Think of this as a “virtual water cooler” conversation with me looking for some inspiration. Hopefully you will engage – and if not, that’s ok too – I am used to talk to myself…
As you may know – I am helping the BlogBridge open source project with their marketing, positioning and go-to-market strategy. This morning, my friend Pito, who runs the project, asked me a simple question – If I were to spend more time on the project could we generate more “buzz”?
Considering that I want to keep a healthy balance between my paid engagements and my free engagements (did I mention BlogBridge is open source = free), I thought of pulling a classic consultant trick on him and overwhelm him with the “fundamental” differences between buzz, microbuzz, metabuzz, ebuzz, ibuzz, sbuzz… you get the point. But since that is not really like me, I decided against this strategy and instead launched into an exercise of dissecting the problem right there, and with him.
At the risk of exposing my ignorance, I want to share my thoughts here and see if perhaps you have anything to add.
Let’s start with the product (RSS aggregator with a backend service). I will not get into too much detail, but I do believe that we have the right product for the market – it is easy to use, it helps people sort through the information they already subscribe to, and it helps people discover new information. In a world of information overload and chaos, this sounds like the right set of problems to solve. Trust me for a minute, forget that I am a marketer and assume that I am right on this and let’s continue the analysis.
Buzz happens when people spontaneously tell one another about a great product experience they’ve had – and go as far as recommending that product to others. That buzz gets really amplified if you have some super network connectors who talk about your product as well…still with me?
The issue with spontaneous buzz is that people first have to try the product in order to get the “experience” from which they will recommend it to others. So the first thing we have to do is to reconnect with our couple thousand real users to ensure that they are having a positive experience, help them understand and use the increasingly rich feature set and ask for their help in spreading the good word. Long term, we have to continuously make sure that the product is easily “triable” (which probably means getting rid of Java Webstart…but let’s table this discussion for now).
In terms of the network hubs you can get them to give you some mention like David Weinberger did here (we know he is a user), Dan Gillmor did here, Robert Scoble did here, or like our friend and BlogBridge topic expert Jeff Clavier did here. These people are very busy and they probably don’t have the time to actually play with too many products. And just like with other users, there is no way that they would give you a ringing endorsement without having a real positive experience with the product. Knowing that, what if we were to offer our time (whatever it takes) to set them up with our product with the promise that at the end of the exercise they would be better off than when we started.
What do you think? Do you think we’re missing something? Are there other issues that are standing in the way which we are perhaps missing? If you have some other brilliant ideas, email me or post a comment…I will continue to keep you posted on our progress! And – did I mention it’s an open source project, so if you want to get involved – feel free…