Long before the iPhone the took the world by storm, and before Google even dreamed about getting into the phone business, Research in Motion was on top of the consumer electronics mountain. They give us the magnificent, adored, and life-changing BlackBerry; It made us feel good, and it never let us down. Today, sadly, it is obscured under it, and industry insiders everywhere speculate whether RIM will survive. Main reason is risky strategy, genuine errors and mostly, really bad marketing.
Here are some marketing lessons from RIM’s dark and difficult journey.
Make enormous Products:
victorious marketing begins with having a incredible product or service to market. Nothing happens without this. Consumer electronics success begins with outstanding products. The BlackBerry was once apparent as the very best smartphone or “emailing phone” — available. It was exhilarating, touching and it made people feel good. RIM sold BlackBerries on the strength of word-of-mouth recommendations. BlackBerries were apparitional, and people wanted to own one because friends and colleagues were so passionate about them. Consider the excitement and energy around the iPhone and all those Android handsets. RIM enjoys none of that today. Not one percent of it. In part, it’s because it stopped making good smartphones in favor of a poorly received tablet called the PlayBook.
Work on Strengths Instead of Improving on Weaknesses:
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. If you focus on mounting weaknesses, your strengths will weaken due to neglect. If you want to market well, identify your strengths — products, services, techniques, approaches, relationships — and exploit them relentlessly. This technique overcomes nearly all weaknesses. Companies should build on strengths instead of trying to improve their weak areas. For RIM, the BlackBerry was a great strength, and they all but abandoned its development and marketing for a year or longer to create the tablet. RIM did this to try to prevent the world from passing it by in the tablet space — which it did anyway. unfortunately, as a result of diverting talent, attention, resources, investment and innovation from the BlackBerry to the Playbook, the consumer smartphone world has also passed RIM by.
Gravity Pushes Backwards:
RIM not only stopped releasing new BlackBerries while focusing on its PlayBook, it basically stopped talking to its customers about them for an extended period. If you’ve attained a measure of success, you must continue innovating your products, services and your marketing just to maintain your position. Because you can bet the competition is innovating aggressively, and they’ll pass you by in three seconds if you stop doing the things that brought you success. Regular and aggressive innovation is required not only to attain success, but to maintain it.
Know about your target market:
RIM’s management famously disagreed on who their customer was. Then co-CEO Mike Lazaridis felt the customer was the corporation. Others, probably including his counterpart Jim Balsillie, wanted to aim BlackBerry products at consumers. If you don’t know exactly who your customer is, it is impossible to market. Language, messaging, platforms, branding and public relations change completely depending on the customers you target. So identify your customers as precisely as possible, and aim all of your marketing efforts at them.
Executives Set the Marketing Tone:
Consider the most successful companies in consumer electronics: Apple and Amazon. Their chief executives set their marketing tone, and everyone follows. This lead to make the product popular with the tone. The best marketers have high-level executives setting the tone. They not only teach the rest of the company how to talk about their products and services, but the customers, the media, and the market itself. Obviously, RIM’s co-CEOs did not set this tone. They couldn’t even agree on who the customer was.
Keep Talking to Your Customers:
Companies should always involve conducting qualitative conversations with their customers to deeply understand how they feel about what the company is doing and what the company is thinking about doing. If RIM had talked to its customers like this, it would have quickly learned that they probably weren’t particularly interested in a BlackBerry tablet without built-in email, messaging or contacts!
If you’re not talking to your customers, you’re just guessing from a conference room.