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

ASIS Offering Custom Research For Manufacturers on Nov 15, 2018
Manufacturers often want to know what industry people think about trends and, in particular, the segments and product they offer.  ASIS and its...
Axis: "No One Wants To Buy A Camera" on Nov 09, 2018
Axis has, in its own description, made a bold declaration: The industry is changing so rapidly that the following statement might seem bold but...
Wyze Explosive Growth Disrupting Consumer IP Camera Market on Oct 30, 2018
Wyze, a company founded only in 2017, is poised to disrupt the consumer IP camera market by combining American marketing and Chinese manufacturing...
IPVM Launches Best New Product Awards on Oct 25, 2018
IPVM is launching its own Best New Video Surveillance Product Awards in 2019. The goal is to provide the industry with a legitimate program, based...
Geutebruck Company Profile on Oct 22, 2018
Geutebrück has been in business for nearly 50 years, but they are not well known within the US surveillance market. In this report, we profile...
Knightscope Winning Investors, Struggling With Growth on Oct 16, 2018
While Knightscope's new financials show the company only winning 11 new customers in the past 12 months, the company continues to win new...
Huawei Admits AI "Bubble" on Oct 16, 2018
A fascinating article from the Chinese government's Global Times: Huawei’s AI ambition to reshape industries. While the Global Times talks about...
Amazon Touts Home Security Market Disruption on Oct 15, 2018
Amazon is coming for ADT and all of home security. Indeed, Amazon is advertising this as, in their own words, calling home security a: Inside...
ASIS GSX 2018 Mixed Manufacturer Reviews With Declining Overall Attendance on Oct 02, 2018
ASIS GSX 2018 show drew 9% fewer total registrants, however, it gained 15% more paid registrations, according to ASIS. In this note, we look...
The Robolliance is Dead on Oct 01, 2018
The Robolliance has died. Formed 2 years ago to fanfare, the robots-focused marketing machine is no more, having slipped quietly away sometime...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Throughtek P2P/Cloud Solution Profile on Nov 15, 2018
Many IoT manufacturers either do not have the capabilities or the interest to develop their own cloud management software for their devices....
ASIS Offering Custom Research For Manufacturers on Nov 15, 2018
Manufacturers often want to know what industry people think about trends and, in particular, the segments and product they offer.  ASIS and its...
ISC East 2018 Mini-Show Report on Nov 15, 2018
ISC East, by its own admission, is not a national or international show, billed as the "Largest Annual Northeast U.S. Security...
Hikvision Silent on "Bad Architectural Practices" Cybersecurity Report on Nov 14, 2018
A 'significant vulnerability was found in Hikvision cameras' by VDOO, a startup cybersecurity specialist. Hikvision has fixed the specific...
French Government Threatens School with $1.7M Fine For “Excessive Video Surveillance” on Nov 14, 2018
The French government has notified a high-profile Paris coding academy that it risks a fine of up to 1.5 million euros (about $1.7m) if it...
Integrator Credit Card Alternative Divvy on Nov 13, 2018
Most security integrators are small businesses but large enough that they have various employees that need to be able to expense various charges as...
Directory of Video Intercoms on Nov 13, 2018
Video Intercoms, also known as Video Door-Phones or Video Entry Systems, have been growing in the past decade as more and more IP camera...
Beware Amazon Go Store Hype (Tested) on Nov 13, 2018
IPVM's trip to and testing of Amazon Go's San Francisco store shows a number of significant operational and economic issues that undermine the...
Magos Radar Company Profile on Nov 12, 2018
Magos America General Manager Yaron Zussman admits when he first came across Magos, he asked himself: "What's innovative about radar?" Be that as...
Genetec Privacy Protector Tested on Nov 12, 2018
Genetec has built Kiwi Security's Privacy Protector into Security Center, an analytic which anonymizes individuals in cameras' fields of view...

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