Market Analysis & Communications for the Manufacturing Industry
Every year or so there is a new buzz-word, technology, issue or theory that captures the attention of the marketplace. Recently, it was The Cloud and this year it’s Big Data. As soon as one of these new terms begins to gain traction, it seems that every tech company on the planet jumps on board and uses the term in their marketing efforts, sponsors white papers, webinars and otherwise tries to grab on to the publicity for all it’s worth.
Is this a good idea?
According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle (Google it if you’re not familiar with the term), the “Peak of inflated expectations” is inevitably followed by the “Trough of Disillusionment” before the “Slope of enlightenment” leads to the “Plateau of productivity”. Companies are understandably excited about riding up the peak of enlightenment but have to be wary of falling into the trough of disillusionment.
The purpose of marketing is to inform the market about your company, its products and their value and the most important part of that quest is to get their attention so you can deliver your message. As Willie Sutton famously said, he robbed banks because that’s where the money is. We tie our marketing efforts to where the eyeballs and brain cells are, of course, and there’s nothing like a good buzz-word for drawing people’s interest, especially if the hyped idea has potential impact on the prospect’s business performance, competitiveness, or market challenges.
I’ve participated on both sides of the current hype cycle, delivered papers and presented webinars on Big Data. I’ve also studied a lot of what’s out there and attended other webinars and presentations and I have come to several conclusions. These activities can be very beneficial to the sponsoring company only if the following are present:
- There is a significant relationship between the company / product and the hype-term, that is, there’s a credible reason for the company to be talking about it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the product addresses the issue directly or solves the problem right now – just that the idea or issue is an appropriate one for this company.
- The company has something of value to say. Either they have a solution, have products or plans that address the issue or exploit the technology, or have a position on the impact of the subject item.
- They understand the issue. I attended a webinar recently where the (analyst/expert) presenter focused on exploitation of data, but not even defining or addressing “big data”, how it is different, and the new challenges and opportunities it presents. I considered this webinar to be a waste of my time and my opinion of the vendor and the analyst firm was tarnished as a result.
Failure to recognize these three requirements leads to the kind of bad experience just mentioned and does a lot more harm than good. If a prospect agrees to invest time and attention to hear your message, make sure they get a good return on that investment.
Go ahead and jump on the big hype bandwagon but make sure these opportunities deliver increased credibility and visibility. Inferior and inappropriate contributions to the hype cycle (and that includes over-promising as well as misrepresentations) are a primary cause of the descent into the Trough of Disillusionment.