In response to the October 23 Perspectives column by Charles Cooper, "":
This reminds me of a personal example of this babble. A few years ago, we in the marketing and product management department of a software company were trying to capture the essence and--we thought--power of our new application development tool. Everyone in the company had an opinion. After much back-and-forth and round-and-round, we thought the final branding message was a concise expression of the value of our product.
Then a colleague, on a hunch, hit our competitors' Web sites. You can probably guess what he found. You could have taken any of their messages, substituted our company and product names and had a near verbatim copy of what we thought was our "essence."
And therein lays the danger of marketing for all vendors. We wanted to build a message that would attract the attention of the check signers by highlighting the value they'd derive through us and our products. Such a message must speak to business benefit and limit technology specifics. Yet we found, as perhaps have Carly Fiorina and Sam Palmisano, that there's a fine line between rising above the technical details and spinning off into the stratosphere--the land of "Um, yeah, so?"
Knowing where that line is and which side you're on with your marketing is tough work. It requires lots of strategic thinking and collaboration with clients, salespeople, engineers, and other leaders. Done well, one creates a platform upon which everyone can understand and clearly explain what you do and what it's good for. Done ever so slightly less well--perhaps because one doesn't quite get it or is more focused on saying, "Me, too"--one ends up fumbling on stage at a Gartner conference.