It may seem odd that I’m posting so much about politics rather than technology. Rest assured, however, that it makes sense to me. The connection between the two subjects is that enterprise technology marketing and political campaigning are a LOT alike. I have many reasons for feeling that way, but most of them boil down to this: In both enterprise technology and in politics, you can directly influence how your competitors are perceived.
Why is it possible to have such influence in these two arenas, but not – or at least not so much – in many other markets? There are many reasons, including:
Candidates and high-end technology are both complex offerings.
- Both markets offer wide avenues for direct debate. In politics, this is literally true. In technology, sales cycles are complex enough that each contender must respond directly to the other’s salient points.
- There is a large group of analytical commentators and influencers to whom rivals can pitch their messages. (Hi! I’m one of those in the technology area.) There’s also a large press contingent – albeit shrinking in the technology case — to whom one can pitch simpler soundbites.
- In both markets, the choice between rivals can seem highly important. (Buying enterprise technology can be a career-defining decision.) So a great deal of effort may be invested in making the decision.
- In particular, the consequences of a bad choice can seem dire to consumers. Marketers’ fear tactics often work.
- Candidates and technology vendors each have track records that can be opposition-researched. Or, if they don’t have much of a track record, they may seem dangerously unproven.
I literally draw the parallel between technology marketing and campaign politics multiple times a year, generally when I’m warning a consulting client that their story needs to be better fortified against opposition research than it currently is. And when I use this blog to lay out some theoretical observations about strategic marketing, messaging, and positioning, I expect technology and politics to provide the two richest troves of examples.