HAARP antenna array in Gakona, AK (Photo courtesy of the US Airforce)Experiments are scheduled through the end of the month at the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program or HAARP facility. It’s the first time science is being conducted at the ionospheric research station in Gakona since the University of Alaska Fairbanks took it over from the Air Force in 2015.Listen nowThe UAF Geophysical Institute has spent the last two years overhauling generators, antenna and other equipment that’s used to stimulate the electrically charged area of the upper atmosphere. GI spokesperson Sue Mitchell highlights two of the projects that are part of the upcoming federally-funded research campaign at HAARP.“One of the projects will create an artificial aurora,” Mitchell said. “It will not be visible by the naked eye but should be able to pick it up with cameras. And then they’re testing the feasibility of using HAARP to do some over-the-horizon radar applications, take a look at the sea ice on the Arctic ocean, perhaps by bouncing transmissions off of the ionosphere.”Mitchell said HAARP is being operated on a pay-as-you-go basis, similar to the Poker Flat Rocket launch facility it runs for NASA. She said HAARP is expected to be on line for less than a day during this first run of projects because it’s costly to operate.“The rate for running HAARP runs about $5,000 an hour,” Mitchell said. “The generators are very expensive. It’d take a lot of fuel to run per hour, so that’s the main cost.”The generators energize HAARP’s 3.6 megawatt transmitter, beaming signals through 180 antenna into the ionosphere, 50 to 600 miles above the earth’s surface. Mitchell said the public can track what’s going on through HAARP’s Facebook page. It’s part of an effort to debunk lingering conspiracy theories about what happens at the former military research facility. Those theories include weather and mind control.“This is a fantastic research facility,” Mitchell said. “It is not capable of all the things that it’s been accused of, but it a really fascinating and interesting and powerful research tool.”Agencies funding this month’s HAARP research projects include the National Science Foundation, The Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Naval Research laboratory. UAF-based researchers are involved in the projects.
In this second post in a three-part series, entrepreneur and communications strategist Cheryl Conner continues her look at three companies succeeding with highly innovative content strategy. This week, she examines how InsideSales.com has become a forerunner in the changing sales market by parting ways with the traditional and trying new event marketing strategies.New Event Marketing Strategies: Going VirtualInsideSales.com is a cloud-based provider of sales acceleration solutions that amplify the effectiveness of salespeople. By leveraging communications technologies, innovative gamification techniques, and predictive analytics, InsideSales.com is advancing the science of sales and pioneering new content and event marketing strategies. Headed by CEO Dave Elkington and President Ken Krogue, InsideSales.com has made early milestones through unique research on topics such as response time to Internet leads (abysmal for even many “sales” companies), through innovative ebook campaigns and national column authorship, and most recently, through the first-ever 100% virtual sales summit event, drawing 62 leading sales authorities and 15,000 online registrants within the space of three weeks.Thriving in a Changing Sales LandscapeSince 2004, InsideSales.com has made an inroad for itself with a strategy that has relied heavily on innovative content marketing. Recognizing that the function of inside sales would become increasingly vital as the economy tightened and the roles of traditional field salespeople evolved with the market realities, the company revolutionized this function by finding methodologies and automation technologies to give all salespeople — even when they are young and relatively inexperienced — results that are turbocharged. InsideSales.com leverages research, events, and content to attract high quality leads for its SaaS communications and predictive analytics software that accelerates the sales cycle. Everybody wins in the process. Already established, the company became even more successful during the recent recession. While Dave Elkington led the funding and growth strategy of the emerging company, Ken Krogue leveraged the opportunity to let his sales instincts — honed during prior sales leadership roles at InContact and FranklinCovey — go wild.3 Core Content Marketing Strategies1) Unique researchWith the help of university researchers, InsideSales.com has conducted original research to key in on the stunning fact that the majority (as high as 71 percent) of leads that come to companies’ websites go unanswered. Even for those who do respond, the vast majority react so slowly that they cost these companies — even great companies — the majority of their incoming sales. InsideSales.com has published its research in MIT’s Technology Journal, in Harvard Business Review, and has issued new updates at every annual Salesforce.com Dreamforce event.2) AuthorshipInsideSales.com has become expert at the creation of compelling ebooks such as 42 LinkedIn Inside Sales Tips. The books give away valuable sales strategies free of charge. They also create a vast source of high quality leads and — keying in on the company’s theme of being able to respond quickly — InsideSales.com phones the individuals who download the ebooks within the space of about a minute. The recipients smile and most agree to a continued dialogue. The company converts as many as 35 percent of these recipients to active leads, with the majority leading to sales.3) Thought LeadershipKen Krogue has become a national columnist, writing ongoing columns for Forbes Entrepreneurs that have become synonymous with inside sales. Columns such as The Death of SEO: The Rise of PR and Quality Content have gone viral, spurring energized dialogue that has only gained in energy over time. As a result, the company has used its content strategy as an ongoing source of potential customers for its SaaS sales acceleration platform, which translated in 2012 to 100 percent revenue growth, 100 additional jobs and 550 percent stock growth. Continuing that trend, InsideSales.com obtained $4M in funding in August 2012 from Hummer Winblad, followed by a $35M investment from US Ventures in January 2013. The company is widely lauded as a venture destined to become “Utah’s next $1B company” in a nod to early investor and board member Josh James who led his earlier company Omniture to a $1.8B acquisition by Adobe in 2009. The company also recently recruited Mick Hollison, former VP of integrated marketing for Citrix, as its new CMO.The Next Level: The Inside Sales Virtual Summit 2013How to take its content strategy over the top? The company concocted a plan to create the first-ever sales trade show entirely online, in the space of… wait for it… three weeks. The Inside Sales Virtual Summit 2013, on June 20, presented a line up of 62 speakers in 7 tracks including sales all stars such as Jeffrey Gitomer, Jill Konrath, Trish Bertuzzi. The primary keynote: Guy Kawasaki. All content has been catalogued for perpetual access and most sessions are becoming new ebooks, extending the utility of the presentations for many additional months. While the session has yet to hit the Guinness Book of World Records, it has set a number of bars for value-added content to facilitate sales.Here are the highlights:15,000+ registrationsParticipants logged in for an average of 2.5 hours, translating to 5 30-minute sessions apiece—a tremendous outcome.Participants were highly engaged—in one session (with Jeffrey Gittomer), participants delivered more than 600 live questions, with the speaker remaining on the line for a full 45 minutes beyond his session to engage and respond.Presenters—especially those in continually high demand—reported that the ability to participate via the web made the event an exciting opportunity that would have been impossible to take advantage of if it were a traditional event due to travel requirements, time constraints, and associated costs.Several industry bloggers have weighed in on the Sales Summit model:Epic Recap of the Virtual Inside #SalesSummit, by Greg KlingshirnWebinar Replay: Research from Harvard, MIT Pinpoints Hard Lead Conversion Lessons with Easy Solutions, by Andrea JohnsonThe Modern B2B Buyer – a Recap from Inside Sales Virtual Summit, by Kenneth Wagner25 TweetRecap from the Virtual #SalesSummit, by Kyle Porter 4 Ways to Simplify Your Email Marketing Messages, by Shannon BelewHowever, Krogue encapsulates the event and its outcomes below:“The Inside Sales Virtual Summit came about from over two years of research on the best practices of webinars on smaller virtual events. We believe that it has reinforced or introduced five main principles that represent a shift in the landscape of event marketing.”High Quality Content is a Top Priority This was real thought leader content from the best. People came out in droves to experience it.Last Minute is the new best practice. We noticed that without travel issues people don’t need to register months or even weeks ahead. In fact, those who do don’t typically show up. Three days ahead is the magic. In the case of the Inside Sales Virtual Summit, the entire event was executed from scratch in three weeks.You Need to Get Collaborative. Collaborative marketing is a profound way to lower cost, increase exposure, and increase brand equity. In total, 62 different organizations worked together to pull this off and everyone benefited. Attendees experienced incredible content, vendors received incredible leads, speakers gained incredible influence.Virtual Equals Incredible ROI. We have found ROI to be extremely strong in an event like this. It would have cost about $1.5 million to pull off in the world of brick and mortar, hotels, and airlines. It cost 1/50th that much. Besides, there are very few venues in all of Utah that could hold 15,000+ people, and it would have been impossible to book them at three weeks notice.Supporting Content is Where the True Lead Gen Value Lies. Using the Core Content model, the content value only improves. We learned that the leads from the ebook, archived webinar, and blog articles derived from the webinar are five times more valuable than the specific live webinar.Bottom LineRegardless of a company’s core product or focus, everyone markets and everyone sells. The content InsideSales.com has produced is universal, whether or not recipients are interested in software products to accelerate sales. This is a factor that makes the company’s content relevant and interesting to all.Read the first post in the series:Great Content Strategy in Action: Fishbowl’s Leap from Thought Leader to Market LeaderAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to PrintPrintShare to EmailEmailShare to MoreAddThis