I used to work at a design services company – our offering was a combination of contract design services (you pay us and we do clever stuff for you) and intellectual property licensing (we develop some clever engineering and you pay us a licence fee to use it). A couple of weeks ago I went to a reunion dinner with some ex-colleagues from that company. It’s always interesting to see the different paths people take on their career journeys, and they were a good bunch of guys.
One of those at dinner had joined the company fresh from university. Bright, genial, entrepreneurial and still frighteningly young he has now started his own product company, developing a device in a challenging consumer market area. As might be expected, the product has some very clever engineering and delivers startlingly impressive performance. He appeared on Dragons’ Den and turned down their offer.
Now I see the importance of marketing
I was really pleased to hear him utter those words. I’ve never been a marketing professional but I’ve worked with some very talented marketing people and recognised the immense value of their work. I’ve also spent a lot of my career trying to create revenue in technical companies which didn’t see the value of marketing. Our young entrepreneur continued: “I thought that since we had developed a brilliant product people would just buy it.” So many technical companies believe in “build it and they’ll come”. They polish the technical offering and wait for the customers – and then polish some more. They hire salesmen, and then fire them when they don’t make sales. My approach was to try to fill the marketing gap to provide the foundation upon which I could sell. Sometimes companies got it, more often they didn’t.
I’m so happy that at least one clever technical guy has learnt that good marketing is essential for business success.