Jason Dea's Pages

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Get off my lawn – The new rules of marketing

I am old.  It’s official, I don’t understand music today.  When I turn on the music video channel or listen to the radio, I hear myself saying the same things my father used to say.  Then I saw this.

“There’s nothing quite like the feeling, when you’re listening to a song, written by someone you don’t know, who you’ve never met, who somehow manages to describe exactly how you felt at a particular moment in your life…”

What a wonderful introduction to a modern hit that I actually like.  I was thinking about this quote in the context of what I do for a living.  I’m a marketer.  As a marketer perhaps I should aspire to something greater.

Traditional marketing was about interruption.  Interrupting your favorite TV shows, interrupting the newspaper articles, interrupting the landscape you see on your commute to work.  Surveys will say that people hate marketing.  Marketing interrupts your day and yells at you.  Marketing tries to sell you things that you don’t need.

As long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated with technology, and fascinated by what it can do.  I believe that innovation in technology can make people’s lives better.  Even something as frivolous as social media has proven this year, that it can transcend simply being just a medium to distribute lolcatz images.  That new channel for communication showed that it could be a catalyst for revolution and real change.  That’s pretty amazing if you think about it. 

I think perhaps the new marketing can be about that.  It can be about teaching the world the value of new innovation.  Teaching the world about how tomorrow will be a better place and the role technology can play in paving that road.  Maybe the new marketing can be like this song by Adele and deliver messages that resonate with people beyond a catchphrase and help them understand how something simple might just make the world a bit better…

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dear RIM you forgot one of the Ps of marketing…

The Price is Right
I recently upgraded my phone to the new Blackberry Bold 9900.  So far I find it to be a fantastic device which really performs well for my usage requirements.  But reading news and reviews of this device online, and the lukewarm reaction RIM is getting, has me thinking back to the basic principles of marketing.   I fear the commercial success of my new toy might be getting sabotaged by the ‘Four Ps’ of marketing.

When I started in marketing the first task I was given was to familiarize myself with how to build strategy around the four Ps (Product, Place, Promotion, and Price).   Taking this approach to building out messaging and strategy was a simple and proven framework to get me started.  Having a formal process to build out a strategy really helped me to mature beyond a marketer who made decisions on gut instinct, to becoming a marketer who can build out much more thoughtful research driven strategy.

Today, in RIM’s case it seems that with the launch of their new flagship device there appears to be a glaring loss control over what some might argue is the most important of those Ps… Price.  More often than not, even if the Product, Place and Promotion are in line, Price acts as the final deciding factor between purchase or not.

An exceptionally concerning trend I’ve noticed with the Blackberry Bold 9900 is terrible inconsistency in the pricing offered by RIM’s carrier partners.  The published pricing for the device seems to range from as low as $149 on contract, to as high as $349 on contract.  That’s a 230%+ swing in pricing from carrier to carrier.  This creates tremendous confusion in the mind of the consumer, and in the identity of the product itself -  Is this blackberry a premium superphone?  Is this blackberry a mid-market smartphone?  Is this aimed at teenagers?  Is this aimed at business people?  The more questions something seemingly as simple as the pricing for a product raises, the less successful the product ultimately will be.

While I understand the street pricing is not set directly by RIM themselves, and is in the hands of the carrier partners, something tells me that this should be one of the top priorities for change in Waterloo.  After all, having centralized control over both Pricing as well as the other Ps of marketing seems to have served that fruit company in Cupertino very, very, very well.

So there you have it, my one (or at least my first) piece of advice for Jim, and Mike.  As a longtime fan of your products, please update your partner strategy to have a more consistent pricing model for your devices across all carriers, and work on that most important of all the marketing Ps.

And in case you’re wondering.  A quick review of the phone itself:

-           -  The dimensions are perfect for me.  I hate baggy pants, so the thin profile fits in my pockets perfectly
-           -    The touch screen makes the UI much more intuitive and easier to use
-           -    The web browser works very well and renders all the websites I need perfectly
-           -    The new processors make the UI a lag free experience
-           -    Unfortunately the battery life appears worse than my previous blackberries but it still gets me through more than a day before needing a charge.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Even delicious beverages need product management!

I came across this great video today.  In it Dr. Jim Anderson discusses how product managers at Coke keep track of their 450(!) Different brands of products.

I find it refreshing to learn about how companies outside my own domain (enterprise software in my case) tackle various issues.  At the end of the day there are many universal truths to running a business, no matter what markets you play in.  Seeing how an organization like Coke (who sells delicious beverages rather than enterprise software) tackle some of the universal challenges of product management helps me to spur some new thinking, and get myself unstuck from the occasional ruts I find myself in.

This behavior oddly tends to be particularly prevalent in the summer months J