How to Read Marketing Material

Author: John Honovich, Published on May 28, 2008

Almost all IP video info is vendor marketing. Good decision making requires critically reading and analyzing this material.

At first, I did not believe that most information was vendor marketing material. Obviously, web sites and press releases are marketing materials but you also have articles and reports from magazines. However, almost every article I find across a dozen magazines is written by a vendor (usually the head of marketing). Moreover, most of those articles are clearly promotion pieces for the vendor's offerings. They argue the merits of the trends behind their company's offerings with minimal attention or fair treatment of opposing views. Even news reports are routinely copies or excerpts of press releases.

As such, you really need to be careful and cognizant of the motivation and structure of the information you are reading. I have had to re-train myself to be more critical of what I read as I realize how consistently this is an issue. If you want to make good decisions and quickly discern what is the true value of what you are reading, I encourage you try the techniques I share here.

At the same time, I am hoping vendor's consider modifying their marketing materials. As I will discuss throughout, in the long run, I believe all parties will benefit from clearer communication.

 

Here are my key recommendations for reading marketing material:

  • Determine how well the offering works
  • Determine what benefits the offering provides over the next best alternative
  • Determine what the cost of the offering is

 

How well it works

Marketing material routinely speak in glowing terms of what their offering does. This is great for establishing the conceptual potential of a product, which is a necessary element of communicating value. It sets the stage for what is fundamentally different and what customers might expect to gain from the offering.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

The problem is that it is so vague that it is impossible for readers to determine how well it fits for their environment. Most importantly, very rarely does the material discuss how well the offering works or how well it might work in different applications. I have seen this happen for 2 reasons: (1) the vendor is not sure which segment the product is a fit or (2) the vendor wants to launch the widest possible net and not lose any prospects. In either scenario, it becomes very hard for a reader to make a realistic determination of the fit for their needs.

I do not think this is ultimately beneficial for any of the parties. The vendor might get a short term win by an immediate sale. However, even for the vendor, it still could be a problem. If the deployment goes poorly (and often does if the fit is poor), the chances for repeat business and referrals is low. Essentially it becomes a very high cost sale that does not grow the long term market.

As a reader, you need to clearly ask yourself how well this offering will work. Consider what operational or environmental issues may undermine the project. Since it is unlikely you will get a clear and fair assessment from a vendor, you need to do this yourself to make good decisions.

 

The next best alternative

Most marketing material gloss over the benefits of your existing systems or processes. For instance, NVR vendors routinely claim benefits that any low end DVR can deliver. Megapixel vendors make assumptions about camera deployments that you would almost never use in deployment. Essentially, the comparisons are skewed to maximize the positive positioning of their products. (Note: this is not unique to any product category, NVRs and megapixel cameras are simply two of the big products of the day).

This causes confusion about the specific differentiators of the product offering. Truly innovative aspects can be lost in long lists of routine existing features and functionalities. End users can be motivated to purchase more complex or expensive products that do not truly generate more value for their organizations.

While it is hard for vendors to truly understand competitor's offerings deeply, more clearly and fairly stating actual advantages can help customers make better decisions more quickly. Though I honestly have little hope of this element changing, clearly considering what truly is a new benefit can help determine the actual value for your organization.

The cost of the offering

Vendors rarely discuss costs of their offering. Generally, vague statements are offered like 'substantial ROI' or 'significantly increased value.' Vendors are justifiably concerned about interfering with their dealer's ability to set end user pricing. They are also often worried that disclosing price will scare off some buyers and that it is better to promote their general benefits and handle pricing once the customer is engaged.

The huge downside of not discussing costs is that it's impossible for readers to determine 'value' or 'ROI'. Without having an idea of cost, by definition, you cannot calculate financial return. And it's not just a mathematical issue. This is a very practical issue as readers cannot discern whether an offering is feasible for their budgets. I see this all the time with articles on RAID, QoS, IP multicast, redundant servers. The costs for these features/products can be very expensive. It is hard for anyone to assess fit without having a ballpark sense of cost.

It would be very valuable if vendors provided rough costs for their products. It does not need to be a negotiated price, a simple MSRP would work fine. Readers need to know the general range pricing is in. For instance, is your megapixel camera close to $500, $1000, $1500, $2000? Setting an approximate range is good enough to allow a reader to gauge how that would fit in their budgets and how much value the product would need to deliver.

 

Keeping these points in my mind when you read marketing material can help you better assess the true value of the offerings being promoted. Until marketing materials become more clear (if ever), applying this should help in evaluating this information.

Related Reports on Marketing

Dell Launches IoT for Surveillance on Sep 05, 2018
Historically, Dell has been a PC and server provider (e.g., "Dude, you're getting a Dell") and widely used for surveillance storage. However, in...
Hikvision FIPS 140-2 Cybersecurity Certification Examined on Aug 27, 2018
A week after the US government passed a law banning Hikvision, Hikvision announced it had obtained a FIPS 140-2 certification from the US...
$25 Million US COPS SVPP School Security Funding Examined on Jul 24, 2018
The US Congress has authorized the School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) to fund various security measures and training to mitigate active...
Fail: Dahua "Didn't Check The Lux Levels but It Was Dark" on Jul 20, 2018
Dahua UK has been promoting their camera quality on LinkedIn: I, and others, asked what the lux level of the scene was. (background: Lux Rating...
Directory of Video Surveillance Startups on Jul 18, 2018
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known entity...
Drops Dahua, Fenner Becomes ISS CMO on Jul 09, 2018
Hired to improve Dahua's miserable marketing just last year, Janet Fenner has quit Dahua, joining VMS manufacturer ISS as Chief Marketing...
Pelco Is For Sale on Jun 27, 2018
Pelco is for sale, being shopped by an investment bank, IPVM has confirmed from multiple sources. The company, acquired by Schneider Electric in...
Snap Surveillance Profile on Jun 26, 2018
There are not a lot of video surveillance companies that survive 9 years with only one feature that makes their product stand out. In the case of...
Hikvision Covers Up Racial Profiling And AI Error on Jun 25, 2018
Faced with global scrutiny, led by the US government-funded Voice of America (VOA), Hikvision has covered up evidence showing their racial...
IFSEC 2018 Final Show Report on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM attended the IFSEC show for the first time this year. The Chinese took over the show, centered on Hikvision, flanked by Dahua, Huawei and a...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Alexa Guard Expands Amazon's Security Offerings, Boosts ADT's Stock on Sep 21, 2018
Amazon is expanding their security offerings yet again, this time with Alexa Guard that delivers security audio analytics and a virtual "Fake...
UTC, Owner of Lenel, Acquires S2 on Sep 20, 2018
UTC now owns two of the biggest access control providers, one of integrator's most hated access control platforms, Lenel, and one of their...
BluePoint Aims To Bring Life-Safety Mind-Set To Police Pull Stations on Sep 20, 2018
Fire alarm pull stations are commonplace but police ones are not. A self-funded startup, BluePoint Alert Solutions is aiming to make police pull...
SIA Plays Dumb On OEMs And Hikua Ban on Sep 20, 2018
OEMs widely pretend to be 'manufacturers', deceiving their customers and putting them at risk for cybersecurity attacks and, soon, violation of US...
Axis Vs. Hikvision IR PTZ Shootout on Sep 20, 2018
Hikvision has their high-end dual-sensor DarkfighterX. Axis has their high-end concealed IR Q6125-LE. Which is better? We bought both and tested...
Avigilon Announces AI-Powered H5 Camera Development on Sep 19, 2018
Avigilon will be showcasing "next-generation AI" at next week's ASIS GSX. In an atypical move, the company is not actually releasing these...
Favorite Request-to-Exit (RTE) Manufacturers 2018 on Sep 19, 2018
Request To Exit devices like motion sensors and lock releasing push-buttons are a part of almost every access install, but who makes the equipment...
25% China Tariffs Finalized For 2019, 10% Start Now, Includes Select Video Surveillance on Sep 18, 2018
A surprise move: In July, when the most recent tariff round was first announced, the tariffs were only scheduled for 10%. However, now, the US...
Central Stations Face Off Against NFPA On Fire Monitoring on Sep 18, 2018
Central stations are facing off against the NFPA over what they call anti-competitive language in NFPA 72, the standard that covers fire alarms....
Hikvision USA Starts Layoffs on Sep 18, 2018
Hikvision USA has started layoffs, just weeks after the US government ban was passed into law. Inside this note, we examine: The important...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact