5 Rules to Market an Unknown Technology (From Redbox To Roku)

English: Photograph of Roku XDS player with re...
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Blame Woody Allen.

I was walking around the office generally singing the praises of Midnight In Paris.

I said, "I can't believe you can get all these movies for just $1 from Redbox." (Well a tiny bit more with tax.) I was bragging of course. Going to the machine to rent and return was a bit of a pain. But I didn't talk about that. It's about crowing about the money you save without spending up to ten times as much in the theater - and that is per ticket!

Somebody chimed in, "You can get Netflix from the computer. My sister does that and it's great."

Damn! One-upped again! I had to find out who was getting a better deal than me.

Rule #1: Nobody wants to be the idiot who overpays. Make me compete!

So I went on the Internet to find out more about this.

Rule #2: Emotion gets them in the door, but rational thinking is what keeps them. Rational = Internet comparison shopping.

I went to the Netflix website, because I know the Netflix name in addition to hearing about it in the office. I also related the color of Netflix to the color of Redbox (both are red-dominant) so it felt like a "safe" transition to me.

 Also did a Google search with the keywords "watch TV online". Then went to Amazon.com to look up online video players. Found the Roku. With a detailed explanation. And pictures.

Of course, I looked up product reviews on places like Cnet.

Rule #3: Trusted brands are the gateway to unknown brands. And the more they hold your hand and explain it to you, especially visually, the better.

I called Netflix customer service to find out how the service worked. Could it really be just $7.99 a month? What do you get for that? They picked up the phone right away and explained. I called Roku. They had a comparison chart of the different players online, and I wanted a little more information. I got it fast.

Rule #4: Rapid-response, well-informed, friendly customer service is part of the equation. It is about making the customer feel comfortable risking the purchase, not just providing information.

I bought the Roku from Amazon and it arrived fast. My daughter set it up. We didn't use the manual, really. She only needed help briefly. The equipment was small, manageable, easy to use.

Rule #5: Make the technology so smart it's simple.

We are having fun with the Roku and Netflix now. It is a little daunting, but it's also fun. And it feels like we are moving toward saving money and getting more out of our TV. Which will contribute to some hopefully relaxing times.

Bottom line: In technology you start with marketing - creating a customer - not branding, which is only about adding a price premium to something a person already wants.

You get people moving emotionally, by harnessing their inherent competitive drive, greed and curiosity.

And you turn their awareness into trust through expert opinion, trusted vendors, simple design, and great customer service.

Consider this: After years of awareness I haven't yet developed an interest in TiVo. But I bought a Roku and Netflix in the space of a couple of days.

Have a great day everyone, and good luck!

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