Show-n-Tell - Product Placement

Thursday 30th March, 2006
Not exactly a direct coding tip or an admin tip, more a tip for your Business strategy.

There's a lot of people with a lot of information out there on the internet all of whom have an opinion. Whether that opinion is valid can be very hard to tell. Do they have the skills and background you require to approach them for advice? Would you buy consultancy, maybe even a product from them?

One of the factors I use as a judge is their own website, be it business or personal. Essentially, from a Lotus Notes perspective, you need to know how good their Notes/Domino skills might be.

Over the past year or so, I've engaged professional services from people such as Bill Buchan and Roy Holder at HADSL. Neil Gower came in to do some domino.doc (DDM) consultancy and Steve Castledine is helping us out with some internal Notes based applications.

How and why did I select these people? Did I ask them for a company profile, some background or a CV? None of these...

These people have one thing in common, they all host their website on Domino; if you're an expert in a product, why wouldn't you? Not only that though, these people give back to the community in their own little ways.

Steve writes the excellent DominoBlog product on which this site is based. He gives this back to the community free of charge for personal use. You don't even need to register to download it. I completely lack web development skills but, with Steve's free tool I got up and running in minutes. DominoBlog offers such an excellent document management engine, who else was I going to call when I needed some dev work done internally? I called the guy that I knew could do what I couldn't.

You only have to read Bill's blog occasionally to know just how in touch with the market he is but Bill went that step further. I'd never spoken to the guy but he approached me having read MY BLOG. By following my blog he knew what I was up to and some of my business requirements/challenges and was able to approach me about the FirM product that HADSL develop as he thought it would be of use. He couldn't have been more right and, as a result of buying FirM, every hour of my working day has changed for the better.

Neil is such a DDM geek that he even writes bolt on products for it. He knows it well enough to know what it can't do and aims to plug the gap. When I needed somebody who knew DDM, he was the man.

Roy is the dark horse in this list, his blog doesn't tell you a lot really...he posts so infrequently that he almost has more categories than he has posts these days. It does show me that he's capable of setting up a Domino server on which to host a Domino based blog though. He's also capable of customising it a little to look the way he wants. A small clue on his work comes the links he has to important and very relevant sites relating to LotusScript classes and also to other bloggers. Purely because he reads these sites shows he's more in touch than many vendors/consultants. To top it all, Roy's blog shows that he's too damn busy to's always a good sign when somebody hasn't got time on their hands.

There are many BP's and consultants out there who specialise in multiple products. In the most conflicting way, they may sell both MS and Lotus products....but which one do they run their website on? If I have to choose between 2 seemingly identical vendors but only one of them runs their website on Domino, my decision is made. I get cold calls nearly every day and reject them all very quickly. Bill got around that by knowing who I was BEFORE I phoned...but also as I knew who HE was.

In summary, you probably wouldn't buy a Ford car from a salesman who drove a Toyota so if you want to sell me a product make sure you use; we do check which mail system your emails come from you know ;O)

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