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Overstepping Your Value

by Hank Barnes  |  October 1, 2019  |  2 Comments

In tech, there is a constant stream of trends, big ideas and buzzwords that drive interest and, in some cases, waves of growth.   It is easy to tell when it is happening—when  many vendors adopt it.   We now see “marketing clouds” and “sales clouds” everywhere.   A few years back everything was Big Data.

Photo by Verena Yunita Yapi on Unsplash

On the one hand, it makes sense to get linked to a big trend.  On the other, when virtually everyone is doing it, it is easy to get lost in the noise.

And then there is the third category.  That is when vendors attach to the trend, but it takes lots of contortions and extrapolations to figure out the connection.

Lately, I’ve seen a number of vendors calling themselves the key to digital transformation or customer experience.  But when you look closely at them, it doesn’t make much sense—particularly when it is paraded out there as fact without providing any context.

This overstepping of value confuses customers and the market and frustrates everyone.   It actually does more harm than good.

If you do chose to associate with a trend, create an authentic story that makes the connection clear–explain the role you play in the trend and how it fits with other pieces.  Get specific about the customers you serve and how you change their work.

Big terms have big impact and touch many many areas of the business.   Generalized associations become meaningless.

Make the connection or don’t bother.

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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: hype  hype-cycle  storytelling  trend  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Overstepping Your Value


  1. Ken Rutsky says:

    one way to do this is what I call 7-1 = 3. Simple. Define the 3 things that enable a trend. You + 2 others. Draw the venn diagram. Label the 3 intersections as 3 values. Now without you, you lose 2/3 of what you need to succeed. – https://kenrutsky.com/breakthrough-marketing/the-new-math-of-competitive-differentiation-7-1-3/

    • Hank Barnes says:

      Great approach. The unfortunate case that can happen is when you draw the 3 circles and you don’t actually fit in any of them! I also struggle with messages that are effectively “Our network cures cancer.” (even if the network supports collaboration).



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