"Marketing is market making," says Ken Oestreich, Vice President, Product Marketing at WSO2.
WSO2 is an open-source technology provider, founded in 2006, providing an enterprise platform for integrating application programming interfaces, applications, and web services. "With all the cloud services, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that are out there, and the increasing use of microservices companies are facing a problem of how to glue all of these together," Oestreich says of the Californian businesses role.
Oestreich says that as enterprise IT has developed into an organisation that "assembles technology rather than builds it" CIOs and CTOs need platform that manages APIs and microservices. "We are squarely in the API integration and management space and to a degree the ID management market," he says of how CIOs need users from outside of their organisation to integrate APIs to deliver the wide range of services the modern digital customer requires.
Communicating that as a marketer Oestreich says the message has to be a "generic appeal to business agility".
Open source, open field
WSO2 is an open source technology provider and Oestreich says this poses challenges and opportunity to a marketing leader. "Ten to 15 years ago when Linux was first on the market it was more of a challenge. Today it has established itself as a technology that makes commercial sense.
"The challenge is that there is still some market perception that open source is free. But our business model is a subscription model that ensures that the customer gets patches and support," he says.
"The customer is usually an integration developer, the architect and their executive bosses. So you have to have two prongs," Oestreich says of having to communicate a technology and a business story to those building integrations and those delivering strategic business change.
"The watering holes are really different," he says of reaching the two audiences. "At the C-level they read business journals and use analysts and analyst conferences, but also word of mouth is really important. No executive will click on a banner, they talk to their peers."
Oestreich is open, honest and clearly proud of the engineering heritage of WSO2 and that means a different approach to technology marketing is required. "You have to adjust the product or the way you go to market. So you either go back to the engineer and ask for the technology to be more appealing, or you find alternative markets, it is a continual adjustment."
Oestreich says marketing as WSO2 is about constantly "striking a balance between the pride of the engineers and the needs of the market."
The Vice President says constant and close contact with the customer is what ensures he is always aware of the needs of the market. "Travel and meeting the customer keeps your finger on the pulse, it is a form of net promoter score," he says.
Like many of his peers Oestreich says content has become vital to reaching prospects. "The market is heating up, so we have moved to be more out-bound so we can build brand awareness, but that doesn't mean we will take our foot off the content marketing.
"You have to have KPIs at every stage of the pipeline," he says and WSO2 monitors awareness, social followers, visits and views; engagement, leads and qualified leads.