Making Marketing Ring True.
Daring Fireball is a hardcore geeky site that I've skimmed for a couple of years at the recommendation of a friendly technology expert. It's filled with stuff I don't begin to understand, but has also kept me abreast of foul-ups in software updates and has helped me out on many occasions.
It wasn't, however, somewhere that I expected to read an outstanding marketing critique which reminds us of some essential marketing truths about authenticity, positioning and the foolishness of branding. I urge you to read it.
But while John Gruber validly harangues some marketing influences at Adobe, he goes on to say
"This is why so many great companies fade away after their founding generation retires: the companies are taken over by “sales and marketing people."
and argues that
"Any great company must be run by people who both understand and love the products the company creates;a car company needs to be run by car people; a movie studio by movie people; and a software company by software people."
I can't agree.
As I've said before, anyone who calls themselves a sales and marketing person is inherently suspect in my book and will inevitably screw things up. Not because they're marketing people, but because they clearly don't understand marketing as well as John Gruber. I think he's fallen into the trap, no doubt based upon experience, of equating the marketing debacles with the inevitable outcome of a marketing department.
While in many cases marketing people have admittedly served the tech industries badly by not truly understanding the product, it is equally true to say that software and hardware people have performed equal disservices by not appreciating that their customers were not necessarily as technically proficient as themselves. Indeed, it was this observation that prompted me to write my Geek Marketing 101 post.
No, a software company does not have to be run exclusively by software people. It should however be populated by people who understand what the product can and can't do and the way its customers will interact with it. Just as in any industry, specific production expertise is not essential. Rather it is that rare ability to be a nuanced translator and conduit which truly allows you to make marketing ring true.