Technology Marketing

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Meg Whitman, who is the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, it seems to me, doesn’t have a marketing bone in her body. She is amazingly successful and a brand unto herself, but marketing is not a major care-about for her. If she cared she would have fought harder to keep HP together and invest into the PC and printer businesses. (Are you reading this on a PC? Is it 6 feet from your HP printer?)  Instead she split the company and took control of something called Hewlett Packard Enterprise, a huge battleship of a company with a stodgy, clunky brand, positioned around an idea “Accelerating Next.” Como se 1990s?

Of the two diverged companies I’m kind of liking the PC and printer business, branded HP Inc. Its new CEO Dion Weisler seems a marketeer. He understands it all starts with a product and has smartly dialed up R&D resulting in some laptop forms that are beginning to create excitement. His printers are offering up consumer care-abouts like lower cost ink and faster printing. It also appears he’s a bit of a showman — introducing some laptops inside one another, as with nested Russian dolls.   

When you think about it, Mr. Whitman got the business brands and Mr. Weisler got the consumer brands which was probably a good plan.

That said, I always bet on a business person with marketing chops.  Let’s see what the future of these two brands bring.

Peace.

 

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God forgive me but I’m going to disagree with Robert Scoble, my technology pundit hero. I do not think Microsoft should be split in two: one side about the enterprise and software, the other consumers and devices.  

Mr. Scoble’s logic, and it seems some Wall Street finaciers agree, suggests the business side is “crushing” it (thanks Techmeme), while the device business growing modestly at 4%. Split the company, they say, and let consumer people handle the devices and business people handle the enterprise. I say bullshit. Together there is way much more to learn. And business and marketing is all about learning. Together there will be tensions that are hurtful, yet hopefully transitional. Brothers and sisters argue but they care about the family. And if the tensions are insurmountable, there is always mother (CEO).

Microsoft has so much cash, so much penetration, and enough smart people that it can continue to innovate and make an occasional misstep.  Como se Kin?  And though Microsoft’s brand diaspora is a problem, it is getting better and is certainly fixable.  Mother?

Microsoft is a living organism. It feeds itself while feeding upon itself, yet it is still better as one. With all deference to Mr. Scoble and the financiers and lawyers, the latter motivated by a pay day, let’s not break apart the machine that is crushing it.

Peace.

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Raise your hand if you think computers are going away? Raise your hand if you think the design form of computers will continue to change? Now quick, name 4 computer brands.

If HP wasn’t among those listed, I’d be surprised.

Where the R&D at?

If I were to count every word of every story about Hewlett Packard over the last 5 years, I’m betting the words research and development doesn’t appear in 1% of the search. Why is that? I’m sure they’re doing some R&D, but they can’t be investing in it in a big way. In the PC and computer businesses, I’ve yet to read about any of their design or form breakthroughs. So what are they doing. They’re playing business Monopoly. Moving pieces around, marketing old stuff, managing loss and going to dinners.

There is a huge, huge pot of money in computing. The design form is changing and is certainly not yet done. And HP is busy lounging around with the world’s second leading computer brand.

Next year at CES, HP should quietly in stealth mode launch something big. With all the other big guys not playing in the CES sandbox it would be a highlight moment. But only if they were to launch something out of their R&D garage that mattered. (Como se Make it Matter.) Come on Ms. Whitman. Peace.

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I first ran into Marshall Kirkpatrick in the blogger’s room at the Web 2.0 Expo in 2007.  At the time he was writing for ReadWriteWeb and one of technology’s top 10 bloggers; in the rarified air with Michael Arrington, Robert Scoble, Malik Om, Erick Schonfeld and Jeremiah Owyang.

Sitting in on start-up product pitches for a living must have been hard.  Then under deadline, having to write about it, explain it and prognosticate — even harder. One would imagine that people like this would have at some point aspired to be involved in a start-up. But not so much. Mr. Kirkpatrick is an exception.  His company is called Little Bird.  If I got the Is-Does right (I sat through a webinar yesterday) Little Bird is a Social Monitoring 2.0 tool designed to help find category Posters rather than Pasters. The tool feels really smart at first pass.  

Seeing hundreds of start-up presentations over the years has prepared Mr. Kirkpatrick for the “life.”  The funding period(s), naming, first hires, code-fests, Beta testing and pitching. And more pitching.  His tech blogging background does not insure a successful tech startup, though it certainly should give him a leg up. I applaud his derring do and look forward following Little Bird’s progress.  (Nice name by the way.) Peace.

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A couple, two, tree years ago I predicted the trivestiture of Google. It will still happen but perhaps not for the reason I initially thought. One of the businesses that will spin off will be an analytics business. The more the cloud powers the world, the more data actions are recorded. And I’m not just talking about purchases, I’m thinking mobile apps, geo-location, word capture in texts, searches, likes, LOLs, picture tags, etc.

Big data allows a lot of this now, we just don’t have the tools to use that data. HubSpot is a dashboard company that offers rudimentary analytics, but they don’t do much more than offer reports.  One of my first big clients AT&T once told me, “It’s not enough to capture data, you need to do something smart with it.” Google has the scientists, computing power and cash to use consumer and business data to predict purchase behavior. A data action seen in the cloud such as the search for new Netspresso machines for the office can indicate small business growth. Predictors of commerce is a business.

When an entire industry has grown up with a .250 batting average – that industry being advertising – the time has come for a marketing tool with a bit more clarity and exactitude.  That marketing tool is data-based. And it’s in Google’s sweet spot.  Unless Amazon beats them to the punch. You think Google makes money on advertising now, you just wait. Peace.

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I half disagree with Marissa Mayer, Yahoo!’s new CEO,  about Yahoo’s challenge.  When asked the question “Does Yahoo needs to define whether it is a technology company or a media company?” she responded “It’s not the right questions.  The most important thing is to give end users something valuable, inspiring and delightful that makes them want to come to Yahoo! every day.”  With that part of her answer I completely agree. But the way to get there — is to become content-focused.  In the NYT article Ms. Mayer’s quote came from, an eMarketer analyst suggested that Yahoo doesn’t own the operating system or the device and that there may not be enough room in the market for a 4th mobile platform. (I hate the “P” word, you can drive a truck through it.) Whatever he meant by platform, my take is there will certainly be enough room in the mobile world for a great content provider.

Ms. Mayer accurately feels that mobile is a growth zone for Yahoo!. If she provides content that is mobile ready, not technology ready – she will grow. Technology-enabled (other people’s technology) content is her north star. Any apps or start-ups that result are gravy.

This gem just needs a little cleaning off. 700 million people can’t be wrong. Peace!

 

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“Make it matter” is the new tagline for HP.  I posted about it in June when the line broke.  Creating value in a commodity market is tricky. It can’t be done haphazardly.  Finding hard and fast value planks are the key – then they must be banged home.  Not with just one ad, with many.  Over long periods of time and for the foreseeable future.  It’s easy to go off piste with a value program, however.

HP’s Make it Matter campaign appears to be a create value campaign, yet today I read a promotional ad “Buy 2 ink cartridges get one free” and that is not a great expression of making it matter.  Not that saving money isn’t important.  The ad does not include the new tagline.  It does have a highlighted call to action with the URL hp.com/getmore.

Retail and image together are hard to do well. Retail is about how many sales hit the ledge on a given day. It’s shark time.  Image on the other hand is about changing attitudes that predispose people to buy. Done well, and image ad can create action, though it tends to be long haul stuff.

HP has enough money to have two campaigns. But I’m just not feeling it. I’m feeling uncertainty here. Once the snow globe gets a good shake – there are lots of things new at HP and its agency – all will settle down. Knock-knock. Peace!  

 

 

 

 

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Whoever coined the term “on-size-fits-all” got a lot of mileage out of that phrase.  Must have been an ad guy.  In this age of specialization, one size does not fit all, has actually gotten a lot more traction.  And as I read about Apple’s decision to come out with a smaller version of the iPad – a 7 inch version – it makes me wonder when the form factor of the tablet is going to settle down.  What will be the most useful and used size?  The Samsung Galaxy family is certainly larger than most mobile phones, but not a business-ready typing device.  Even the iPad, who just about every tech-forward person owns, is not the right size for vigorous typing.  Many iPad users tote along spiral notebooks to meetings.

The Microsoft Surface when released will goes bigger (but not too big), yet its felt-like typing surface seems to be an interesting breakthrough and may be a market changer. Especially for those who want to retire the pen and pencil.  

The ergonomics of the tablets, pads and large format phones have not yet found their level. Must they fit in a woman’s bag? A man’s back or front product?  It’s not the wild west, it’s just the wide open west. And most companies in the space are trying to find the right place to settle.  Apple, it seems, is continuing to experiment. Should be interesting to watch. Peace.

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One of the fun things about having a blog is in predicting things that eventually come true. I predicted Google’s trivestiture a couple of years ago and that hasn’t happened. Yet. You can’t win them all. But my posts about Microsoft’s brand diaspora – the unfettered and uncontrolled creep of its brands, highlighted by use of the word “Live,” I’m excited to say, looks to be accurate.  Microsoft is retiring the word “Live.” Readers know I’m behind Microsoft making a flash-cut away from the word “Windows,” as in Windows 8, in favor of the word “Tiles,” but that’s not likely to happen soon. That’s because Windows is a repository for all other creeping sub-brands.  Windows is okay to keep alive for archiving purposes, but Windows 8 should be named Tiles as should the new mobile OS.  Tiles suggests the user paradigm shift much the way Windows did in the 90s.

A new CMO tasked with making things more efficient from a messaging standpoint might walk into Microsoft and on day one fire a bunch of brand names.  It would be hard medicine but the creep (verb) has really gotten out of hand. Retiring Live is a good move. Peace! 

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Google published a nice usable ad in the New York Times today, the visual for which is the oft used name tag with the line “Hello My Name is Dave.”  The copy started off with a little explanation of how cumbersome it would be if every time you met someone you had to tell them your name, age and where you are from.   So with heads nodding the copy goes on to suggest this would also be cumbersome every time you visited a website.  The solution, says Google, are cookies:  “tiny little crumbs of stored information to remember your previous visits.”  Doesn’t sound so bad.  And for those who don’t know what a cookie is, it’s a nice little explanation.  My mom would understand this (if she could find the URL bar.)

In a time when privacy (which rhymes with piracy) is extremely topical, this simplified, non-judgmental explanation of cookies is, as the Brits say, quite lovely. The copy explains cookies can be shut off and provides a link to other information about privacy.  (Google Chrome has some elegant solutions, btw.)

Google knows so much and now they seem to have conquered the science of advertising. Simple is better. One idea at a time.  Engage.  Leaders educate and this ad demonstrates both qualities.  Another Google +. Peace.

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