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                 M-PLAN: A PROPOSAL TO THE AMIGA COMMUNITY
  Giorgio Gomelsky                                        gio@phantom.com
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[Read this.  -Jason]

Introduction
------------
Recent events in the AMIGA community have ignited a voluminous amount of
vigorous and spirited reactions.  True to their unflinching dedication and
their heartfelt loyalty to this most singular of machines(!!) - unmatched
anywhere in computer chronicles - AMIGA users have once more manifested
their indisputable common sense, their vigour, vitality and serious
concern.  (Sounding of trumpets!)

Although, and as usual, one could quibble, bicker and brawl about some of
the argumentations, (see newsgroups!) to an observer, the urgent need for
the advent in the AMIGA community of a whole new spirit, energy, mood and
substance, appears as a self-evident summation.  Gone must be the traumas,
disappointments and yes, betrayals, of yesteryear.  Gone must be the
old-fashioned separation between user and manufacturer, gone must be the
sense and practice of isolation and exclusion.

Approaching the year 2000 we are now entering a new and most revolutionary
phase of our civilisation.  We have the technology to discover more and
more how the universe functions, to invent solutions to nagging, stubborn
age-old problems and conflicts, yes, and why not, to create better
conditions on this small yet wondrous planet.

Anyone who has seen the documentary THE HISTORY OF THE AMIGA knows that the
motives of the original team were pretty close to this ideology.  That's
why they called their invention AMIGA, friend.  We the users are the
inheritors of this spirit, of this dedication and have proven our
fortrightness and tenacity many, many times.

We owe ourselves a big pat on the back for having kept the faith.

We are entering the second computer-wave.  Technical advances are now going
hand in hand with with almost instant applications and increase of interest
by the lay population.  NetScape is a hit on Wall Street, Apple
underestimated the demand for their new PowerPCs, only about 35% of homes
in the US have computers.  There is big "frontier" out there and it is
opening up very fast.

Through the development of new media, marketing techniques are also
changing at lightning speed.  We're about to get cruising on the Global
InfoBahn.  We better sort out where we want to go...:)))

The main underlying issue in marketing-PR is CREDIBILITY and the best
advertising money you can spend is in achieving it.  One of the very latest
marketing concepts is what in "marketese" is called THE POWER OF THIRD
PARTY ENDORSEMENTS.  What it means is this:

What better if your credibility doesn't come from your own statements,
pronouncements and hype but from being "endorsed" by your clients (users),
press, media and other observers?  You are saying nothing, they, the third
parties, do it for you.  What better way of attracting attention?  Of
making old and new users feeling cool and energized?  Of expanding your
market share, of gaining a great reputation?

The enormous, practically incalculable, advantage the AMIGA has over any
startups is its history, its survival, its existing USER BASE.  Any first
year student of marketing will tell you, having done a proper SITUATION
ANALYSIS that the

              #1 STRATEGIC MARKETING OBJECTIVE should be

             REWARD AND MAINTENANCE OF CURRENT CONSUMERS

the rationale being, quite simply, that user loyalty cannot be bought! 
Furthermore, by calling for their participation in a new venture you give
them a VESTED INTEREST in the success thereof.  You might call this an
ORGANIC MARKETING STRATEGY.  Chief benefit of this is the strengthening of
loyalty, establishment of solid TRUST and ENDORSEMENT and, wait, the
eventual purchase of new equipment!  AMIGA users are known to own more then
one machine, to be upgrade freaks and great "spielers" for their machine. 
Perfect "mouthpieces", wouldn't you say?

So, the worse that can happen in this situation is to scare, fail to
re-assure and terminally alienate the existing user-base.

One of the principal research tools in marketing is the FOCUS GROUP.  AMIGA
users are a ready-made and huge focus group.  Since time immemorial they
have wished nothing better than to be used as such.  But AMIGA users are
more that that too.  They are a kind of CULTURE.  Unique in their
passionate pursuit of solutions with perhaps the best PD, share-ware,
free-ware, gift-ware, what have you, developers; scores of volunteer
writers, online magazine-publishers, proselytizers, marketeers,
dealers-wealers, artists, musicians, multi-media authors, intro-demo
producers, videomakers, animators.  They cover a vast area of activity, are
immensely talented and resourceful and, for the most part, no quitters.

Not to consider them in any meaningful marketing plan is a serious mistake.
They ARE the AMIGA's best friend.  This is why I have taken off a day from
work to put out to the "AMIGA community" (or perhaps we should call it
"neighborhood"?  this proposal for a plan.  It is not polished and is not
meant to be a final document.  It is meant to stimulate and encourage
ideas.

Preamble
--------
From the net:
GREMS@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU wrote:

:      CEI was premature with their press release, or AmiTek was just
:running one up the flagpole to see who saluted.
:      In any case, AmiTek has a chance now to do the righe thing, WHICH IS
:TO GET THE ADVISE OF A GOOD MARKETING FIRM! Would you go to a plumber to
:have your surgery done? Would you go to a surgeon to have you leaky
:pipes fixed? It is no reflection on anyone at AmiTek, that AmiTek needs
:to go out and hire somebody in order to get the best advice possible
:in the country.
:      The Amiga, and it's descendents have tremendous potential if
:marketed well. The technology is ideal for making the information age
:available sooner, and to more persons, than other platforms. That one
:market alone could make AmiTek/Escom richer than Croesus. You will not
:make these big  bucks by nickle and dimeing it. This is also a big risk
:high stakes game it will cost serious $$$ to get into the game, and to
:win. In poker, it always comes down to smarts and guts. That is the way it
:is in business too.

Hear, hear!!!  These comments are definitely on target.  With such an
"original" as the Amiga one could map out a marketing/promotion and PR
campaign that would be a killer...

This plan presupposes that the "many-to-many, one-to-one/many to one, not
few to all, all to none, etc..!!" mode, is now practicable.


                           M-PLAN DRAFT #1
                           ---------------

PART ONE: THE USERS

FIRST OFF:  Create the INTERNATIONAL AMIGA USERS GROUP (working title)
            Create, activate and  develop a dynamite world-wide website

(At the core of this group there could be THE AMIGA WISE MAN COUNCIL - in
memory of J.Miner - Honoring prominent personalities in the AMIGA community
from developers to users, also a kind of AMIGA HALL OF FAME and
SHAME!!;)...

This council, in true Amiga tradition, could, of course be called upon to
ponder, fight over, provoke, insult, forgive and consider any questions
that might need answering.

Its members would act as "omboudsmen" and regularly be available for
conferences on IRC and other devices...

THEN:        Establish and open up a WWW communication system
             with all existing users groups and unattached users
             and put a team equipped with the necessary talents
             in charge of organizing and maintaining it.

                       THIS IS ALREADY HAPPENING!!

Thanks to John Paden from AMIGA USERS GROUP in Lawrence, Kansas:
dangermo@falcon.cc.ukans.edu Here is his report:

John Paden says:

"As I understand it the three purposes of the IAUG group are:

(1) Provide an incredible resource of information on the Amiga computer and
give the Amiga community the ability to contribute to the resource which is
what will give it power.

(2) A communication tool to Escom AT.  Something through which the user can
speak and listen to Escom AT.

(3) To make sure a similar situation as with Commodore does not arise
again.

For this purpose I have set up a IAUG page.

My main intention is to provide a great resource for Amiga
developers/users/possible buyers.  The only way to do this is to get every
one involved in donating information to the pages.  I'll try to explain the
pages more precisely:

AMIGA USERS GROUPS
Fairly straight forward...  It is a list of all the user groups I've
collected.  This is where I could use the most help.  I have the list from
Amiga Shopper, but the task is rather daunting and it would be great if
usergroups or members thereof could send in info.

INTERNATIONAL AMIGA USERS GROUP MEMBERSHIP LIST
Also straight forward once membership is opened

INDIVIDUAL AMIGA OWNERS/USERS LIST
Immagine having a list of all Amiga owners?  Very ambitious but not
impossible...

AMILETTE (Amiga Roulette!)
This is just a fun thing for people to click on that will take them to a
random web site that has something to do with the Amiga.   It will be
chosen from the Amiga Resource Database.

DATABASE OF RESOURCES
This is just a long list of all the Amiga resources and links to them that
we can possibly find.  This is the source of the Amilette.  We want to
describe the sites a little and I'm going to end up placing them all in a
file and write a program that build the page and also takes care of
Amilette.

AMIGA ROUND TABLE
Meetings on IRC or other channels, like eventually ACuSeeMe and other
conferencing devices.

Discussions etc...digests...

DEVELOPERS being written at this very moment by Chris Hall,
chall@clover.cleaf.com

PRESENTATIONS
This is for Amiga User Groups for putting on presentations.  I know as the
president of the Lawrence Amiga Users Group it's a real pain to have to put
a presentation on every month on two or three programs or pieces of
hardware.  This is part of my original idea.  People could just send me
whatever they had done or a link to their resource and I would add a link
to that particular piece of software/hardware's page.

QUESTIONARES/SURVEYS
This is our interface to the user AND to Escom/AT.  With Amosaic 2.0 out
this is a viable option.

COMMENTS ON THE AMIGA PAGES
So people can leave comments about the pages.  Improvements/Ideas/etc.,

AMIGA RESOURCE PAGE
Michael Witbrock's "Amiga Home Page"

AMIGA TECHNICAL PAGE
Information on Amiga systems.There doesn't seem to be any where you can go
to get all the information about a certain Amiga computer.  I want to
compile all the resources on the net as well as start adding stuff to it.

INFORMATION ON AMIGA PERIPHERALS
This would have links to different resources on Amiga peripherals.  For
instance video cards, sound cards, and monitors.  I want to include more
hardware information and programming information.

INFORMATION ON NEW AMIGA PRODUCTS
This would have links to all the information on upcoming products.  i.e.
A4000T and A1200.

VIDEO/MULTIMEDIA APPLICATIONS
Links to Toaster, gfx, music websites etc.,

The main point of all this is the collection of data and to inspire people
to contribute resources to the pages.  The International Amiga Users Group
should bo a resource from which people can draw to get information
(including developers!) - and I mean useful information, not useless
information that no one's going to use.  The other purpose of the
International Amiga Users Group is to interface with Escom/AT.  It is very
hard to make a difference as one person, but as a large community of users
we can give them suggestions and advice that they would not normally have
access to.  There is also the fear that Escom/AT may be performing somewhat
like Commodore did, maybe not as bad, but possibly detrimental to the Amiga
society.  One way they can show their goodwill and intent is for them to
participate and help in all this (see M-PLAN further on).  Right now Amiga
is riding on a thin wire, but it can recover and make a comeback if we find
intelligent ways to operate and Escom/AT goes along with it.  It is in
their and our MUTUAL interest.

I set up this system so it's easy enough to add any other links to it.  I
still have work to do on the server side, and that is what I'm going to be
doing as well as enrolling and finishing up on the web browser I'm working
on to release to the public.  I hope this covers everything..."

          Check out the INTERNATIONAL USERS GROUP page, at

                    http://www.omnipresence.com/Amiga/
                then to The International Amiga Users Group


PART TWO:   USERS-ESCOM/AT INTERFACE & PARTICIPATION


Create a worldwide AMIGAUSERS-ESCOM/AT connection
-------------------------------------------------
1.  ESCOM/AT offers to pay for every users-group to get internet access
($20/month for 6 months, on average) to receive regular reports about their
meetings, their opinions, information about dealers, events, etc.,etc

2.  Where there are no groups, ESCOM/AT offers 100 un-attached and
qualified Amiga owners worldwide internet connection as AMIGA SPECIAL
CORRESPONDENTS.  (A kind of Amiga Corps!) In return ESCOM/AT will have
access to regular "localized" info/feedback as needed.

3.  Ask each and everyone concerned in the above "network" how they can
help; groups could organise small shows, demos, events, individuals could
send information on what their friends (probably mac or pc users!) are
saying about and doing with their computers (a sort of Personal
Intelligence service to get the "lay of the land" in the competition.) This
would allow for very up-to- date feedback for determining "next step
strategies".

4.  Set up a user-developer area where these two groups could be in
constant touch with eachother and developers can use as feed-back.  (See,
further on, The Developers Participation article)

5.  Set up a "regional" promotional support system (eventually in
conjunction with designated local dealers,say),with a pool of machines and
applications groups and individuals could borrow and use for specific
events, demonstrations, competitions, etc., (Say 30 to cover the country)

6.  Collaborate and sponsor AMI-EXPOS, like the ones AMUSE NEW YORK did,
say 4 per year in various locations.  Set up "open devcons" where everyone
can particpate free.

7.  Sponsor an ongoing multimedia AMIGA FESTIVAL with a yearly competition
and awards event (at one of the expos, e.g) with serious prizes, in
kind/cash.  (An offshoot of this could be a source of ideas for logos,
adverts, commercials and promotions).

8.  In conjunction with distributors/dealers and groups and where possible,
set up AMIGA RESOURCE dept.in stores and pay young people to organize
demonstrations for different levels of students from various schools, and
local associations (senior citizens, lawyers etc.) with perhaps special
attention to arts/graphics/music; eventually even visit schools for on the
spot demos, which could include online connections/visits to famous Amiga
users and websites.

When ready with new machines do the same as above but aimed at professional
users, like MANNY'S in NY does regularly for musicians.

9.  Collaborate in producing a monthly AMIGA TV show for syndication and
public-access distribution.  (Here in NYC we already are on the air on
Manhattan Neighborhood Network, bi-monthly with AMUSE-TV)

PART 3: ESCOM/AT
 
10.Design an initial ad campaign, again based on ideas and work submitted
by real users.  For instance:

With the exception of the AMIGA logo, buy totally empty pages in magazines
and say

                           WE ARE AMIGA TECHNOLOGIES:

                                 WATCH US GROW

and during the next few months begin to fill the page with designs, views
and news, lists of stores new users, developers, applications, website
infos, best computer jokes, anecdotes, quotes from newsgroups, digests.
etc.,etc.  cleverly laid out, of course.

11.  Sponsor a competition for and pay for the printing of stickers and
other cool merchandizing materials, t-shirts, etc.,

12.  Produce a 30 min killer infomercial not using actors but real users
and why not, when ready, work towards a "battle of the platforms..." a la
MCI/ATT battle.  (Apple just put out an immensely successful one for their
"Bring Learning Home" campaign selling Performas)

13.  Sponsoring of a travelling event, like a combination demonstration bus
and "cyber-rave- party" to tour the country and appear in clubs, colleges
at computer fairs and in big and small stores.  (This could work as
follows: In the afternoon appear at some store near a college, like in
Harvard MASS.  at the LEARNING SMITH store and in the evning throw a party
at a local club).  Such a "circuit" could be based on info gathered from
local groups/users and would sponsor AMIGA musicians/artists etc., as well
as demonstrate machines and software.  An occasion also to invite local
press and media.

COSTS OF USERS PARTICIPATION

As SYMS CLOTHING say on their commercial "An informed customer is our best
customer", "maintaining credibility" is the #1 object of public relations
and with customers having access to more and more information, PR is
growing more important than straight advertising in the marketing mix and
first off, a hip PR company that would be turned on by such a plan should,
of course be retained.  I know of a few good ones.

In the present circumstances I don't have the time to propose an in-depth
budget, but here are some thoughts:

Since, in part, the above plan deals with a new area, the users
participation, it's difficult to precisely quantify the costs.  Say 200
usergroups and 100 individuals get support for being "connected" for 6
months at roughly $20/mo, this would come to $6,000 US/mo and over 6 months
to $36,000 or $72,000/yr a paltry sum compared to more traditional
advertising costs and with much deeper penetration.

Apart from the highly precise and focussed feedback this would deliver,
figure the amount of press-coverage such a collaboration between users and
manufacturer could gather in column/inches.  All the other items, with the
exception of the TV show (which could be co-sponsored by third party
developers, software companies, dealers and distributors) and the
Infomercial, could cost very little and yield high degrees of
coverage-ratio.

Much of the print advertising could also be co-operative.  The 100 or so
odd machines for demonstration purposes would cost whatever they'll costs
(?), we don't know and no doubt other items will need to be worked out.
      
Whole in whole an initial "soft-sell" campaign based on the above would
make the AMIGA and its manufacturers very visible indeed at a fraction of
the costs of "mainstream" approaches.

Leaning on the already existing and best support system there is for the
AMIGA, its users, allowing them to actively participate in the building of
a broader base, would in itself be worthy of media-coverage which in turn
would amount to free advertising of inestimable value.  Furthermore the
good-will thus created could just not be paid for by ordinary publicity
budgets.


CONCLUSION

What we all suffered from under C= was EXCLUSION.  ESCOM should agressively
go the opposite way towards INCLUSION and turn this into a tool for new
marketing methods, such as are being pursued by hip companies, like, don't
laugh, BEN&JERRY, THE BODY SHOP, and others, who have gotten a lot of
exposure for breaking the "corporate" mold by participating among other
things in local socio-cultural events, by creating scholarships or
donating a percentage of their profits to educational or worthwhile causes.

I know this all implies a very shrewd understanding of the new forces at
work in society and marketing, and a considerable immagination on the part
of "corporate" thinkers to see further than their noses and show innovative
and original enterpreunership.

Difficult times need intelligent, well-informed, courageous and dynamic
leadership.  The AMIGA community is crying out for such a lead.  The man
that brings this off could well become very, very fast a serious player on
the worldwide computer scene.  It seems to me that ESCOM's main man,
Manfred Schmitt has this possibility right now.  He seems to have the
ability, intelligence, ambition and the means to undertake such an
adventure and leave the kind of mark on the info-age business that the
AMIGA potential still makes possible.  Implementing the above
recommandations would surely be a way of starting the ball (!) rolling (not
bouncing?!).

Giorgio Gomelsky
140 West 24 Street
New York NY 10011-1902

August 11, 1995