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October 2005
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December 2005

Stealth Marketing: A Contact Sport

Ahh, outbound marketing.   How we love to "light it up".   Produce a slick web site, get a slew of press releases, go visit everyone, design large booths for all the "in" trade shows and measure our sucess by the number of column inches and mentions (especially in those bellweather blogs).
Cruise_ship_1

We just want to be noticed.  Loved.  And talked about.  And if you're good, you will be noticed.   Especially by your potential competitors.   If you're on a roll, have momentum, this is a good thing.   But think about early stage products.   Is this a drum you wish to beat at this stage?   Are you really attracting those customers you need now, or just hoping you will?

Stealth_shipInstead think about stealth marketing.   Here you need an entirely different set of tactics.  This is up close and personal.  Identify potential early customers by name.  Call them.  Show them a demo of your product and service.   Attend tradeshows and meetings as an attendee.   Talk to people.  Again one on one.  Get their feedback.  Improve your product, messaging and gain customers.   After a while you will build the momentum you need and then you can "light it up".


Caught in the Spot Light

I sure wouldn't want to be in the marketing department at Sony or any of the anti-virus companies.  For the last year and a half Sony has been secretely installing low level root kits into people listening to their music cd's on their computers.   Which has infected more than 500,000 networks.  And none of the anti-virus companies figured it out until it was widespread on blogs.   And even then they don't want to offend Sony.  This from Trend Micro just yesterday:

“We don’t blame Sony for attempting to exercise its right to manage its digital property” says Genes. “However, what’s important to understand is that this technology can now be used by malicious malware writers to hide and spread their creations. These writers include those who might not know how to write their own rootkits – but now they don’t have to.”

Talk about kid gloves.   So looks like all these guys are putting corporate relationships ahead of their customers.  And Sony looks at distain to their customers "Most people don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?"  Baaah!3sheep

Treating your customers like sheep is not a good policy.   People are much better informed these days.   And word gets around.  Quickly.   Always be transparent with your market about what you are doing and why.   And if you stumble (like the anti-virus companies) it is much better to say "After this experience we'll be taking a much harder look Digital Rights Management".


Be Sincere, even if you don't mean it

Last week I talked to a start-up company who has a killer new product.   They needed marketing help.   Specifically they wanted to be blogged widely.   I believe in the organic approach to buzz in blogs.  Rolling many snowballs on many hills.  If it's good, it gets bigger, if not, it dies.   But this company was insistent.   They wanted a plan to force the blogs to pick up their story.   Needless to say I wasn't invited back.   I suspect the other person they were talking to said they could do it.  Good luck with that.

If it's good and interesting,  people will talk and add to the conversation.   If you have passion and sincerity, even better.   But you cannot buy sincerity.  At least I don't think you can.  Though some will try.

"I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
No, no!"

(thanks to The Who)


Good Comedians and Product Concepts

"Timing" is the punchline for the joke on the definition of good comedian.   "Timing"  also separates a successful product concept from a poor product concept, even if the product is identical

I had been a firm believer that asking the three questions and coming up with the "aha" factor lead the way to product success.   Yet how many times have we heard "Great product, but way before it's time" ?  Lately I've been working with an Entrepreneur in Residence with a VC firm.   As we were grinding through a product definition he asked me:
" What is going on in the market which makes this right for today?   What is different than 3 years ago?   What will be different than 3 years from now?"

My head hurt trying to envision the entire market today, 3 years ago and 3 years from now.   But we did in the product context and came up with the answer.  And that is the final piece when evaluating a new product.   You need to add "when?" to "so what, who cares, and what's the "aha" factor?" 


Sincerity, Passion & Emotions

Two of these belong together, one does not.   If you guessed sincerity and passion, you are correct.   Any job worth doing, is worth doing well (cliché  alert).   When presenting or in conversation, you must believe in your product or service.  If you don't, you didn't do your homework to develop a good product or service.    When you are excited, people around you are excited. 

It is too easy to cross over the line from passion to emotional involvement. 

This can blind you to getting feedback on what you are doing.  PickuptruckwithtrailerhangingoffcliffAnd cause you to drive over the side of the cliff.   Marketing is full duplex and never let emotion cloud you abilitiy to listen to what others are saying.