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Machine Learning Authors: Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Corey Roth

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Gullible marketing

I used to think that marketing had to do with adjectives: better, shinier, fat-free. I now think marketing has to do with nouns and gullibility - let me explain.

Gullible marketing is based on the premise that customers believe everything that they hear. You assume that a customer cannot distinguish one company's hype (shiny toaster) from another's (fat-free toaster).

In gullible marketing, you cannot win be asserting that you do things better than your competitors. You can only win by talking about different things than any of your competitors.

This brings us to the buzzword-filled world of Web 2.0. It is almost impossible to differentiate one RIA, Ajax, Saas-enabled development tool from another. In the gullible marketing world, Backbase , Nexaweb, Jackbe, Appcelerator and WaveMaker all look the same (if we all merged, we could call ourselves Back-nexa-jack-app-wave).

Gullible marketing would say that no customer can distinguish between our buzzword-laden pitches without a great deal of effort. Thus any time they hear similar-sounding claims from two vendors they get a sort of used-car salesman feeling that leaves them confused and dejected.
Vendor 1: Bright and shiny Ajax, RIA, Web 2.0 tools!
Vendor 2: Brighter, shinier and velvet stippled RIA, Enterprise Web 2.0 tools!!
Customer: sigh…I guess I'll wait to see what Microsoft gives me
Once customers are confused, they are likely to do nothing at all, just wait for the market develop to a point where there is a clear market leader. As a vendor, then, the trick is to say something unique to customers that they aren't hearing from anyone else and hence aren't confused about.
  1. Avoid adjective-driven differentiation. In the tech world, the adjectives faster, better and cheaper have been overused to the point of meaningless
  2. Stake out a unique nouns. Focus your messaging on something that nobody else is saying. For example, WaveMaker is the only browser-based web development tool that you can ship as a part of your application - which is a handy thing for ISVs.
  3. Start with small nouns. The implicit market size of the noun you stake out should be roughly equivalent to the size and momentum of your company. If you are a small company, try to own a little noun first. For example, shipping a browser-based customization tool with your application is going to only appeal to ISV's trying to web-enable their products, a relatively small segment of the web development space.
Another way of explaining gullible marketing is that customers believe none of what they hear from vendors, but that would be too depressing for me as a vendor to contemplate, so I prefer to think of them as gullible instead.

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