Tech Marketing: Does it Exist?

I write a lot about marketing. Usually the article comes from a project with a consulting client; or reading Seth Godin; or taking a class; or great conversations.

Lately I have written repeatedly about Positioning (HERE and HERE and HERE) due to a class I took with Section4 on Product Positioning.  I do get redundant as I work through the concepts as I type. There are definitely themes to what I write.

I don’t have a marketing degree, so I often wonder how it is that the telecom industry struggles so much with marketing. The concepts of Value Proposition, Positioning, Storytelling, Product Market Fit are foundations of marketing. I know that tech doesn’t spend money on marketing. They think build it and they will come. Do they not understand the Microsoft example? Even a second rate product can dominate with enough marketing.

I can think of a bunch of providers who were first movers in functionality, but got zero sales out of it. Why? Because NO ONE KNEW about it!!! Marketing is how a buyer would know about it.

I often hear that providers have the best people, the smartest people, great tech, awesome customer service – yet they eke by. Best tech doesn’t win. Best marketing wins.

You know why sales struggles to sell? NO marketing help. I don’t mean Lead Gen, which is what everyone wants out of marketing. I mean, the C-Suite has not identified a target buyer, or defined a value statement or anything that would help the sales team sell.

I didn’t say spend money on branding – although name recognition certainly helps. But hire a firm to come in and help you define your Best Customer, your Position, and your Value Prop.

Otherwise your sales people will have to make it up themselves – and will struggle with sales.

On one project we are hiring either a sales dev person or an appointment setting company. Either way, we will need to create and refine a script. We will need to train the person on the product, the company and the value. Why?

There are always 3 sales occurring at the same time: The prospect has to trust the salesperson, that the product will indeed help them and the company will deliver that product as promised.

If the Prospect doesn’t like or trust the sales rep, the deal is off. If they don’t understand the product – What the heck is UCaaS? CPaaS? XSaaS? Huh? Leave me alone! If they don’t believe the company can deliver – we see that often with small companies with big portfolios of products.  So train the sales people, do the marketing basics, aim for the best fit customer.

In UCaaS, in SD-WAN, and now in CCaaS, one after another provider makes up a new acronym (a new category) as if that alone will be the Blue Ocean Strategy. It has to go beyond that. A new acronym isn’t a strategy. A slogan isn’t a Value Proposition either or a Position.

UCaaS and SD-WAN are garbage can terms. They really don’t mean anything. They are a collection of features that make the product look like it belongs in that category. We saw this with Riverbed. It is a problem because it confuses the customer. The sales teams can’t really explain the differentiation either, so confused sales and buyers. That spells disaster.

I put SD-WAN in 3 categories: hardware, Orchestrator or Network-as-a-Service. These are really very different things. Yesterday I was talking to an MSP’s sales rep who was looking for a quote on SD-WAN from a TSB. The CM quoted a NaaS provider for a single small business with 3 employees who just wanted to bond two broadband circuits. That should have been Turnium or Cradlepoint or Rabbitrun, not NaaS. [I won’t go on a tangent on how ineffective TSBs are with knowing what vendors are/do.]

Cloud Communications has a lot of categories; more than just CPaaS, UCaaS and CCaaS. And buyers aren’t looking for any of those acronyms. They are looking for solutions that will improve the business. That will likely require functions from each category, but how well does a sales rep know those 3 categories and associated products? Not very well at all. In fact, most providers have different sales teams selling each category with no cross-pollination.

In the SD-WAN example, at least one vendor wasted their time quoting for this situation [it was not an opportunity].  The reason you do market fit and define a buyer is so that exact situation doesn’t happen. The sales teams spend more time on best fit because they are more likely to buy! That is marketing helping you win.

BTW, this was the funniest slide from the Positioning class:


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