The Challenges of Tech Marketing


March 2013 By intern

After almost three decades helping to build reputations and brands and mindshare for big global technology companies — including more than 15 years running corporate communications and a variety of marketing functions for EMC — I finally had the luxury for the first time of taking a deep breath and figuring out what to do next.

I could see technology changing more rapidly than ever, and if possible, marketing changing even faster. It’s an incredibly exciting time for technology marketing. I wanted something different, something smaller but substantial enough to be able to make an impact on entire businesses and market segments.

The journey led me to CTP, where I am now leading a Technology Practice backed by the talent and resources and mindset to do exactly that.

Working at an agency is a big change for someone who spent as much time as I did in the upper echelons of Fortune 200 companies. My teams and I hired and managed a number of agencies from the client side of the table at EMC, including some of the big names on both coasts as well as boutiques. We expected a lot, but those that earned our trust and did consistently great work were rewarded with loyalty and long relationships. I hope the first-hand knowledge I bring as a longtime client can help CTP understand even more deeply the special challenges our technology clients face and make them all the more successful.

There is an awful lot of disruption going on in tech marketing. New tools and vehicles arrive constantly and require open minds and creative solutions, but also the good judgment to know where to place your bets and where to hold back. Some of the traditional approaches to brand building, reputation management and product marketing have been marginalized. Empowered buyers are using social media to hold vendors accountable; the right approach can turn them into brand champions. In the enterprise, IT decisions are no longer made purely by IT people. In fact, Gartner projects that by 2017, CMOs will spend more money on IT than CIOs. All of these developments have major implications for anyone who is marketing technology.

One of the most common questions facing tech companies, once they are ready to get serious help building their brands and promoting their innovation, is whether to engage pure-play specialists: tech PR firms, website designers, or various boutiques. They often do one thing really well and for some companies, that works at a certain stage of growth. But the specialists can also create new problems. You could wake up one day and realize your sales people or your distribution channels are telling a different story than your web site is telling, which is different than the one your PR efforts are producing. You might feel like you are constantly replicating management cycles to keep things consistent, and the inefficiency is apparent every time you have to re-brief or re-train your various outside partners.

We think we’ve found a good balance at CTP. Our teams of specialists are each outstanding, each large enough to handle major workloads from multiple clients and small enough to sit in one office and brainstorm. Our clients, from B2B tech companies to consumer brands, often start with one of our specialties but end up engaging with us on multiple disciplines and finding value in the integrated model. Everything can happen faster and with more efficiency. We find that people love the idea that the same designer or producer who worked on the latest Red Sox campaign is applying his or her talents to their cloud strategy or their mobile launch. It broadens the possibilities.

CTP is an independent, integrated marketing agency whose work is better known than its name. Our mantra strikes me every time I see it: 

Great marketing lasts when it’s built on a strong strategic foundation. Regardless of the incredible tools and intelligence and engagement models at our fingertips today, doesn’t it always come back to this?

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