Business plans inevitably featured a “hockey stick” revenue curve that miraculously kicked in two years in the future.

Marketo’s software, however, is all about results. It’s about helping online companies turn web visitors into contacts, prospects, leads and opportunities, converting interest to revenue in predictable and repeatable ways. Visitors are good, but conversion is everything. And Marketo’s gathering was filled with actual customers and users.

Marketo’s vision simply supports the new results-driven realities of today’s tech marketing environment. It’s no longer enough to have a fabulous ad campaign, or the best billboard on Highway 101 on the peninsula. Channels have proliferated, and you need to figure out which ones are successful for your business, and which ones deliver a real return on marketing investment.

While we might mourn the heady excitement of those dot com days, this new reality is exciting and challenging in its own right. We have to harness our marketing creativity to cold, hard facts and data. We have to balance the allure of the growth of new channels with the constraints of fixed budgets and time, and come up with the best mix for the business, not for our personal preferences. Free drinks aside, this is an exciting time to be involved in marketing.

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