Saturday, March 19, 2005

Terrible Lizard, Terrible Marketing

It's official: we hate our customers.

At least, we're okay bullying them around and calling them names. I can
only imagine Gates sneaking behind an Office customer to get down on all
four so that Ballmer can push them backwards and flip them over, bellowing,
"Dinosaur! Unevolved corporate

Or maybe we're just being passive-aggressive, and name-calling them for
their love and satisfaction with Office 97. They can't see any reason to
upgrade to Office 2003. So we unleash our marketing campaigns to allow them
to be enlightened to all the great reasons to upgrade to the latest

Isn't it a very big, loud "thunk!" of a product feature
canary dropping dead when the features you ship are so intangible and
unexplainable that marketing can't even market them? Instead, they have to
show people creating dogpiles of ecstasy thanks to Great
Moments at Work
? Or, they have to resort to the emotions of fear and
inadequacy by showing your old software represents reptilian-brain slowness on your part?

How about telling me directly why Word is so
much better than in Office 97? Or Excel? Or - ooo! - okay, Outlook is indeed
pretty. That makes me feel good... where's my wallet? PowerPoint, anything
new there? As for the rest of the programs... well, I just get p.o.'d if I
ever am forced into using them.

Strangely, Joe Wilcox thinks the Evolved
marketing is great and refreshing. I'm missing something.

I'm more on-board with Geor
ge Parker's rant
. Same with Steve Rubel - Microsoft
Office Marketing is Stuck in the Prehistoric Era
comments there, too - dang, is Scoble just plain everywhere?
). Steve
provides three modern-day approaches for Microsoft Office to consider to get
buzz building around the products:

  1. Find referenceable users and
    empower them to blog on your site
    - Use PubSub, Feedster, MSN
    Search and customer data, etc. and find the most vocal Office 2003
    enthusiasts in the blogosphere. Initiate a dialogue with them and, if
    they're interested, give them blogs where they can regularly chronicle how
    they use Office 2003 to improve their daily productivity. Let the customers
    tell your story.
  2. Have loyal Office 2000 and 2003
    users debate each other head-to-head
    - Find two users of the Office
    suite - one a loyal 2000 user, another a 2003 fan - and let them them debate
    each other on the merits of their choice of suite via a shared blog.
  3. Give out free upgrades - Seed 500 bloggers with
    free upgrades to Office 2003 and index their posts via an RSS-powered

It would be
interesting to see more Microsoft individual contributors actually actively
advocating and using our products in a visible and shared fashion. But that
would require giving them time to do this. I'm pretty passionate about what
I develop and I do my best to advocate for it internally, but I can only
dream about having time to build that to the next level of creating quality
components I'd like to share outside of the intranet. I'm sure there are a
lot of folks in Office that are the same way and can create tools and
examples that make the latest bits shine, shimmer, and sing. But they are
not afforded the time and luxury for this.

Is a Google-esque 20% affordance the answer? I don't think so (mostly
because all the lazy dot-com dead-woods in my building would be the first
lining up for that playtime
). Maybe after we've had some good layoffs.
But for now, if leadership was to get behind people providing compelling
reasons for customers to use the latest technology, they can then ensure
that folks producing quality results had the time to do so and that they
were rewarded. If we can't demonstrate the coolness and greatness of our own
products, who can?

Update: fixed bad anchor close tag. Clarification: what I'm looking for in the above two paragraphs isn't more blogging but rather a lightweight process where Microsofties can release great software - add-ons, power-toys, whatever - when our new software comes out that can build buzz and love for the new software rather than throwing it against the wall and seeing what sticks.

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