Seth Godin has a talk on Google Video at Google about Google -- "All
Marketers are Liars" -- Seth Godin speaks at Google
. I like this
guy's stuff. Mostly, anyway.
Early in the presentation he mentions Sun:
"There is a belief among a lot of
companies -- especially in the valley -- that technology wins. And what
I want to sell you really hard on is not that technology wins, because
I don't think it does. I think that what technology does is that it
gives you a shot at marketing. And if you don't buy into that, then I
believe the company -- sooner rather than later -- is going to smash
into a wall."
(skipping some stuff here ...) "If you market your 'juice' properly you
won't end up like Digital or the long, long list of companies that
Microsystems that said technology will solve every problem and the
marketing will take care of itself."
Well, I'm not sure we said exactly what's being attributed to us in
that quote. I mean, we have a rather large number of people working in
marketing here. Regardless, I don't agree with the association to
Digital at all. I thought it was interesting, though,
considering everything else Seth said in his talk -- things that
directly relate to
what we're doing around here.
He talked about the "organic growth" of
Google -- all with no TV or Super bowl commercials. Where did it all
come from, he asked? "It came from the fact that people told their
friends. That is what made you grow, not the technology, " he said.
Well, I think this is something Sun gets now. This whole open source,
blogging, community-building transparency thing is really where Sun
came from, and
it seems to me that that's when we were our strongest. We took a little
detour for a while, but we're getting back to where we came from -- the
community, where "people tell their friends" and where hardware and
software customers and developers are becoming directly involved in
building the produces they buy or use. So, I think we get that part.
On brands, Seth said that people care about Google. "What happened is
you made an audacious promise to people ... you changed how they
all day long online ... and that interaction with you made
them care about your brand. It means you have a platform to do
some spectacular things, but if you blow it just a few times people
not care about [you] anymore," he said. Well, here I think Sun is
audacious promises to people with our changes in strategy the last
couple of years (Solaris port to x86, OpenSolaris, new SPARC
chips/systems, new Opteron boxes, OpenSPARC, revitalized NetBeans
and OpenOffice communities, thousands of engineers working in the open,
etc), but at the same time it has been challenging to educate
people that things have
actually changed. It takes time, and I doubt anyone at Sun would
disagree on this point.
Seth also talks a lot about the concept of story telling as the basis
of good marketing for companies.
"The story is priceless," he says. The story makes people feel
certain way about your product, your company, and -- probably most
importantly -- about themselves. They come to believe in you based not
on the story that
you tell but on the story they tell to themselves about you. I could
not agree more. This is where I think we still have a long way to go.
We are still telling too much of the story ourselves and not letting
others step up and tell their story.
Then Seth uttered a line that really poked me: "The
challenge you have, since every person in this company [Google] is a
some of them are marketers who code -- is to deliver on the story."
Excellent. So, you have to have a cool story, you have to tell it to
want to hear it how they want to hear it, you need to enable them to
tell it to themselves and to each other, and
everyone at the company is a
. I love that.
Some other quotes that caught my eye along the way:
"General Motors loses money on every
mid-size car they sell ... It's at
the edges that people wait in line. It's at the edges that people will
"This is how much money to scale BMW spends [a little] marketing each
car sold in the US. And that's how much money Lincoln Mercury spends [a
lot]. Why? Because Lincoln Mercury makes average cars for average
spends their money hyping them. And BMW has a marketing department
called engineering. And they keep making stuff that people choose to
"As you build communities of people who talk to each other, things
"Blogs are a really powerful tool in making all this work. It's
thinking about not that you deserve the conversation -- regardless of
how good it is -- but how you can cause conversations to take place."
"There's not a lot of patience in communities for being used."
"Make something worth talking about. If you can't do that, start over.
Tell it to people who want to hear from you. They do what other people
used to think of as marketing. They're the ones who spread the word."
Really nice talk. I'd love to hear him talk about Sun in the context of
these issues, and I'd like to see it right here at Sun in a forum like
he did for Google.