Owler: CEO Jim Fowler on Marketing

Owler's Profile of General Electric.
Owler’s Profile of General Electric.

Jim Fowler, CEO of Owler and former CEO of Jigsaw, has an excellent interview with Brian Carroll on the B2B Lead Blog.  They discuss SEO, virality, why successful entrepreneurs itch to start additional companies, and the give and take between sales and marketing.

Here is Fowler on the subject of the future of B2B Sales and Marketing:

Sales people are going to continue to have to become better marketers.

With Jigsaw, we provided a set of contact data so that you could communicate with people directly with phone numbers and business email addresses. I said at the time, what this means is that the people on the receiving end of these communications are going to get more and more and more communications. It’s kind of a funny thing. Sales and marketing, their job is to communicate with people that don’t really want to be communicated with, but they need to be because they need to buy stuff.

I think that we’re going to continue to see the buyers or the receivers of these communications get more and more of it, and it’s become more and harder to rise above the noise. What it means is sales people are going to have to become better marketers. They’re going to have to work hand in hand with marketers to get them.

Marketers, frankly are going to have to become gods, because their job is just getting harder and harder. I mean, people have no attention. We’re in the age of a hundred and forty character limit is all people will read, and this makes the job tough. I just think that with that in mind all of our communication is crisp, simple, scannable data.

For instance, our descriptions of companies are one sentence long. We only allow a hundred and forty character description of a company, because we know people won’t read more than that. I just think understanding these trends is critical regarding future success. It’s going to continue to accelerate, is my prediction.

It is clear that reaching B2B professionals is becoming more difficult for sales and marketing which is why Marketing Automation, Account Based Sales Development, and Sales Intelligence services are so necessary.  It is about having a compelling message when you can get their attention.  It is also why Account Based Marketing is gaining traction — when it is difficult to garner attention, make sure you are focusing your sales and marketing efforts on your best prospects.

However, I disagree with Fowler’s contention that 140 character business descriptions are sufficient to describe a company.  While sales reps would rather be selling than reading long reports, 140 characters is simply too short.  It is really an editorial decision made by Owler.  They didn’t want to invest editorial resources in writing and maintaining business descriptions.  Instead, they are focusing their editors on fine tuning their triggers and collecting funding and M&A details.  Whether you are using Owler for competitive intelligence or sales intelligence, 140 characters will often be insufficient to provide an actionable description.

Here is Owler’s description of General Electric:

GE provides capital, expertise and infrastructure for a global economy.

Let’s compare that to what Reuters says about GE:

General Electric Company (GE) is a global digital industrial company. The Company’s products and services range from aircraft engines, power generation and oil and gas production equipment to medical imaging, financing and industrial products. Its segments include Power segment offers products and services related to energy production and water reuse; Renewable Energy segment offers renewable power sources; Oil & Gas offers drilling, completion, production and oil field operation; Energy Management offers technologies to electrical power; Aviation designs and produces commercial and military aircraft engines, integrated digital components and mechanical aircraft systems; Healthcare provides essential healthcare technologies; Transportation is a supplier to the railroad, mining, marine, stationary power and drilling industries; Appliances & Lighting offers appliances and a subset of lighting products, and Capital offers continuing financial services businesses and products.

And that is Reuter’s short description.  The long description from Reuters runs one to two paragraphs for each of their divisions.

To be fair, when you are looking to cover millions of companies, short descriptions are understandable for the vast majority of companies.  But top companies should have deeper profiles.  Owler, with half a million registered users, has sufficient usage data to identify the most heavily researched companies and write longer profiles.  The question is whether they wish to invest expensive editorial resources in expanding beyond Twitter-length descriptions.

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