How *NOT* to demo a product: Bezos’ Kindle 2 Demo on Jon Stewart

I can *totally see* his marketing people pitching Amazon Founder & CEO on the brilliance of the idea.  Pitch the Kindle 2 on Jon Stewart.  The audience demographic is spot on – smart, relatively wealthier 18-34 year old males.  The show oozes cool.  Jon Stewart’s funny and well-read.  And Jeff Bezos is an articulate, engaging fellow.   And—best of all—the Kindle ROCKS—what a product, it’s awesome.   What a perfect way to take the Kindle 2 beyond its early adopter roots into the early majority. 

What could possibly go wrong???  Well, it turns out quite a lot. 

Words can barely do all this justice, so I’ve embedded it in an articel below. 

The key issues that I saw were:

  • There was no interesting content on the Kindle for Jeff to show Jon.  Jon picked up the reader and all he saw were those ‘screensaver’ photos of authors that the Kindle scrolls through. 
  • Jeff had very weak messages on the Kindle’s benefits.  The key benefit Jeff promoted was that the Kindle let you ‘read one handed.’  WTF?  WTFF?
  • Jeff jumped the shark or whatever you call it when he said this was unlike other interviews he’d done.  This was the kiss of death, the coup de grace, the creme de la creme, when Jeff remarked (nicely, mind you) that this wasn’t like other interviews.  This was the silent but deadly!  Jon Stewart’s interview was straight-forward for Jon—what is this thing?  why is it good?  and I’ll make of you if your answers suck!!!  Jeff didn’t have a fawning press hack asking him about the future, just basic, Product Manager 101 questions.  To say this was unlike other interviews, having watched it, is nuts.

Ok, so what would I do differently.  Pretty simple:

  • Have an interesting demo, get an “Ooooooh/Aaaaaah” out of the audience.  Oprah may love your thing, but Stewart’s never seen it.  If you’re going to show someone for the first time in front of an audience, then actually demo the damn thing so that people can be wowed and give you some ooooh factor.  Then Jon Stewart can’t quite rag on you so bad.  Cripes with a Kindle, you have to figure some folks in the audience love the dang thing and would hoot for it even with a crappy demo—make that a part of the thing.  I’m still shocked that Bezos didn’t demo the thing.
  • Speak about the benefits your product provides as if you were a human being.  The Kindle is such an awesome product, even with all its shortcomings.  Saying it’s benefit is that you can read one-handed is almost criminal.  B- entries would include: say you travel a lot and you like to read.  Now instead of carrying along a set of books, you just carry this.  IMagine you’re someone who likes to read 6 books at any one period of time, alternating between them.  Customers tell us its great to have one device to switch between them, not look all around the house for the book they want right now.  Finally, for the future, imagine you go to college and you have 440 pounds worth of books, imagine what this might someday be able to do for you—we’re working on it. 
  • NEVER say on camera that this is unlike any other interview you’ve ever done, unless it’s for your child’s elementary school newsletter.  This showed me that Bezos hadn’t prepared, or his marketing people hadn’t build a set of talking points, whatever.  The net was it was clear that this was off script.  It made Jeff look like a tourist in the land of Stewart.  This is unfortunate, as I really really like what Amazon is doing.  I’m a happy Kindle customer.  Good cautionary tale.

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One response to “How *NOT* to demo a product: Bezos’ Kindle 2 Demo on Jon Stewart

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