Yes, Marketing Matters To Innovation Too

from the and-it's-a-part-of-innovation dept

There seems to be something of a knee-jerk dislike for "marketing," as if it's something to be shunned and has little to do with anything useful in the marketplace. While it's true that there's plenty of bad marketing out there, good marketing actually serves a really important function -- helping companies determine what the market actually demands, and then delivering products to fill that need (note that, contrary to popular opinion, marketing shouldn't be about convincing people to buy what they don't need). This comes up quite often when we discuss things like patents -- where we point out where one company was successful in bringing a product to market, whereas another failed (and then resorts to patent lawsuits). Some people brush off such successes as "just marketing," as if it's meaningless.

That's simply incorrect.

Marketing is an important part of the innovation process, in understanding what a market wants and making sure it gets it. If one company has better "marketing," that means it's doing a better job getting products out that the market wants. We should be celebrating that, rather than brushing it off as "mere marketing." This is highlighted by a recent blog post by Matt Asay, where he points to the status of two hyped up open source projects that both have failed (by a wide margin) to live up to the hype: Linspire and Chandler. Linspire was the Linux version that was supposed to take on Windows (it was originally called Lindows, but a lawsuit took care of that). However, it's now closed down. Chandler, which has been seven years in the making, was supposed to take on Microsoft Exchange, but after Mitch Kapor finally dropped the project, seems to have emerged as a greatly scaled back notepad/task mgmt system. It took them seven years to build that?

Asay points out the basic fact that "mere marketing" is more important than you might think, and brushing it off is often what leads to these kinds of failures:
Perhaps the lesson in both Linspire and Chandler is just how hard it is to build a strong consumer-facing business. For those who pooh-pooh Microsoft's success as "mere marketing" I have a suggestion: You need to get into this "mere marketing" business. It has a way of driving adoption. It matters.
Engineers like to think they know best, but the market makes the final decision on that -- and it often helps to have good marketing paired with those good engineers to make things work on both ends.
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Filed Under: innovation, marketing, open source

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  1. identicon
    Hulser, 13 Aug 2008 @ 11:12am


    Linspire could be argued to be a marketing failure. I personally think it was an execution failure more than a marketing failure

    Agreed. Both Linspire and Chandler seem to be examples of execution i.e. project management failures, rather than marketing failures. Even if you accept that marketing is distinct from advertising, you really have to stretch the meaning of "marketing" to include project management.

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