SOTTILE: Business Articles
Fathers & Mothers
Seats of Power
Power of Risk
Extreme Entrepreneurs
Bottom Up vs Top Down
Axis Power
Pomp & Circumstance
Easing The Pain Of Loss
Devastating Disarmament
Classic Close Calls
Major League Slump
Sales vs Mgmt Income
Contracts: The Bottom Line
PR Lessons From Space
Sexual Healing
Marketing Triggers
Hoist Up Your Sales
Navigational Sales Aids
Taxing Problem
King Of The Hill
Creatives In Conflict
Fathers & Mothers
Fallacy Of Composition
"Tele" Marketing
MHT "Tele" Marketing
User Groups
High Tech Retirement
My current comments about this article:

Fathers Of Success... Mothers Of Invention


If it is true that "Success has a thousand fathers"

(example, those claiming credits for Lotus's success) and

that "Necessity is the mother of Invention" (example, the

explosion of personal business computers) ... then the

question for all us marketing geneticists is, "Just where are

the Necessities in the software world that will mother

Inventions for which thousands will then claim fathering

responsibility." I believe that the answers can be tweezed

from the industry's problems of passage, growth and




Characterizing the age and growth rate of the entire

computer industry is subjective to the extent that one must

classify the subset. Some segments are in adolescent years

(CAD/CAM); others are more mature (mainframe software); some

have died (remote computing services); and still others are

just being born (artificial intelligence). But, there is no

subjectivity to the fact that the industry has/is/and always

will C-H-A-N-G-E and that such changes bring a dissonance

which creates its own unique Necessities to be fulfilled by

yet other Inventions. Kind of a passage ... and one which

reminds me of Scientific Data System's introduction which

accompanied a release to its Sigma 2 users......

"We have not succeeded in answering all our problems.

Indeed, we sometimes feel we have not completely answered any

of them. The answers we have found only serve to raise a

whole set of new questions. In some ways we feel that we are

as confused as ever, but we believe we are confused on a much

higher level and about more important things."


" h

For sure, the above is apropos to the Software Industry,

which today is experiencing a 35%-40% overall growth per year

that is expected to continue until 1990. Applications

development is growing even faster. Cost of computer labor

now exceeds the cost of computing time, primarily due to the

decrease in hardware cost and the increase demand for

programmers/analysts. But the rates of these changes are not

synchronized. And while less expensive hardware has created

more accessibility to it, benefits of its functionality are

missing due to a lack of programmers/analysts. According to

a Computerworld survey, over 50% of all respondents indicated

application backlogs as one of the major problems. Respected

industry expert, James Martin, author of 30 texts including

"Application Development Without Programmers", predicts that

by 1992 the number of programmers required to support this

backlog problem will be 28 million -- or about 90 times the

number currently available. GORP!!!


! y

Is it any wonder that the search is on for a more

efficient acquisition of applications. To date the quest has

brought forth "build vs buy analyses for both system and

vertical applications; a slew of "programmers' aids";

"structured analyses/programming/design techniques, and

methodologies"; "code generators"; "fourth generation

languages (4GL's)"; and the latest innovation "application

generators." Providing perhaps a confusing array with

today's hindsight, each of these developments offered hope

for increased productivity as they were chronologically


Marketing Challenge

Is it then that software productivity aids are such that

corporations are beating down the doors to their inventors?

Hardly! They have to be marketed more so today than before.

Why? Because many promised more than they delivered (and at a

price greater than they saved), there is now an "odor" about

such words which once described the beneficial products:

"Structured" has been tainted to mean restricted, cumbersome,

and more costly in its own right; "Higher level language"

has come to be associated with crippling machine performance.

Consequently, if you were to characterize productivity tools

as double-edged swords ----- from many, you wouldn't get an

argument. Was product development negligient? Not totally.

A large part of the disappointment resulted from the unsyn-

chronized development rates of hardware and software techno-

logies mixed with over-sell and over-hope

Notwithstanding, the need for productivity is real,

solutions must be developed and customers must be initially

convinced and continually satisfied. It's quite a marketing

challenge which must overcome resistance to change; correct

perceptions of the past, set accurate expectations and

deliver as promised.

How is this best accomplished? Well first there has to

be a solid product that anchors concepts into concrete bene-

fits. Not all products do. And while it's not the purpose

of this article to champion business ethics, if you are

called into an account attempting to market such an inferior

product, it is urged that prior to taking the assignment, you

determine whether the company will enhance it to have true

market worth. This industry does not need another meta-

product whose marketplace failure makes the next valuable

product's release all the more questionable, difficult and


Next, when it comes to selling productivity software,

there are several factors which result in resistence.

Ultimately, the intangible, "productivity" needs to become

a tangible. Accept it. You are going to have to prove your

benefits.... and also let the prospect do the same by

touching it, feeling it, and seeing it as well.

As much as one would like to believe that the answer lies in

demonstrations, seminars, 30 day trials, video-scripts,

films, tapes, P.I. texts, etc, it is not the case. There are

other hurdles which first must be vaulted.

Naturally, there is the ubiquitous barrier of

inertia/prejudice/bias/and misconception. Nothing new here.

But then there are the two, frustrating "killers": Lack of

TIME (though your product can save them calendar-pagefulls)

and Lack of DOLLARS (though your product can save them

bushels of it). Here's the real battlefield: freeing up the

time and money of a corporation in desparate need for the

benefits that your productivity tool can deliver. It's my

Productivity Paradox of Maslow's higher order of needs. It

goes... "What a prospect needs most; it can afford least.

It's kind of like doing aerobics during the middle of a good

coronary, or practicing swimming while you're drowning.

What a dicotomy for us marketers who believe that our

existence lies in the fulfillment of others wants and

needs. Could it be that productivity tools can only be sold

to those with "wants" and not to those with "needs", because

this group is beyond hope...or at least temporarily so.

Probably not, but don't be surprised if the the "needs"

prospect requires consulting help to get over the hump; goes

with a less sophisitcated competitor's package; selects the

vendor with the easier buying terms; is strongly influenced

by a third party endorsement or denouncement; makes its

decision on the number of users; hangs its hat on a benchmark

which may not be on the mark with respect to it its own

situation; or bases its decision on any thing else which may

seem less important than the redemption your product

delivers. Desparate times require desparate measures. And

when a prospects resources are tight a marketers best defense

is a full offensive marketing mix.......right down to a

written money-back guarantee that the product will do what

you state in both your technical and marketing information.


t5. n

Well, I don't believe that I have said anything so as-

tounding as to be credited with marketing genius. It has all

been Simplicity, Honesty, and Responsibility. For those who

employ these three humble servants, success and its resulting

fatherhood fame will follow. For those who don't, we'll

never know ye, because the counterpoint to "Success has a

thousand fathers...." is that " Failure is an orphan!"

Sottile's Winning Action Team
Tactical Marketing Agency

"Marketing Tactics Make Corporate Strategies Happen!"
                                                                   John David Sottile