How RIM's Missing Marketing Came Back to Bite

NO RATINGS
View comments: oldest first | newest first | threaded
Page 1 of 3   Next >   Last >>
infinity
User Rank
Evangelist
Resting on one's laurels
infinity   4/5/2012 3:07:57 PM
NO RATINGS

As a former blackberry user (I've had 2 or 3), they've missed the boat on a few fronts, including marketing. That "business phone" stigma kept them off of the general consumer smartphone radar. Marketing to general consumers may have helped a bit, but RIM seems to have rested on its laurels too long software-wise while its competitors outpaced them by leaps and bounds. The blackberry app market was pitiful at best when my last blackberry broke a year or so ago. It will be difficult for blackberry to catch up to what google and Apple have been doing for several years now. 

   What RIM does do, it does extremely well, but it's missing so many features that others expect from even basic smartphones these days. Good marketing isn't enough to catch them up to the competitors.

John Barnes
User Rank
Blogger

It's happened a lot more than once (before Palm there was DEC, and all the "baby super" companies, and in some ways it goes clear back to Sperry-Rand) and RIM just happens to be a particularly good recent example.   What is it about getting early success from a brilliant team of engineers that creates a corporate-culture that is so anti-marketing that it can't adapt later?

Is it the engineer mentality of "looking for the card that is so high and wild you'll never need to deal another?"  A surprising number of brilliant techfolk I've known have always seemed to be trying to "get done", i.e. create the perfect product once and for all.

Or is it that in the early days, because marketers are actually a pretty conservative lot and tend to want to sell a product the way something else sold before, the company's marketing department gets typed as the nay-sayers and the scaredy-cats, and a department people don't respect has a pretty hard time recruiting talent?

Maybe the most interesting question is, how do places like Apple mostly avoid getting into that deadly corner?

Mitch Wagner
User Rank
Blogger

My favorite example of a tech company with bad marketing was SCO. Not the patent trolls, but the great Unix company that came before them. More than 20 years ago, they pioneered PC servers, multi-user PCs, and other things we take for granted today. But they never hit the mainstream and got clobbered by the 1-2 punch of Windows and Linux. 

Engineers view marketers as the dreaded "suits" (1), corporate enemies to be despised, alongside sales. It's part of the antipathy between engineers and corporate.

An engineering organization can get by without a formal marketing department if they're selling the product to other engineers. That was the key to DEC's early success: They sold computers to other engineers.

Likewise Facebook was initially made by college kids for college kids. If you're part of the target market for your product, you can succeed on word-of-mouth rather than formal marketing. For a while. If you're lucky.  

IBM, on the other hand, pioneered selling computing devices as business machines. Part of IBM's marketing was that everybody in the company wore conservative suits. They looked like businessmen, not engineers. And they chose their target market 

As for Apple: Their marketing success, as with other success, derives from Steve Jobs. He realized that all business processes are one thing. There was no antagonism between marketing and engineers at Apple, they were all working together for a common goal. 

(1) More likely to wear Business Casual nowadays. 

kicheko
User Rank
Blogger

Tech companies easily fall into this weakness of concentrating on the technicals with complete disregard to the enabling environment. One thing they need to remember though is that you innovate to sell. You innovate for people that are out there. Therefore you have to keep in touch with them through marketing.

Should you lose touch, someone else takes over with a perfect substitute product. By the time you re-emerge with your new genius product, you might have a problem finding someone to use it.

Barbara Krafte
User Rank
Evangelist
NO RATINGS

Hello Infiniti,

I agree with your comments with one exception. What RIM did extremely well they did when they had no competition. Any company can do well in a world where they write the rules. Once the pressure was on, they got sloppy and I think so blind sighted by Apple and Google, they became careless  (the system wide outage last fall being one example).

Without a marketing strategy except one based on a product with a single solution targeting a narrow audience, they were pretty much doomed. A solid marketing foundation is like having money in the bank. You can always rely on it when times get tough.

 

Mitch Wagner
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Resting on one's laurels
Mitch Wagner   4/6/2012 10:26:31 AM
NO RATINGS

Good point, Barbara. RIM essentially provided one service: Mobile enterprise email. When they got a lot of competition there, they couldn't keep up. 

 A solid marketing foundation is like having money in the bank. You can always rely on it when times get tough.

Well said!

Barbara Krafte
User Rank
Evangelist

John Barnes  - good points.

Besides Palm, I agree the closest recent parallel to RIM might be Wang. Although the reasons are much more complicated, there are four fundamental underpinnings for the decline of companies like RIM, DEC, and Wang:  

1. Disregard for fundamental changes in the market

2. Solely reliant on a single innovation

3. Marketing strategy disconnected from the business strategy

4. A fundamental disregard for the customer

3. and 4. are two sides of the same coin.

In Wang's case among other things, their decline had to do with its exceptionally bad customer service and the refusal to recognize what the buyer wanted. Jim Collins (Good to Great) points to a compelling factoid behind why most companies fail in  latest book, How the Mighty Fall: "Decline, it turns out, is largely self-inflicted, and the path to recovery lies largely within a company's own hands." Companies, like RIM, would be wise to embrace it.

 

Ryck
User Rank
Evangelist
Re: Resting on one's laurels
Ryck   4/6/2012 11:03:30 AM
NO RATINGS

In RIM's case, the company suffered from two fatal flaws related to a changing environment:  first was the consumerization of smartphones.  As smartphones moved to having applicability and value to non-business types, the smartphone is no longer relegated to the corporate domain, so there was a large market to be tapped, and; secondly, the BYOD movement shifted the buying decision, even in a corporate setting, to individuals who make decisions on a personal, rather than a business, basis.

Barbara Krafte
User Rank
Evangelist

Mitch -

Hats off to IBM. They pioneered marketing. They're one of the few companies whose place in Tom Peter's Search For Excellence is still relevant.

Forgetting their marketing roots almost lost the company, but it was also the reason for its renaissance. They are one of business' premier marketers and held up as a model, too often ignored by companies like RIM, Wang, Dec, etc.

 

Mitch Wagner
User Rank
Blogger
Page 1 of 3   Next >   Last >>


More Blogs from Barbara Krafte
A new tech-savvy marketing executive is making the scene, helping organizations deal with the fast-changing, all-digital landscape.
The marketing claims made by healthy pet food brands seem to resonate with buyers, but are they credible?
leadership reports
Getting the Most from Mobile Marketing
The CMO Site, The CMO Site
The proliferation of smartphones and tablet devices presents new opportunities and challenges for marketers to reach customers where they are and when they’re ready to buy. Apps, the mobile Web, social check-ins, geofencing, and mobile ad standards are among the tools marketers need to master in this new world. Learn how to use new mobile technology effectively and avoid its hazards.
LEARN MORE
CMO videos
GM's Customer Focus
How GM uses customer metrics and analytics.

2:34

(6) comments
Del Mar Races to Win
How the racetrack uses social and mobile marketing

1:54

(6) comments
Social Media Resolutions
Ideas for social media marketing in 2012.

4:25

(41) comments
My Viral Tweet
What marketers can learn from a tweet.

2:54

(9) comments
Trikkes & Marketing
Retailers face three options in 2012.

3:41

(11) comments
Mobile Marketing Is Hard
Meet Amazon.com's Price Check app.

3:01

(1) comment
Neither Snow Nor Rain
The USPS plans to curtail mail delivery.

02:18

(6) comments
Careful With Foursquare
Mitch Wagner trips over his own feet.

04:26

(4) comments
Community Is 'Where It's At'
If brands want their names to stick they need to ...

2:27

(11) comments
Twitter Upgrades
Twitter is now more useful for brands.

2:42

(1) comment
Fonts Mean Brands
Mess with your font at your peril.

3:12

(6) comments
CMOs Need More Customer Time
CMOs are missing the opportunity to get info ...

2:21

(1) comment
Behavioral Ads
Marketers are losing on behavioral advertising.

2:54

(9) comments
'Moneyball' Marketing
"Moneyball," the new Brad Pitt baseball movie, is ...

3:00

(2) comments
twitter feed
The CMO Site Twiter Feed
like us on facebook
The CMO Site Linked-In Group Ad
Charlotte Blank
General Motors: Keeping the Customer at the Center

2|29|12   |   2:34   |   (6) comments


How the carmaker uses metrics and analytics to track all the proliferating information streams it has on customers, from social media, real life, and more.
Craig Dado
Del Mar Races to Win at Social, Mobile Marketing

2|15|12   |   1:54   |   (6) comments


Craig Dado, senior vice president of marketing for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, describes how the racetrack uses social and mobile marketing to attract a younger, female demographic.
Mitch Wagner
Social Media Marketing Resolutions

1|25|12   |   4:25   |   (41) comments


Ideas for boosting B2B social media marketing in 2012.
Mitch Wagner
My Viral Tweet

1|18|12   |   2:54   |   (9) comments


What marketers can learn from a tweet that went viral.
Mitch Wagner
Trikkes & the Future of Retail Marketing

1|9|12   |   3:41   |   (11) comments


Retailers face three options in 2012: Go low on price, go high on service, or go out of business.
Mitch Wagner
Looking 5 Years Ahead in Marketing

12|21|11   |   3:51   |   (4) comments


IBM made five predictions for the future in its annual 5 in 5 projection, and three of them are relevant to marketing.
Mitch Wagner
Mobile Makes Retail Marketing Harder

12|19|11   |   3:01   |   (1) comment


Amazon.com's recent Price Check app heralds the beginning of a new era of creative destruction for brick-and-mortar retailers.
Keith Dawson
Neither Snow Nor Rain

12|13|11   |   02:18   |   (6) comments


As the US Postal Service prepares to curtail mail delivery, marketers relying on first class will have to plan more carefully and, over time, move into other channels.
Mitch Wagner
Don’t Embarrass Yourself on Foursquare

12|12|11   |   04:26   |   (4) comments


Editor-in-chief Mitch Wagner trips over his own feet trying to use a Foursquare discount, in a tale with a lesson for brands.
CMO Video
Community Is 'Where It's At'

11|15|11   |   2:27   |   (11) comments


Is a massive, three-day industry event featuring A-list speakers like Bill Clinton and Malcolm Gladwell the right approach for a company seeking to generate awareness of its brand? Steve thinks that goes part of the way, but if brands want their names to stick they need to build communities.
Mitch Wagner
Twitter Upgrades Activity Streams

11|9|11   |   2:42   |   (1) comment


Twitter improved its home page to make it more useful for brands looking to find influencers to engage with.
Keith Dawson
Fonts Mean Brands

10|31|11   |   3:12   |   (6) comments


Once you associate a font with your brand, you mess with it at your peril.
Mitch Wagner
IBM Study: CMOs Need More One-on-One Customer Time

10|20|11   |   2:21   |   (1) comment


CMOs rely on aggregate data for customer preferences and are missing the opportunity to get one-on-one information through social media and other resources, according to a study of 1,734 CMOs conducted by IBM. Watch a Webinar presenting the findings, and get a copy of the report for yourself.
Keith Dawson
Behavioral Ads: Getting Back in the Conversation

10|18|11   |   2:54   |   (9) comments


Surveys show that marketers are losing the mindshare battle on the benefits of behavioral advertising – and they need to rejoin that conversation.
Mitch Wagner
'Moneyball' Marketing

10|14|11   |   3:00   |   (2) comments


"Moneyball," the new Brad Pitt baseball movie, is one every marketer should see. It's not just about relying on metrics and analytics over gut feelings, it's also about relying on the right metrics and analytics.