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Goodnight PBX, Goodnight Moon

Oh, sorry, for a minute there I was back in a chair with one of my four kids on my lap reading Margaret Wise Brown’s famous children’s book in a proven pre-bed strategy to get them to sleep.

Which, I guess is where Steve Gleave, VP of marketing for Metaswitch Networks , wanted me to be. He’s written Silver Linings, subtitled “Nursery Rhymes for Cloudy Times,” in which he offers 20 illustrated (there’s a drawing of a cloud-like telephone receiver on the cover) bedtime stories about the demise of the PBX and rise of IP-based telephony services from carriers. (No obvious connection to the R-rated new Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence movie hit, Silver Linings Playbook.)

So why spend time writing nursery rhymes about PBXs? Gleave said he’s trying to make a personal connection with customers, in his case, service providers to which Metaswitch sells its VOIP, SIP-trunking, and other IP services products.

“I’ve always believed marketing campaigns had to go beyond the standard business interaction,” Gleave said. While he was at Premisys, an access infrastructure player in the late ’90s, Gleave had a system where after any sales call, his team called up an Internet florist and sent flowers to moms, boyfriends, girlfriends or whomever the potential customer suggested. “It was one of the best marketing programs I ever did as for years we had customers come back to us and remember the flowers we sent. We found a way to connect to the family. It was a little cheeky, and good marketing.”

It’s all part of another program Gleave is running to document the end of the PBX (see http://www.rememberwhenpbx.com/) in which he’s gotten about 25 customers to send old photos of PBXs and received a few thousand page views. “We wanted to tell people don’t worry, the PBX has gone into the cloud and it has passed on to a better place. The cloud led us to the nursery rhyme idea, and the book that we hope, in perfect world, we can give to big customers that have kids and make an impression.”

And the connection between a PBX bedtime book and driving sales at carriers is … ? “Bluntly truthful, I’m not sure it helps,” Gleave said. “We do sell systems to service providers who then can sell hosted services. If I were a national service provider, selling a cloud telephony solution, it does point to some ideas of how to successfully market that service, and in that way helps us to have a good conversation with carriers.”

Gleave had 500 books printed, and has about 50 left if Goodnight Moon is not working for your two-year-old. Click here to get the gist.

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Originally posted by Joe Braue  on Light Reading on November 22, 2012

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