Not one more word.
For many years, it has been very fashionable to say how “[Borland|CodeGear|Embarcadero] sucks at marketing”. You could very easily establish your bona fides by bashing Delphi marketing. Everyone knows that Borland always sucked at it, and all the cool kids say so, right?
Well, I think those days are over.
What is Marketing, Anyway?
First of all, I’m guessing that about 99% of the people saying this didn’t understand the difference between “marketing” and “advertising”. They aren’t the same, just so you know. They overlap, but they aren’t synonymous. The Wikipedia page for marketing starts out with "Marketing is defined by the AMA as ‘the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.’" My personal definition is “whatever you do to make people aware that your product is for sale and what the reasons are that they should buy it”.
Sales and marketing are related, but very different. In general, marketing’s job is to create leads for sales to act upon.
I think that the root of much of the complaining over the years has been the result of a lack of advertising. People who don’t see advertising think that there’s no marketing going on. Marketing is much more than just running ads. Marketing activities include, but are very much not limited to, advertising. In fact, some of the most effective marketing is that which requires zero advertising.
For instance, Dropbox has a brilliant marketing strategy that has been amazingly successful and requires exactly zero budget for marketing or advertising. What do they do? They get people like me to try to get people like you to sign up. The more people sign up, the more potential paying customers they have. They give away 2GB of space (which probably costs them something like $0.000001….) and then induce those folks to do their marketing for them. They have been enormously successful doing this. They spend zero money on advertising, but they have a fantastic marketing plan that makes millions of people aware of what they have to sell. Awesome.
Delphi Marketing in the Past
I’ll concede that the marketing of Delphi has been historically “limited” or “hard to find” . I’ll not concede that it has been “bad” or “terrible”. The marketing itself has been good – there just hasn’t been enough of it. Marketing success is largely a function of budget, and over the years, and the budget for marketing Delphi has not always been huge. As noted above, there isn’t a direct relationship between marketing and money, but certainly money is a big boost. Limited budgets have made it harder to market Delphi, but that doesn’t mean that the marketing that was done was done poorly.
Despite limited budgets, here has always been marketing going on around Delphi. Every new release resulted in many activities, a “world tour”, webinars, etc. And here’s a key point to remember: if you are an existing customer, then marketing to you is fairly easy. You already know the products and benefits. To a large degree, efforts spent on marketing that you see is wasted effort. The perfect marketing plan would be visible only to non-customers and invisible to existing customers. And here’s the second thing to remember -- if you know that Delphi is on version XE2, and even the basics of the current feature set, then you have been successfully marketed to, whether you want to admit it or not! That’s always been the case – if you knew about the latest release and it’s features, you were successfully marketed to.
Delphi Marketing Today
However, over the last few years, things have been getting better. And over the last year or so, things have gotten, well, really good. In that time, I’ve seen a marked and obvious increase in marketing activity and an rise in the quality of things done for Delphi and Embarcadero products in general. Clearly someone has decided to spend some money and make it a point of emphasis.
I now see the following on a regular basis:
- First, the overall outbound communication in general has steadily picked up. I now see people who for years didn’t hear a peep from the Delphi marketing team now complaining that they are getting too many emails. Some are even upset that their sales representative has called them. Yeah, that’s terrible! I myself had a very nice chat with our sales person last week -- they were pleasant, knowledgeable, and helpful. We probably won’t be upgrading our licenses until next year, but they were happy to know that, and interested in hearing my feedback on a wide variety of things, including the product, the marketing efforts, and other things of concern. I appreciate a vendor that takes the time to hear me out.
- A steady stream of webinars on a wide range of topics. It seems that at least once a month, they are conducting a webinar of some sort, on topics ranging from Delphi to database design and enterprise architectures. I get very professionally done emails, I sign up, they remind me about the event, and they follow up with emails after. If I miss it, they send an email saying “Sorry we missed you, here’s the replay”. As a result, you see their products in action, you learn the new features, and you are steadily reminded that the product is there. Excellent work.
- When they aren’t doing webinars, they are letting me know about White Papers that well known Delphi community members have written. There a lot of them available, and a steady stream of new ones coming online. Nice.
- I haven’t seen them recently, but for the last few years, Embarcadero has had a full page advertisement in every issue of SDTimes. I’ve also seen banner ads on the SDTimes website.
- And while on the subject of ads, I see Delphi banner ads all over the place. They clearly have paid Google for the adwords, and since Google knows I’m a Delphi user, I see ads for Delphi and RAD Studio all over the web. Nice.
- They also appear to have bought keywords on StackOverflow. Try this – log out of StackOverflow and go the Delphi tag page and see what you get on the right side. (If you don’t any reputation at StackOverflow, you don’t have to log out – they stop showing ads after a certain reputation score).
- For a long time, the Borland/CodeGear/Embarcadero website was….less than helpful. However, now, it is really well done. Checkout the Delphi page. It’s visually appealing with a good highlight of the product. Easy to find links take you to the Product Edition page, a page showing cool third-party stuff, and free resources out on the web, among other information And of course the page has a clear “call to action”, either buy or download a trial. This is a very nicely done web page.
- And if the webinars were not enough, the Developer Relations team did an excellent (and well attended, I might add…) series of live seminars all over the world. These were well advertised and well run. They included user group events during week nights, and for the first time. some day long events on Saturday. In talking with the DevRel folks, I know that these were particularly successful. I had the honor of being the guest speaker at two of them, in Washington, DC and in Newark, NJ. Over the last year, the team has also put on a CodeRage event, the 24 Hours of Delphi, and a Delphi Birthday Party. The hits just keep on rolling.
- The marketing department even has a blog – The Delphi Insider – run my by friend Tim Del Chiaro. If you want to know everything that is going on, that is a good place to start. And of course, there are a number of active (an inactive, sadly) blogs on the Embarcadero servers.
The folks marketing Delphi are doing some really good work, and we should appreciate and recognize it. Embarcadero has clearly stepped up its game, and we should all give credit where credit is due.