When hype can go overboard and hurt credibility

SageCircle on the danger of vendors overhyping

Updated September 9, 2008 — In response to a tweet, a number of analysts have left new comments about specific types of marketing language that vendors should avoid.

Updated September 10, 2008 — Compiled a list of terms to avoid. Look for them after the “Bottom Line.”

While the US Federal Trade Commission in the Lanham Act said that puffery is “harmless exaggeration or colorful hype” and is not prosecutable as false advertising, too much hype can severely damage a vendor’s credibility. This was reinforced the other day when I participated in a Twitter conversation (right, click to enlarge).

Redmonk’s James Governor (“Monkchips”) in response to a marketing statement by a vendor about its product said “sorry but a. how can i take the statement seriously,. and b. what does it have to do with customer value?” Later another analyst, Jon Collins of Freeform Dynamics (jonno), joined in with the scathing “don’t think (products’) scalability issues are totally behind them either, a minor inconvenience to marchitects ;)”. While you might dismiss this because it is happening on Twitter, think again.

  • This Twitter chat represents the visible tip of the iceberg. Think about how many other chances these analysts have to convey this opinion to the press, other analysts, IT managers and the like?
  • Reporters are starting to follow analysts’ micro-blogging like Twitter so this can become a PR problem as well.
  • Don’t assume that “nobody is following Tweeting analysts” because their followings can be quite large (e.g., Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang has over 3,300 followers with new ones everyday).

However, the focus of this post is not on Twitter but on the issue of hype. SageCircle has identified hype as one of the five “analyst hot button” issues that can needlessly derail a vendor-analyst briefing. The big problem is that analysts really listen to […]