Architecture or ‘Marketecture’:
Avoid 5 Top Marketing Traps
Many professional marketers know the difference between strong technology architecture and marketecture (aka roadmaps, futures, etc.) But, these days even the biggest IT names -- IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP - are "selling futures," and getting away with it. How come? We look at the shifting temptations - and dangers -- of "marketctures" for smaller and mid-sized firms. And, best of all, give you 5 tips for avoiding the top marketecture traps.
Many companies make the mistake of using "marketectures" as news for the press and analysts. Don't let your marketing and PR team go down this road by checking our 5 tips that will help you help your company detect and hopefully avoid "marketecture" pitfalls.
The Marketecture Temptation
The folks at Word Spy define marketecture as: "A new computer architecture that is being marketed aggressively despite the fact that it doesn't yet exist as a finished product." Sound familiar?
We all know announcing "futures" can get PR/marketing pros (and your press/analysts) high on an adrenalin rush. But, it can also be risky. Many press/analysts will even give you a nice "futures" write-up (at first), because we all love the look-ahead news story. But, be aware: With your look into the future, you have also made an explicit "promise to deliver" future these press/analysts.??? And, these people will remember.
Identifying "Marketectures" in Your Plan
Announcing "futures" is like tightrope walking -- You may get everyone's attention when you first walk out on the wire. But, one false step, and you could get seriously hurt. And worse, after your fall, the crowd's attention quickly moves on to the circuses below.
So, when do you have "marketecture" and not a real "future news" story? It's simple: When you feel dizzy, and think you're about to fall off the wire, that's when your well-crafted, wonderfully-positioned PR about "future" is about to splat into a "marketecture."
5 Tips For Avoiding "Marketecture" Hazards
#1. Any buzzwords you use to describe your product should be reference points -- not the goal line. The more precise you are about your solution, the less likely that you can be tarred with a broad, unflattering brush. Begin with the business and technology values that your solution is offering and don't just rely on fleating buzzwords. These days the high-tech the buzz seems to be around SOA (service oriented architecture), web services, XML or metadata, terms that hide the complexity of technology to make it easier to use.
#2. Be more than a little bit technical. Many PR/marketing pro's already act as an "honest broker" between the company and the press/analysts. But it's not enough anymore simply to say "let me get someone more technical on the phone with you." I often speak to PR/marketing folks that sheepishly admit "I'm not that technical," in response to a question. That just won't cut it anymore if you want to help your firm avoid the pitfalls for "marketecture"
#3. Quiz yourself on your product's differentiators. Fine-tune your own marketecture detector by vowing to know these the following points before you pitch a story or begin an interview. (a) understand what your technology does, (b) understand basically how it works (or doesn't work), and (3) most importantly, what technology approach does your product use to deliver "business value". (In other words, what is the "secret sauce" that lets your company deliver technology that makes it easier for IT to fill a business need.
#4. Be the canary in the coal mine, and bravely sniff out marketectures in your current PR plan. The best editors and analysts are skeptical when you digress into subjects like (1) Product Roadmaps (2) Complex Technologies without Simple Problems and (3) Statements of Direction. It's a good idea to take a highlighter to your press announcement and look for "future" statements. (like "will ship,""plan,""to rollout,""the latest in our program to,""could be used to,""we expect,""beta,""review,""promise,"â€¦..etc.) If you see too much yellow, get nervous. You're face-to-face with marketecture. (BTW: Don't hide behind the "Safe Harbor" disclaimers at the bottom of your press release. Those are for lawyers - not press/analysts.)
#5. Assume your company execs will be late with the full delivery of what your earlier press release promised. Before you issue the "futures" news, plan to identify 1 or 2 deliverables that will assuredly arrive in the next 1-2-3 even 6 months down the road (anything further out is suspect).
To help with Item #5, document your firm's "milestones" of progress: (a) shipping products; (b) shipping components; (c) in-depth technical detail; (c) customers/reviewers; (d) results-driven case studies (e) sales/channel numbers. Be sure to supply something that will show us press/analysts that we didn't take your initial meeting for nothing.
Bottom Line: As marketing/PR pro's you may not own responsibility for the product development. But, you should take ownership of the perceived technical expertise and business benefits of the technologies you are discussing. For good or ill, your product IS your company, especially in the eyes of press/analysts. Be aggressive in wanting to know about it.
Strive to get that little extra technical insight - that will empowers you to understand the workings/failings of a company's product. It will also help you devise strategies and approaches that will definitely assist your company avoid marketecture pitfalls.
If you're struggling with how to turn your "marketecture" Roadmap slideware into a compelling solutions-solving architecture, contact Tom Donoghue by email Tom at idevnews dot com or by phone at 415-516-2874.