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Ubuntu business product marketing job

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Canonical is looking for a business product marketing manager to lead the marketing of our portfolio of enterprise products and technologies. The objective is to increase the profile, market penetration and user-base of Ubuntu’s business products such as Ubuntu Cloud Infrastructure.

All technology companies face the problem that they think in terms of tech, but users think in terms of how a product benefits them in their specific situation. This often leads to a sales and marketing gap. In Canonical’s case Ubuntu is an operating system platform that’s used by a variety of consumer and enterprise audiences. Although our server and Cloud products are generally for enterprise users, there’s over-lap in the desktop area which is used by both. So the product marketing manager role will market Ubuntu products to businesses and organisations – whether global enterprises, academia or government.

Technology companies tend to subtly vary the way product marketing is defined, and particularly the line between product management and product marketing. As an aside there’s a nice article at Silicon Valley Product Group about this. In Canonical product managers are responsible for defining the strategic direction for a product and work closely with the engineers who are developing and delivering the technology. The product marketing managers are part of our marketing and communications department with the responsibility for defining and leading the marketing activities. By definition the two roles are closely related, but product marketing is inherently focused outwards communicating the benefits of the products to prospective users.

In order for Ubuntu to succeed in an enterprise the benefits must be clear to both the technologists (e.g. Sysadmin) who will implement it, and the management decision maker (e.g. CIO) who will sign-off its use. Consequently, our marketing activities speak to both audiences, though with more focus on technologists. On a day-to-day basis we’re a pragmatic organisation where everyone rolls their sleeves up and gets on with it. So you’ll need to use quantitative and qualitative approaches to identify addressable segments for marketing programmes. You’ll work with product management to create and polish propositions and with other members of the Comms team to form messaging. You’ll then put together marketing programmes that achieve the best ROI, iterating and improving how we reach the segment as necessary. In many instances you’ll want to take advantage of ways we can team-up with our passionate advocates to get the message out.

Canonical is a deep technology company so to be successful in this role you need to be excited about the technologies we’re developed and capable of understanding and communicating their advantages. You’ll understand how the Cloud is revolutionising enterprise IT and be able to clearly communicate where, why and how it’s impacting DevOps. Ubuntu is a key part of that equation so you’ll understand how our technologies, such as Juju, are part of that revolution. Importantly, you’ll act as a bridge to enterprise users, explaining the features and benefits of these products in the context of the challenges they face. You’ll need the capability to clearly explaining technologies, understanding the business problems they can solve for customers and undertaking marketing activities to communicate this.

The next year is full of challenges and opportunity. In April we’ll be launching 12.04 LTS which is a major enterprise release and the spring-board for our activities in the business segment over the next two years. We’re focused on expanding Ubuntu’s use in the public cloud where we are the most popular OS on platforms like Rackspace Cloud and Amazon Web Services. We believe that private and hybrid clouds will be an important part of the future for enterprises and we’re working with partners such as HP and VMWare to help them get the most from Ubuntu Cloud in their data centres. In other words it’s an important moment and we’re full steam ahead!

As an open source company our first challenge is to make sure our products are widely known and used in a playing field where proprietary vendors can outgun us in marketing spend. So the measure of success in this role is whether Ubuntu is increasing market penetration compared to the large proprietary cloud vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle. Having built-up an extensive user-base the product marketing manager also works with field marketing to convert users into customers for commercial services such as Ubuntu Advantage.

At a personal level Canonical is a dynamic organisation so you’ll need to be entrepreneurial, high-energy and collaborative – your colleagues are based around the globe ranging from offices in Taipei to being sat at home in California. I think the biggest reward will be to work with an amazing set of people at one of the most innovative technology companies around, during a time of massive industry change. If that sounds like heaven then get your application in ponto!


Written by Steve George

January 11, 2012 at 22:56

Marketing Malpractice

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There’s an insightful article called Marketing Malpractise: The Cause and the Cure in December’s Harvard Business Review. It discusses where market segmentation is failing and how purposeful products offer a solution. It’s thesis is that many segmentation strategies lead marketeers to solve the wrong problems and improve products in ways that are irrelevant to customers needs.

One of the authors, Clayton M. Christensen is the author of The Innovators Solution so developing new ways to satisfy customers is part of the fabric. Two points particularly caught my attention:

“The structure of a market, seen from the customers’ point of view, is very simple: They need to get things done … When people find themselves needing to get a job done, they essentially hire products to do that job for them. The marketer’s task is therefore to understand what jobs periodically arise in customers’ lives for which they might hire products the company could make.”

Having done this and decided what product to develop, they continue:

“With few exceptions, every job people need or want to do has a social, a functional, and an emotional dimension. If marketers understand each of these dimensions, then they can design a product that’s precisely targeted to the job. In other words, the job, not the customer, is the fundamental unit of analysis”

For technology products I don’t think you can totally exclude the customer’s capabilities from how the job will be accomplished. If the job is reading-internet-email, there’s going to be a big difference between how someone who receives one e-mail a day and someone who receives a thousand a day expects to solve the job. You could more tightly define the product but then you’d land up with a hundred reading-internet-email products.

A post by Havoc Pennington Redhats desktop technical lead ruminates on what this means for complex technology development. He applies this to the development of the GNOME Linux desktop, and to some degree the wider commercial Redhat products. I’ve a feeling that he hits the nail on the head when he talks about flexibility: the jobs that people use technology products for are often sufficently complex that a number of features will be required to satisfy them. This in turn means that the feature set will meet the needs of those trying to accomplish a number of different jobs. Jotspot is an example of this, where they have multiple mini-applications on top of their base product.

Returning to the articles criticims of common segmentation practises. In my experience small businesses’ often segment by types of customer because that’s the data that is accessible, cheap and easy to use for metrics. It’s measurable that a product has 5% penetration of the 0-250 employee sized companies in the UK mainland: good luck saying that a product has an unknown level of penetration in the reading-internet-email job and could you have more money next year?!.

The article also covers building purpose brands and how brands should be extended. There are alternative summaries of the paper at Corante, Marketing Bytes and Noise Filter. If you want some further reading then Manyworlds has an interesting system where you can find related articles.

Is Christensen right, are jobs the fundamental unit of analysis

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Written by Steve George

January 5, 2006 at 21:36