Friday, May 13

Lock-in vs. Love-in, reverse-engineering passion, and the new more subversive marketing

passionateDear passionate user blogger people,

I have no idea who you are, yet, I just now stumbled upon your blog, but I can see from the way you talk about things, such as "why we care", "creating meaning" and that you think passion can be reverse engineered (is that some sort of hax0r theory? or a branch of social engineering?) that we will be blogging friends for a long time to come.


Have you ever thought about or written about lock-in as a tool for marketing. It's the antithesis of passion. It never ceases to amaze me that there are vast amounts of people who hate the corporations that they do business with but they continue to work with them because they have long term contracts (such as in service industries like cellular, cable, phone, ISP's) or inoperable products (i.e. Microsoft Office).

On the other hand I've been using a term that has more in common with the 60's and 70's than current business techniques. I call it "love-in". In it's noun form it's often confused with the late 60's protest (or other) but I like to use it in similar fashion to "lock-in" as in... What this product needs is less lock-in and more love-in. In it's verb form I think people tend to get it better. After all, every company and person really wants some of that "good love-in". Although I must admit the true meaning of it is often overlooked do to the over use of lovin' thus causing confusion with loving.

Love-in is a rare thing, but it does exist. People who wouldn't dare leave a brand or company's service because they love it to much. It can be seen with Apple, Volkswagen, Adidas. The guys over at Saatchi and Saatchi like to dole out "love-marks". I'm sure you've heard of lovemarks by now.

Love-in is not just loving or lovemarks though, we're talking about the
"loving lock-in". For example one might say "I just bought a new mac mini to go with my iPod, not because I had to to get the most out of my iPod, but because I love my iPod so much." Or inversely... "I just bought an iPod not because it's the only mp3 player to work with my Mac, but because I love my mac so much I figure I'd love the iPod too.

What love-in is about is the leveraging of of love of a product to sell other products.

Love-in is such a beautiful devil, because people by definition love this type of subversion. If you have the iPod, you have to get the iMac. If you have X-brand shirt, you have to get X-brand pants and X-brand accessories. If you have the Harley Davidson motorcycle you have to get the authentic accessories. Yeap, this is the way the beautifully subversive love-in works.

It is in this passion that my modern love-in theory starts to get blurred. Because they have Saturns thousands of people join together for a mass pilgrimage and vacation at Saturn Corp. Harley Davidson owners go to Harley Davidson rallies, and Star Trek fans get together at marvelous Star Trek conventions. It is at this point where corporate love-in starts sparking eery similarities to the love-in's of the 60's and 70's. Is there some parallel that can be drawn? Is there something bad here? Is this something good? Has free lovin' be subverted through capitalistic hegemony to corporate love-in?

I guess all this is to say I think you have the right focus. Focus on the passion, it's all about love-in not lock-in... but then reverse engineering... well we have a long road a head of us before we can all become "little happy pods". :)

Oh, And yes, Scoble did say blogging will make us richer and improve our sex life...

In response to: Creating Passionate Users: Reverse-engineering passion: part 1



Markus Sandy said...

Great post Mike. I'm passionate about the CPU blog in general and Kathy Sierra's writings in general.

I think you raise some good points. I am reminded of my passion for HP products at one time. They were made bby passionate people for passionate users and we looked forward to our next HP purchase (as expensive as it might be when comared to others).

I am an old enuf duffer to remember when the newest HP programmable calculator or instrument was as hot as an iPod (albeit in a smaller engineering community).

Unfortunately, HP seems to have lost the love that locked us in so tight.

DEC had it too. Long gone now. Bye Bye Love. Bye Bye Tenderness? ...

There are new companies showing such passion again, however. 37 Signals looks like one. So does Flickr (it will be interesting to see impact of Yahoo! acquistion).

Thanks for the post.

Michael Meiser said...

Markus, I can't quite figure you out.

Just when I think I've got you pegged you go and blow my mind.

I'm from chicago (though not there right now) so i've had a close eye on 37 signals. It's amazing, but sometime when I was working for "the man" they came into existence without my acknowelegement and approval. :)

I don't know how I managed to overlook them but they are sharp as a whip, and I guess I'm now playing catch up. I hope ultimately they'll go the distance where Ludicorp has not by just selling out to Yahoo and moving on.

Let's not forget the crew that up sold to google. They're now on to Odeo among other things. Promising things there.

And then there's Jermey Allaire who upsold Allaire Corp. to Macromedia. He's now on to Brightcove. Then we've got Socialtext, and Feedburner.. I just blogged about them... close ties and both just went through a round of successful VC funding. (At least I assume it was VC funding. Is there any other sort?) Needless to say it's a hot sector. Just make sure you advise your friends to vote no on the bubble bill.

I guess you could consider our own Marc Canter from the Macromedia of old and more recently Ourmedia as one of this group. Perhaps even our good friend and rising star Peter of Mefeedia fame too. But then I'd have to consider the as yet unknown developers behind ANT alongside Peter. I expect huge things to come of ANT, but I must admit, I'm sort of partial there, for I have confessed my love for the "ANT platform" many times already and use it daily to keep up with all the rest of the media geeks in video blog land.

God bless blogger, moveable type, wordpress, ANT, Flickr, all disruptive media and all the newly empowered masses.

The point is this new bunch of enlightened designer / developer types, with their Ajax interface making, webservices creating ways are really doing a lot to drive this little tech bloom we're happenin' into... but we have a LONG way to go because we need to make damn sure the democratization of media doesn't stop with we the techno non-elite.

I only hope one day I can count my self among them these fine friends but I've got to jump through the hoops in front of me for now, and perhaps, maybee, soon enough I can launch my own chain of designer drive-through custom webservices like Flikr and

Damn, I can't believe I forgot my sweet My second love behind ANT.

...and then there's the world of podcasting. Don't get me started there!

Michael Meiser said...

BTW, I picture an HP serenade.

"You lost that 'love-in' feeling."

Damn, I wish I would have named my post that.

I guess I'll have to write another one soon. :)