When a few of months back I finally got around to reading Chris Anderson's The Long Tail, I didn't think it was particularly relevant to my marketing job at GigaSpaces. Don't get me wrong. It's a great book: well-written, insightful, well-researched. I just thought it is a good airplane read or lazy Sunday afternoon read, not relevant to my job as many of the other books I read. But somewhere in the back of my head it was gnawing at me that surely it must be relevant to GigaSpaces somehow.
About a week ago, returning from two weeks on the road for our two sales kick-off events for the Americas and EMEA/APAC , I was finally catching up on my blog reading. First, I read this post from Anderson. And more importantly, this one from Seth Godin. And finally it hit me.
Godin's is the one that really got me thinking about this, although his point was quite different from my conclusion. Seth is talking about how big companies should take advantage of their size and let their many employees have at it and blog to promote the company's long tail products -- those niche products that are not on the company's current promotional radar (more or less what he says).
But GigaSpaces is not a big company. And it really has only one product (with several editions), which is the reason why I didn't think the Long Tail concept applies to us in any way in the first place. But there is something about our product that lends itself to a long-tail-kind-of-thinking that I didn't see anyone address: It's an extremely feature-rich product. Meaning, it has an internal Long Tail.
So our marketing challenge is to decide what is the message we want to send out. Or in other words, which of our product's capabilities and benefits do we NOT emphasize? It is a decision we face every day with every document that comes out, even the "About GigaSpaces" at the end of a press release. And it is a bit like choosing which one of your children you love the most (or the least).
Thinking with a "Long Tail attitude" to marketing you can try and develop an "abundance" mentality. Sure, there will still be the key 1 or 2 messages -- in our case scalability and performance -- you put out in your most public announcements and marketing, but we also address more niche messages in our various white papers, on our public wiki, blog posts, focused events (such as Java and .Net User Groups).
We are currently in the process of redesining our web site, and I am thinking about how we can take this approach. One idea we've been discussing is creating sort of "portlets" -- mini-portals -- for people interested in our product for the use of specific features or applications. That's a good start, but some of these things can be quite obscure, so you're still limited in what you can cover. Let me give an example.
One of the products capabilities is handling a situation software engineers call "slow consumer." We didn't mention this feature in our Version 5.2 release announcement, but we did put it in our more technically detailed TheServerSide.com posting. This prompted a question on the discussion thread, and eventually this blog post from Nati.
So blogs are obviously one great way to market the long tail of your product features, but I wonder if anyone has written something about approaches to this issue in a more systematic way. This is something I'll be thinking about in the coming weeks, and if anyone has any ideas they are most welcome.