Archive for October, 2004

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October 18, 2004

JotSpot

I have been using the beta verson of this Wiki application tool for a couple of weeks now.

First, the tool is absolutely awesome. Makes using Wiki very easy and provides some nice templates and applications. I am impressed.

But, whereas the tool is a shining star, the customer focus and attention is a super nova! (pardon the hyperbole).

The founders of JotSpot are the same guys that created Excite (you remember Excite, don’t you?) and they know exactly how to connect with customers and ensure that the experience is above and beyond.

After signing up for my beta account, I got an email from the CEO. I assumed it was an auto-email and thought that was nice. I replied and told them I appreciated the auto-response. Turns out it was not an auto-response but an actual email from the CEO.

He has since asked me for additional input on another topic important to the success of this service.

I am almost stunned at how we often forget how something as simple as connecting with and listening to customers can elevate simple technology to a real memorable experience. I think we have all become too jaded by auto-responses and canned customer service friendliness.

I wish the team at JotSpot all the good fortune in the world. They have exactly the attitude needed to make a successful company. Add to the fact that Wiki is one of the hottest online technologies for the next year, and this is a surefire success.

Check out JotSpot.

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October 15, 2004

Starbucks’ Chocolate Culture

As best as I can determine from reading this, Starbucks will now serve chocolate milk. However, it will be called “Chantico” and likely cost $4.

God, I love marketing! Lackey, bring me a venti Chantico now!

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October 14, 2004

The toughest thing about my wife being out of town…

This week has been a bit hectic. I am involved in our major customer event of the year and my wife went to Chicago for a business trip. That left me to juggle my event activites with taking care of my 18 month old daughter. Normally I drop our little girl off at daycare in the morning and my wife picks her up. Then we are both there to take care of her in the evening (sometimes one of us goes out, sometimes the other). I have traveled a lot in the past, but she has never been away since our child was born. This is her first time away from her daughter.

It’s hard on me. It’s hard on my wife. At some level I know it is hard on our daughter.

Nothing more profound for me to say.

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October 13, 2004

Yahoo! News – Scientists Find Protein That May Be Key to Hearing

Just some good news for those of us with hearing problems. Might not help in my lifetime, but you never know.

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October 13, 2004

I could be writing about Bill Gates right now.

However, Bill gets plenty of press (see this morning’s WSJ, for instance). Instead, I am going to write about the people to the left and right, behind and in front.

As marketing people we often develop a particular myopia, one that believes that the shortest and best path to a customer is a program of some sort we develop. From advertising to direct marketing to guerrila marketing, they all fall into the category of “good things to do to get customers to change behavior”. However, the classic tension (very real in the enterprise software space) between sales and marketing often causes marketing people to discount the impact of the people in the field that deal with the customer face to face every day. Whether they be sales, services, pre-sales, post-sales, or evangelism, these individuals are sometimes seen by marketing people as just another hurdle in the way of getting the “right” message to the customer.

Just how stupid is that perception? Stupid enough to be taught in business schools and become the battle cry of the newly minted MBA. Stupid enough to be the downfall of a number of companies that refused to see the value of the feet on the street. Stupid enough to warrant me writing this particular rant.

If you are a marketing person in a company with a field force, get to know them now. Become their friend. Share your knowledge and hope they deem you worthy of sharing theirs. Let them know you value their input on your programs and plans. Frankly, if you ever forget that they get to talk to the customer 1000x then you ever will, then you will suffer the fate you deserve.

I am surrounded at this moment by these people from the field. This is a room with thousands of customer lessons stored in these people. A marketing person couldn’t ask for much more.

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On the phone right now

October 12, 2004

On the phone right now
Originally uploaded by AtlasBrand.

My daughter just called and said “Dad, I know the conference is stressing you out. But, please remember to bring home more raisins.”

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October 12, 2004

Technology often fails when it is needed most. And, it fails in the most trivial and mundane of ways.

One of the simple things we tried to do for this event was manage all of our session moderators and notetakers online. Well, the technology failed us on that front (a combination of concurrency and lack of transactions), so I was left juggling people using paper and pen.

The lesson here is that it is not the catastrophic failures that really annoy people, it is the little things. Sometimes it is simply the failure of my laptop to boot in a timely manner in the morning. Often it is that technology fails to do what we expect it to do.

Try marketing this reality to users.