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May 19, 2004


George Anten

> They'll need to stop being a one-size-fits-all company

Why? They control >95% of the most lucrative market.

> in order to maintain competitive advantage

There's no competition in the desktop market, period. If in the unlikely event the closest MS competitor could, say, triple its market share, it'd still remain a miniscule footnote.

> in a customer-controlled economy.

Hmm, what controls do the customers of a monopoly with >95% marketshare have? It's become obvious that the vast majority of PC users value standardization/ubiquity over quality, price, usability, aesthetics, security, etc.

We don't have the legal framework to properly deal with a smart and viciously aggressive technology monopoly, as on pure marketplace economics things aren't likely to budge at all.

Sure, nothing lasts forever, but I just don't see marketology-speak substantially changing facts on the bloody ground.

jennifer rice

IMO, Microsoft's done a great job of busting their way into a virtual monopoly via distribution strategies, but a rather poor job connecting with customers. Their one-size-fits-all strategies just don't give them a competitive advantage in a customer-controlled economy. Many people hate them and are excited by the new alternatives that are (slowly but surely) making their way into the market. If MS wants to do a better job of retaining customers, they might want to better understand who their customers are and what they want, and then tailor products/messages to groups (or better yet, allow individuals to customize products themselves.) Since MS has massive resources, they won't have to pick just one market; they could have multiple task forces working simultaneously on various customer groups.

George Anten

"Trying to be all things to all people is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to attracting and keeping customers. Choosing a target market is tough. It means eliminating entire groups of people from your messages. But without focus, you risk a bland, diluted message that means nothing to anyone."

Have you not heard of a company called Microsoft? You know, the one with the Windows franchise and $60B in the bank.

David St Lawrence

One of your best posts. Failure to do this has been the foremost reason for failing marketing programs in my experience.

But, as you point out, you have to get to know the customers in the potential target market. The inability to confront doing that probably accounts for the vast batches of marketing spaghetti that are being cooked up every week.

The second reason is that too many top execs KNOW that their product is all things to all people. Their usual mantra is: "You guys just need to get out there and tell people about it! What's so hard about that?"

david foster

Good post. In many cases, a product can be packaged to address a specific industry entirely at the marketing, by creating brochures, presentations, case studies, etc which show how the product solves that industry's problem. In other cases, some changes to the product itself may be necessary.

In both cases, though, it's really important to have someone who has a pretty good understanding of the target industry..either because they are from that industry or because they've worked to learn about it.


I agree and I have first hand experience on this one...

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