So what’s there to complain about here?

On the Harvard Business Review Blog:

and when you click through:

If you then click through the various tabs you will learn that IBM isn’t only trying to market a single product and/or service (say IBM Connections) but offers some substantive services (and products) that in my humble opinion show the business and technical breadth needed to truly tackle some of todays business problems.

Don’t just read this blog post. Leave a comment.



  1. collabmatters says:

    The question is does this kind of ‘marketing’ work?

    Bruce, I’m pretty sure that neither you nor I is qualified to answer this, but it continues to be an interesting debate.

    Does the ICS portfolio need ‘marketing’ or ‘advertising’? Most times when we end up debating it, it’s really product advertising that people want to see. The Apple kind of advertising – show the product, tell customers what it can do, what it will mean to them.

    What IBM tends to mean by marketing is the kind of thing that you highlight above. Very high-level, broad-brush campaigns and messages, often targeted at certain categories of individual and organisation, typically backed up by IBM or analyst studies (‘Smarter fluff’ as I think I once described it).

    For IBM’s enterprise customers, that may well have been proved to work well and give all the value that IBM’s CMO needs from his budget? These are incredibly astute people who I am sure know what they are doing. However, at the level that many of us work at, that methodology does not seem to hit home. As I said on a recent post:

    It is one of my dreams to say ‘IBM Connections’ to just one of my non-technical friends, acquaintances or family and them say ‘yes, I’ve heard of that’…

    Now Connections is doing really well as a product, so you could throw that back at me and say why does Joe Bloggs on the street need to know about the product? I would say that I know from attending a whole raft of networking events around the UK on a weekly basis that each of those Joe Bloggs either owns their own businesses today, knows someone that does, or may do so in the future. In my experience, not one single SME owner or executive I have met in the past 3 years knows about ICS/Lotus technology. If they do not know of IBM’s solutions then there is not a chance that they will be recommending or buying them when they do. IBM, by not advertising their products, is missing out on that huge marketplace. It has done so since the R5 glory days of 1999, and we’ve seen the effect that has had on Notes&Domino marketshare.

    To finish this long and rambling comment (you did ask!), I am really pleased that IBM is paying for adverts on HBR – I think its a positive thing. The script is pretty good, there’s some neat case studies in there, the branding is reasonably interesting and appealing. In terms of what IBM does with its global marketing messages, it fits the bill and we should be happy that ICS gets to be included in that.

    However, for me this is just IBM doing IBM’s thing, and I see Social Business/Collaboration (or whatever we want to call it) as something completely and utterly different to selling high-end servers, storage, outsourcing services, databases or whatever. These are end-user facing products and need to be marketed differently. The great shame is that the highly paid CMO and marketing execs in IBM don’t seem to see that even when authorising text such as ‘you can no longer market broadly to a demographic’. I would argue that this is exactly what they are doing with the Smarter Planet campaign.

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