Seth Godin on the Kindle

As usual, Seth outhinks the company responsible for marketing a new product.

If you don’t already know, is marketing a new ebook reader called the Kindle. They asked Seth to include his books on the Kindle. I think his response is brilliant…but could be tweaked to potentially get Amazon to adopt his idea.

How can Amazon use the concept of packaging books to help sell Kindles? Here are a few ideas:

  • Adopt Seth’s idea exactly how he outlines it – include books for free, or even a selection of 1000 to include on the Kindle. I think this is a great idea…but as he says, Amazon is reluctant.
  • Offer “branded” Kindles. Do like Apple did with the U2 iPod. Offer, for example, a “Seth Godin” Kindle that comes preloaded with all his books. Or a “marketing” Kindle. You could even create one preloaded with winners of different literary awards throughout the years.
  • Along the “branded” lines, offer a, “So and So Recommends,” Kindle. For example, Seth or Tom Peters or someone well known and respected in a certain industry selects their top 10, 25, 50, whatever books for that industry and it’s packaged on a custom Kindle. Amazon could even offer this as an “affiliate created” version that the person could then sell through their own affiliate site.
  • Package “recommendations” on a Kindle. People create recommendation lists all the time on Amazon. Why not take some of those recommendations for a customized Kindle?

I agree with Seth. I think Amazon may be missing an opportunity here. I don’t see them as a technology company and they seem to be branching that direction. While this may be a great piece of hardware, I think they miss a “game-changing” opportunity if that’s all they do with the Kindle.

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Seth Godin on the Kindle

When should marketers truly "change the game?"

I’m currently reading Avinash Kaushik’s EXCELLENT book, “Web Analytics an Hour a Day.” If you’re looking for a book about analytics, this is the place to start.

In the book, on page 255 he relates a story about testing they did for a Flash-based shopping cart. It’s in the chapter about testing (A/B, multivariate, etc.). He says, “…Yet when we tested it live on our website by using an A/B test, the Flash cart initially performed terribly. This was quite a shock. It turns out customers were too used to the more-complicated and ‘cumbersome’ HTML experience and not ready for an optimized cool experience.”

As I read it, this story worked its way into my brain and rattled around a bit. It made me think, “But was it still the wrong idea?”

What I’m getting at is that with anything there is a learning curve. If we see the results of a test like this and say, “Well, they are happier with the more “cumbersome” way of doing things…we’ll just keep it that way,” will we miss an opportunity? I mean, if the Flash-based is TRULY the better way to do it, don’t we do a disservice to the customer by not making the change and providing training? Sure, it may be a difficult transition, but ultimately it will be for good.

I don’t necessarily mean this is the solution for his story because a) Avinash is FAR smarter than I am and b) I’m sure he made the right choice (whatever it was). The story he related was more the catalyst for my thoughts.

My question is, how do we manage the tension between doing what we KNOW will ultimately benefit the customer and what they are comfortable with? If we simply stuck with that which made the customer comfortable, nothing new would ever happen. At what point do we look at the data and say, “Yes, I see what the customer is happier with, but I KNOW that when they learn this new way it will be better for them in the long run.”

I don’t know the answer, but it’s certainly worth pondering.

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When should marketers truly "change the game?"

Dish Network: Bad Service is not the way to beat the cable companies!

So, yesterday I get a call from my wife that the, “TV is broken.”

After a little digging, I find out that our Dish Network DVR cannot be accessed. I think to myself, “Probably a hard drive failure…it’ll probably have to be replaced.” I don’t tell her this because she’s got all sorts of tv recorded that is now lost!

So about 10 last night I call Dish Network.

We go through some diagnostics, resets, etc and figure out that it does in fact need to be replaced. The rep gets my information and says, “Ok, we’ll replace it, but there’s a $14.95 shipping charge.”


I try to argue out of it, but end up having to pay the fee. She says if I had taken the warranty (at $5.99 per month) I wouldn’t have to pay the fee.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not so much the amount as it is the principle. You see, unlike DirecTV, the equipment from Dish Network is rented. If I cancel the service, I’ll have to return the equipment…much like a cable company. My question is, if I am simply renting the equipment, why should I have to pay anything then THEIR equipment fails?

If I owned it, and the equipment was out of warranty I could understand having to pay to have the new equipment shipped. But it’s their equipment. THEIR equipment failed and now it costs me 15 bucks to replace it?

Either sell the equipment so that it’s mine and I have to pay when it goes bad, or stand by your rented equipment and pay when it fails. Make up your mind.

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Dish Network: Bad Service is not the way to beat the cable companies!

Social Networking Fridays…Great Idea!

I meant to blog about this earlier after I read the article in the November 12th Business Week…but didn’t.

Shel Holtz blogged about it today so I thought I’d throw my two cents in.

Serena Software in San Mateo, CA have recently implemented “Facebook Fridays.” Basically every week employees are given an hour to work on their social networking profiles and connect with others. What a great idea! Shel directs us to an article by Jeremy Burton, the president of Serena in which he discusses the concept.

Rather than blocking people from using these tools, they encourage structured use. They actually treat their employees like people and agree that they need those connections with others. I’m thinking that Serena doesn’t have the same level of turnover that many other companies do.

I’ll be interested to see the results of this. I would love to hear the first story of this leading directly to some business for Serena. Not through the PR they get from this (which will certainly lead to some business) but new business that an employee brings to the company through a connection on Facebook or the like.

I’m sure it’s going to happen…just a matter of when.


Social Networking Fridays…Great Idea!