After stumbling on an old post by Guy Kawasaki on getting more use out of LinkedIn, I thought I would try LinkedIn’s Answers. It is a relatively new feature of the service that allows you to post questions in a general way to the LinkedIn community. Seemed like a cool idea and a way to get some feedback and insight from the crowd.
As a first question I decided to take an impromptu survey: “I’m gathering responses on branding – what do you feel is your company’s biggest brand problem and how are you attacking the issue?” Although I didn’t get an avalanche of responses, the few I did receive were quite thoughtful. Here’s one from Brent Huston, CEO of MicroSolved, Inc.:
I think differentiation of your product and service as well as educating the consumer about real value are our significant challenges.
We are in the security industry and the marketplace is very very noisy. To make matters worse, the same products and services may go by the same name but be entirely different.
For example some people use the term “penetration testing” to mean ethical hacking – manually mapping and exploiting vulnerabilities to achieve network or system access and control, which as you might imagine is deeply technical and resource intensive. However that same product term “penetration testing” is often also misused and marketed by some vendors as running automated tools and generating automated reports with no analysis or exploitation or any real threat analysis for the controls that protect data.
The trick is educating the customer so that they understand the difference and can pick between apples and oranges instead of seeing them as all the same. I can tell you that is often pretty tough. Some people are willing to learn and others simply don’t know what they don’t know…
I think Brent faces a common dilemma where the pressure of untangling overused and sometimes misused terminology can confuse the marketplace and hamper the brand experience. I’ll be trying to put out more survey questions as I think of them and I’ll post replies (with the author’s permission) when I think they illustrate problems and issues that many of us who grapple with branding and marketing commonly face. Thanks go out to Brent and all the other respondents!