Don’t send bloggers stuff for free unless it’s good

A lesson to corporate types: it’s good to catalyze conversations by sending out free stuff, but only if you’re pretty sure you’re already best of breed. For an example read Joel Spolsky’s report on a Sprint Phone he got to try out cause he’s a blogger.

Now, if Sprint listens to Joel and improves its next product? This will turn into a win. But, for now, I don’t see how this helps Sprint out in any way. Do you?

Free samples are good when it’s a new concept you’re trying to introduce to the marketplace. Sonos, for instance, has gotten great mileage by sending sample units out to bloggers and other influentials. That’s a totally new idea for an audio system and can’t be easily explained through a video — it’s something you need to experience to understand.

Now, if I had a sucky product (or was the #3 search engine like Microsoft) I’d keep bringing influentials in to LISTEN to them and improve the product so that they stop bitching.

Oh, wait, that’s what Microsoft was doing with its MSN Search Champs. They are getting better. Will they ever pass Google? Well “ever” is a long time and Microsoft has a lot of money they can spend on that problem.

Anyway, if all this corporate talk bores you, hey, the Ruby programming language site has a nice spiffy new design! I found out about that over on the Ruby on Rails blog. (Ruby on Rails is the framework that powers a lot of Web 2.0 sites).

55 thoughts on “Don’t send bloggers stuff for free unless it’s good

  1. the main point of the post aside, sonos seems like an ok concept to me until you lose your remote somewhere in your house…. then what?

    and the price?…1 rmeote + 2 zone players at abt $1k?….ummm yeah its a prepackaged solution..but its pretty pricey….

  2. While it would be nice if they would take the feedback from something like this and put it to good use, I doubt that such feedback will ever reach anyone who can do anything about improving the product. It is quite likely that a scheme like this is being concocted purely by marketers looking for cheap blurbs, who wouldn’t know feedback if it smacked them in the face with a microphone held next to a loudspeaker. Even if they do listen in this case, it strikes me as being a particularly lousy method of getting product feedback anyway, especially when there are much better channels for such things. In a case like this, a company would be a lot better off conducting a controlled product trial, which not only allows them to get the specific feedback they’re looking for, but (in the case of a pre-release product) can also be NDA’d. I actually participated in such a trial recently for Sprint (I’ve been a customer of theirs for over six years now) and although I don’t know if my feedback made much difference (it was very close to the release of the product) it’s a lot more effective and less risky way of getting the product into the hands of people who can tell them what’s wrong with it.

  3. While it would be nice if they would take the feedback from something like this and put it to good use, I doubt that such feedback will ever reach anyone who can do anything about improving the product. It is quite likely that a scheme like this is being concocted purely by marketers looking for cheap blurbs, who wouldn’t know feedback if it smacked them in the face with a microphone held next to a loudspeaker. Even if they do listen in this case, it strikes me as being a particularly lousy method of getting product feedback anyway, especially when there are much better channels for such things. In a case like this, a company would be a lot better off conducting a controlled product trial, which not only allows them to get the specific feedback they’re looking for, but (in the case of a pre-release product) can also be NDA’d. I actually participated in such a trial recently for Sprint (I’ve been a customer of theirs for over six years now) and although I don’t know if my feedback made much difference (it was very close to the release of the product) it’s a lot more effective and less risky way of getting the product into the hands of people who can tell them what’s wrong with it.

  4. I’ve actually seen claims saying that Ruby works best for internal applications. I wonder if anyone has any real data on the use of Ruby for internal applications vs. consumer web sites.

  5. I’ve actually seen claims saying that Ruby works best for internal applications. I wonder if anyone has any real data on the use of Ruby for internal applications vs. consumer web sites.

  6. I guess be thankful for the free stuff, but crap is crap. Free or not free, a bad product is still a bad product. Rule of thumb, don’t give crappy products to us bloggers. We talk too much.

    -gamehawk

  7. I guess be thankful for the free stuff, but crap is crap. Free or not free, a bad product is still a bad product. Rule of thumb, don’t give crappy products to us bloggers. We talk too much.

    -gamehawk

  8. “Woah woah woah!! Slow down on the “don’t send free stuff” highway there. Some of us don’t get ANYTHING sent to us at all. Honestly, if someone sent me something for free, I’d take it. Even a T-shirt. However, a thumb drive will do nicely. ”

    Haha! I want free stuff too! :-)

  9. “Woah woah woah!! Slow down on the “don’t send free stuff” highway there. Some of us don’t get ANYTHING sent to us at all. Honestly, if someone sent me something for free, I’d take it. Even a T-shirt. However, a thumb drive will do nicely. ”

    Haha! I want free stuff too! :-)

  10. I do not really even get this.If you product is good,then it should speak for itself.Word of mouth will get it sold.

    If the product is bad then it is obvious why you would not send it to anyone.

    This really smacks of a way to avoid taxes by marking this off as advertisement.

    AXE

  11. I do not really even get this.If you product is good,then it should speak for itself.Word of mouth will get it sold.

    If the product is bad then it is obvious why you would not send it to anyone.

    This really smacks of a way to avoid taxes by marking this off as advertisement.

    AXE

  12. Woah woah woah!! Slow down on the “don’t send free stuff” highway there. Some of us don’t get ANYTHING sent to us at all. Honestly, if someone sent me something for free, I’d take it. Even a T-shirt. However, a thumb drive will do nicely. ;)

  13. Woah woah woah!! Slow down on the “don’t send free stuff” highway there. Some of us don’t get ANYTHING sent to us at all. Honestly, if someone sent me something for free, I’d take it. Even a T-shirt. However, a thumb drive will do nicely. ;)

  14. Mr.Scoble, you’ve hit the nail on the wall!! But corporates are too complacent to even consider the opinions of bloggers, the blogosphere is really influential, especially on google.

    If I want to buy something, first thing I’ll search is google for criticism and blogs will hit!

  15. Mr.Scoble, you’ve hit the nail on the wall!! But corporates are too complacent to even consider the opinions of bloggers, the blogosphere is really influential, especially on google.

    If I want to buy something, first thing I’ll search is google for criticism and blogs will hit!

  16. >>Now, if I had a sucky product (or was the #3 search engine like Microsoft) I’d keep bringing influentials in to LISTEN to them and improve the product…

    Now, if only MS listens to the folks about Vista… :)

  17. >>Now, if I had a sucky product (or was the #3 search engine like Microsoft) I’d keep bringing influentials in to LISTEN to them and improve the product…

    Now, if only MS listens to the folks about Vista… :)

  18. Any vendor worth their salt will give/lend out Demo products to applications guys. If it is a bad product, they will of course want to charge you for the product. Here is where the ethics comes into play.

    The applications guy makes sure they get the product back to the vendor when the testing is over. If they have time they tell the bad product guys the issues in a report. If not, they ask them to stop by for a short review of the findings. The smart guys send the tech guys in to fix the issues for the next round.

    When hundreds of thousands of $$ are released to a vendor that has provided free trial equipment, then transparent systems keep you above reproach. It keeps the application guys from winding up in a blogg or press or before congress explaining the relationship.
    It hard to argue with ” because the other guys stuff was a piece of crap” when it comes to purchase/launch.

    I agree don’t send crap out to Bloggers or anyone unless you are going to fix the issues.

    The guys with the crap that listens will get the business if they fix the issues. Chrysler is a good example. So is Japan (transistor radio days)

  19. Any vendor worth their salt will give/lend out Demo products to applications guys. If it is a bad product, they will of course want to charge you for the product. Here is where the ethics comes into play.

    The applications guy makes sure they get the product back to the vendor when the testing is over. If they have time they tell the bad product guys the issues in a report. If not, they ask them to stop by for a short review of the findings. The smart guys send the tech guys in to fix the issues for the next round.

    When hundreds of thousands of $$ are released to a vendor that has provided free trial equipment, then transparent systems keep you above reproach. It keeps the application guys from winding up in a blogg or press or before congress explaining the relationship.
    It hard to argue with ” because the other guys stuff was a piece of crap” when it comes to purchase/launch.

    I agree don’t send crap out to Bloggers or anyone unless you are going to fix the issues.

    The guys with the crap that listens will get the business if they fix the issues. Chrysler is a good example. So is Japan (transistor radio days)

  20. Maybe, just maybe, you pegged it. Sprint listens to Joel, improves its next product, and this turns into a win. If so, they’ve just saved tens of thousands of dollars hiring Joel to do a professional design review for them.

  21. Maybe, just maybe, you pegged it. Sprint listens to Joel, improves its next product, and this turns into a win. If so, they’ve just saved tens of thousands of dollars hiring Joel to do a professional design review for them.

  22. I was a little appalled by Sprint’s tactics. They contacted me by a sort of mass mail out of the blue offering me essentially about $500 of free service. I was a bit indignant as a reporter. Bloggers can run by different rules, especially if they aren’t writing about products or pretending to be objective or if they disclose the relationship. Or other conditions. But I thought Sprint was pretty blatantly saying, hey, here’s $500 worth of free stuff!

  23. I was a little appalled by Sprint’s tactics. They contacted me by a sort of mass mail out of the blue offering me essentially about $500 of free service. I was a bit indignant as a reporter. Bloggers can run by different rules, especially if they aren’t writing about products or pretending to be objective or if they disclose the relationship. Or other conditions. But I thought Sprint was pretty blatantly saying, hey, here’s $500 worth of free stuff!

  24. This is hilarious. If your product sucks, keep it away from geeks and bloggers at all costs.

    Advertise in dead tree publications. Advertise on network TV. Anywhere smart technical people aren’t.

    And hope like heck they won’t find you.

  25. This is hilarious. If your product sucks, keep it away from geeks and bloggers at all costs.

    Advertise in dead tree publications. Advertise on network TV. Anywhere smart technical people aren’t.

    And hope like heck they won’t find you.

  26. If I remember correctly, Scoble used to have a free Sonos, but gave it away before he gave it a plug. (While they aren’t paying you with a sonos to promote it, they are letting you rent it for free. I still like your style.)
    A blog post that includes Joel and Ruby wouldn’t be complete without his recent post on ruby.

  27. If I remember correctly, Scoble used to have a free Sonos, but gave it away before he gave it a plug. (While they aren’t paying you with a sonos to promote it, they are letting you rent it for free. I still like your style.)
    A blog post that includes Joel and Ruby wouldn’t be complete without his recent post on ruby.

  28. I can’t believe a blogger accepted a sprint phone. Sprint phones are notoriously bad.

    Scoble,
    Did you get a free Sonos for this link on your blog? Or is this an attempt to get Sonos to send you one?

  29. I can’t believe a blogger accepted a sprint phone. Sprint phones are notoriously bad.

    Scoble,
    Did you get a free Sonos for this link on your blog? Or is this an attempt to get Sonos to send you one?

  30. I read a pretty comprehensive article somewhere recently that stated how it’s beneficial for the company to give out free products to people (bloggers) with a voice, regardless of what they have to say. Similarly, Sprint gave me a phone for their past Ambassador program and I slammed them pretty hard, but I still they they benefited from all my readers knowing about their new program/phone.

  31. I read a pretty comprehensive article somewhere recently that stated how it’s beneficial for the company to give out free products to people (bloggers) with a voice, regardless of what they have to say. Similarly, Sprint gave me a phone for their past Ambassador program and I slammed them pretty hard, but I still they they benefited from all my readers knowing about their new program/phone.

  32. I don’t think your shtick about listening is ever going to get old. So many people and companies can use that advice.

    I frequent that topic during many consulting sessions, and often look back to see what I’ve blogged about because it seams like history repeating itself so often – even with new, tech stuff.

    http://tweblog.wordpress.com/tag/listening/

    Now, if we can just get them to listen to you. ;)

  33. I don’t think your shtick about listening is ever going to get old. So many people and companies can use that advice.

    I frequent that topic during many consulting sessions, and often look back to see what I’ve blogged about because it seams like history repeating itself so often – even with new, tech stuff.

    http://tweblog.wordpress.com/tag/listening/

    Now, if we can just get them to listen to you. ;)

  34. Regarding Ruby on Rails, it’s a framework which allows programmers to use the Ruby programming language, and not a language in of itself. Sorry for being a semantics stickler. The New RoR site is indeed very spiffy ;)

  35. Regarding Ruby on Rails, it’s a framework which allows programmers to use the Ruby programming language, and not a language in of itself. Sorry for being a semantics stickler. The New RoR site is indeed very spiffy ;)

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