Outside-In Marketing

I have worked for 15 years of in the technology sector in various product marketing, industry marketing, business development, product management, strategic planning and consulting roles.   One of the consistent trends I have found is that corporate marketing departments in the tech sector are full of “inside out” thinking.  Decisions are based upon internal goals, priorities and opinions of a company rather than customer needs and market drivers.

Inside Out

Many new product launches in the tech sector are not the result of a methodical analysis of customer needs, but instead something cool that a senior executive dreamed up on the way to work one day.   Such visionary approaches are best left to entrepreneurial start ups and the venture capital community.   Large, established organizations cannot afford to sink millions of dollars of R&D funds into half-baked ideas conceived on a white board.  Six years ago, I had a memorable experiencing while interviewing with one of the world’s largest technology services firms.   The role I was interviewing for was to take an esoteric, specialized technology that had been invented for one of the firm’s blockbuster products and determine if it could be applied to other business problems.  This is the classic scenario of a technology looking for a market.  The most interesting part was that this company had staffed a whole team of former investment bankers to lead the product initiative.  Needless to say, I did not take the job.  But I have enjoyed watching the firm fumble with several ill-conceived product announcements that quickly disappear off their web site 12 months later.

Outside In

In this blog, I will focus on offering my own set of best practices for a wide range of marketing functions based upon my real world experiences.  As you may have guessed, my recommendations will center upon how to adopt more market-driven and customer-centric approaches to marketing.  I refer to this as “Outside-In Marketing.”  Topics covered in this blog will include a wide range of marketing disciplines ranging from public and analyst relations to partner and product management to product marketing and industry marketing.  Of course, the bulk of the focus will be on B2B marketing scenarios in the IT services sector.  For example, I will be challenging many of the traditional “best practices in marketing” preached by consultants and academia:

  • There is nothing wrong with using a 30-page PowerPoint presentation on a sales call.
  • You should not listen to industry analysts for guidance on trends in the market.
  • Press releases are not just for the media.  Fewer reportes will read most releases than customers.
  • Product managers should go on sales calls and participate in sales cycles, not try to avoid them.

I do have a bit of a sarcastic wit about me.  So I will illustrate many of the marketing concepts I am explaining by poking a little fun at the conventional, text-book marketing practices preached by the so-called thought leaders.

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