A Lesson from AMD’s Consumer Solutions
– By Steve Robins
Several months ago, chipmaker AMD updated their consumer marketing to focus on the total value of their PC chips rather than the speeds and feeds that consumers often found confusing and nearly meaningless. This case study offers a great lesson for solution marketers.
The Tragic Irony of Tech
It’s actually a tragic irony of the technology business… The majority of business and consumer users neither understand, nor want to hear about, the technology behind your technology. IT managers, chief technical officers, and consumer tech enthusiasts understand – and relish – technology of course, but that’s not who we’re talking about here.
What’s Under the Hood?
For example, most people don’t really care about the processor running the Apple iTouch. Instead they want to know what it can do for them… replay music, show videos, allow them to surf the Web. And I doubt most people could name the processor running on their BlackBerries – even though they could probably identify the key features on their models – picture, web, touch screen, apps, etc.
And the same applies to PC’s. Most consumers neither understand nor care about the details of the processor running their PC’s either. 15 years ago, processors advanced at a far slower pace, so upgrading your PC from one to the next made a significant and understandable difference. It was a big deal to upgrade to an Intel Pentium and you really could tell the difference. But now when you’re running five or ten varied business applications at a time, how do you really know what performance to expect from your PC based on a particular processor? Answer: you just don’t.
PC Makers Focus on Value and Benefits
So rather than confusing consumers with tech jargon, some PC makers have opted to simplify the consumer-facing retail description tags for their PC’s. Earlier this fall, the NY Times reported that AMD had replaced virtually incomprehensible speeds and feeds gobbledygook with 3 simple categories ranging from basic to advanced: See, Share, and Create. They call this program VISION. According to AMD,
Rather than the traditional model, which focuses on the technical specifications of individual hardware components, [AMD] VISION communicates the value of the whole system and demonstrates the combined processing power of both the CPU and GPU* to deliver a superior visual experience to mainstream PC users.
* The CPU is of course the central processing unit (chip), while the GPU is the graphic processing unit (chip) – the combined central nervous system of a PC.
Personally, I think of AMD’s products as computer chips, but they’re positioning them more like solutions – and that’s a good thing:
“Today’s consumer cares about what they can do with their PC, not what’s inside,” said Nigel Dessau, CMO of AMD.
There’s a solution marketing lesson here too. You see, the same applies for software solutions. Chances are that most business users just don’t understand, much less care about, the technology behind your solution either. They most want to know that it solves their problem.
Of course, you still need robust, scalable and lots of other [insert tech adjective here]-able components to satisfy the legitimate requirements of IT and technical evaluators. And more importantly, you need to have good technology so your solution delivers the performance and capabilities that you promise. But just as AMD uses non-technical fact-tags to connect with consumers, you should focus your message on business problems in order to connect with your business users.
Indeed, solution marketing is not about technology as much as it’s about solving business problems.