Telling Your Friends

I wrote the other day about communicating about a website while it’s in progress. I made some light remark about how emails back and forth can get confusing.

In conversation among the team working on the GraysLlland Acres website, it struck us that I might have been understating the case.

Looking back over the past month, not particularly among ourselves but including all the teams we work with, plus the classes I teach which communicate largely via email, we were able to come up with multiple examples of problems:

  • lost emails
  • overlooked emails
  • unanswered emails
  • files which people thought were attached, but which weren’t
  • files which were attached but couldn’t be opened for various reasons
  • files which were attached and opened but then went astray and had to be sent again
  • files people thought they’d copied someone on, but hadn’t
  • emails people thought they were merely being copied on and therefore ignored
  • emails people copied someone on unintentionally
  • emails people copied someone on unnecessarily
  • emails people failed to copy someone on
  • emails that were superseded by later emails that were forgotten
  • emails that people thought were superseded, but actually weren’t
  • emails that were passed along, but which were superseded by emails that weren’t passed along

There were probably more, but this is enough.

Tom suggested Basecamp and told us how great it was. Last week, software designer Kuty Shalev had also raved about Basecamp, and on his recommendation I’d read their book, which seemed sensible and honest. We’re getting Basecamp.

Now, it’s not that we didn’t know of the existence of Basecamp. I’ve written about it before, in fact. However, that didn’t cause us to take action. Recommendations from our friends and colleagues did.

It doesn’t really matter that it’s Basecamp we heard about. It could have been a new laundry detergent. The fact is, we take our friends’ recommendations more seriously than we do ads.

How can we get people to recommend our products to their friends? I read an article recently by the people at Fog Creek Software that detailed all the clever marketing efforts they’d made in this direction, all the special offers they’d given to affiliate marketers and all the attempts they’d made to get those all-important personal recommendations.

Their conclusion? Making their software better was what did it.

That’s why people trust their friends’ recommendations, after all. We’re sure that our friends aren’t recommending things because someone paid them to do so. We trust them. That trust spills over to the product they recommend — but it can’t be bought.

Do a good job. Be seen doing a good job. That’s what it takes.






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