Videos are the future salespeople

Video has more than a half century of sales experience under its belt, but now that YouTube has become one of the most popular search destinations it’s time more organizations utilize its power.  Salesforce has almost 1,000,000 views on less than 1000 videos, Google educates all of their new features and products with educational cartoons and smart small businesses do the same.  Educating potential customers on your industry with a helpful video like Salesforce’s ‘What is Cloud Computing?‘ is a great way to build trust and credibility.  You don’t need a media team to provide something great; a $200 flip camera, some creativity and the knowledge others want that you possess is all that’s required.

Here’s the New Yorker’s engaging video selling their iPad app

Fast, Useful, Simple and Stable

I’ve become frustrated with a lot of products and services lately and am making a declaration that the four core features that will make or break any experience is whether it’s fast, useful, simple and stable(FUSS).  Let me walk through some of my reasoning:

1) My internet connection – I’ve lived in my house for four years and have had three different ISP’s.  Cable, DSL and most recently have switched to Clear.  All I want is a stable 3-6 Mbps down and 1Mbps up(these are speeds of downloading and uploading information if you’re unaware).  I don’t want 25 Mbps at peak speeds if that means I have to live with sub-1 Mbps at other times.  I don’t want to constantly tweak my hardware and reset modems and check for signal strength.  I just want it to work as i’m told it’s supposed to.

2) Digg.com – This is a social news website i’ve been reading for five years to get tech and other news.  I go on and off with how often I visit the site, but I am a creature of habit and have been a loyal reader for a long time.  Recently they changed to a new version and the site is down almost every time I visit.  I’m going to get my news one way or another, in this case i’ve gravitated towards news.ycombinator.com and reddit.  As I said before, i’m a creature of habit and if these new sites are my new habit, Digg may have lost me permanently.

These two experiences recently have made me think about my laziness as a consumer and how quickly I will change direction if you don’t give me what I want.  I won’t even give the satisfaction of a text message breakup, I’ll just be gone.  I’m sure most other mainstream consumers are the same way as I see the same patterns when i’m the service provider.  Do you find that that FUSS is applicable to most products and services?  Is there anything that should be added or taken away?

 

Apple is building a Facebook competitor

Steve-jobs-one-more-thing

Whether you realize it or not, Apple is building a full featured social network that will serve as an incredibly viable Facebook competitor once all is said and done.  Yes they have released Ping and everyone realizes that it’s pretty weak in its current iteration, but it will get better.

What people are overlooking is that Game Center was also released yesterday.  It allows me to invite friends via my phone’s address book, create status updates and invite friends to compete against me with games that we both have.  If I don’t have a game a friend has, it shows me the name and price of the game so I can purchase it.

Let’s compare Facebook to Apple. Facebook has 500 million potential people to connect with and makes almost $1bill selling ads.  Facebook realizes that gaming is a great way to keep people using the site and create a revenue stream with Facebook credits to buy in game items.  So Facebook has the social graph but lacks in a strong development community and users credit cards.  Apple has tens of millions of devices in people’s hands and 160 million people with Apple ID’s who are already familiar and comfortable with purchasing through Apple’s ecosystem(Apple has paid $1bill developers through app sales).  They just turned on Ping and Game Center to begin building their own social graph that relates to music and games that will inevitably gravitate towards TV, movies and books as well.  Apple has the hardware, the development community and users credit cards, but lacks a strong social graph.

Seems to me Apple can easily create the social graph as people inherently have the desire to share music and games with friends.  If they move forward with giving MobileMe away for free(rumor), they’ll have the beginnings of the rest of the package.  Throw iChat and Facetime in the mix and we also have text/video chatting capabilities.

What am I missing?

My new QR code business card

I can’t even begin to explain how many times I’ve gone on a business trip or a meetup group only to forget my business cards. Randomly, my boss began attaching his contact information in a QR code within his email signature. At first I thought it was kind of a lame conversation starter until the lightbulb went off in my head. What if my iPhone wallpaper was a QR code with my info on it?

Without further adieu, my brand spanking new (21st century) business card.

 

Photo

Rise of the Platforms – Atmosphir Launches

Lost in the whirlwind of launches over the past few days including the iPhone 4, its new operating system iOS4, Salesforce Chatter and Google Voice; a small gaming company’s public launch got lost in the mix from the tech blogosphere.  Atmosphir is more than a game, it’s a platform for gamers to customize virtually everything including their characters and new levels.  Once a user has created a new level, that user can share the level with the entire community.

It’s truly unique gameplay and shows promise that the game won’t stale over time.  In comparison, Zelda has 16 titles while Mario has god knows.  What if these two classics allowed you to extend the game, or allowed users to create a bundle of levels that could be brought together to create new stories so the game would never end?  The game manufacturers, like I would expect Atmosphir is doing, could simply enable new features of game play while maintaining the service.

This brings up an interesting thought; What’s the point of building something that isn’t inclusive of a platform or at least contains a fully open API to build on top of?  Creating software today that doesn’t allow strangers the ability to tinker seems like a road to failure.  I can’t think of a company that is creating cutting edge stuff that isn’t working on a platform.  Yahoo! has BOSS(Build your Own Search Service), Salesforce has Force.com, Microsoft has Azure, Amazon has AWS and Pervasive (the company I work for) is even getting into IaaS or Integration as a Service with our DataCloud2 platform.

It doesn’t stop there, smaller companies are also jumping on the bandwagon to extend their niche.  The hottest thing in mobile right now is location, but developers don’t have to worry about curating their own location data or features; Simple Geo, Geo API and Location Labs all have platforms with location data and services ready for consumption.  Further proof is what some companies are calling Font as a Service or FaaS.  Fontdeck and Typekit allow web designers access to an encyclopedia of fonts via web services which should help push the adoption of HTML5 and CSS3 further faster.

Here’s a video overview of Atmosphir

Everything can be simpler

I often help prospects fix something here or there with an implementation before they buy my software.  When I do, I use a tool called GoToAssist to remote into their system to see and fix issues quickly.  I launch the application which instructs me to tell someone to go to www.fastsupport.com and give them a nine-digit support code.  This is what the customer sees:

Connect_for_support

The first few times I was asked “What do I put for Customer Name?”  I’d immediately respond with their name wondering how someone found it so difficult to place their name in the box.  After two months of using the product I no longer think the issue lies with the user as this question has been asked all but one time I’ve used this service.  The field name should say “Your Name” then possibly display a grayed out example “Doug Johnson” in the field itself.

This goes back to my post about “Overcoming the Learning Curve” and why you need to try and understand your customers better so you can support them better.  Don’t always assume that you can predict what someone will think or how they will use something.