Saturday, June 9, 2007

Even worse than I predicted...

The rash of "mine is bigger than yours" claims actually gave me a rash this week...I eventually lost track of who supposedly sold more of what to whom and who said they did.

The Sanity bottom line - good for Grandpa - so you shook 'em up a little...what the hey, at least they will remember you are in the hunt.

We were treated to another yuckle this week. Which set off the smarm alarm. No surprise.

Maybe I should just read some Dickens and forget about all this Storage Sanity stuff...

Anyway - here goes.

Rule #1 - don't lecture a lecturer...especially...good heavens, not on the subject of storage marketing...

Those that nurse at the corporate troth for decades, do so because they never venture out of sight of that corporate troth, and they've learned to strategically dive under their desk whenever change, or its cousin risk of change, walks by. People who create change, create opportunities, and opportunities create turmoil.

Those of us lucky enough to have them, proudly wear the shank scars from being stabbed in our backs by trothsuckers. It's exactly because we've pushed the limits, because we know that every day is a new game, because we've risked it all and survived, that we have the perspective to see that the Emperor occasionally really does have no clothes, and we've proven occasionally to have had the courage to point out a better way.

Professor Kirby's alternate take on recent events:

- any press that creates controversy about whether or not you are number one in a market is good press. Period.

- the storage press corps have a pretty short memory, especially for cornball antics. This is not a smack at their intelligence at all, its an acknowledgement of the pressure they are under to absorb an avalanche of BS coming at them every day from a hundred or so storage vendors, cull anything remotely interesting out of it, and get it out to the readers - every day. Keeping a running tab of over the top announcements in the process? hmmm...not likely. I'm confident the next time grandpa has something interesting to say, they will cover it fairly.

- every company in the business announces new product in the spring and the fall - product announcements are compressed around a few storage shows - Storage Decisions and SNW mostly. Why? I have no idea. We in the trade call Fall, the back to school season. You can't go back to school without a shiny new lunchbox. Spring? I dunno, been that way for 20 odd years. Used to be Gartner Storage Conference that drove it - before corporate hubris imploded that show. Anyway - almost all storage related products are announced within a few week time line in the Spring and Fall -every year.

Honestly, public product announcements are an afterthought in this business nowadays. The success of a new product has little if anything to do with the press attention or web hits on announcement week. Adjusting announcement timing due to a (bigger or smaller) competitor? Not...

- When a customer is willing (finally) to let you do a press's news, baby. In today's age, it is like pulling teeth to get press approval. Speaking of the press - there is only one thing that really gets the press interested - and that's customer stories. All the rest is over-the-top breathless hype. So, the next time you read that a customer (a real customer, not the CEO's cousin's brother's Tailor, or a Community College) is happy with a product - especially a startup's product - put the news into perspective. It proves the company has a decent product, has figured out how to sell it to someone, it pretty much worked as promised, and the company's service wasn't embarrassing. That - kids - is a huge step forward for a company just starting out. Sure - it means less when BigCo announces its 3zillionth customer. duh.

- passion and speed are the domain and only defense of the startup. Change agents cannot be unclear or dispassionate on technology vision, wishy washy on execution, publicly accepting of the competition. Their cause is evangelism, plain and simple.

- don't insult the industry analysts. Do not infer that they are not fair and balanced. This is dumber than insulting the intelligence of the press. (I do break this rule sometimes because I become overly passionate and the devil has his way with me, but we are not all sinners in our own way?)

- positioning is as positioning does. In the US, at least, customers want to know, and ask specifically why you are better than the competition. Honesty with attitude is the only thing that works. If you get caught lying - and I have had this happen to competitors of mine - reasonable customers will likely cut you out of the deal. To win, you have to be upfront. You have to cut as deep and straight as you can with as sharp a knife as you can get. When you go for the jugular, don't miss. This problem of not being squeeky clean is in my experience much more prevalent in Bigco.

- and finally, what if the hokey-pokey is really what it's all about?

(it's the rash...really)

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