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What drives your company? Marketing, sales or engineering?

Rob Enderle | June 29, 2015
Most tech companies are engineering-driven. However, some, like Oracle, are sales-driven and yet others are marketing-driven. Which is the best? Columnist Rob Enderle thinks a blend of all three would be the best approach, with Apple perhaps being an exception to that rule.

You also tend to get fewer products because a marketing-driven company focuses on getting buyers to agree on their view of what a product should be while sales and engineering companies may focus more on covering every contingency. Claims can lead the product's capability during early versions but often focus on very fuzzy, feel good terms, like "magical" and "amazing" that drive excitement but have little to do with anything material. The fact that buyers actually are often amazed and see magic goes to why this approach was so powerful for Apple.

With a marketing driven firm recognizing that products will get vastly better over the first three versions and making sure you have visibility to the vendor decision makers in marketing (part of market studies) can result in products that better match your needs sooner.

The positives and negatives of engineering driven vs. sales driven vs. marketing driven models

Each company has its positives and negatives. For the engineering driven company it is a tendency to build products that no one wants to buy. For the sales driven company it is a tendency to abandon firms that don't buy regularly enough and aggressively creating lock-in, for the marketing driven company it is a lack of granularity that could miss your unique needs.

I find it fascinating that the model that has proven to be the most successful both financially and in terms of customer satisfaction is also the least popular. But that is largely because companies are typically built by engineers in this space who then hire marketing people who, if they are good, often prefer very different industries or agencies. So you just don't get marketing people that can run tech companies and Apple was a fluke though, you have to admit, a particularly successful one.

Personally, I think the best approach would be a blend of these techniques but, given Apple's success, I'd suggest putting more emphasis on connecting marketing and engineering than has typically been the case. Something to noodle on over the weekend.


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