In an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Market Makers show, which was recorded on Wednesday, September 24, 2014, Eric Schmidt echoed what should now be considered a familiar position held by most mature ISVs. On the topic of product marketing, he noted Google’s interest in working with people looking to build big products, rather than with people looking to enter new markets. Schmidt referred to this type of person as a “smart creative.” The dialogue between Schmidt, Stephanie Ruhl, Eric Schatzker, and former Google Senior Vice President Jonathan Rosenberg (who co-authored a book with Schmidt) was filled with abstractions, depicting these “creatives” “building products for this new world” based on their “[belief] in the slogans” as they go about “living the vision”.
Anyone watching this interview will likely note a curious disconnect between the implicit passion of these terms and the matter-of-fact manner in which they arose in the conversation between the participants. To their credit, Ruhle and Schatzker exhibited more passion than either Schmidt or Rosenberg. So, when Ruhle attempted to pull the cover off the table and asked Schmidt if “the rhetoric is, perhaps, too flowery”, Schmidt’s reply, which claimed Google’s hiring process actually includes a candidate screen on the topic of “do they care about changing the world”, rang something less than true, at least to this writer’s ear.
But neither the demeanor of the participants in this interview, nor the color of the language is the reason for this post. What is the reason for this post is what we think is an unfortunate misreading, which appears to be spreading across a lot of the public relations content we review from mature and early stage ISVs, of what markets are about and why they need products. There isn’t enough space in this post to treat such a broad topic, but the core of it is worth some words:
In this writer’s opinion, “changing the world” has become a rationalization for building products either completely irrelevant to palpable market needs, or products intended to stimulate markets to produce needs. We think both of these rationales are far off target. Perhaps they are simply euphemisms for the kind of buckshot product marketing approach characteristics of businesses with a lot of cash and little sense of direction of where they ought to go next.
As we have written earlier in this blog, we don’t think product marketing works if “creatives” ignore market needs.
Ira Michael Blonder
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