Advice to Vendors: Know Your Identity

With my second Tech Field Day event in the bag, I have come to start to notice patterns throughout the event. I wouldn’t say that I made any judgements or assumptions because of them, but rather I found that identifying them helped me take in more this time around. One non-technical attribute that I started picking up right away was product identity. I’m not referring to brand identity, which would be akin to something like immediately recognizing logos, tag lines, etc. Rather, I’m referring more so to “what problem are you going to solve for me?”.

One of the most important projects that any vendor should undertake, regardless of age, size, market share, etc., is figuring out what your core competencies are. If you are a backup company, what differentiates you from other companies. If you are storage company that does things in a unique manner, why do I care about that? You could show me the fastest, most complex, but impressive tech in the world, but if you don’t have clear messaging around it, I won’t gain much from it. Where do you fit?

SENDING CLEAR SIGNALS

So, what does clear messaging consist of? Well for one, what problem, or problems are you able to solve? Let’s use backups as an example again. If all you do is backup my workloads, regardless of the manner, how are you different from all the other well-established competitors in the market? Is the end result the same and if so why would I switch? If you can perform the same workload in half the time, then leverage that. Tell me about how large environments can run jobs more frequently because there is less impact on production. This would directly result in better protection for the environment, which could result in increased productivity for dev teams as they now have more frequent and/or recent clones of production that they can use.

Oprah-featureSetThe long and short of it is that we all love cool tech, but unless you have a very real problem that you are solving, you are just going to be another piece of tech. Let’s use storage as an example again (not because of any specific presenters, but because there are many storage vendors). If you can do all the typical stuff (dedupe, compression, replication, etc.), then don’t focus on that. Those are all standard now, so yes, make sure you mention that you have those features, but saying you are just as good as the competition won’t set you apart.

Can you do other things that some competitors can’t (e.g. analytics or leverage public cloud)? Tell me about those, but tell me how they fit in to the product. It may be a workflow or a use case that aligns with the market, or something else completely. If you just have a bunch of disjoined features and no story or identity to tie them together, then it will come off looking like a piecemeal solution that has been slapped together with duct tape.

LEVERAGE THE DELEGATES

Feel free to ask questions; delegates won't bite, unless you say "on-premise".

Feel free to ask questions; delegates won’t bite, unless you say “on-premise”.

Although a large number of the viewers of Tech Field Days are techies (whether VARs / Partners, customers, or potential customers), and as a delegate it is our job to make sure we get into the weeds from a technical side, as a presenting company you should also leverage the delegates. It doesn’t need to be a one-way conversation of us asking questions and you answer.

You can ask us questions too; they don’t need to be super complex (that’s what your engineers are for), but they can revolve around your identity. Do you have a cool feature and a single use-case? Ask us if we can think of any other use cases. Are you concerned that your “30 second elevator pitch” isn’t on target? Ask us if we have an idea of what you do after you give it to us. You’ll find most of us are willing to provide our opinions. This might be in a one on one environment, or an off-camera group chat. We’re there to learn, and because all the delegates are independent, we don’t have any reason not to help out.

tl;dr: If you are a vendor, know what problems you want to solve, and how all your solutions fit together to solve this problem. Shotgun approaches to feature sets just confuse folks.

Disclaimer: I was invited to participate in Tech Field Day as a delegate. All of my expenses, including food, transportation, and lodging were covered by Gestalt IT. I did not receive any compensation to write this post, nor was I requested to write this post. Anything written above was on my own accord.

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