Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Books are a lot cheaper than Bombs

Or so said Rabih Alameddine on KQED this morning, when discussing his latest novel "The Hakawati," and his effort to help the Friends of the Lebanese Public Libraries by driving donations of books. This seemed to me an apt metaphor for effective SaaS marketing strategy.

Books foment ideas that are spread virally. The ideas spread in cafes and coffee houses, more people read the book, and in time a culture will evolve from the ideas in the books. That is, if the books are good.

Last week, Mike Maples offered sound investing advice: don't invest in a SaaS company who's mission is viral but who sells traditionally (top-down) in an enterprise. Top-down doesn't work for a viral-pitch product -- users won't use. Top down sales approaches are bombs -- they can pave a way into a company, but they can't win the hearts and minds.

I'm talking to a lot of prospective employers now, and one of the key things I try to ascertain is whether the products are built to serve the user, and how. And if not, how quickly I'd be able to change that. For the enterprise workplace to be transformed, the user will have to win, and that is the real mission for the next half decade.

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