Rise of the Techno-marketer
The latest mantra in business today: Marketing is everything.
Therefore, information technology has become an integral part of any
smart company's marketing strategy, and vice versa.
So says Regis McKenna, chairman of The McKenna Group, an IT marketing
consulting firm in Mountain View, Calif. And McKenna should know. He
worked with Microsoft Corp., Apple Computer Inc. and Intel Corp. at
their earliest stages and has expanded his scope to include
manufacturing, financial services and health care companies.
"We're beginning to see a new type of IT person," he says. "The CIOs of
FedEx and Proctor & Gamble both came out of marketing."
When marketing becomes everything, it's everybody's job. "Marketing is
so pervasive that it's no longer a function but a process," says
McKenna. "And the people who can best manage process is the IT
department, because they manage the network. It's the network that's
connecting the customer to all the people in the organization. I can't
think of any major business for which information and network are not
essential to the progress and success of a corporation."
McKenna's principles are borne out by Rishi Madabusi, global business
development manager at IBM Product Lifecycle Management Solutions in
Chicago. This new division of IBM is charged with seeking out new
clients, assessing their needs and tailoring and pitching IBM products
Madabusi must assess information on manufacturing companies that's
gathered by IBM's sales staff. His job is to take that information -
such as a company's hot buttons, growth potential and major hurdles -
and "show them that I have the technologies that they need," he
says. "I may have to do some further consulting to get the right answer
from them. I may have to work with developers to change software - with
anything you need. It has got to be that easy. We've got to make it so
you won't need anything else. It's our role to make it easy to buy our
Variety got Madabusi where he is today. His background is in
engineering, and he's developed and written software. "Then I realized
that since I knew how these products worked, I could promote their uses
to prospective customers," Madabusi says. "So I moved into the
The rulebooks for marketing have been thrown out the window, now that
technology has been brought to bear.
"In our case, our solutions are very differentiated and
differentiable," says Madabusi. "It's no longer a matter of selling to
the 95th percentile of what a focus group says, because there is no
95th-percentile human being. In marketing IT, rather than talk about
the business, we talk about the consumer."
Madabusi's mission is to explain the technology to customers, make sure
the sales force understands the technology and be sure that his team
can implement the systems they promise.
There are plenty of opportunities for IT professionals with marketing
expertise and for marketing people who know IT.
"In the last three weeks, I've talked to 10 companies, putting together
solutions, from digital video editing to wireless speech technologies,"
Madabusi says. "I don't see a saturation point for demand for IT
marketers in the foreseeable future. There are a lot of ground-floor
and mezzanine opportunities for people just entering the field."
As for salary, Madabusi declined to give specific numbers but says, "If
you're a marketing person, you won't be slaving away for nothing.
Salaries are very competitive - definitely on the higher end of the
professional spectrum. Most companies will provide you with incentives,
bonuses and enough little tickers along the way to make it very
These pleasant perks aren't for nothing. The job brings with it many
challenges. Competition is first and foremost.
"Competitors are just as hungry, just as smart as you," says
Madabusi. "We not only have to keep ahead of them, we have to make sure
clients understand we're ahead of them. My top competitor in four years
may be someone I might not [have] even heard of, starting up
Says Madabusi: "It is very exciting to work in this collaborative,
creative way. When you see a car or a plane or a golf club or whatever
else your solutions have helped to produce, it's very exciting."