It was suggested to me that in the midst of the sometimes visceral technology debates, the insights, the two-sided business models, the walled gardens and the other glamorous stuff that makes up Planet TelcoProfessionals.com, that I might want to write a marketing blog. Not sure, to be honest. Modesty forbids and all that. But I’ll try, and we’ll see how it goes. A marketer’s secret guilt is that the tools of his trade…brands, campaigns, adverts, mailers, newsletters, even just colors and words etc. are somehow ephemeral next to lines of code and the stuff that engineers do. But I guess all those great ideas that are painfully developed into complex products wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans if marketers weren’t around to articulate their value and add a veneer of desirability to the core. I can remember in a previous life as a journalist just how difficult great marketing made it for me to do my job properly. Of course, these days’ journalists don’t even make a pretence about caring whether they’re objective or not. Advertorials, anyone?
Anyway, let’s set the ball rolling and explain what this blog could be about. A colleague forwarded me a sales/market development e-mail he’d received this week from, for the sake of simplicity, an indirect competitor of mine (if that sounds like a bet-hedging exercise, that’s because it probably is.) Ten aggressive, clearly articulated lines about how their product would transform my world for the better (sic): “If you get a chance to spend 15 minutes or an hour with someone from XXXX to learn about this solution, it will be the most profitable investment of your life.” Obviously, he hasn’t met my wife. 48 hours previously, I’d received a newly minted analyst report evaluating the leading eight vendors in this particular vertical which concluded that the same company was a good player, but had plenty of challenges ahead and was presently (in the product stakes) some way short of being leader of the pack. Marketers, eh? They make you or they break you.
If you come from being relatively invisible at the start of your company’s life to increasingly influential in your market, subsequent analysis is likely to reveal that it is almost inevitable that marketing will either keep pace with developments in the product or more likely even lead the product in gaining mindshare with the prospect audience. Exercises from complete re-branding to simply subtle fine-tuning of the way products are positioned and articulated are, far from being ephemeral, clearly delineated strategic actions that do much to determine the success or failure of technological innovations which without sound marketing might not succeed purely on their own merits.