Monday, September 7, 2009

Don’t Just Plan the Party

By Mark Helfen

“The consumer technology industry needs to forget it’s a technology industry, and must move to being a consumer product industry.”

Or so said Joshua Weinberg, President of The Digital Life Consulting Group, when I interviewed him to ask about his upcoming SDForum Marketing SIG talk. He will be speaking at the Monday, September 14 meeting, and you can check out the meeting announcement here.

Weinberg has studied companies that do a great job of launching consumer technology products, and has developed a list of rules for the perfect launch. The idea is to have everything ready when the product publicly launched. The same rules that apply to physical products also apply to web based consumer products. Business products also benefit from following the rules.

Apple is a company that does a great job, and Weinberg studies Apple's product launches, which helped him crystallize the rules.

“A launch is not planning six weeks for a big party,” said Weinberg. “It’s a year long process that starts at the moment the product starts.”

He referred to his recent blog posting “Why would Sony launch a product that consumers can’t buy?” which compares Sony’s Reader launch to product launches from Apple and Bose.

“Sony is not a failure, but clearly Apple has mind share.”

The “little things” matter a lot, like the product having a name as opposed to just a meaningless string of letters and numbers. Every accessory in the box is as important as the main product. For a web product, the sign-up process is as critical as how the product works day to day.

While companies can be “somewhat successful” without using his strategy, they can be “more successful the more rules they follow.”

Here in the valley, there is a long tradition of delivering the absolutely newest technology even if it’s not fully productized. If you have purchased technology products recently, you may have seen that some, or many, companies don’t have everything together when the product is launched. I related my recent purchase of a (name brand withheld) router where the User Guide is not yet finished.

Weinberg’s response is that “if the only thing you have is being first to market, there is not a lot there.”

“Most of these rules are blatantly obvious,” said Weinberg. “But if it’s so obvious, how come people aren’t doing it?”

You can ask him yourself at our next meeting on the 14th.

You can reach Weinberg at


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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