Proel Moves in the US Market

March 31, 2009

News:Proel America” becomes the sole distributor in USA

Proel one of the largest distributors of Pro audio, MI and lighting equipment in Italy has been growing with the addition of their own brands and even the acquisition a few years ago of the TruboSound brand and company. Now they are moving in a strong way into the US market.

IN their recent announcement they have control of their US operations Proel USA and are hiring people to put them on the map in the US.

A little history from their site:
PROEL is a leading company in the design, manufacture and sale of audio, video and lighting systems for the world of entertainment and special events as well as for AVL Systems. Based in Italy, in Sant’Omero (Te).
In 2007 PROEL acquired the historic English company Turbosound Ltd., leader in sound reinforcement, whose name has always been associated with international tours and legendary rock bands (Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Dire Straits, The Shadows, Robbie Williams, Jamiroquai, Nine Inch Nails, Natasha Bedingfield, David Gilmour and so on…).
In September 2003 a private equity group invested in the company, acquiring a minority stake, with the aim of supporting its development and its listing on the Italian Stock Exchange. This operation immediately produced a strong boost in the management’s motivation and provided PROEL with a reliable and qualified corporate governance advising team.


Twiiter & Facebook the new marketing paradigm

March 31, 2009

Here is a great article on what the facebook era is all about:

Author Clara Shih on the Facebook Era, and what it means for businesses » VentureBeat.

Facebook takes ad targeting to a new level, as you can target based on all the information in a user’s profile.  You can target MI products to Musicians or Guitarist or keyboard players.

Social Networking

Social Networking

I am working on a marketing project with a company doing jewelry for Gay Married couples and you can do facebook ads where you select only people who list themselves as Gay and in a relationship and in their geographic area. This is a niche market but one that Facebook lets you target very effectively.  There has never been anything like this before.

Combine this level of targeting with the pay for click paradigm that Google established and you have something totally unique.  Marketing organizations will have to re-think everything based on this change. Inlcuding:

1. They need to live in social networks (including Twiiter, Facebook, Digg and yes even mySpace) so they understand the way the community works.

2. Everyone needs a Facebook / Twiiter presence  – the community supports their own and simply advertising to get people to your site is not enough and does not fully integrate or take advantage of the social network opportunities.

3. They need to think smaller – be more targeted. The ads and the landing pages must be tightly targeted to maximize the message for narrow segments.

4. The playing-field is leveled – and even niche companies and products can now be effectively marketed to the widest possible audience world wide. This will create an opportunity for products and services to succeed that could not be supported by traditional marketing methods.

5. Realize that social networking is not just for the young and hip – everyone is moving there if they are not there already.  (Most of my High School fiends are on facebook, and they went to high school in the 70’s).

6. You can not simply hire some high school / collage kids and expect them to be yoru social networking team.

It’s a new world and it’s exciting.

More to Check out:
Social network – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Social-networking sites work to turn users into profits


Adobe Friend or Foe

March 30, 2009

When did Adobe become evil?

They will lose out by not properly supporting OS X and the iPhone. Adobe was such a cool company they invented Postscript and help start the desktop publishing revolution. They built up a range of products that were cool and designers and developers loved (ok they bought op a bunch of great aps other than Illustrator and Photoshop).

Then something happened – they stopped innovating and competing with their competitors and started buying them (Macromeida killing freehand and Golive). They took a page out of Microsoft\’s playbook and bundled their key products around their hits (Can you say Creative Suite) and got everyone to standardize on ALL their tools. Along the way they sort of fell out with Apple and have been making their users (ok many people use CS on Windows machines – but the bulk of professional designers are still a very Mac centric group) and have been alienating their core users for years, but not a problem there is no alternative (where is the DOJ when you need them).

The new CS4 is great but ugly and tried to act like a windows application on my Mac and I want it to stop! Now I have no problem with any company making money and benefiting from their successful efforts, and Adobe deserves to be successful as they do have great products. But they also need to serve their customers and it is time we users stand up and yell that we want CS to be a real mac application. No windowsish interface tweaks disguised as updates.

Video Works to Flash?

Video Works to Flash?

Then there is flash, I used Macromedia\’s animation before there was flash (I will find and post pictures of my 800K floppies of VideoWorks that became director that became Flash!) and it was and can be a useful tool. But using flash as a web platform is just wrong! Flash encourages bad site design: I have never seen a Flash site that is as easy to use or as fast as a HTML based site. Now with modern CSS there is not much that Flash offers in functionality that can not be done better, faster and with open standards. The modern alternatives simply work the way it should. – rather than as some weird video game from the early 90\’s that most flash sites seem to inherently move towards. The whole thing about usability is about behaving the way users expect it to behave – Flash seems to make / encourage developers forget interface basics.

DId I say it was SLOOOOOW. It is a hog and as such it is not on mobile devices. So the fastest growing segment of users will not have access to any Flash based content. Adobe has \”evolved flash\” \”their objective\” was to move from a light weight plug-in for motion graphics to a platform they could control.

They got the video playing thing by accident (I think – simply it was the best way to make sure you could protect your streams rather than have people down load it and have the content locally – but that is an other story). Their platform ambitions are about owning the tools and the delivery method such that they can monetize all parts of the process by controlling all the parts. There is nothing wrong with this it is the goal of all the players from Microsoft to Apple to Google.

But Adobe is unique in that they actually own the tools part (CS4/Photoshop) and established flash as a standard, where as Apple and MS have real platforms (multiple in both cases). Adobe\’s problem is that they are building their platform on top of others (OS>imaging Model>Browser) and it started to simple and they want to keep some backwards compatibility. That is why Flash is bloated and slow, and why it is closed, invisible to search engines (Flash sites are bad form an SEO stand point) and a dead end. Everyone wants it to die other than Adobe. And the wave of the future is open standards based HTML/CSS/Java based solutions that Apple and Google are deploying. No plug-ins required and the interface is open but consistent.

What to do?

no-flash1

Personally I do not use sites that require flash for functionality. For example; my favorite hotel chain (Morgan\’s Group) just \”upgraded\” (as in made it unusable) their site to all flash based, and as a result on my last two trips to San Francisco I did not stay at the Clift but at the W hotel because the second the new flash site came up I left and found an other hotel site. I did send an email to the Morgan\’s Group expressing my dismay at their \”new\” site and the fact that as a result they have lost my business. The most effective way to change things is with your wallet.

Most people will put up with Flash if they have no choice or if it does not get in the way. And you need to speak up when it does get in the way.

Virgin Atlantic borders on using flash to the point where their site is unusable fortunately it still works enough without flash that you can at least make reservations and check flights – but it takes much to much tim e due to the flash content slowing the site down even though it does not prevent you form using the site. This is a great example where they can improve their user experience simply by removing the flash that adds no value to their site.

So, the next time someone asks when Flash is going to be on the iPhone simply say you hope never and hope everyone stops using it on their sites!

Better still click the contact link and tell the sites that have bad flash user interfaces ti change it now!


Why marketing is more than features and price!

March 29, 2009

This article tells the story of why marketing is about selling value not price, better than I can:  check out Microsoft advertisements could help Apple sell computers at http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2009/03/29/microsoft-advertisements-could-help-apple-sell-computers/.

How can a company like Microsoft do such bad marketing?  It must be due to  marketing by committee. Marketing to be successful must express a vision and and must speak to the targeted customer.  When you have a committee running marketing they rarely can even agree / identify the target and the natural result is the messaging is neutered until it is totally ineffective.

This plays out over and over agin, especially in technology companies (the pro audio market is very similar).  The product managers who drive marketing live in a world that is based on:

Features, specifications, tech terms and price performance ratios – all which are relevant to the development process (but again still no replacement for vision – see any coverage of Steve Jobs).

But the focus on getting the most product data into the marketing (print, online or PR) only makes the product less interesting to the customers.  Speaking about
Why they would want the product ,
What it does for them, and
How it will make them better / cooler / happier,

Is the messaging you need to develop to produce effective marketing.


YouTube – Microsoft iPod

March 18, 2009

This is a great example of why Microsoft does not get that they are no longer just selling to tech heads.

Selling to consumers require you to think like a consumer not like a tech person who is all about the features and specs – the customer is all about what it does for them and what the experience is like.

I know many people have seen this already but it is just so clear of an example of the difference between Apple and Microsoft.

This is also shows wonderfully what is wrong with marketing messaging by committee.


AT&T Fails The SXSW iPhone Test

March 15, 2009

Ok does everyone who has an iPhone hate ATT?  Everyone I know loves the iPhone and hates their service. WHile I am sure that this does vary somewhat by location (some cities ATT is great I hear) I have yet to experience this.  I travel a fair bit and ATT seems to suck everywhere.

AT&T Fails The SXSW iPhone Test (T, AAPL).

The story above shows that ATT (and most carries to some extent) fail at big events.  The worst was this past Macworld where everyone had an iPhone and even simple txt messages took hours to be delivered.


Start-Up Location Reality

March 15, 2009

Is the Valley Too Expensive for Normal People to Launch Startups?

Great article (posted on twitter by Guy Kawisaki) and goes to the point about start-ups and the cost vs infrastructure offered in different places.

I have been told at various time when looking at start-up clients (usually by Angle type investors) that the only places to do venture backed start-ups is Seattle, CA, Boston and NYC (with a few other smaller markets).

The reasoning goes something like this –

There is no talent pool in the midwest so if you are successful you will not be able to attract talent!

People do not want to invest outside their comfort zone and location location location is part of the comfort zone.

The infrastructure for investing and management are clustered around places where there is a history of successful start-ups – usually around great collages.

Would love to see some real data on this?  Please post if you know if any.