Granted, I’m already sold on the value of Web conferencing, but even then, the email below from Citrix (makers of GoToMeeting) leaves me thoroughly underwhelmed.
First, there’s the leading candidate for Most Frequently Used Email Opening of 2009: “In these challenging economic times …”
Then there’s a string of lukewarm benefits that really say nothing – or more precisely, nothing specific and compelling – about why online meetings and GoToMeeting in particular is worthy of my investment. “Increase productivity” is a throwaway – every software product ever developed can make the same claim. And sorry, but “provide customer or employee training” is not a benefit. I can do that today. Why do I need GoToMeeting?
And then there’s the fundamental question: what exactly does Citrix want me to do? In the headline I’m told to “Try it Free.” Yet the last line of the email is “Sign up now to start saving” which sounds to my ear like an invitation to buy the product. Even the subject line (not seen here): “Online Meetings for Just $49 a Month” is a solicitation to purchase. Scratch that: it’s actually a price quote.
If the offer is intended to be the free trial (as I suspect), then sell me on the free trial. If you want me to buy the product, tell me why I should buy the product. This email does neither.
And lastly, I’m just not buying the premise of the campaign. Personally, Web conferences (or “online meetings”, to use Citrix terminology) have never substituted for an in-person meeting. Apparently, however, there are still folks out there who are blindly getting on planes every day due to an apparent lack of knowledge of, um, something called the Internet.
Seriously though. Surely, there are meetings that demand an in-person presence, and those that don’t. Is there a gray area in the middle I don’t know about? And more to the point, are there prospects who will travel less because (slaps head) they now realize they could be presenting their latest PowerPoint deck over the Web?
I can’t help but suspect that the good folks at Citrix – assuming they’re the ones responsible for this email – decided long ago that their product’s key benefit was reducing travel expense, and that no-one is daring to say otherwise. At our agency, we use Web conferencing a great deal, both internally and with clients, and we do so for one reason: it makes phone calls – meetings that were never going to be anything but phone calls – more productive. When everyone on the call can see, and comment on, the same spreadsheet or copy deck or design comp at the same time, it reduces review cycles, eliminates confusion, shortens meetings, and allows the speaker to control the agenda in a way that just isn’t possible if everyone was emailed the material beforehand.
Surely this isn’t news, right?
Well put Howard. Good analysis and commentary right down the line. The Citrix email is a good example of a copywriting assignment being handled by a “wet behind the ears,” inexperienced copywriter with no understanding of what makes for effective direct response copy. Problem is, his or her boss didn’t know either or they wouldn’t have let this mess go out.
Reminds me of a time — at the height of the dotcom boom — when I went in-house for a high-tech company. The organization I worked for used an ASP model to compete against more established companies in a particular sector. My young boss asked me to put together a white paper on the advantages of an ASP over the traditional model. I did some research and found this piece on the web titled, “The USP of ASPs.”
I showed it to him and said something like, “Hey, lots of good information in this piece we can adapt for our paper.” He looked back at me with a somewhat befuddled look on his face and said, “What’s a USP?”