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February 2007
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April 2007

Linking new concepts to the known

Technology can drive new concepts.  But trying to coin a new term is hard and takes time, which is a problem when you just want someone to "get it".   (I know 'cause in the early 90's I coined the phrase "appliance" and it took the industry 2 years to get around to using it).   So rather than coin a new phrase, sometimes it is much easier to use a well understood concept and just add one new wrinkle to it.   The good science fiction writers do this all the time.Aws

Here's a case in point.   Back in 99 I saw that the Internet could actually be a useful vehicle for file storage.  But it wasn't until last year when Amazon came out with S3 that you could actually do something useful.  But still pretty primitive.   Again, how do you convey this concept?

Today I read a blog post by Tony who is in the storage business.  There is a well defined storage method called Network Attached Storage (NAS), which provides high level intelligence to storage you just jack in anywhere into your network.   This post and the fact I just installed an Iomega device yesterday got me thinking.  So what if you took the fundamentals of NAS, but instead of a network, you had the Internet?   Viola!  Internet Attached Storage.   So people in the business "get it", but instead of a physical device, you have virtual devices ( courtesy of Amazon).   But you still need a good management layer on it which is what my new company does. 

We'll see it this catches on.  But if you have a new product or service which looks like something understood, but radically different in one key component, try changing out one word and see if it makes sense.  It's a lot easier way to get your concept across.

Marketing Arson: The Quantum Factor

I had an interesting discussion with one of my colleagues about projecting market size.  We talked about taking market share from other vendors and substitution and all those other things you get in textbooks and expensive seminars.

Quantum_2 I'ld rather blow the doors off and create a whole new set of users.   Now this does relate to textbook economics.   There is this theory of pricing bands.  If you fall outside of them, no one buys.  But there is the other side to that.  If you create a whole new value proposition, orders of magnitude from the existing one, you will attract a lot more of a different type of user.  But this is not gradual.  At some point, it just happens.  Think of Skype when you could call anyone's telephone for 2 cents a minute.  Especially international.   All of a sudden another million user piled on.  And I bet the big telcos didn't lose any business at the beginning. 

But how to get there?  There are no easy answers.  But many times you hear "But that's the way everyone does it."   Challenge all assumptions.   Take your team off somewhere and leave the email and cell phones behind.  Start with a clean piece of paper and figure out how to build the best product for your market.  Then compare it with the existing product.   You will be surprised.

Harnessing Hybrid Vigor

Or known as heterosis for you purists out there.    Back during one of my animal sciences classes we delved into the practice of cross-breeding two pure breeds of animals.  Cow The offspring were superior to either parent.   In fact all corn producion is hybrid for the very same reason.

One of the things we did in our company is take advantage of this concept.  On one side you have a web services infrastructure.   Very scalable, accessable from anywhere, extremely cost effective.  But prone to service interruptions and monolithic in that you only get what is offered (but I wanted it in blue).  On the other side you have a wealth of open source code and tools to build anything you want locally.   Exactly what you want (blue with yellow stripes).  But hard to scale from a production and access standpoint.   

But combining the two, we can offer our customers exactly what they need, but offer from the get go a highly scalable, accessable system without the downside of either.

You can do this too.   Take a look at all the main components of your product.  Is there something else out there which you can replace (and I'm not talking about out-sourcing to cheap labor)?   This excercise will let you focus on what you are good at doing, and bringing in something else in which they are good at doing.  And you will get a superior result.


I received a comment on one of my earlier posts from Todd.  Todd's also involved in word of mouth.   I read his paper which was quite interesting.  This popped out for me:
As marketers, our role is to create opportunities for participation.

Now I would sign up for Todd's definition of WOM.   

(you folks doing web design, drop Todd a note, he could use a cleaner layout for his good ideas)