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Sponsored blog: Those fluffy-bunny marketers drive me mad!

Author : Mike Maynard | Managing Director | Napier

27 November 2019

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In this regular series of columns for EPDT, Mike Maynard, Managing Director of B2B tech communications agency, Napier, debates the validity of claims marketers often make about electronics/engineering products...

OK, I admit that I’m also one of those fluffy bunnies – but as an ex-engineer, I think that I’m entitled to have a rant. When I talk to engineers about marketing, I frequently hear complaints about the lack of clarity and context in most marketing materials – so I say that it’s time that marketers in electronics started adding more value, by considering more than just their own products.

Marketing isn’t always an easy profession, but all too often we see press releases and other marketing materials that are heavy on good-sounding words, but light on context. My particular pet peeve is when companies describe their products as being better, without identifying to what they are comparing.

All too often we see products announced with “superior” performance, or “best-in-class”, with no idea of the other products that are being compared. It sounds great that a new antenna offers “superior” performance, but in the world of fluffy-bunny PR, I don’t know if you are comparing performance to your leading competitor or the bowl of soup I had for lunch!

The same fluffy logic applies to other claims too: I know of one company who had the following interpretation when talking about things like the number of customers for a particular product:

•    No customers: we can say “a number” as zero is a number
•    One customer is written as “some”
•    More than one customer can be termed “many”

It would be nice to think that it was a joke, although I did suspect that the second and third were used in some releases, so maybe the first one was also a serious proposal...

Surveys are another great opportunity to go “full fluffy-bunny”. It’s really common for surveys to be compromised by either small samples, or skewed samples, because they ask their customers, rather than the market as a whole. This is where journalists need to stand up: even EPDT with its great team recently reported on a survey without giving any information on sample size, so we have no idea of how to estimate the confidence interval for the survey and therefore shouldn’t be drawing conclusions as they may not be statistically valid.

I’d love to see more clarity in marketing communications, but that’s going to need support from the engineering community as well as from marketers. Next time you read the excited copy about a new product, think about whether it really is clear, or whether comparatives are used without a baseline for that comparison. If the product is “faster”, “lower-power” or “superior”, ask to which product or products we are comparing. If it’s not clear, then don’t give that claim too much credibility.

Finally, I would like to highlight the companies supplying marketing communications that are clear and present claims in context. If you have any good examples, please email me at mike@napierb2b.com or contact me on LinkedIn...

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