Clueless Marketing People

By John Honovich, Published Jan 03, 2013, 07:00pm EST

Over the years, we have seen many clueless marketing people and their wacky ideas - replacing 95 cameras at once, averting school shootings, delivering 3270% benefits, etc. While exceptions exist, they typically have little idea what they are promoting and what their products can realistically deliver. Unfortunately, this routinely results in ridiculous claims and dangerous expectations that are impossible to meet. In this note, we examine the driving forces and steps to stop this.

The Educational Challenge

Knowing what technology works, where and when is hard. By its essence, often what is being sold has not been widely used and is still being developed. Plus, there are hundreds of different applications, with varying user requirements and logistical elements. Certainly you can not expect marketing people to be experts but how much willful ignorance is tolerable?

Listen To Execs

Most marketing people listen carefully to what their executives say, though many execs aggressively sell visions of what might be possible years from now or in the most optimistic scenarios. However, it is hard for marketing people to distinguish dreams from reality and easy for them to have faith in their superiors, if for no other reason than they can understandably say but "Charlie the CEO talked about this last week at breakfast."

All Upside, No Downside

Ultimately, the biggest motivator for marketing people is that, historically, making crazy claims had all upside and no downside.

The upside can be huge as it becomes a prime differentiator in customer's minds between a company and their competitors. It can open doors to new prospects and get a product shortlisted that might not otherwise even be considered. The reality is there are lots of end users who do not know whether a claim is fluff or true but are nervous to not consider a company who says they have an unprecedented solution.

The downsides are traditionally non-existent. Sure, a handful of advanced integrators and consultants will dismiss the claims and think the company is moronic but the reality is the manufacturer was not going to get that business anyway. Maybe the detractors talk to a few people but overall the negative pushback is minimal.

Calling Out Crazy Claims

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This is why it so important for IPVM to call out crazy claims. Drawing public attention changes the value proposition. It allows a far broader audience to question and a source to point back to as evidence in disputing their validity. It forces the marketing people, regardless of how willfully ignorant they are, to truly consider the claim's viability. And it hopefully motivates them to consider more carefully their next campaign.

What Marketers Should Do

Minimally, they need to seriously ask:

Can we truly deliver this regularly? Not simply whether hypothetically it is 'true' or whether it could be done one out a hundred times but is this something that is achievable by most of our typical customers in typical use cases?

They could help themselves by attaining a bare minimum education in the technology they use. In doing so, they may even learn of certain 'under the hood' capabilities that provide real advantages and are worth showcasing.

And last, but perhaps least, because most marketing people are skeptical of this, ask the top technical experts inside their company about whether they can deliver on potential marketing claims. See if they feel they can really deliver it. And then dismiss them when they say it cannot be done ... and let IPVM criticize you publicly.

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