CA: Good intentions but muddled marketing

Computer Associates, now to be
called CA, today featured multi-page spreads in newspapers like “The
New York Times” announcing the company’s new growth strategy.

But darned if I can figure out what they’re talking about, which is too bad because CEO John Swainson seems
so passionate about cleaning up CA and making the company matter again
to its corporate customers. I’m rooting for him to succeed, but there
are a few things in marketing that he’s going to have to change to win
me over – and his customers. (Newsday
interviewed some of CA’s customers following John’s speech in Las
Vegas, and they too are a little befuddled.)Here’s what CA needs to do

Readjust your assumptions and tap into what’s really going on with your customers

The ad headlines are “Remember when technology had the power to inspire
you? Believe again.” Technology has been extremely inspiring in so many
ways to so many of us. We never lost the belief. CA may have lost its
inspiration along the way, which accounts for so little company
innovation and growth. We don’t need to be told in ads to “believe
again” in technology. What we do need, however, is to be told why we
should believe again in CA and its technology and services.

Explain what you mean:

Which brings me to point two. What the heck is your big new vision,
Enterprise IT Management (EITM)? Your communications talk about how it
“unifies and simplifies complex IT environments across the enterprise.”
The press release headline says, “Unified Management of End-to-End
Infrastructure Enables IT Organizationsto Overcome Complexity and
Ensure Performance Of Business Services.” But hello, what exactly is
it? I really know technology, yet I can’t figure out what the big aha
is here. More context, examples, maybe some helpful metaphors, and just
plain speak would really help.

Rid yourself of the trite lines and tired talk

I’ve heard John talk and he’s engaging and direct. So why is your
letter, advertising and Web site so full of empty corporate speak,
which, by the by, uses phrases that date back to what other tech
companies used in the 90s? Phrases like “transforming business,”
“unifying and simplifying complex IT environments,” “reach a higher
order of IT,” “simplify the complex,” “deliver fully against your
business goals,” “align IT to reach business goals,” are empty, boring,
and tired.

Talk about something fresh, in your own words – not a copywriter’s:

CA must have some points-of-view on enterprise technology that are
contrarian, counter-intuitive, unusual, insightful, or surprising. How
else can you innovate, as you say you have, if you weren’t turned on by
some big insights? What customer insight triggered the passion of your
developers? What do you know that you can do better than any of your
competitors? Talk about those ideas. In the real words of real people.
In today’s business world, a new logo and name change don’t matter all
that much. People want a reason to believe in you. They want fresh
ideas. And they want to connect with the company and its people — not
with a new acronym.

I love the technology industry and hope that
there is great thinking and innovation going on at CA. Maybe the
marketing approach just needs to revamped.

When many of us see
this old style marketing, with to much hoo-ha around logos and category
acronyms and not enough clear explanations of what is new and valuable,
we often think that there is no new strategy. Just a great shade of new
lipstick that is likely to quickly fade.