Marketing Lessons That We Can Learn From RIM’s Dark Past

Marketing disastersYou remember, don’t you? The emails that magically appeared while you weren’t looking. That blinking light turned us into addicts. And that keyboard — copied often, but never matched. It was the BlackBerry, the glorious, beloved, and life-changing BlackBerry. It made us feel good, and it never let us down. Long before the iPhone took the world by storm, and before Google even dreamed about getting into the phone business, Research in Motion was on top of the consumer electronics mountain. Today, sadly, it is buried under it, and industry insiders everywhere wonder whether RIM will survive.

What happened? Harmful strategy. Unforced errors. And, mostly, really bad marketing. When it comes to bad marketing, RIM is in good company. Many organisations start off with great  marketing strategies. And then they become  successful . Then they become complacent, proud and careless. And in the end, forget why they exist and for that matter, who pays for their lunch ticket.

Nothing Happens Without a Great Product

The Blackberry was once considered as the best smart phone until the iPhone. Everyone wanted it. It was an awesome gadget to possess. It had great applications, allowed a user to work from the comfort of his phone, had secure data transmission, so much so that governments  feared it. It had instant Blackberry  messaging, automatic updates and so much more. Users felt that they were part of a privileged and exclusive global family.

Now fast forward to 2013.

RIM stopped making great products and the excitement fizzled. RIM enjoys none of the pomp. Instead, Apple’s iPhone is all the rage , Samsung is gaining brand love and Nokia is coming back to life.

Organisations need to know that success begins with a great product or service. Nothing happens without that.

Your Company’s strengths are more important that its weaknesses

RIM had a great product. The Blackberry was the company’s strength. In trying to capture the tablet market, RIM abandoned the research on enhancing the Blackberry and for more than a year, concentrated the company’s resources on creating a tablet to match Apple. By the time that RIM figured out their mistake, the smart phone market had passed the company by and consumers were not interested in the company’s tablet.
Organisations should not neglect their strengths in pursuit of other company’s competitive advantage. Recognise and try to minimise your weaknesses, BUT exploit your strengths relentlessly.

Don’t Stop innovating because your Customers will never get enough

In today’s competitive environment, relying on yesterday’s success on one or two products is not enough. To continue to be successful, you need to continue to innovate and to find what it is that your customers want, what can make you better, what can give you the edge, what can drive customers to your doorstep.

RIM stopped developing their Blackberry phone . Their competition pounced.

Companies that constantly and aggressively innovate and strive to exceed their customer expectations win the competition and customer war.

Know Who Your Customers Are
A successful organisation knows exactly who its customers are. RIM’s management were in disagreement about who the company’s customers were. When you don’t know who your customers are , marketing, communication messages, advertising, the language to use, branding and even distribution becomes a guessing game.

Identify your customers as precisely as possible to prevent your company from making costly marketing mistakes.

Your Company’s CEO is your Biggest Brand Advocate

The company’s CEO should set the tone for marketing by being the organisation’s greatest brand advocate. Staff will be inspired. The media will be convinced and customers will buy. Steve Jobs was the greatest advocate for Apple and for the iPhone and Amazon’s Bezos is the flag bearer of the company.

When the company’s executives are excited about the brand and they tell the company’s story for all the world to hear, customers listen and they vote with their wallets.

Don’t Stop Talking to Your Customers

Customer centric organisations are those that continue to talk to their customers in order to find out what products and services they want and how the company can improve. It is amazing how many organisations create yearly strategies without doing customer research. Or how many products and service decisions are made from conference rooms without customer input.

Adapted from 7 Marketing Lessons from RIM’s failures. February 10, 2012, by Alex Goldfayn


About chipomaps

A brand reputation, marketing and new media trainer and consultant. Constantly curious, constantly learning.
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