It’s a theme that has come up frequently in these Friday BlackBerry musings posts. While RIM might indeed have a killer product in BlackBerry 10, the product itself will not be enough. We’re long past the point where the BlackBerry sold itself. In order to reenter the smartphone competition, RIM will need a combination of killer device and killer marketing tactics. They recently hired a new man for the job, CMO Frank Boulben, and according to a recent New York Times blog post, he has a “secret weapon”: us. The idea, as he put forth in an interview, involves sympathetic BlackBerry users spreading the message to others. RIM is going to engage us with online video and other promotional materials, and we’re supposed to spread the word. As Boulben puts it, they want us to, “in effect, do the marketing through a word-of-mouth approach.” This process will have to begin early for it to be successful. If they plan to launch in February, for example, they might want to start in November or even October. These kinds of campaigns can take a long time to develop, especially when they involve markets as competitive as smartphones. Getting started early will hopefully ignite the BlackBerry fanbase and get them talking about the product well ahead of launch. (And, perhaps, prevent them from switching during the deal-heavy holiday season.) RIM will also have to go beyond online video to engage its fans. Boulben did mention this in his interview, saying that RIM will use device access to help spread the word. Getting pre-market versions into the hands of influential people will play a large role in the marketing, it seems. That is to say, you can bet people like Kevin from CrackBerry will be among the first to have a BlackBerry 10 device. It’s through huge and dedicated communities that RIM can start the word-of-mouth process. (Hey, why not send one to BBGeeks as well? We might not be as big as CrackBerry, but we’re all about dissecting BlackBerry devices and figuring out how to best use them.) Thankfully, the dust has settled a bit after my crisis of faith. Delays can be disheartening, especially when so much rides on a product. RIM does appear to have a plan — or at least they’re developing a plan — to hammer out the most difficult issue with BlackBerry 10: marketing it to new customers. Without that even the most killer product could fall flat.
RIM asking a lot of its loyal customers
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