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/// Reader Ramblings "The Reader's Soapbox"
By Joe Jernigan
I'd like to respond to Rex "The Catman" Morriss in AR103. Concerning his
accurate discussion of Commodore marketing, he is right on target and also
very generous in his effort to help (I'd offer to help, but I'm burned out
and need some help from C= before I can help).
But what can be done? The problem as I see it is the attitude of a single
man (and his "yes men" at the top with him). At one time Jack Tramiel was
the marketing department of Commodore. He was shrewd enough to realize
that without advertising/sales/marketing (something Irv deemed
unnecessary), the only thing to do was lower the price and increase demand.
That's what happened. That's what worked. All the top cats at C= got very
rich *without* marketing the machine. Therefore I suggest that it'd be
pretty hard to convince them that C= needs to market. And when confronted,
they give excuses like 'we don't have the dealers to handle the demand,'
etc. (Wonder if it's because you chased them away or something :) Also, to
avoid confrontation, they'll move the shareholder meeting to the Bahamas
*just to make it inconvenient* to get flamed/presented with the facts. In
the days of the 64, Commodore represented a good value. I *used* to
recommend them to everyone. I sold several and still haven't received my
commission check! Now I downplay the machine to the new buyer. Someone
might say, "What do you think about the Amiga?" I'd say, "It's a pretty
good machine," and leave it at that.
That's exactly the truth. It is a pretty good machine. The trouble is
the company that manufactures the machine has no grasp on selling the
thing. Amiga owners are probably the most computer savvy people around.
Many started with the 64 and subsequently got on the Amiga wagon. The
problem is that IBM, and it's clonies/cronies, have created such a *name*
that that's all people know. And I gave up (as I mentioned above)
explaining and educating a person why they would *want* (not necessarily
need) sound, what linear addressing is, etc. Most of 'em don't care,
they're not going to program anyway. It's simply too much resistance to
overcome for me to "sell" somebody on the Amiga. It used to be a little
easier before super VGA graphics and the slide of peecee hardware prices.
*That* was the help I got from C=. *They* made it a good value which made
it easier for me to sell. Now I just say go ahead and get a PeeCee because
chances are that they'll have some software to *choose* from in their tiny
specialized niche. Most likely, there isn't even a program available for
the Amiga, much less a *choice*. I wonder if C= DID even start to market
the Amiga isn't it too late now. Isn't the market pretty well saturated
with Mac's and PeeCee's (those "name brand" computers)? It's one thing to
get a first time buyer to select a C=, and another to get somebody who
already owns an XT or 80286 or Mac "Classic" (whatever that is) to switch
platforms. *What about my software?* Well, Amax or Bridgeboard... But
here again -- I have to explain/educate the consumer about C='s product
line AND I'M NOT GETTING PAID FOR IT! I'm making the Gould's richer and
all I get the satisfaction of knowing that I sold a superior machine and
also if they have questions, I'LL BE THE FIRST ONE THEY COME TO FOR HELP!!!
Starting to get the picture a little here C=? In case not, I'll sum up.
1) A precedence was set when C= got rich WITHOUT advertising.
2) That's ok, but C= did not (IMNSHO) KEEP (it started off, yes) the
Amiga line a good value.
3) That's ok, but you didn't have a MASSIVE advertising/educating the
consumer as to WHY the Amiga is a superior machine (the "Stevie"
commercial had little educational content). BTW, I didn't see it on
TV, my dealer had it on video tape and I borrowed it and watched it
on my VCR.
4) I don't mind being your sales force, but I DO mind being your VOLUNTEER
sales force AND I feel I earn a little gratitude by having to answer
incessant beginner questions. I know that ethics dictate that in turn
of someone helping me, I help someone else. I feel I've repaid my debt.
I also feel C= could pay its debt to me by ADVERTISING THE BLOODY
MACHINE so as to make my job of selling it easier. OK, got off here.
Here's the point, and if I could drill one simple statement into C=,
it would be:
"Either lower the price and increase demand or advertise HEAVILY and
ASSUMING *you* want to increase demand. *I* want you to increase demand
because that'd be a bigger market share resulting in more and varied
software and it'd help the C= volunteer sales force not have to waste time
educating the consumer as to WHY/HOW the Amiga is a superior machine.
Sounds like United We Stand America doesn't it! Now, I know Irving (the
bomb) has heard the decree "Advertise the Amiga" before. I can just
imagine his attitude. It's my company, I can do what I want. If I'm
satisfied, then everybody else should be too. Let them go out and start a
computer company if they don't like it. Well, OK Irv, but you've got to
know that everybody has a boss. Whether you're an employee or have clients
or customers. The customer is always right. Who would have thought that
advertising/marketing would be an important criteria in computer ownership
satisfaction AFTER THE SALE!!! It's like you have to keep advertising in
order to preserve brand loyalty or something! The Amiga market is unique
in that its users ARE so savvy. They're also the hardest working sales
force C= has. You better believe me, they KNOW what's going on with other
platforms and the Amiga line is constantly being compared to the other
guys. But the reverse isn't necessarily true. As an example, most Mac
users think System 7 is a multitasking OS!
If I gave free advice, it'd probably be something like, "do what made the
64 a hit." Offer a value. Superior hardware (and leaving a CLOCK out of
the A1200 and not including documentation and a language [I've heard] ain't
it Irv) at a blow-the-others-away price. Irving owes us that and if he
doesn't pay up, his US market might just wind up being a tiny niche (read