Archive for November, 2006

Complicating the Consumer Experience: Point Systems

I’m not a true salesperson, I’m a marketer. But my marketing background has provided me this basic tenet: Make the purchasing experience as easy and painless as possible for the consumer. Why do some gigantic corporations not remember this?

With the release of the “next generation” of videogame console systems, the three big companies (Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo) all agree that the online market is a vital area to success. All three companies have pledged to develop online support for gaming. This includes an online marketplace which players can buy games and add-ons for games.

As a result, Microsoft and Nintendo have developed their own point system to be used as money. As an example Nintendo’s point system, called Wii Points, has an exchange rate of 100 to 1. In other words, 100 Wii Points is equal to one dollar. A typical downloadable game will cost anywhere between 500 to 1,000 Wii Points. That’s five to ten dollars. The process of converting the points into dollars is a superfluous step and can become confusing especially when you get into multiple purchases.

Why use a point system? Is it branding gone awry? Perhaps the companies feel the need to brand everything about their service. Or do the companies intentionally want to confuse their users into purchasing more products? I hope not. The only thing a point system does is add an extra, confusing step to the purchasing process. That’s a big mistake.

My advice to these companies is this: Take a hint from Apple’s iTunes. Apples doesn’t use some lame-brain point system to try to brand its service. They use good ol’ American dollars and in doing so avoid any confusing conversions. Sony, who has been generating bad press lately, understands this concept and has decided to avoid using a point system for their online marketplace. To bad their advertising strategy makes no sense…

Make purchasing as simple as possible and customers will want to buy from you. Complicate it and it will make them not want to buy. It’s as simple as that.


More Bad Press for Sony and the Playstation 3

Even when the launch of the new Playstation 3 was only hours away, Sony still managed to get bad press. Everyone who keeps up with the videogame industry was expecting a drastic shortage of the new Playstation consoles. That, along with Sony’s recent mishaps, was bad enough. But now news of Sony’s pitiful customer service is currently making the rounds on the Internet. See article below…


The scene of the most disorganized launch in the city of Boston is currently at the Sony Style store at the downtown Copley Mall. This follows the cancellation of the midnight Best Buy event, due to the overwhelming crowds that developed by late morning. As the rain pours down in Boston, with thunder and lightning accompanying, a couple hundred people devoted to purchasing a PS3 are left standing outside the mall. Two factions have sprung up and the tension is building.

Alex Flores (pictured, with list) and his group have set up camp across the street after being kicked out of the mall, and then from the sidewalk outside the mall, earlier today. Flores says he arrived at 6AM and developed a list with people showing up later. By 10AM he delivered that list, with about 70 people on it, to the Sony Style manager and was told they wouldn’t accept it. Flores and another PS3 owning hopeful, Ernesto Ramos, say the manager told them, “As long as we sell out, that’s all we care about.”

“They want chaos,” says Flores. “We are trying to keep it organized.”

Meanwhile, across the street from Flores, in front of the mall where his group was asked to leave earlier today, another mass of people have gathered. Fractured and verbally in-fighting already, there is no structure with this group. By just asking who was first in line, 15 hands went up and harsh words began to be exchanged. But, despite the tension, spirits were still high. Jessica Dunn says, “I did this last year for Xbox, I’m doing it this year for Playstation 3 — in the rain.”

The mall closes from 2 till 6AM. One security guard said there is a plan in place for the morning, another group of security guards say it’s just going to be an “organized rush.” The Sony Style store has taken a hands off approach to this and is letting whatever happens happen. None of the people outside were told what the actual number of available PS3 units is. They were told by the manager that Sony’s policy is not to give any numbers. The rumor is 50 units are available.

People have also rented rooms in the Westin hotel adjoining the mall so they can get a jump on the people waiting outside in the morning.

Best Buy is quiet, so are all the GameStops and EB Games. The only place where there may be an incident is the Sony Style store at Copley Plaza. The so-sad-it’s-funny coincidence of Sony bringing us this disastrous launch and then the Sony Style store being the sight of a disaster in 3 1/2 hours is not lost on us. If anybody out there has the power to organize mall security and bring structure considering Sony Style management could care less, now would be the time.

Becoming a Strategic Marketer

I have finally stepped up in my career from basic marketing lackey (do what you’re told) to the strategist.

Last week I attended an offsite meeting with my direct boss, the VP, and three web programmers. The purpose of the meeting was to outline the strategy for my department and service for the next three to five years. What an amazing experience! Conducting the meeting offsite in a comfortable atmosphere really did open everyone’s mind. The whole meeting became a daylong brainstorming event. Ideas where bounced back and forth, building of each individual’s input, until it was a full-fledged strategy. Simply amazing!

The really great thing is that I contributed valued insight to the meeting. People looked to me for solutions. My input was heard. The VP liked many of my ideas. I totally held my own at the meeting. I find that amazing considering I’ve only been the company one month!

Perhaps I should revise my opening remark. It actually hasn’t taken me too long to reach this point in my career – only about two and a half years. I don’t think that’s too shabby. However, I still have a long way to go before I become a true marketing strategist. Right now I serve a dual role in the company. I am the head marketer (the only marketer) in my department. That means I am the strategist and the lackey. Hopefully, with some hard work, in another two and a half years I can be promoted to a managerial/strategist position.

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The Consumer Value Wheel

I ran into this nice reminder on the MarketingProfs blog, MP Daily Fix. It is a consumer value wheel that serves as a visual checklist/roadmap. If ever you are trying to create or improve a technology service (which I am currently doing), use this.

I turned it into a nice desktop image so I can always reference it.

Get the PDF document.

Who am I ?

My name is Michael Morton. I believe in bringing energy and professionalism into the office, that knowledge is power, that leadership trumps management, that customers are more influential than advertisements, that content is king, and that two heads are better than one. I currently lead the marketing efforts of the Strategic Alliances department of my company. Let’s talk marketing!

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