• Subject: Re: IBM Spin Doctors on AS/400 Marketing
  • From: "Chris Rehm" <Mr.AS400@xxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 26 Oct 1997 10:45:26 -0700


>Some did.  Some of us didn't.  I for one was happy to see some monies
spent
>in this area.  Problem with that is I think it was very inneffective....

I agree, I think the marketing of a hardware platform is generally
inneffective. Same as with an OS. All you can hope for is to build name
recognition and hope it will mean something if your products make it into
a bid.

>>installed base of older machines that want all of >today's functionality
>>stuffed into a new release of their operating system so they don't have
to
>>buy anything new.

>Kind of an unfair generalization, isn't it?  The AS/400 makes IBM a bundle
>of money if memory serves correctly.  I have three new emodels being
>installed in November myself.

I didn't mean to imply that all 400 customers were as such. I was simply
pointing out that IBM (as a profit making company) might find it more
attractive to cater to NT buyers willing to spend cash than to CISC box
owners who want upgrades implemented so they don't have to spend cash.
This is not an adjudication, merely and observation. IBM and it's
motivations will not change simply because I perceive this as good or bad.

>I think there are many different opinions as to what advertising should be
>done.  I believe most people that are complaining are looking for
>marketing/advertising that just increases the public recognition of the
>AS/400 name and its capabilities.  You called IBM and asked for a
solution.
>How many people don't call IBM?  How many people don't consider the AS/400
>for a data warehouse, Notes server, internet server, etc. and buy
something
>that just got a good review in PC Magazine?  When you look at the volume
of
>AS/400 articles and ads vs. those of Unix or NT I think there is a huge
>gap.  Could this in of itself affect AS/400 sales?  I think it can (or I
>could be wrong - but read books like Megatrends,  "Influence" by Cialdini
>or "Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" by Charles
>Mackay...and you wonder).

But is advertising the AS/400 advertising IBM? In a lot of ways,
advertising the AS/400 is a waste of money. Name/brand recognition _is_
important. The lack of articles and lack of recognition certainly does
cost sales and is of course important. The real issue, though, is whether
or not a few glossy ads with pics of shiney new 400s is going to do the
trick.

The AS/400 suffers as a platform because it is tied to the solutions
offered on it. In other words: If I buy a PC based product, I buy my
solution first (the software) and then buy the hardware to go behind it.
Microsoft need not care whether or not I like Compaq better than Dell. A
software vendor can sell me an NT based solution and then I am required to
wade through the glossy ads for hardware and determine the best solution.
At this point, the AS/400 is out of the running. There is no point in IBM
trying to advertise against hardware solutions here _because the AS/400 is
NOT a solution for this buyer_.

Instead, IBM needs to be a part of the buying cycle earlier in the game.
IBM needs to be viewed as a solutions vendor. When Joe Customer wants his
new corporate solution, he needs to think IBM is a possible vendor. Joe
Customer, at this point, wouldn't give a rat's keester for a hardware ad
at this point, because hardware doesn't solve anything. He wants to see
the software solution. IBM would love for this customer to buy an AS/400
based product because that means IBM will sell the hardware now and in the
future. But what if there is NO AS/400 solution? Or none that the customer
wants? Should IBM send the guy packing or sell them an NT product with IBM
hardware?

Tell me from a stockholder point of view. 

>Well, for the last couple of years IBM has been doing rather well, not
>spectactular but it has been improving and making money and the stock
price
>has been going up.  This new model you speak of - hasn't IBM been taking
>this approach for quite a while?   I don't see it as new but as old.

Well, the new model is a couple years old, but it really only got into
full swing last year when IBM announced that 30% of IBM's sales were
through the channel and 70% direct and that this needed to be reversed. It
has been. Unfortunately, this has also led to a lot of business partners
with no value add attaching themselves to long time AS/400 customers and
just selling them discounted hardware. 

This is a problem because these customers are not seeing enhanced benefit
to owning AS/400s and still see them as "green screen machines". As a
result these customers do not implement AS/400 solutions to new problems
(because the AS/400 partner is viewed as their IBM rep and is just sitting
around hoping to collect upgrade money). IBM needs to weed these guys out
better because they are hurting 400 sales.



Chris Rehm
Mr.AS400@ibm.net
You have to ask yourself, "How often can I afford to be unexpectedly out of 
business?" 
Get an AS/400.
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