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Who’s Your Marketing Department Dating?

June 11, 2010

Despite being in its thirties, high-tech marketing is still an industry in its adolescence. And like any adolescent, it’s unsure of where it wants to go but knows better than anyone else how to get there.

Part of the problem is the crowd that Marketing runs with. Startup marketers hangs out almost exclusively with “Product Guys”—which is only natural, since the CEO—who holds the financial strings—is usually a Product Guy.  And for these Guys the Product is so unique and meaningful that it doesn’t need to be marketed, just explained.

The resulting campaigns have been some of the most unoriginal and uninspiring in history.  Speeds and feeds, features and specs—and, of course, the obligatory charts.  Missing in all this self-congratulatory chest-pounding is the one thing that matters most:  The Customer.

Technology customers these days are a jaded, jaundiced launch, hardened to Marketing by years of blue screens and having to kluge their own ‘integrated’ solutions.  They’ve discovered the hard way that the best technology doesn’t always carry the day, that pioneers don’t always make the best providers, and that “second to market” is often a strategic advantage rather than a badge of disgrace.  They care about two things:  does it work, and what can it do for me?

So how does Marketing get out of its self-created rut and connect with The Customer?  It needs to break up with The Product Guy and start “seeing other people,” starting with The Sales Guy.  Sure, he talks too loud and uses your name too often, but he’ll tell you story after story about The Customer—maybe even bring you along on his next call.  And that will change everything.

So the new formula is:  break up with The Product Guy (but keep him as your BFF) and start hanging around with The Sales Guy and The Customer.  The resulting process (and campaigns) is called ‘Sales-Based Marketing’ and it will be the subject of the next blog.

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