Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Honest Marketing for SOA? Naah lets go cosmetic

Via Mr Creswell I picked up on a new set of posts around "Honest Marketing" and it made me think again about the best way to market a service. I still think its critical to market from the consumers perspective but quite clearly there are two choices here
  1. Market honestly and say just what it does
  2. Do Air Canada poor marketing
  3. Go Cosmetic on the marketing
Now the later is best exemplified by the people at Clarins with their "Faraday Cage in a bottle" which is really just a water spray, but they couldn't charge £25 ($500) for it if they just said it did that.

Now the point here is that the problem that Air Canada have is that they are marketing something very direct, its real and its obvious, therefore its really hard to make up silly things and have them relevant. With the cosmetics industry however its all pretty much the same set of products so they need to make up for that with impressive marketing claims.

So which one will SOA fall into? We already know that Software vendors, particularly those in the Pacific North West, tend to make exaggerated claims of what their products can achieve, and I think that SOA is going to be the same.

You have a choice of two credit card clearing companies, one says "we clear credit card payments and do some minor fraud detection" the other says "using advanced einsteinium processors we analyse credit card payments for irregular heuristically defined patterns and give you the piece of mind that all credit card payments are processed without being tested on animals". Now if you are smart you'll just pick the first one, but how many people will do that? After all the interface is the same, the ingredients are the same, the result is the same... but one has a marketing budget, probably some pictures, and seems to promise a bit more.

IT is littered with these sorts of claims "the end of programming", "business people directly developing complex systems using a point and click interface", "Perl for all your enterprise needs", "Secure PHP", "Parallel computing made easy", "backed by our expert support team", "its all XML so there is no programming", "J2EE is dead", etc etc. There is really no reason to think that SOA and SaaS will change it.

Now this pessimism means that there is only one logical position to hold, namely that some other bugger will use the Clarins' marketing people, so you'd better get in there first....

SOA not only transforms your business and IT to be more efficient, more effective and more enjoyable, it also makes you feel younger, reduces your risk of heart disease, makes you more attractive and reduces your carbon emissions.

Honest marketing is a good idea in principle, but when has IT demonstrated any of those?

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PetrolHead said...

Hi Steve,

Glad you liked the link ;)

I agree, honesty is not a prevalent trend in various aspects of IT but I wonder if that's not a consequence of the fact that many allow themselves to be hype-driven rather than being analytical and asking those nasty real-world questions?


Steve Jones said...

I think its more than lots of people can't understand the nasty real world questions so like the pink and fluffy resolve of The technology Delusion!

mpeter said...

And how are we supposed to differentiate between the hype, and what's useful?

If I want to buy a car, I have dozens of resources I can use to make thoughtful, informed decisions that leave the marketing at home.

It's not the same with IT vendors. I can't easily make these informed decisions without being led astray by wild promises

Steve Jones said...

mpeter, I completely agree about IT, we don't have "independent" research in the same way as the car industry. The only way I've found to get round the hype is to actually test against real scenarios that you have. Like test driving a car, you might read "drives like its on rails" in a magazine and its only in the test drive that you realise this means "only turns when it wants to".

And with cars people still end up after reading all the reviews buying silly things like a 318 BMW which really is a waste of money, and its the marketing that makes them do it.

Anonymous said...

Why is the 318 BMW a waste of money?


Steve Jones said...

2 Litre engine, 0-62 10 seconds, cramped in the back, CO2 of 175 .... costs over 20 grand. That makes it slower and with less space than a 2 litre Ford FOCUS diesel.

The only reason people buy one is that they really want a better BMW and they are paying 25%+ over the odds just to get the badge, that is marketing for you!

bmw said...

Nice honest marketing for soa? naah lets go cosmetic post! Thanks for intesting info! More bmw can be found at

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