When a Product Tries to Be TOO “Easy to Use”

<< Sigh. >>

Yesterday, I wanted to transfer all the photos that my daughter has on her digital camera to my hard drive, so she could email one of them to her teacher.  The camera is fairly new to her, so I had never had to do this before.

In my dream world, plugging a camera into a USB port would be the same as plugging in a flash drive — you would see a whole bunch of files, and you could pick the ones that you want to grab.  (Similar to how I wish iPods would work.)

Alas, that is not the case.  As soon as the camera is plugged in, it makes your computer go to a web site to download an application.  You CANNOT retrieve the images from the camera without doing this first.

I already feel like someone’s takin’ me for a ride.

THEN, once you’ve downloaded and installed the app, and even before you have the actual photos off the camera, Kodak asks you to log into facebook.  Did you hear me?  LOG INTO FACEBOOK!!!  I presume they think that everybody wants to share every pic they take, with the entire planet, instantly.  Well I don’t.  And neither does my daughter.

I did NOT log onto facebook, and the Kodak app was mad at me, but let me continue nonetheless.  So I accomplished my goal (eventually).

For a complete neophyte, I can see how this might be a way to help them out.  But it just smells bad.  It’s like if they gave an appendectomy to every human who walked into a hospital.  Sure, you may need one someday, but MAKING you do it isn’t the right way.

Marketing to Zebras

I promised to explain what I meant when I used the word “zebras” in this earlier post.  The idea is that just as zebras are pretty unique animals, so are your customers.  Imagine describing zebras to someone who has never seen one, and how you need to have all the characteristics included before you finally narrow it down:

“They’re mammals.”

“You mean like whales and bats and kangaroos?”

Zebra Diagram

“Yes, but they walk on 4 legs.”

“Toads? Sloths? Alligators?”

“Yeah, but they have stripes”

“Oh, like tigers and coral snakes and hornets!”

“Except they look like a horse.”

“Like donkeys and Great Danes and seahorses?”

“And they have to have ALL those qualities”

“Now I get it!”

There is only one animal that matches all those criteria.  My point is that the days of mass marketing to a demographic are over.  You can no longer target “afluent 29 – 44 year-old males,” or “Small to Medium Sized Businesses.”  You have to market to, “43 year-old Moncton bankers who play hockey and like old single-malt scotch and craft beer and are married to a marathon runner, who have 2 daughters, aged 6 and 4, and drive a ’99 Saab.”  Hey wait a minute, there’s only one person in the world that matches that description!*  That’s the whole thang – you have to market to that one person

Now, you’ll probably want to have more than one customer, so you’ll have to market to a lot of other singular people too.  But each marketing interaction must be between you and that one person.  It’s no longer about one-way, one-to-many, broadcasting.  Now it’s two-way, one-to-one conversations.

 

* It’s my friend Greg. 

 

Blogging Before It Was Called That

The 5 seconds worth of research I just did tells me that “blog” was coined in 1998.  I certainly didn’t hear the term until much later.  But I had already been active in blog-like on-line activities.  That was two careers ago, when I was VP Marketing for a software company called Maximizer (or sometimes Multiactive or Modatech – it’s a long story).  We made Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and that class of product was just hitting its stride: Microsoft CRM and Salesforce.com were just coming out and the industry was poised to explode.

SearchCRM Logo

So it behooved me to make myself and my company part of the discussion about CRM wherever that discussion was happening.  One such place was an online forum called SearchCRM that had just been formed.  It’s still there and still active.  I signed on to be one of the “Experts” for “Ask the CRM Experts.”

Traffic was fairly slow at first, but over the next two years I answered dozens of questions.  Some of them are still posted and can be seen here.  (I don’t know why they all aren’t there, or why these ones were chosen to survive.)

The point is that I enjoyed answering the questions, and I think that’s why I will enjoy blogging.  It’s the fun and creativity of writing and trying to communicate or persuade, but without the bothersome deadlines and content restrictions that go along with writing business stuff like, say, White Papers or ad copy. 

[UPDATE] – Yesterday the link to my posts on SearchCRM was broken.  Today it’s back, so I went and copied all my posts, which can be viewed after the jump.

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Seth Made Me Do It

Seth's LogoSeth Godin, for those of you who don’t know already, is considered by many to be the pre-eminent thinker/writer/speaker/blogger about marketing in the 21st century.  I don’t know if I’d go that far, but he certainly is smart, and he certainly has marketed himself effectively.  Seth had a post today (permalink) in which he urged everyone to start having a personal on-line presence. 

And I’m re-reading The Cluetrain Manifesto, right at the part where the writer urges the reader to “have a voice.” 

And one of my colleagues thinks I’m a marketing genius and keeps telling me to start a blog. 

And, someday, I think I want to run a small bar just like the one I used to work at in Montréal.  When I do, I will want to market that venture using Web 2.0 techniques, so I figured why not start now.

So I’m going to make a real effort to craft a weekdaily post loosely around the subjects of bars and marketing.  And maybe marketing bars.  Perhaps the simple act of thinking about what to write will make me into a better marketer of my own bar when and if that day comes.