January 9, 2009

Monash’s First Law of Commercial Semantics explained

Edit: Monash’s First Law is special case of Monash’s Third Law of Commercial Semantics: No market categorization is ever precise.

Below is a three-year-old post of mine from a long-dormant blog, quoted in its entirety:

Maria Winslow notes that “Open Source” is an example of

Monash’s First Law of Commercial Semantics:

Bad jargon drowns out good.

Now, I won’t pretend that’s really original with me — but then, it’s based on Gresham’s Law, for which Sir Thomas Gresham apparently doesn’t deserve the credit he gets either.

The idea behind the “Law” is this:   If a term connotes some kind of goodness, marketers scarf it up and apply it to products that don’t really deserve it., making it fairly useless to the products that really do qualify for the more restrictive meaning.

“Predictive analytics” sounded cool, and now covers a fairly broad range of statistical analyses, most of which don’t involve any kind of explicit prediction.   Some “native” XML data stores are dressed-up tourists from either the relational or object-oriented worlds, while a lot of “thin clients” actually do their shopping at Lane Bryant.  “Transparent” connectivity layers tend to be cloudy, and “portablilty” commonly involves considerable heavy lifting.

By the way, Monash’s Second Law of Commercial Semantics is much more technologically oriented:   Where there are ontologies, there is consulting. I first said that at the Text Mining Summit, and it seemed to win immediate, widespread agreement.

December 30, 2008

Strategy should be complicated, but tactics should be simple

My approach to marketing strategy is often a quest for completion. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; for want of a horse … and so on. The layered messaging model is a prime example of that.

But while strategy often needs to be made more complicated, tactics often need to be simplified. This hilarious video — hat tip to my favorite web designer — tells the story.

November 12, 2008

Always be marketing

Guy Kawasaki argues that you should always be selling. Specifically, he suggests:

Creating a successful business requires effective persuasion. This study shows that great persuasion sometimes occurs when people don’t expect it. This means that you should always be selling—you may persuade people when you least expect it. This is also a good argument for the potential power of tools such as Twitter and blogs. These new approaches can open doors for people who haven’t thought about a new concept.

If you think about it, what Kawasaki really means is: You should always be marketing.

Looking at him briefly from afar, I’d guess that Kawasaki’s priorities are something like:

  1. Keep building awareness.
  2. Stay on message.

Judging by the recent election season, most political campaigns would agree. In enterprise IT, however, I’d tweak and flip them, to:

  1. Stay on one or more of your messages.
  2. Build awareness in the right audiences — prospects and influencers alike.
September 8, 2008

Do influencers think along the lines of the layered messaging model?

I originally came up with the more techie version of the layered messaging model

Enterprise IT product (sustainable-lead messaging stack)

because it’s a pretty good representation of how I think. But what about other influencers? Do they view things in somewhat the same way? Read more

September 8, 2008

Generalizing the layered messaging model

In my introductory post on layered messaging, I laid out two basic templates for enterprise IT messaging. But consider, if you would, the following

General layered marketing template

Read more

September 8, 2008

Enterprise IT marketing — a layered messaging model

Two things matter about marketing messages:

It’s easy to meet one or the other of those criteria. What’s tricky is satisfying both at once.

Many marketing consultants, me included, would phrase the core messaging challenge in terms such as:

What’s the most compelling claim you can make that people will actually find credible?

Read more

February 7, 2008

Engagement marketing

More and more, consumer branding is about engagement. On the Internet, you’re most likely to see references to the social media aspects. But it goes further than blogs, chat, and diggery. For example, a huge fraction of the sports business now is apparel sales – replica jerseys and the like. This may be “tribal” in Seth Godin‘s lexicon, but it’s not particularly online-social.

US politics is heavily about engagement too. The traditional centers of engagement – unions, churches, and so on – have now been joined by the Internet as well. The Washington Post has a great article today about old-style engagement in the Clinton campaign.Micah Sifry makes the case that this time it’s different, and in the process describes the crucial role of internet-based engagement to this year’s presidential campaign.

And of course the same thing’s happening in software. Read more

February 2, 2008

Many levels of influencer — long tails, tall tales

Duncan Watts is getting a lot of attention for attacking the notion that markets can be divided into influencers and influencees. The influential 🙂 Seth Godin argues the market wants to gather into “tribes” of people who, no doubt, influence each other. On the other hand, he also argues for a more classical, top-down, influence-the-influencers approach as well. Guy Kawasaki buys into an extreme form of the Watts argument.

I agree with Godin, not Kawasaki. More precisely, I think there are many kinds and levels of influencer. The most important can be identified, and should be direct targets of your market outreach. But you should also be trying to reach an influencer “long tail” as well.

If selling enterprise technology, for example, you should separately target 8 different kinds of influencer, namely: Read more

February 1, 2008

Negative marketing in the internet era

Mark Hemingway’s recent article in favor of negative campaigning makes some good points, such as:

He’s right.

However, there are two big differences between negative marketing in politics and negative marketing in enterprise technology.

  1. If you say something negative about a technology competitor, it’s likely they can come back with the rebuttal “That’s not true any more.” Rapid product cycles are wonderful things.
  2. Whatever rebuttal you have to negative advertising in technology, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to present it. If it’s late in the sales cycle, your salesperson can deliver it. If it’s early in the cycle, internet-based marcom has time to take effect.

So should you go negative in enterprise technology marketing? If so, when and how should you do it? Here are my thoughts: Read more

January 16, 2008

Fear and Greed

When I was a stock analyst, I learned the maxim that all investor behavior could be explained by two factors: fear and greed. Any stock’s price reflects a balance between fear of the reasons it could go down, and hope based on the reasons it could go up.

Buyers of enterprise information technology operate pretty much the same way. They buy technology because of what it can do for them. They avoid purchases for fear of project failure, or of the products not living up to their promises, or of difficulties in the products’ use. Indeed, in its heyday, IBM was said to sell largely on the basis of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD), in a memorable phrase sometimes attributed to analyst Ulrich Weil.

Voters do much the same thing. Read more

← Previous PageNext Page →

Feed including blog about strategic marketing and messaging in technology and politics Subscribe to the Monash Research feed via RSS or email:


Search our blogs and white papers

Monash Research blogs

User consulting

Building a short list? Refining your strategic plan? We can help.

Vendor advisory

We tell vendors what's happening -- and, more important, what they should do about it.

Monash Research highlights

Learn about white papers, webcasts, and blog highlights, by RSS or email.