Friday, January 9, 2009

Sourcefire's Open Source Marketing Ecosystem

One of the great things about writing a book is that you have so many great conversations with leaders in the field. Chatting with Michele Perry and Karin Pindle, at Sourcefire was definitely one of those conversations. They have an interesting challenge as marketers; too many leads. Their open source product, SNORT, is wildly popular in the security space, and leads to large numbers of downloads. The marketing team's challenge, however, is to translate that interest into purchases of their commercial product, Sourcefire 3D.

Here's a case study on their efforts from my upcoming book Digital Body Language, to give you a sense of how the Sourcefire marketing team tackled that challenge:

Sourcefire: Open Source Marketing Ecosystem
As a leader in network security solutions, Sourcefire had both an opportunity and a challenge. Their freely available and popular open source SNORT® intrusion prevention system drove significant awareness and interest, but for their sales team to be most effective, they needed to engage with only the leads who were likely to purchase a commercial offering. To enable this, Sourcefire’s marketing team had to enable prospective buyers to progress through the maturity spectrum and identify those who were ready for sales engagement.

Search engine strategies targeted buyers at all phases of the buying cycle, with education offered to those searching for category-related terms and deeper demos and comparisons targeted at those searching for Sourcefire or a competitor directly. To start the process, Sourcefire created an education-heavy web experience. For those new to the category, analyst reports, case studies, demos, webcasts, and thought leadership were provided for little more than a small amount of information. This enabled Sourcefire to establish themselves in the prospects’ minds as a leader in the space, and engage in the start of an ongoing dialog, while at the same time guiding the prospects’ understanding and awareness of what matters most in security.

When engaged, a rich profile on interests and level of engagement enabled both the scoring of leads and the nurturing of those not yet ready for sales. A four category scoring system looked at marketing source, site activity, title, and company
profile in order to score and categorize leads.

With leads categorized in A, B, C, and D leads, the Sourcefire team did an interesting thing; A and B leads were immediately handed to sales, but the entire lead funnel was opened to them. Sales professionals would occasionally notice a D lead in a key account, and use the non-qualified lead as an opportunity to begin a relationship that would be valuable when the lead matures to a later stage.

Leads that were not picked up were nurtured over time, and with
dashboard metrics on lead population by level, they were moved slowly down the
funnel. Each nurturing campaign was measured on its ability to transition
leads between the stages. With this overall marketing structure in place,
the Sourcefire marketing team proudly points to two key data points as measures
of its success; their sales team has stopped screaming for more leads, and most
recently they achieved year-over-year quarterly revenue growth of 42% in 2Q08
over 2Q07. Both of which, of course, are great accomplishments for any
marketing organization."

Many of the topics on this blog are discussed in more detail in my book Digital Body Language
In my day job, I am with Eloqua, the marketing automation software used by the worlds best marketers
Come talk with me or one of my colleagues at a live event, or join in on a webinar