This has been a week of marketing hell. First, we get an ER episode on Hulu about the dangers of teenage drinking attached to an ad selling flavored vodka (thanks again Absolut). Then, I had to wrangle with Northwest Airlines in what has to be the single most frustrating customer service situation imaginable. They actually told me that they wouldn't assign me seats so that they could accommodate people “who don't plan ahead”. That's a direct quote. They penalize me for planning ahead so that they can accommodate people who don't. Sounds twisted. It's also probably not true. I think they want to sell me a more expensive seat.
But then, just when all hope is lost, I am reminded again what good marketing can be like. My reminder came via Marc Farley's StorageRap. For those who don't know Marc, he has been around the data storage industry for a long time. He knows his stuff technically (I have had the privilege of working with Marc on some projects) and has published several excellent books. But that is only part of the story. Marc works for 3PAR, one of the millions of storage array vendors out there. He creates some truly imaginative Internet marketing pieces under the StorageRap moniker. StorageRap combines animation, YouTube like amateur video, humor, music, blogging, and Twitter feeds to get the 3Par message out. The League of Suspicious Avatars and the Steering Wheel Cam are two neat constructs that Marc uses to accomplish the marketing mission.
Sometimes it's weird, maybe even a bit obscure (like the bit on chunklets). That fine because it is also eye catching and memorable. The latest video, talking about 3PAR's F Class arrays, is a classic. It uses hip hop and animation in a sort of video game way. Imagine Weird Al Yankovic combined with 50 Cent and living inside an Xbox game. Out there? Sure. It is supposed to get my attention and succeeds brilliantly. I even bothered to look up the F Class array because of it. I don't know if it meets all the claims on the web site but if I was buying arrays, I would probably call to find out (Message to 3PAR sales guys – I'm not buying any arrays. Don't waste time calling me).
That's what good marketing is about. Not only does it grab your attention but it holds it long enough that you can get the message. Ultimately, good marketing compels you to at least consider the product in question.
So in an age of horrible, irresponsible, offensive, ugly marketing that only seems to want to make you run screaming from the room, StorageRap is refreshing. Too bad the 3PAR palate is so small. Then again, at an EMC or IBM, would Marc be allowed to be this interesting and creative. I doubt it.
In a crowded field of very similar looking products, 3PAR stands out and gets our attention through superior marketing. I don't know what they pay Marc, but it isn't nearly enough for the value he creates.
Now, I want to know how he creates those cool avatars...