Sunday, March 01, 2009

Missing That Common Touch

When watching Jeff Bezos on the Daily Show one of the most embarrassing moments was when he used those three letters DRM. You could see an instant recognition in his face and an equally instant reaction of the shutters going down all around him. No matter what you say afterwards the hole only gets bigger. We are all guilty of using marketing and business speak and technical terminology that switches people off. We often wish we had an auto sensor that would give us a tiny shock just before we open our mouths, but then life wouldn’t be so much fun.

Why is DRM such a turn off? Is the way we describe digitisation, formats and security, are we in fact turning off the very audience we seek to engage?

People can deal with technology when it becomes commodity but have difficulty when its at the leading edge. We buy electrical devices, laptops, TVs, MP3 players, mobile phones and even cars that we can no longer service without a computer but shy away from devices that use a fraction of the technology and are pretty basic in their functionality. Devices such as the Sony reader and the Kindle don’t rendered the book completely differently and the experience is basically the same as reading a physical book so why aren’t they in everyone’s hands? Consumers have moved on mass from vinyl, to cassette, to CD to MP3. The experience was the same just the delivery and devices changed.

Look at the cool iconic image and marketing that Apple gave the iPod and the iPhone and compare the marketing clean messages to those use by the ebook readers. One is about branding, the experience, clear price points, the club and the other is often dry and trying to sell the wrong things with the wrong messages.

The challenge is to make a sales pitch for ebooks and an ebook reader in 30 seconds and make it compelling. It isn’t easy try it on a stranger, a partner, a work colleague, the boss.

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