Bad marketing is a triumph of “I” over “you”. And unsurprisingly, in a world where nothing is more prized than self, it happens all too often.
In my days as an analyst (when I had more hair and poorer judgment), among other research projects we undertook was the predictable one into the triggers for buying decisions in the Billing systems market. Guess what we learned? Price and system performance mattered, and then there were some other things a long, long way down the importance scale. And then there were things that vendors liked to talk about which didn’t matter at all. In fact we repeatedly heard – from system users -- variations on the theme of “my billing suppliers are absolute bastards and they rip us off blind but hey, ho at the end of the day the product works and I can sleep at night. That’s good enough for me. Pass me the chequebook.”
Rule numbers 1 through 10: technology marketing is positioning for the sedative effect. Put another way, there are two things buyers look for in a ride: it’s comfortable, and it gets them to their destination.
This is not music to the ears of a lot of technologists, but it is to the clever ones. While an unfortunate majority perform Houdini-like feats to tie themselves INTO knots rather than extricate themselves from them because they’re lulled into the belief that marketing’s function is to expose the full brilliance of their vision to the world in all its encoded glory, the sharp grasp that marketing is the act of stripping away the layers so that even an idiot can understand the only thing that matters…it works, you sleep.
If you look through any trade publication you will find there is often an inverse relationship between the amount of copy and the complexity of market positioning between those companies at the sharp end and those at the blunt end of any given market. The successful state, the rest orate. And you may hear comments like “they can afford to market that way, because they’re so well known.” But, of course, therein lies the irony. It’s the simple messages that are the reason why they’re well known. They know what matters in a story, and they tell it how it is, which is how the market wants to hear. I work…you sleep. Did you ever know anyone, after all, who actually read an advert to gather information?
Impact is the game in marketing. Boxing, sweet science or not, was never a particularly elaborate sport.