Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Solution Looking for a Problem, part 4


So, according to the marketing team, we ran ads “to build awareness.” I would have signed on if we’d intended to build awareness of why 1394 was great. 1394 was losing some steam, being out marketed by inferior technologies. We needed someone out there promoting the virtues of 1394 in the mass market, however, we had two problems. Management was not willing to fund a generic ad to promote a technology. That is understandable and we could have worked with that. The second problem was that our “engineers turned marketers” could not enunciate why 1394 was great. They could tell you all the features of 1394 and get an engineer interested in 1394 but they could not tell upper management anything that would excite them. They fell back on a series of platitudes generated by the advertising agency. 200 words in tiny print that said almost nothing. The ad agency had learned long ago that “engineers turned marketers” could not come up with body copy for an ad and that they liked meaningless, highfalutin, marketing drivel and that is what they gave us.

The only meaningful message from the ads could be summed up in one sentence, “We sell 1394 silicon.”

Within a week of running an ad, our sales reps from around the country would start calling to complain that the ads were generating dozens of phone calls from small design shops. We built awareness alright. The Sonys, Dells and HPs of the world already knew who to go to for 1394 silicon. The XYZ corporations of the world were not sure. Sony will buy a million chips. XYZ will buy 100. If you are a salesman, you are wasting your time returning phone calls to XYZ and wasted time hurts your ability to make your sales objectives.

We succeeded in hurting the front line on which our success was so critical.

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