“…makes people happy.”

Excellent piece on Daring Fireball discussing the problems that Microsoft faces. They’re myriad, and Mr. Gruber articulates them far better than I could; I recommend you read the entire piece.

One line that stood out for me was the following:

“Xbox is the only thing [Microsoft] have that actually makes people happy….”

It seems like a throw-away line, but, in Mr. Gruber’s writing, nothing is a throw-away line. Instead, embedded in those few words is a pretty significant marketing lesson.

“Happy,” at first look, may seem less than sufficient as a description, but, I think it’s actually spot on. Bottom line: does the iPhone make me happy? Yep. Does a good bottle of wine me happy? Yep. Does Keith’s “Happy” make me happy? Yep. At the end of the day, I simply don’t have any time for products or services that don’t make me happy. And, happily, I have a ton of choice, and quickly jump ship when one product doesn’t make me happy. The dreadful teacher’s “service” Blackboard, for example, makes me miserable, so – whenever possible – I use Ning to manage my online classroom needs.

This idea of happiness relates directly back to my “law” of the Negative Correlation between Features and Customer Satisfaction. Basically, happiness ensues when a product or service does what you want it to do/is what you want it to be – at a higher level than you expected. One of Microsoft’s biggest problems is that they equate an abundance of features as relating to value/satisfaction; i.e. people are happier the more features they have. This is wrong. People are happier when the feature they want performs at a higher level than they expected.

Musicians, entrepreneurs, managers, etc. would be wise to determine what it is about their work/product/service that makes their customers happy, and then hammer that thing to a point where their customers’ expectations are exceeded.

In other words, happiness is a more emphatic version of “value.” We talk a lot about how a product must provide value. This is true. But, the truly great companies/bands/products don’t just provide value, they provide happiness.

So…this makes me happy:

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  1. Debbie Cavalier’s avatar

    Two words: Children’s Music

    When done well, it’s all about “happiness” for everyone involved: musicians/kids/parents

    Great post, George!


  2. George’s avatar

    Debbie is too modest to mention that she is creating the best Children’s Music out there.

    Check it out Debbie and Friends.



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