The woes of tech marketing

Be warned. There follows a completely unfair rant.

The technology industry is uniformly rubbish at marketing. There. Said it.

(And Apple aren’t a technology company – they make consumer goods and provide consumer services – before you ask).

Why are we rubbish? Well, I think it’s because we are so logical about things. Logical in a way that makes us think that giving a comprehensive list of features, a pretty picture of the product, and a price will be logical enough to sway the minds of our remarkably clever and logical customers who tell us that they just want to know the facts and that they don’t like being marketed at.

So we are all culpable.

But the problem is that nobody likes being “marketed at”. Because if you feel you are being “marketed at”, it’s a sign that the marketing activity is rubbish.

There are two things that are making me think about this at the moment: the first is Grant Leboff’s concept of Sticky Marketing – that long-term, impactful marketing should add value to the end target in and of itself; and the second is a particular point made in Rory Sutherland’s wonderful Wired Live presentation. In that, he summed up my issue with technology marketing perfectly – for all of the years that video conferencing has been around, it’s never been very successful. Sutherland’s argument is because it’s always been described as the poor man’s air travel. However, if it had been sold as the rich man’s telephone

It’s that difference off between the logical and the aspirational that makes the difference. As I’ve argued before, many engineering industries do get this. Think of car adverts… the open roads, the pounding music, the big skies, the horsepowers. And then compare that to the grim reality of driving a car in any urban or suburban area in 2011, picking your nose whilst you peer at the brakelights of the static line of cars in front.

Consumerisation is the kick up the pants that the technology industry needs to start approaching marketing in a way that engages with people at an emotional level. How many will be able to remains to be seen.

Rant over.

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