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Honesty with Attitude From an Industry Insider

Kirby Wadsworth

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Test Me If You Can

Ever see a headline on a press release like this?

“According to the widely respected OhGosh Group, OUR Product Performs Better Than THEIR Product!”

or

“New Report from World-Renowned Acme Consulting Proves XYZ Technology’s New Stamflatz 10000 delivers More Gigaflux Capacity than ABC Technology’s Burgpultz 500!”

Or how about my personal favorite?

“Industry Leading Analyst Firm Ranks XYZ Technology’s New Stamflatz 10000 the Clear Leader in Customer Satisfaction!”

Oh, and the tweets are even worse:

“Great News! We absolutely blow away Burgpultz! But, don’t take our word for it.. check out HTTP.BS.B.LY

You know the type – usually sounds all hyperventilated and squealy. Ugh.

My good friend and colleage, Lori MacVittie just wrote a blog on this subject, For Thirty Pieces of Silver My Product Can Beat Your Product, that got my 'marketing professional' dander dandying.

Digging under the covers, it becomes pretty clear that ‘widely respected’ OhGosh Group, or ‘world-renowned’ Acme Consulting, received a (big) check from the marketing department at XYZ Technology, Inc. to run (or worse, to simply observe and report while XYZ actually ran) that test that XYZ Marketing is now so breathlessly touting.

Hey ho…lazy marketing managers at XYZ…here’s a wake up call…the market – despite current leftist leaning political opinion – is not stoopid. You are. The market is in fact brilliant. You are not. The market cannot be fooled…fool.

Two things really stick in my craw about this lousy, lazy, and professionally embarrassing marketing practice.

First – it hurts customers. These one-sided tests - bought and paid for by technology vendors - do not serve customers in helping them make thoughtful buying decisions.

Second – pay for play performance testing makes a mockery of the marketing profession, and it makes the jobs of legitimate, knowledgeable and hardworking Marketers that much harder. The customer you snookered with your lop-sided test results soon learns to discount all marketing information as more of your hogswallow.

A friend of mine, who also happens to be a big-time CIO, has one of those red Staples ‘Easy Button” things on his desk. When a vendor starts spewing this nonsense, he hits it, and instead of a bubbly, "That was easy", a stern voice loudly proclaims, “Warning BULLSHIT level approaching DEFCON-5!”

I love that. But I hate that he thinks all technology vendors spew BS, and that’s the problem.

So, if you call yourself a marketing professional, the next time you find yourself tempted to pay somebody to run a trumped up test or skew a survey to make your feeble product look formidable, slap yourself upside the head, and get back to work. There are no short cuts.

If you’re a customer, the next time you see a headline or read a report that claims, “XYZ Technology is Faster, Better, Cheaper, Shinier, and More Fun at parties” than ABC, stop and ask yourself, which company would you want as your trusted advisor – the one that pays to play, or the one that always, not matter what, shoots you straight?

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More Stories By Kirby Wadsworth

Kirby is widely recognized throughout the storage industry for his expertise in marketing and business strategy.

A veteran of both startups and established storage vendors, Wadsworth was a founder of Storability and served as vice president of marketing prior to its sale to StorageTek. Earlier, as vice president and general manager of Compaq's Network Storage Services Business Unit, he envisioned and introduced Compaq's Enterprise Network Storage Architecture (ENSA) which is still widely recognized today.

As vice president of marketing for Digital's Storage Business Unit, Wadsworth launched Digital's StorageWorks product line into the open systems marketplace, and led the creation and introduction of the Enterprise Storage Array product family.