tug-of-war-webTwo exiting new technology products launched this week and took very different approaches to marketing.
Windows 7 is the long awaited new operating system from Microsoft. Because Vista, the previous operating system was a complete mess, Microsoft really wanted to hit it out of the park with Windows 7.
Cute is the New Black
They launched a TV ad campaign with Kylie, a 4 and a half year old self-described PC girl. She finds happy words and pictures of bunnies her dad’s PC and quickly makes a slide show complete with Rocky music. The ad is sickeningly sweet and goes right for our emotional responses. We all know that cute sells, but I can’t help feeling this is a bit much.
Viral. Like Swine Flu
Microsoft also made an attempt at viral marketing with its “host a Windows 7 party” campaign. Yes, it really is as dorky as it sounds. Sign up and Microsoft will send you Windows 7 napkins, Windows 7 gift bags, Windows 7 balloons. Invite your friends over for a party to celebrate the launch of Windows 7 and have fun installing it on laptops and troubleshooting together.
“Wanna come to my Windows 7 release party?”
The concept was certainly viral, but not in the way Microsoft had hoped. Pretty soon, it was every tech reporter and blogger’s favorite thing to cringe about. Someone dubbed over the release party video with a censor bleep and created a hysterically dirty version. Other people ordered the kits and threw parties to mock Microsoft. It created a lot of buzz, but at what cost?
Ride the Wave
Around the same time, Google launched Wave. Wave is a new web platform that lets you collaborate with people in real time on a document. The idea is it replaces the back and forth nature of email and gives you a really good way to create something in a team.
Google realized a couple things:
1. Wave is full of bugs and isn’t really ready for mainstream yet.
2. Wave is very hard to describe and a bit counter intuitive to understand.
3. Wave, like a telephone, requires other people in the network to collaborate with.
Google’s approach was different. They released an early beta project to a very few selected technology reporters, developers, and geek influencers to get them playing with the project. They gave them each 20 invite recommendations (yes, you still have to be chosen by the Wave committee). Basically, they handpicked a buzz group to be excited about their product. It may seem a bit heavy handed by Google, but they are also paying close attention to the feedback they’re getting. The technology group that they hand selected would are also the types of early adopters who help grow and shape a product in its infancy. Buzz also goes hand-in-hand with a community of users who can make your product great.
Microsoft’s approach is a classic push marketing model. We’re not sure we need a new version of Windows, lord knows the last upgrade was a mistake. So Microsoft had to saturate the advertising market and use all sorts of gimmicks to make us pay attention. We’re left with a feeling in our gut that Microsoft is desperate for our money which makes us a bit less likely to buy.
By limiting its user base to a select few and creating an exclusive kind of buzz, Google has created a classic pull market. People are excited for Wave invites and will take the time to really play with the technology and find good uses for it, because they’re one of the chosen few.
Push vs. Pull
In online marketing, the classic push model is flashy banner ads, spam emails, not-so-subtle twitter posts, etc. The pull model takes more work. You have to fill your site with good content, write interesting articles, and give your customers something special to discover and share with their friends. It takes more work, but in the long run, your customers will respect you more.