It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Some of y’all wrote critically concerning my reports last week from Internet World in New York. I was accused of being negative, even cynical. I meant to say the show should be about the market, not me, but if you read it differently I erred, and I apologize.

So let me make amends. For the next week I’m going to tell only positive stories from Internet World, uplifting stories about clever marketing and technologies solving real problems.

We’ll start with Santa Claus. Nothing could be more positive than Santa Claus, right? Well, Santa Claus was all over Internet World. Climb up on my virtual knee and I’ll tell you about it.

Trilogy Software Inc., of Austin, Texas, best known for its “Buying Chain” program, which manages sales channels, dressed about 90 people in Santa outfits and sent them onto the floor to promote the booth of its new site, Ivebeengood.Com.

The Santas handed out red Santa hats, and the hat wearer closest to a designated Santa every hour got to pick a present from the booth’s Christmas tree. The top prize was a gift certificate worth $1,000, so naturally the show floor came to look very festive.

The Trilogy booth was equally festive. It wasn’t outrageously expensive, just a white circus-like top that drew people in on one side, with a machine that shook glitter out slowly so it fell down like snow.

The booth wasn’t filled with computers, but elves explaining the program and making people feel happy. You could win t-shirts reading “I’ve been nice” or (if you preferred) “I’ve been naughty.” There were comfy chairs, a thick carpet like the one you’ll spread around your own tree at home, and the aforementioned Christmas tree, surrounded by gifts.

At Ivebeengood, users can download a simple program that acts as an electronic “wish list.” (Think wallet.)

When you (or those you love) have the software and find something you want, you use the right mouse-button to click over it, and the properties of that product are placed into a file on your computer. You can share the contents of your wishlist with family and friends, discover great gift ideas, and even use the file to buy gifts from any online merchant.

Chris Taylor, who works at Trilogy but whose card lacked a title (the card’s been naughty), said revenue is secondary to community building here. The site builds loyalty and collects data on the market. Your list isn’t shared, but the whole site’s data can be aggregated — it’s market research.

Chris, like most of the people in the booth who could actually answer questions, was dressed as an elf, a pleasant inversion of the normal social order on the North Pole, and reflective of the plan’s idea to put the ordinary folk in charge of our online Christmas.

Add it up. Trilogy got enormous buzz, it will collect valuable market data, and consumers will get something that’s free, that’s of real service, and that’s protective of their privacy. The whole promotion probably cost no more than the Cable & Wireless booth I reported on last Thursday, the one with the live circus acts.

The clue (or moral) of this story should be clear. Don’t be a Scrooge. The greatest joys come to those who share.

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