Marketing has changed a lot since software industry legend John Blackham first went into business. These days without marketing you become little more than sweatshop, he contends.
John built Fact, a software company with the first ERP system for Process Manufacturing, up to 170 staff, $18 million and before selling to multinational company GEAC in 1990. After the sale he spent time in an executive role with GEAC in Canada.
His newest software company, XSOL, has created the first system to help manage business in real-time and sold this across a range of corporate markets such as financial services, manufacturing, utilities and telecommunications.
"Marketing was synonymous with advertising in the early days, it was just something that the big guys like IBM did. But at Fact we learned early on that there was more to it and it was important, especially in a software business."
"There is more awareness of brand than there was in those days. There are global brands now and people understand their power. Nike is a great example, so is the fact that people have been able to make a simple cup of coffee into a brand -it is amazing."
"New Zealand is immature in this regard - it is a small market so we don't have the same competitive pressure as the US, for example. People there will always talk about 'market share' rather than their product, but you barely hear it mentioned here. We are very immature in that regard - we have great technology but get thumped in the marketing."
"In the software industry particularly you need marketing - it is intangible, people are realising more and more you need to be able to explain this with stories, images and so on."
"Marketing is half of the business, people need to realise that. Writing code is no different from the women in Chinese sweatshops sewing clothes, you don't really have anything of value until you build a brand around it."
John says technology entrepreneurs need to make marketing a core part of your business, a day to day thing. "It needs to be cultural thing in the organisation. It is not just this fun, creative, dreamy thing - it is also hard focussed yakka, execution is really important, just like building the product."