What Nokia Can Learn From the DNC

A common complaint among Democrats regarding their party leaders is that they aren't good at telling voters what they've accomplished. Some say that the party doesn't spend enough time explaining its actions and showing the world why its policies work. It's something Republicans have historically been considered much better at. Confidence and conviction in your political ideologies are tremendously important in letting your constituents know that you've done the hard work and that you've created something fantastic that people should be proud to be a part of.

The same can be said for companies regarding their products and the way they present them to consumers. In the recent Democratic National Convention, the party leaders were much more aggressive in their approach to telling the nation why they believe they have a successful party platform. Whether you agree with the politics or not, it was a move that a company like Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) could really use in its own product marketing.

Say what?
I would be the first to agree that politics has little place in investment analysis. With no comment on the strengths or weaknesses of either political party in the upcoming election, I find both to be interesting examples of how marketing works (or doesn't work). While the Democrats have been passive in the past and almost apologetic for their platform, the recent convention showed a new, more aggressive edge. Some of the speakers, such as former President Clinton, came armed with numbers and powerful one-liners that told the country where he believed the Republicans had failed and why President Obama was the superior choice for the election in November.

Again, no comment on the actual policies, but this was something the party needed to do. It's also something troubled phone maker Nokia needs to do. The company hasn't been on top of its game in the past few years, missing the boat on many of the trends in the smartphone industry and being almost completely eclipsed by Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) .

Nokia's major announcements, before its recent Lumia 920 release, were usually about job cuts, product issues, and management mistakes. Now, occasionally I like to see executives eat a piece or two of humble pie -- it lets investors know the God complex hasn't gotten too far in the C-level suites. But at some point, there needs to be a Clinton moment. Getting back to the Lumia 920 -- Nokia needed to be substantially more bullish about its own product. The new phone shouldn't have been an apology for the last one, but a vision of the future and an explanation as to why Nokia was still a leading smartphone maker.

Marketing Errors 101
One of the dumbest things the company did regarding the new smartphone was releasing an ad in which the company was trying to sell the video quality of the new phone. In the ad, the viewer can clearly see a reflection of the actor using a DSLR camera, instead of the phone, to take the crystal-clear video.

Why, oh why, would a marketing team ever be so dumb as to fake their own phone's performance and make it so obvious that it was a fake? Has anyone at Nokia ever seen an episode of Mad Men?

The company made an apology and offered a two-bit explanation as to why it used a $3,000 camera to take the video instead of its own phone, but the damage was done.

The Lumia 920's entire release was botched, but this was the icing on the cake. To save money, the company should have just taken out a one-page ad in The Wall Street Journal with a picture of the phone and in big, bold letters, "WE'RE REALLY SORRY. HOW ABOUT THIS?"

The Clintonized version of the Lumia 920
If Nokia had the Clinton team working for it, the Lumia would have been advertised as an advantage over the iPhone 5, not just as the company's competition. Nokia should have looked deeply at what its phone offered over Apple's.

Nokia needed to say the following:

We have a new phone that is highly customizable according to what customers want, unlike the iPhone. It has a processor (Snapdragon) that is proven to be faster than Apple's chip. The Lumia 920 has an 8.7-megapixel camera that can outperform Apple's in nearly every category, mainly light-capturing technology [where the Nokia phone can capture a reported five to 10 times the amount of light compared to the iPhone]. Our phone is the flagship product of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) biggest software accomplishment since Windows 95. The new Windows 8 Mobile software, along with the Lumia 920, will provide not a only a comparable experience, but also a better one compared to iOS and the iPhone 5 -- and all for a solid two hours longer than one can experience with the iPhone.

And to complete the sell, they should have told us when we could get our grubby little paws on it. TBD release dates are the ultimate buzzkill, along with a lack of a pricing scheme.

Compare the Lumia 920 release to the iPhone 5, where Apple very clearly stated (as it always does), this is the best phone we have ever made and here is why.

Truth be told
My contract isn't up until next spring, so I won't be getting either phone anytime soon. But the seed has already been planted in my mind -- the iPhone is still a superior product. Is that truly the case? Well, it probably depends on what I want out of the phone. But, the same as when viewers juxtaposed the Republican convention with the Democratic one, it was easy for me to see which offering had taken its time to present the most influential information in the best way possible -- and make a sell.

If you'd like to read up some more on Apple and the iPhone 5, or Microsoft and the Windows 8 platform, take a look at the our premium reports.

Fool contributor Michael Lewis owns none of the stocks mentioned above. You can follow him on Twitter, @MikeyLewy.The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft and Apple and creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft and a bull call spread position in Apple. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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