Purchasing IT products is different, thus marketing IT has to be different - expert

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

While marketing in general requires using particular frameworks and tools to develop the right strategy, information and communication technologies require a different toolkit compared to more traditional or standard consumer products, according to high-tech and innovation marketing expert Jakki Mohr.

"Many people think marketing is intuition, creative advertising, sales. And really marketing is strategic thinking about which customers and what the value proposition is for a specific group of customers," Mohr told BNamericas.

In the ICT industry, marketing strategies are different because purchase decisions are riskier for customers. "They worry about the technology, the performance promised, will they know how to use the product and receive the full benefits of using the product, will the vendors provide good service and technical support," she said.

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But technology companies' marketing capabilities tend not to be very well developed, which creates a paradox. For that reason it is important to train IT companies in this area, according to Mohr.

"People who are technology-oriented tend to believe that they shouldn't need marketing to be successful because the technology itself should be so good that it sells itself. Yet the studies are very clear that it's not the best technology in the market place that succeeds: It's the best-marketed technology that succeeds," Mohr said.

In addition, partnerships must be thought through very carefully, since they are actually part of the marketing strategy.

"The most common mistake that I see companies make is... that these companies haven't made the strategic choices about target markets and positioning that have to be done before engaging in sales, distribution, advertising and trade shows," the expert added.

In that context, there are clusters in the Latin American industry - much like in other parts of the world - working to stimulate innovation and help companies face these challenges.

Finland is considered a best practices model for incubating innovation, according to Mohr. The country's model includes three components - education, a financial support mechanism for innovation, and a network of support, which comes, for instance, from training in marketing strategies.

Mohr, a professor of marketing at the University of Montana, was visiting Chile to provide high-tech and innovation marketing strategies for business partners of local software and IT services industry association Gechs. The association was awarded a 150mn-peso (US$317,800) grant by state development agency Corfo for a 217mn-peso project to promote innovation at member companies.