Storytelling – Geeksquad vs firedog
I have several official and unofficial jobs at Circuit City. One of the “official” ones is that I am heading up our entry into the virtual world of SecondLife. Partnering with IBM, we have a “demonstration store” on one of IBM’s islands. It’ was in no way designed to be a compelling SecondLife experience, but was intended to be an interesting device to show the “art of the possible” to our executives. The “store” has been up for a little over 3 months and we are starting the process of envisioning the second generation experience.
Our IBM partners told us that our competitors from Minneapolis were inquiring about SecondLife at January’s CES. Today, I saw that Geeksquad island has opened in SecondLife. That’s a fast implementation and points out the strength of BestBuy’s Sense & Respond capability, but the big story here is something else entirely.
Looking at the Geek Squad SecondLife announcement page, I came to a realization about the different marketing approaches for Geek Squad and firedog. For months, I’ve been trying to figure out why I didn’t feel comfortable with the firedog brand. Today it hit me.
In today’s “experience economy”, it’s not enough to simply make your products and services available. To win in this market, you need to be able to tell compelling stories. Lots of promiment Marketing types like Hugh and Seth, have discussed this concept recently. I think Geek Squad has that ability. They have created this “geek mystique” that resonates with the masses of people who know they are not as technically savvy as some folks (like the geeks). With their SecondLife marketing, they carry this “story” forward:
“While this announcement is expected to help Geek Squad’s customers by offering an extension of Geek Squad’s 24-hour service, it is also expected to cut further into its Agents’ already meager social lives.”
“I’m constantly asked about what it is that Geek Squad Agents do in their free time,” said Robert Stephens, founder and Chief Inspector of Geek Squad. “While it used to be a pretty clean mix — divided between poring over computer manuals and sleep — we’ve seen the balance shift in recent years to poring over computer manuals and immersion in digital worlds like multiplayer online games and environments like Second Life.”
Sure, most Geeks have probably never even been to SecondLife, but the story that has been build around the “Geek” makes it easily believable. It makes sense that “geeks” would be out on the technology edge. Contrast that with firedog which uses the metaphor of man’s best friend to represent the brand. The big word here is “Loyal”, but there are a whole series of other words that are used to describe what “what makes a firedog a “firedog” including “Tidy”, “Real”, “Grounded”, and “Fresh”.
The problem is that these are just words. They don’t really tell a story. They don’t say “these guys live for the technology problems that drive you crazy”. There is no “mystique”, no story about who these guys are and why you should use them. It’s simply not as engaging as the “Geek Mystique”.
I’ll probably get some serious grief from my Circuit City family for this post, but I have to call it as I see it.
What do you think?