Going beyond the sizzle (of technology marketing)

Apple GeniusIn case you haven’t picked it up on it, I’m in the business of marketing people. Yes, I market B2B solutions with a complex array of services and technologies, but at the end of the day those solutions are designed by, implemented by, managed by and bought by people. And one of the worst things an organization can do is sell a technology without keeping in mind the people that it takes to really maximize the value of that solution. So why then do marketers overlook the people that make their solutions attainable and tangible to clients?

As I like to say to my consultants and engineers, the technology on its own is the sizzle. Yes, the sound and the smell is what draws people in; it’s the “sexy” part of what we sell – but when the sizzle eventually dissipates, it’s the experts in front of the customer, strategically evaluating the situation, who will ultimately be held accountable for the technology’s performance.

And rest assured – the sizzle will dissipate. And unless you’re really not in to retaining customers, this should be a pretty big deal for you. No one, I repeat no one, is safe from the “so what have you done for me lately” conundrum.

So go ahead and keep marketing the crap of the technology. It is after all what brings customers in the door. But getting them in the door is only half the battle. Once they’re in the door – the technology needs to tell a story, and that story ultimately needs to be about marketable people. For without people, technology comes down to bits and bytes and eventually we all start to look the same (see PC industry).

One of the senior executives I work with and whom I have a tremendous amount of respect for has a mantra I oft hear him recite.

“People do business with people they like, trust and respect.”

We’ve reached a point where technology is a great differentiator but also our greatest challenge. In this age of rapid obsolescence, something better will eventually come along. But good people, trustworthy people, who have a vested interested in their customers can quell that fear.

If you stop and think about it, we are surrounded by companies who win because of the people they market, who are bringing products and solutions that are not only at their respective forefronts, but also backed by great people. From Apple to Xerox, these organizations win because there are people behind them that we like, trust and respect.



  1. #1 by Ramiro Roman on June 8, 2011 - 4:07 pm

    Kris, thanks for the post!

    I agree with our assessment, ultimate people buy from people. Even brands, the good ones, are “personal” – that’s the intent.

    The purchase process is both functional (technology/rational) and emotional (people/feelings).

    • #2 by Kris Kaneta on June 8, 2011 - 5:06 pm

      Ramiro, great point. The people notion goes well beyond B2B and/or technology. Most people, all things being equal make purchasing decisions based on emotional ties. And those emotions materialize in the people the brand represents.

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