Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Big City Blues and Purples

Sitting in a fancy hotel waiting for room service, and feeling rather lonely. There’s something about a house with 4 (sometimes more) screaming kids that creates a lovely homely familiness. It also drives you bonkers, but in a nice way.

I’ve arrived in Sydney to attend the Gartner Application Development and Web Services Summit. I don’t want to be one of those negativity pants guys who bemoans everything, because that’s just too easy, so I’ll just say now that I’ve never met a single Gartner analyst who impressed me much, and that I’m hoping to have that view rectified by this shindig.

The flight up was okay, although there’s something terribly unnerving about being strapped into a big metal thing and hurtled through the air like that…

Anyway, I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s Purple Cow on the way. Seth asserts that there is an additional P to the standard marketing rules (Product, Price, Position) and that that P is a Purple Cow. (Obviously he went looking for something else that started with P, but the point is still valid.)

The Purple Cow is about being remarkable. About having a product that is in and of itself, the marketing. For instance, something must set the iPod aside from all those other mp3 players. For some reason, Krispy Kreme Donuts are super popular (and super profitable) , despite the fact that they are just relatively boring donuts. That italic something, says Godin, is the Purple Cow. Built in remarkableness that makes people want to eat or buy it or both.

Furthermore, the theory goes that the days of mass market appeal are over. You can’t just spend a fortune on TV, Radio and Billboard advertising, ship a product, and then have the entire market go bananas to buy your thing while rake in CASH with your greedy money hungry claws. Nowadays, the acceptance curve for a product starts with innovators, progresses onto early adopters and then (and only then) do the larger, tastier mass appeal markets start to buy your thing. I kept thinking about the iPod – about a year ago Lindsay was the only person I knew who actually owned one. Nowadays, there are easily twenty of the things around the office. Those white headphones are a meme waiting to spread - That’s the hype curve you need to harness to get the power of the cow.

So, I got to thinking – what makes Tremble remarkable? It’s a very easy to use web interface, and it has some great zero footprint integration technologies. The document management tools we’re providing to users require users to change their behaviour, but only a little, and once they change, they’ll see how useful the new tools are.

In and of itself, that still is a bit boring. But then, so are the donuts. The thing that we need to make this application delight it’s users is a really sexy interface that people actually want to use. That’s remarkable. Enterprise Document Management that people want to use. It’s also really, really hard to do. I think we can do it.

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