Monday (day #1 of shutdown) - got into work 15 minutes late this
morning. Can't understand it. Cars everywhere. Assume other drivers haven't
heard about Sun shutdown. But when I get into office, it's empty.
decided this week to concentrate on outgoing activities with partners and
potential allies in new marketing programs. Waste several hours emailing
technical support, and eventually learn how to access incoming voicemail.
Spend rest of day dealing with email, as usual.
Tuesday (day #2 of shutdown) - get into work 15 minutes early to
make up for yesterday. Check voicemail, no messages. Check email. Just one
message from another Sun workaholic in Camberley office asking how he can add a
UK company to the website for a marketing program we canned a few years ago.
In the spirit of international co-operation, send him a reply saying I don't
deal with Ireland, but I thought the application form is somewhere on the web
site, and Happy Holiday tomorrow.
Unbelievably, no other emails today.
Decide to plan ahead and email technical support to ask if it's possible to
reset my email preferences so that it doesn't automatically delete incoming
emails from outside Sun. Spend rest of day doing market research on Sun web
site. Check shareprice. Still not a good time to sell options.
in depth competitive market research. All the focus group reports say that Dell,
and not HP or IBM, is most often cited as our competitor in the mid-range
Search for "Dell" on www.sun.com - get "198
Repeat the same search, using the term "Sun".
Get "31,069 Results Found"
Decide that the focus group
research must be flawed. I can't see how Dell can be real a threat to us when
they're barely visible on the web. I also noticed that the market research
report made no mention at all of DEC. That suggests to me:- either we've got the
wrong company doing the research, or maybe we're getting the wrong people coming
in to the focus groups. I make a note to raise this question next week, when
things are back to normal.
Tomorrow, I'm going to plan our strategy for
the new killer partner program, but I might just work a half day.
Wednesday (day #3 of shutdown) - 4th of July, so roads empty. Got
into work 30 minutes early. Had to attract attention of security guard and
persuade him it really was worth opening up the office, switching on all the
lights etc. Big day today. I've been tasked with creating a new partner program
to re-energise system sales. My plan is to get this done a week early, which
is why I've been coming into office. Log-in and get down to making some notes...
- Avoid negatively charged words like "dot-com"
- Include positively charged words like "Sun" - but, and
here's the tricky part, the legal people said that the new program name must
consist of more than just one word. Although it can be two words which are
concatenated, like:- StorageArray.
Check SUNW price. No change. Think first, that Java applet has failed. Then
remember that stock market is closed today. Even CNBC is showing football
games. Decide to review notes I made earlier about previous successful marketing
Sun's oldest partner program was Catalyst. My research
assistant looked into that, and it seems like it was a very successful program..
The best part was the numbers. Over 14,000 Sun compatible products.
Unfortunately, thousands of Catalyst products never saw the light of day, and
were only invented by other companies who wanted to get listed in the catalog.
Nobody knows which ones are real or relevant today. My plan for the new program
is to beat the numbers on Catalyst. That's a must-have. Also the web means we
don't have to filter out products. Decide that 100,000 products or 10,000
companies is a good target to aim at.
Next, take a look at another
historic program, called "SPARC-compatible." When I first saw it in
the research notes, I looked up "SPARC" in a dictionary, but unlike "Catalyst",
it wasn't there. Guessed it might be foreign, and tried a German online
dictionary. No luck there either. Asked researcher. She told me it was a
pre-Solaris, pre-Java, pre-Jiro legal term, like a copyright symbol, and never
used in marketing communications in any font size larger than 6pt in print or 20
pixels high on the web. I looked at the program details and was horrified to
find that it included a lot of our competitors in the Solaris Compatible and Sun
Ready markets. As including direct competitors is one of the no-no's for the new
program, decided not to read any more about it.
Spent rest of morning
looking at web sites for current partner marketing programs. End up being
completely confused and get headache. But persist because I think I'm starting
to see a pattern. All the companies in the newer programs are companies which we
like, and want to be associated with Sun. Otherwise there is no logical
connection. I'm starting to feel hungry. The cafetteria is closed this week, so
I've been bringing in sandwiches. They're a bit dry, because I haven't had time
to pick up groceries.
Ping! My brain goes back to the vacation I had in
Australia, just after doing my MBA, but before joing Sun. A loaf of soft
springy, fresh tasting white bread. Much better than what I'm eating right
now... Why am I thinking of it? The label! Yes. That's it. My friend said "Hey
is that the new company you're going to work for?" - That was before
Sun Microsystems became a household name.
I do a quick check on the
whois part of the Network Solutions site... Not even the cybersquatters have
thought of this one, and the domain is not in use, even though it's a registered
trademark in a completely unrelated industry. I throw the rest of my sandwiches
away. Mission accomplished, I'm going to eat Mexican for lunch, and take the
rest of the day off.
After logging out of the system, I pause. What if
the server crashes and they haven't backed it up? What if I get killed in an
auto accident? My brilliant inspiration will be lost to the company. The shares
I leave to my family may not recover so quickly. Just to be sure, I take out my
gold nibbed Parker pen and write on the back of my business card, and then place
it carefully on my researcher's desk where she can see it next week when she
gets back. The name of the new program which will change all our lives in the
months to come. Unfamiliar today, but soon to be universally recognised wherever
computers are bought and sold... the SunBlest partner program.
Thursday (day #4 of shutdown) - didn't get a wink of sleep last
night due to excitement and thinking about details for the new SunBlest partner
program.. Got into work 2 hours early. Nasdaq has only been running a few hours,
but it looks like SUNW is a whole dollar down since Friday. I don't run the
spreadsheet which tells me my net worth in real-time, because I need to have a
positive outlook. But after drinking coffee, I start to feel very tired and
can't remember any of the ideas which were buzzing around my brain last night.
email. Got a reply from the Sun guy in Camberely saying thanks very much for the
info. He tried the web site, and entered all his partners data, which was very
extensive. But when he clicked enter, he got the following message:
We couldn't find your document. The file that you requested could not be found
on this server. If you provided the URL, please check to ensure that it is
correct or try a search above."
Did I have any other bright ideas?
Fired up with enthusiasm, I drafted a reply saying not to worry,
because his partner company would almost certainly be eligible to join the new
SunBlest program, which would be starting in the US September, and would roll
out to Europe sometime around May 2002, and would have the different name of :-
I explained that the delay was due to language
issues, because the Sun marketing people in Sweden and Germany wanted all new
European programs delayed until they had been translated into local languages.
(Actually the real reason for the delay was that most European marketers took
the entire summer off for their vacations, and didn't start working again until
about October. Then, in November, the skiing season started, and the long
slowdown in the run up to Christmas.)
I didn't put that, in the email.
I actually wrote - "I know that the translation won't take so long for you
guys in Ireland. So you might be able to do a local launch on a non-disclosure
basis, maybe as early as March, timed to coincide with St Patrick's Day."
got me thinking again about the important elements of the new program. The key
thing was to be as inclusive as possible, while excluding any companies which
competed with Sun in any other element of their business.
of day researching www.sun.com. Came to the depressing conclusion, that even the
best partners in our current programs develop products which work for the
enemy:- Microsoft and Intel. We may have to rule out 99% of software companies,
and 99% of hardware companies (especially if they had divisions which also sold
storage). That would make it difficult to make the ambitious recruitment
targets, because it narrowed the field to companies which were actually owned by
Sun, and a handful of start-ups.
Then I had another brilliant
What if we restricted the SunBlest partner program to just
Decide that will be the focus of my research tomorrow.
Friday (day #5 of shutdown) - Got into work 5 minutes later than
usual. Depressed to see what looks like an expensive car convention in a tight
bunch in the car park, and am therefore not surprised to see that dozens of
other marketers have arrived in the office before me. I reply to everyone's
friendly greetings and smile sweetly, but realise this doesn't look so good, as
I am the last one into the office. Make a mental note to email everyone later,
and copy my boss, just so they all know I was here on my own earlier in the
week. See that emails from other Sun marketers have already started to fill up
my in box.
At the coffee machine, find a way to mention my SunBlest
idea to one of the younger marketers. She's only been with Sun less than a year,
and doesn't have to worry about the stock price, because she hasn't got any. She
was recruited to do partner programs with IHVARSP's. Don't know what that means,
but think it may have something to do with Sun Integrators who sell to ASP's who
run Jiro on Linux appliances which connect to Sun servers via iSCSI, but not
wireless.. It's a hot new market, in which Sun has over 90% market share.
She likes the name of my program which she says is very cool. But can see one
slight snag. I ask what it is.
"I could be wrong" she says "but
I thought Sun policy was not to publish lists which are in any way useful to our
competitors. That's why we don't publish a Sun VAR list, except in Europe, where
our policy is always to make sure it's out of date and as misleading as
possible. I don't think the Big Mac" - which is how she refers to
Scottmc@sun.com - "would let us publish a list of end-users. In fact I
almost blew my chances at my interview by asking if I would be able to have
access to our list of end-users. I was told that if I wanted to see a list of
end-users I should apply for a job in the accounting department, and forget
about a career in marketing."
I nod gravely, and make a mental
note never to mention end-users if I ever have to apply for another marketing
"What happened?" I asked sympathetically.
said, that's how we did it at my last company... And my interviewer said, not to
worry, I was still young and would learn how to do marketing properly at Sun.
That's why we had partner programs, so we didn't need to get cluttered up with
details. Anyway, tell me more about your new program. Can't wait to hear more
I prevaricate, and say that I haven't got much beyond
thinking about the name yet. She nods sympathetically and says that she knows
case studies of companies which took years to think of a new name, so all in
all, I've had a very productive week.
Go back to my desk and consider
how lucky it was that I came into work today, and how close I had been to making
an absolute fool of myself with the end-user idea. Better start with a clean
sheet again next week. No time for thinking now. The inbox is filling up at a
Check SUNW price. Set graph for maximum magnification
and see signs of a definite upwards blip at the leading edge of the down curve.
Am relieved to think that this whole week has been so worthwhile, and can't wait
to get back to work properly next week.
Disclaimer:- this spoof article is a work of fiction. Any
resemblance to marketing people living or dead is purely coincidental.