Technology, no matter how great or innovative, does not make a product successful. Marketing is the key.
A mediocre product with good marketing will always beat a great technology with mediocre marketing. The Microsoft operating system is not the market leader because it is superior to UNIX or Linux, but because Microsoft is a superior marketing company. Intel beat down the Alpha chip not on the basis of superior technology but because of the $100 million "Intel Inside" marketing program (possibly the greatest example of market leadership ever). If good technology won the war, then everyone would have a Macintosh on their desktop.
Every survey produced on the value of marketing (Advertising Council, Centre for Public Relations, Colombia University, to name a few) indicates that companies that spend 10 percent of their revenues on marketing lead their industries. Those same surveys show that successful technology companies spend a maximum of five percent of their revenues (which may explain why technology is only now coming out of the slump). The real telling point of the results is that when marketing investment falls below 3 percent, the product and/or company fails. When industry-wide spending on marketing falls to that level, market share stalls or shrinks (which may explain with the segments of the electronics, like EDA, industry is not yet in recovery).
The Acer tablet PC failure is an example of a company's lack of commitment to marketing. A "cool" technology may gain an initial flurry of press interest, but without an ongoing effort to keep that interest going it will stop. Check out the any corporate website. See if you can find a press contact. If you can't find one it's because marketing is not a priority.
Marketing is considered a cost center, not a profit center. When economies are tight, shareholders and venture capitalists put pressure on corporate executives to cut costs. And the first thing to cut is marketing, right before the janitorial service. That makes the money people and shareholders happy.
But then the revenues continue to fall and everyone calls for more cuts. There goes advertising, trade shows, public relations, maybe sales now. Still the revenues drop. Now what?
Have you ever heard this before?
"There are only 8 or 10 truly important customers in our market and we know who they are."
That's the excuse for not investing in marketing. But guess what, those same customers are saying the same thing. Pretty soon the 8th, 9th, and 10th place companies are merging or declaring bankruptcy. Now you only have 6 or 7 important customers. Your market is shrinking. Why? Because marketing is not a priority even though it generates the leads that expand a company's market and thereby its bottom line.
So what's the solution? If you are an investor –angel, VC or stockholder – look at the financials of your company. If the company isn't investing enough in marketing, yell. If they are and they still aren't succeeding, then fire the agencies or the VP of marketing because they are incompetent. Someone has to make marketing a priority if this current turnaround is going to turn into a growth cycle. The executive staff isn't going to make that priority unless you start telling them to. And if you don't, you deserve to lose your investment.