Communication Strategy for High Tech Products

Investing in marketing communication, or "marcom," is one of the secrets of the high-tech firms that seem to flourish during the economic downturns. While most of their competitors cut on communication costs in order to save money, the successful firms increase their communication to grow their market share. That does not mean to expand their advertising budget drastically. To be sure, some large companies spend heavily in advertising to knock down their competitors. Table 8.1 introduces the biggest communication spenders in the United States. To this list, one could add Samsung Electronics, which launched a $400 million global ad campaign in 2002 with $70 million for the North American market.

However, the sheer volume of money is not the ultimate indicator of performance;some highly successful companies have managed to achieve recognition through creativity and publicity. One of the most famous high-tech brands in 2003 was Google, the well-recognized Web search engine that has achieved this position mostly through word of mouth and quality. Amazon, eBay, and Yahoo have also achieved immediate recognition on low advertising budgets. Those Web-based firms have managed better than their competitors to ride the wave of the Internet. They have been able to generate buzz among "influencers" instead of relying solely on traditional advertising. The excitement and passion they have generated has translated into sales.

For that matter, they are just following the previous generation of successful high-tech champions, such as Intel, Microsoft, Intel, Compaq, Cisco Systems, and others. Those firms were first talked about in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Business Week, Forbes, and Fortune magazines. Only once their brand image was established did they spend money in advertising to maintain that image and notoriety.

Table 8.1 The top Advertising Budgets from High-Tech Companies in the United States

2002 2001 % of Total

Table 8.1 The top Advertising Budgets from High-Tech Companies in the United States

2002 2001 % of Total

Verizon

1,527

1,395

9.5

2.26

Communications

Microsoft

909

927

(1.9)

4.35

ATT Wireless

873

905

(3.5)

5.58

Sprint

863

1,098

(21.4)

3.24

IBM

832

938

(11.3)

1.59

AT&T

815

878

(7.1)

2.15

HP

736

524

40.6

3.16

Dell

511

438

16.5

2.04

Deutsche Telekom

509

303

68.3

8.91

MCI

371

519

(28.4)

N/A

Intel

345

444

(12.0)

4.48

Nextel

320

286

11.8

3.67

Source: [1].

Any company in the high-tech business must communicate to make its products known to targeted customers and to strengthen its solutions positioning. However, the specificity of high-tech firms imposes a certain number of restrictions, from the development of a communication budget to the planning of communication campaigns, including the use of different media. Furthermore, preannouncement as well as public relations, corporate advertising, and viral marketing (word-of-mouth marketing, which pushes people to pass along a message) have a particular importance in the communication strategy of high-tech products.

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