Monday, December 7, 2009

Determing the Problem

After the ad agency left, I had a heart-to-heart with the marketing team. The best justification for running a print ad they could muster was "to build awareness."

"Awareness of what?" was my response. In the back of my mind, I was thinking two things. Everyone who is interested in FireWire is fully aware that TI is the leader in the 1394/FireWire silicon market. "Awareness" is not a problem there. However, there was a general lack of awareness of the benefits of FireWire, how it differs from USB, who is designing in FireWire, and what competitive advantages there are to having FireWire in a device. The response to my question was disappointing.

"Awareness that we are the leaders in 1394," was their response. This was not a good answer. It did not justify spending a bunch of dollars. It did not fix a problem.
Most of these "marketers" had taken "Introduction to Marketing" as an undergrad and one or two other random marketing classes. Some of them had general purpose M.B.A.s but I was the only person in the room with an M.B.A. in marketing and 4 years of experience. Here was an opportunity to train an eager team of marketing wannabes.

"Who does not know that TI is the leader in 1394 silicon?"

"Well...we want to reinforce that message."

"Are we in danger of someone taking that position away from us?"

It was becoming clear to everyone that we needed to talk a lot more before we were ready to invite the ad agency back in.
What I had to do was to take the team through the reasons for running an ad:
1) Build awareness
2) Correct misinformation
3) Build reputation/image
4) Damage control
and there were several more on my list.

None of these were an issue for TI. If they wanted to maintain our position, there were other more effective and less expensive ways to do it. But first, I was going to walk through the process with them and run one more ad.

Then we could do a postmortem.

James Snider is a Global Marketing professional, responsible for developing the 3.4 billion dollar 1394/FireWire market. James spent 16 years in marketing with 7 years working at "for profit" companies, 8 years as executive director of a non-profit and the past year as an independent global business development consultant.

1 comment:

  1. James,

    Good post. Big problems start when people use blanket terms like "awareness" as if they really explain anything. Agency people, who are supposed to be "communication professionals" often are terrible communicators.

    Moreover, the failure to communicate in everyday language obscures meaning. To say "we want to build awareness" is the same thing as saying "we want people to know," which would make the question, "Know what?" obvious"

    By using the loaded term "Awareness" they confused themselves and were unable to answer your simple question.

    I wrote a post about this that you might be interested in:

    - Greg