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IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Bill Malchisky  July 27 2011 02:57:59 PM
Disclaimer: although accurate, the title is meant to provide a concise summation of this post's content. Despite the presence of ASWs in society, I choose instead to provide a factual experience with a polite opinionated perspective (wrapper) rather than actively creating a rift in the community. Thank you for understanding the difference.


Well today I received the news that a client of one year, who loved my services and stated as such in writing multiple times, informed me that they are moving to a hosted Microsoft solution. This surprised me as the reasons they provided for moving were all 100% false. Although at this time I can only infer conjecture, some of their words must have been provided by the competing non-IBM IT vendor. The talking points provided were not something I have ever seen in any Microsoft advertisement and hardly in the lexicon of the technology impaired customer. Although I am less concerned about losing a client --- it does happen and sometimes it can be welcomed --- it is the reason behind the decision which irks me. The overall message was that, "Lotus Notes is old news and we need something that can grow with our business." (Again false.) After several previous conversations with the owner, she went from loving her solution, to providing excitement with the Lotus Knows ad, to deep concern due to her "not seeing or hearing anything about Lotus. Should we still be on it?" in six months. Quite a turn-around, but then things tend to move fast in Gotham City. I did recharge her support and interest for an ND8.5 upgrade, then a month later she switched--dramatically. Facets of the note that are more concrete to me indicate that it was really my word against theirs on market success across the IBM software portfolio, and if what I was saying was true, why wasn't IBM supporting that position? Good point. Can't argue with that...there is little to none non-social business IBM marketing support for SMB opportunities.

Back to Basics: The Purpose Of Marketing

I attended a party this past weekend. While enjoying a wonderful conversation with two friends, I overheard this remark from the person sitting next to me. It resonated quite clearly with me. "Look, it's very simple. The purpose of marketing is to increase revenue. Got it?" If only a few IBM marketing executives would have heard that. Wishful thinking, but I know it may not do much in the end. The problem with the marketing approach we have seen is that IBM provides what they think we need, rather than what their customers need or expect. Yes, part of being innovative is to provide items that nobody has seen and move the market into that direction. That is quite cogent.

IBM stated on a recent community call that they are more focused on marketing overall solutions. Although useful, it obscures the underlying brands and is best served for larger enterprises. The same clients where IBM deals directly. For the smaller opportunities --- those where IBM does not interface directly themselves --- those sites care about the underlying technologies and if they will fit in with their existing products. If not, they need to know to address compatibility or migration costs beyond the initial solution. Smaller firms in this set of clients are completely focused on brands, despite what they owners claim they want. Sure the minutia is lost on business owners, just like enterprise executives, but these owners talk products with their clients. What they ask, "What are you using for e-mail?" What they do not hear, "An awesome collaboration solution that extends my business in new directions we didn't know we needed, but is completely useful." They will provide the product, if they know it. Sad, but true. So concentrating marketing on solutions for opportunity in the thousands of dollars versus millions of dollars or larger, will provide a complete disconnect with that customer base. Yes, that word is quite apropos here as well.

Marketing 101

Ironically, I attended a marketing class for small businesses this evening. One advantage of living in Fairfield County, CT is that there are plenty of retired Madison Avenue and Wall Street executives present that thoroughly enjoy providing knowledge voluntarily. The class was held by a gentleman who co-lead the Pepsi Challenge marketing campaign, plus a lady who lead the Laughing Cow Light campaign, doubling their profits overnight. The point here, is that they know how to market for large companies and get results.
The points they provided were quite useful to me. Three examples that are relevant to this post follow:
  • "It's not about you or what you want, it's about what your customer wants"
  • "It is easier to keep existing customers and difficult to get new business"
  • "You never want to sell against your distributors"

In looking at what the business partner community has experienced over the past several years and what we have been asking of IBM, it seems to me that IBM marketing is doing the exact opposite in all three cases. Of course, in the technology space, you need to grow, but not at the expense of your existing base. I personally have seen many major players in the technology arena vanish or become has-beens because they grew their business while burning bridges. Many strong executives will tell you, "The only business is new business." While true to a point, as you can saturate your future revenue potential from a static customer pool, you never want to open the door for your competitor and help them into your customer site. IBM is great at achieving revenue growth on the software side, but they --- in my humble opinion --- do so without regard for the existing customers with whom they just assume will always be there and just keep renewing. One's perception is one's reality and this statement is perceived from years of watching my customers complain to me, listening to other competent partners provide their perspectives at networking events, and casual conversations at Lotusphere. I completely understand that such a direct statement may not be indicative of everyone or their personal experience and thus, I can only speak to mine--with all due respect to IBM and any of their employees reading this post.

Social Business Marketing Versus Tried and True Mediums

Another interesting anecdote provided during the class was the recent story of the decision of the then VP of Marketing at Pepsi who chose to move the entire Pepsi brand campaign to social marketing and abandon broadcast networks (television) during the 2010 Super Bowl. The resulting effort was a loss of market share for them against their chief competitor, with a dramatic 9.8% share slide in the first half of 2010 alone. Ultimately, the VP of Marketing was terminated and broadcast advertising restored, despite early reports by Pepsi's CEO that the campaign was a success.

What they learned is that not all of your customers will be online. Despite that fact that the broadcast network viewership has been in steady decline, the ability to reach an audience is currently still unsurpassed from a marketing stand point. Now, I am not saying that IBM needs to be on TV all the time, but that moving too quickly to an all online environment in search of new business can cause you to lose existing customers. IBM's social business adoption is great for partners and innovative for larger firms that are starting to get it. For smaller firms that are not dealt with directly by IBM, well, not so much. None of my customers spend any reasonable time online for business other than web surfing. Who actually wants to visit a doctor that is tweeting during an examination? Change of this magnitude will take time. In IT we need to be well ahead of our customers, as that is one reason why they seek our assistance: we are experts in the field. We just need to be reminded that if you want new business, not everyone is excited about the social networking world as we might think.

The End Result

A customer that loved their offering on Notes decides to move to a hosted Exchange setup. Their justification premise is false, but the lack of customer needs-based marketing in their preferred medium is undeniable.

Of course this customer moving to an alternate solution will be completely unnoticed on IBM's bottom line, but it will affect my bottom line. A partnership entails shared risks and profits between the two companies. IBM marketing should allow both entities to share in profits. I have been an IBM Business Partner since 1999 and have enjoyed the experience immensely. I do a lot of work behind the scenes to help support the Lotus brand and have been recognized for my contributions as an IBM Champion--for which I am extremely grateful. Much of the training I received through the partner program is topnotch. In my estimation, IBM provides the best technical partner program in existence currently.

In the end though, the name of IBM carries far less weight in the SMB market than it did five and ten years ago. The desktop or non-server computer market has been sold-off, IBM halted their once lauded 24 month marketing campaign four months into the effort, after a big build-up with a special IdeaJam offering. Their entrance into the SMB space to compete against the MS SBS product proved quite popular with partners, particularly the 1200 Microsoft Solution Providers that signed-up to sell the Lotus solution...and then IBM killed it within a few years; surprising after a big presence at LS09, if I recall the year correctly. Why? Part of the reason was flawed advertising from my perspective. A side note: at LS11, you could not find the booth in the IBM Pavilion and although all of the IBMers in the product showcase pavilion knew Foundations was there and operating a manned booth, no one knew where it was (I asked six people). Part of the confusion was the obscure name change and no one in the IBM Pavilion knew what the displayed name equated. Then the product was all but terminated two months later.

So the presence aggregate equates that IBM is basically completely out of the SMB space, excepting Express offerings for servers (great idea) and software (great as well in many cases). Where does this leave the partners now? What software licenses partners do sell are renewed via IBM--as many partners are quite vocal (will not publish their names without checking first...professional courtesy and ethics prevail for me). Direction-wise, I am uncertain and I think IBM marketing is uncertain as well. An IBM executive states "A" at a conference or blog post, then another executive states "B" at another event, contradicting "A", or then "B" is revised later to better align with "A". Perception is reality and sans a lucid marketing message from IBM combined with omitting of input to our customers, or the partners themselves, we really have little idea of where the direction is headed and we must make strategic decisions without all the facts. Suboptimal in nature, but necessary as time moves onward along with the needs of the business. Our livelihood is at stake and I am finding that just using the expression "I'm an IBM Business Partner" matters less now in the software space, but has merit on the hardware side, where I am a reseller. Of course your experience may be different.

Concluding Thoughts

Interesting though, and am uncertain as to the underlying nature, there does seem to be an increased amount of IBM tapping the partner pool for assistance gratis to make their offerings better... Most of the people in the community are more than happy to help the brand we love so much and the products succeed. In the end, we do need something from IBM--beyond taking our feedback: they need to actually execute. Yes, yes, not all feedback is relevant, but IBM can at least say, what worked and what didn't when they ask again for another round of input. That shows the IBM contacts receiving the input actually valued the contributions provided and are doing something with it--rather than perpetually seeking feedback that never really fixes anything.

Hardly bitter, just concerned. I care and am passionate about the brand where I have made a major investment in time and knowledge over the past 18 years. Now things are changing in ways that introduce a lot of uncertainty, perhaps where it can be removed quite easily with some quality trusted communication. Overall, the marketing message is focused on only one market segment--albeit an import one from IBM's perspective. The support the smaller partners are getting is degrading--despite what IBM may realize or accept. Where it will land, I do not know. In the end, I have to seek out new opportunities like anyone in business. It is just a bit more challenging than it used to be, as it is really my word against what the customer hears and what IBM says to support my message. The past few years, the IBM message has been lacking and it is putting my rhetoric into question as IBM does not substantiate what I say. Therein lies a big part of the problem.

Again I am not writing this post to irritate anyone at IBM. Just provide a reminder that business decisions have consequences and those you entrust/enlist to assist you may be impacted, even if you are not. Thanks for reading this post. If you have any comments, please feel free to share them.
Comments

1Graham Acres  7/28/11 6:20:18 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Outstanding Bill, on many levels.

2Mike  7/28/11 6:29:25 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

One of the most thoughtful, well written blog posts I've read in many many months. Thanks for posting it Bill.

3John Turnbow  7/28/11 6:47:31 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Good writeup Bill... Also, like to add. I took several Marketing courses in College. One professor did the Hi Karate commercials (I'm showing my age). His point was that the Hi Karate cologne was crap, but the marketing sold it to millions! IBM does not get this part at all and never will. Remember what Bill Gates said, does not matter if yours is better than mine! IBM doesn't get this either.

New shiny toys do matter!! Big time! MS seems to be marketed as "always new and innovating", and since IBM does practically no marketing, everyone thinks of IBM as old and don't even include IBM in their thinking!

The biggest place to market - Colleges, where is IBM the weakest - Colleges.... Where does the new management come from 10 years later - Colleges! IBM does not get it!

4dale johnson  7/28/11 7:25:37 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

As an old Lotus Business Partner. All i can say is

Lotus 1.2.3

cc:Mail

now Notes

30 years of... no Marketing, we can just kill it mind set.

Very sad, but you can't make a turtle move at any speed besides the one they think is fine.

Dale Johnson

Johnson Consulting

5Arif Jaffer  7/28/11 7:26:40 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Nice piece and let’s hope it makes a difference.

6Jim Casale  7/28/11 7:44:55 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

"IBM is great at achieving revenue growth on the software side, but they --- in my humble opinion --- do so without regard for the existing customers with whom they just assume will always be there and just keep renewing."

Once you start taking your customers for granted you will lose them...existing customers need to be treated like potential customers ALL the time. This applies to any business, not just IBM.

7Perry Hiltz  7/28/11 7:53:18 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Bill

Great post. This is all to common. I've been a Domino advocate for well over 14 years now. With that being said, I work for an IBM Premier Business partner, Lotus Beacon award winner who is now also a Gold Partner with Microsoft. We are the largest provider for messaging migration software and a lot of Lotus Admins have used our software to move users to Domino.

The Microsoft Marketing machine is winning and in droves of users. Last year alone I did a little research of our first six months of sales. We had a ratio of 18-1 for users moving to Exchange compared to users to Domino. And that is just within our sales. I have spent five years traveling the world doing Domino Domain consolidation or splits at thousands of customers. It is increasingly surprising to see around 70% of them have now moved to Exchange.

IBM's marketing is at a full solution proposition to customers where Domino is a very small part. For existing customers the IBM Sales people are perpetually pushing upselling to the point it is driving away an established customer base.

Thanks.

8Sam Bridegroom  7/28/11 7:55:02 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Well stated, Bill. I've had the same conversations with two of my customers in the last six months.

One is making the leap to Office360, a move that, as in your case, is based on some really flawed logic. I have stated to them (with supporting evidence) that I think they're taking a large step backwards - but I'm only one business partner.

The other is sticking with Lotus/IBM (and me) for now. This is a relatively small but multinational company - right in the SMB wheelhouse. The only message they hear from the IBM side is what they hear from me. Repeating, I'm only one business partner.

In both cases, social doesn't have a damn thing to do with it. And won't for some time.

9Bill Malchisky  7/28/11 8:18:53 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Thanks to everyone for the kind words and for reading this blog post. I very much appreciate it... Let's see if it makes a difference.

10Henning Heinz  7/28/11 8:49:36 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

I keep wondering that if it is just bad IBM marketing how other brands like Websphere can be so successful (at least when looking at IBM's quarterly reports) !?

To be honest it seems that from IBM's point of view they are doing everything right. Their financial performance has been phenomenal (and I have no clue how they achieve it).If you are a Business Partner of course you would be worried.

11jack dausman  7/28/11 9:47:55 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

It's all about money. After a very long history with Lotus (starting w/cc:Mail), I'm amazed that Lotus Notes has survived the marketing onslaught from its competitors. Seriously. I think that Lotus is the little guy, on the revenue that it generates for IBM, versus how much revenue the Windows xp/vista/7 desktop and Windows Office suite create. IBM is a publicly traded company that is held to be fiscally responsible, they can't just push money to marketing.

We all know that the competitors use astro-turfing, right ? Here's a nice psych study that examines the effect of as little as 10% of any target audience.

{ Link }

12Chris Miller  7/28/11 10:02:08 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Excellent and well written post. No need to repeat the thoughts of the others on the rest.

13Thomas  7/28/11 10:18:24 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

IBM is making money and they've mostly become a service provider in the last 10 years. IBM global services is the real cash cow and makes nearly triple the revenue that the software division does. IBM does do marketing [constantly], but nearly all marketing is geared towards the global services division. That is the way it is people! That's where the marketing dollar is spent.

Lotus Notes is so far down on the ladder it really isn't important enough for big blue to worry about that much.

I mean they've been around for 100 years, so they can't be doing all that badly.

14David Becket  7/28/11 11:13:46 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for taking the time to write this detailed post. Your experience is an exact image of ours, and it is even more dire on the West Coast. Here Novell died long, long ago and LN came and went just as quickly. As expressed, it's about community, and listening and communicating with the people. IBM, please listen and learn. There is a reason that Rome fell. The too big to fall belief has always failed historically speaking.

Proper and heartfelt communication in the community about the value of an idea or product and FOLLOW THROUGH on supporting that community is CRITICAL to social and business success. That is why our business continues to grow and we would like to remain a LN only shop but the pressure to support exchange may be overwhelming soon. It challenging enough to run a business let alone moving uphill all the time.

I hope this is a growing ongoing topic within the LUG groups and that it spreads heavy into LS. IBM we support you but it must continue to be a win-win relationship.

15Brian  7/28/11 11:14:38 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

If it wasn't for IBM business partners, Lotus Notes would have disappeared. The best features in recent years, which I believe kept customers on the platform: DAOS, Lotus Traveler, Mac client at current version.

There are many brilliant engineers working at IBM. I'm confident they could reinvent & repackage the best elements of Lotus Notes in a new platform, but it needs to be a revenue generator, and a blank canvas.

16Lisa Duke  7/28/11 12:10:29 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Excellent post, Bill.

17Stuart McIntyre  7/28/11 1:10:43 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Very. Well. Said.

I think you nail it with 'So the presence aggregate equates that IBM is basically completely out of the SMB space'. This isn't just about Lotus, this is about IBM as a whole having zero relevance to 90% of the organisations out there.

Great post Bill.

18Scott Hooks  7/28/11 1:56:13 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

This is not at all argumentative Bill - just my perspective. What if IBM actually does in fact "get it," and they have realized that marketing Lotus is a lost cause compared to marketing IBM? For example, I am not bombarded by Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint ads and I doubt any of the lost customers were either. Instead, I propose that decision makers believe in Microsoft in general. If that's the case, does it not make more sense for IBM to continue marketing "IBM" and rebrand the messaging and collaboration platform to shake any stigma associated with "Lotus?" Is it not also up to us to reinforce the value of IBM instead of just Lotus? Just sayin'. Oh, and +1 @Jim Casale :-)

19Richard Moy  7/28/11 2:04:58 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Well said Bill.

Stuart, I think it is more like 95% of the organizations.

20Jim knight  7/28/11 2:43:07 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

I think all of us who have done notes work for most of our careers would do well to listen to this audio book:

{ Link }

21Mike McGarel  7/28/11 3:37:42 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Bill, you've done an excellent job articulating what a lot of people are thinking/feeling.

22Lars Olufsen  7/28/11 4:31:54 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Words of a Champion, Bill. Thank your for voicing them!

23Keith Brooks  7/28/11 9:20:31 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Bill, Well written and thought out and from the heart.

As I had started to write a page or 2 of comments decided instead to post it over at my blog. http:/blog.vanessabrooks.com

24Bill Malchisky  7/28/11 11:20:06 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

@10 Part of it is that where IBM manages customers directly, they do well and their reps sell what provides decent margins. Right now, WAS is one of those software entities that is incentivized for the reps. The effectiveness wanes as soon as IBM no longer directly interfaces with the customer.

@13 Yes, IGS is quite profitable and thus despite the cultural differences when contrasted against IBM corporate, kept in good standing.

@15 100% agreed. Partners are the reason many firms have kept, upgraded, and maintained their environments all these years.

For the rest of the comment authors...thank you for the support and kind words. I really do appreciate the praise.

25Bill Malchisky  7/28/11 11:33:10 PM  Good News

I am pleased to report that I will be meeting with a few people at IBM to discuss the content of this post. Thank you for reading this entry, the retweets, the @ replies, the Google+ sharing, and for your comments here. All combined you created a buzz that helped escalate the issue to the right people, ultimately allowing for a cordial and professional knowledge sharing opportunity. Thank you.

26Mat Newman  7/29/11 12:49:45 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Bill - as usual - a beautifully articulated and constructed argument that summarises the situation out there and the reality in perception amongst OUR / IBM's customers. Champions keep fighting the good fight. You are one of them.

Thank you.

27David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)  7/29/11 1:10:00 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

@18 - Scott, the reason I agree with Bill that they just don't "get it" is that they continue to make the same mistake of marketing a brand instead of marketing a product. Without product recognition, the brand is irrelevant.

@20 - Who moved my cheese. I mentioned that one recently too. See comment 84 at Ed Brill's blog { Link } . Yes, be sure to smell the cheese often...

Bill, you're onto it. Your client's decision is based on social proofing and other subconscious influences. Then the mind searches for facts to support the decision that was based on subconscious emotional influences that the person is totally unaware of. I think you would really appreciate two books: Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons of Your Customer's Brain and Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. I have mentioned these two books repeatedly, though unfortunately, I haven't heard from anyone else who has read them to gain an understand these failures of IBM's marketing. Quite a shame too. Anyone who is serious about understanding the issue should take the time to study it from the experts. These books both explain different components of the science of marketing. I would write a blog post about them, but a blog post, no matter how long and well-written, cannot do it justice like these authors have done. If you do read them, please let me know what you think.

Meanwhile, I guess I will find out who that customer is soon enough when I start helping build their BlackBerry servers.

Cheers,

-David

28Julian Woodward  7/29/11 1:18:08 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Bill - adding my praise and thanks for this post.

@27 - I did start to read 'The Psychology of Persuasion' last year, but got side-tracked. Thanks for the reminder. Will pick it up again soon.

29David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)  7/29/11 1:47:39 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

@28 - Cool Julian, when you get back to it I would love to hear your opinion about it. The more we understand how senior decision-makers make decisions, the better we can help them make the right decisions.

30Keith Brooks  7/29/11 7:12:27 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

David, I read the Psych of Persusasion and though it is mostly out dated has some good input for people in sales and the competitive space.

Neuromarketing is on my list of to dos.

31Bernie Leung  7/29/11 6:36:19 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

@25 like you said, many "focus" groups came and gone with no impact whatsoever. I hope your upcoming meeting is not a "focus" group.

I know big battleships turn slowly. But they do turn, don't they?

32David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)  7/31/11 11:23:35 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Outdated? Hardly. The weapons of influence the author describes are all about human behavior: Reciprocation, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, Scarcity. The only thing that may appear stale is the examples he uses. A younger crowd may not identify with them as well. The Jonestown massacre was a long time ago, but the reference to "drinking the Kool-Aid" is as well understood today as it was in the '80s.

33Carlos Casas  8/3/11 9:02:04 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Hi Bill,

It was great to meet you at IamLug this week. I offer my humble opinion as I have this talk almost daily with some of the Lotus diehards.

IBM Marketing is a pretty broad term, no? Taking it out of the context of your point, IBM does quite a bit of marketing around their brand, smarter planet and cloud computing to name a few. They are premier sponsors for some of the largest sporting events in the world like the US Open Tennis and Golf tournaments and I think we've seen their ads during the Superbowl. I know you are talking about Lotus but my point is..when does IBM market any of their point solutions in this manner? They don't.

Taking it a step further, they continue to make gains with the latest 12% in positive delta in Q2 this year for Lotus and even a bigger overall growth for SWG.

I'm not blind to the fact that it is our customers that we serve that are much smaller in scope (and often much bigger) that are thinking about the move to the competition. It's undeniably there however while we, the boots on the ground, are experiencing some negative brand sentiment, IBM continues to post profitable quarters. Where's the disconnect? Why are we, the partners, having these challenging experiences around Notes Domino and yet IBM continues to post positive delta?

To that end, say IBM does do point solution marketing around Notes Domino. Is it really enough to win in 2011 and beyond? Does a basic email solution coupled with an app dev platform provide we, the partners, enough "shoot from the hip" power against the competition who's basically commoditized most of the core business solutions today like CRM or document collaboration?

Instead, how about we take these shifts and offer it as an opportunity to cross-sell into our relationships leveraging some of the best-in-breed collab tools such as Sametime or Connections? There is some potential there but to focus on Notes Domino only with regards to marketing is really very much "well done" or "over cooked”.

Just trying to be objective here while perception is often negative, the reality seems positive with IBM's positive delta each quarter. I won't deny there's a disconnect. Our challenge is to fill that gap and find the right solutions for our customers which I know you are already providing at a very high level. Hope to see you at MWLUG!

34David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)  8/4/11 11:53:29 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Carlos, IBM has a 70-year head start over Microsoft and an 87-year jump on Google. Whatever success IBM has, it's due to momentum. They should be well ahead of all competition. IBM is leaving money on the table.

As I have said before, the value of a brand name is irrelevant if no one knows the product it represents. Go look at the top 10 list of most valuable brands and you will find every one in the list can be associated with a product..except IBM.

IBM states they only advertise for brand recognition and let their sales people create the business relationship for selling specific products. Yet most of their sales staff make no effort to sell Lotus products and I can name a long list of existing Lotus customers that get no attention for a business relationship with IBM. Their compensation model does not reward retaining customers, it favors new business. Yet it costs many times more to win a new customer than to retain an existing one. Go figure.

Can you tell what they're selling with "smarter planet" ads? While they're at it, they should throw in a clip encouraging us to recycle.

Furthermore, IBM openly admits to intentionally avoiding marketing the Pacific Northwest market altogether.

IBM is proving quite profitable for it's products overall, but that would be in spite of - not because of - the Lotus suite of software. Microsoft is still the most profitable company that is not an oil company. { Link }

35Bill Malchisky  8/5/11 2:35:39 AM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

@34 Thanks, David. Well stated comment.

@33 Hi Carlos: Great to meet you at IamLUG as well. Thanks for your thoughts and opinion on this important topic. David covered much of what I would state; the remainder, I did cover in the post already, so I will not restate the prose here. Regarding sales figures, I have a post in the works to better address them. IBM is seeing growth in a few focused segments, while burning bridges elsewhere, with Lotus being the smallest software brand in growth. We should have a conversation at MWLUG, if interested.

@26, 27, 28, 31 -- Appreciate the comments guys. Thanks for the support. Will keep you updated.

36Carlos Casas  8/5/11 8:32:56 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Hi David/Bill-

Would love to catchup and continue this conversation at MWLUG. I'm not sure I'm following... can you point me to some Google or Microsoft commercials marketing their email solutions? Not trying to be sarcastic at all, I'm actually curious if there is long or short-form media these two companies use in the mainstream. I haven't seen them. Yes, there are google phones, Microsoft cloud, Xbox, however it seems like a much more B2C focused strategy, no?

100 year head start is certainly true. IBM's made their living in the data center. Microsoft and Google has made their living with the end-user. IMHO, it's hard to compare their marketing strategies as it relates to Notes Domino.

Ok rant over :-)

37David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)  8/9/11 10:58:21 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

Alas, I will not be presenting or even attending MWLUG. If it's any consolation, I won't be at my 30 year reunion either. But we can certainly connect offline, even by phone and we can talk a bit on this. Find my email address at my blog.

{ Link }

Your point about different marketing strategies is very true. IBM's strategy doesn't compare to Microsoft or Google. It doesn't come close.

38Carlos Casas  8/10/11 2:29:39 PM  IBM Marketing Claims Another Victim

David/Bill-

Feel free to connect with me as well:

{ Link }

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