Web 2.0: The Latest Tech Boondoggle


Nobody can define Web 2.0, even Internet gurus Tim Berners-Lee and Tim O’Reilly. So, why do marketers devote so much time, speech, and ink to it?

Good question, considering not one online shopper understands or cares about it. Do a Google search on Web 2.0, and you’ll find over 75M references. That’s amazing for a term that lacks specificity or value. Indeed. Speaking about Web 2.0 implies that one also can delineate Web 1.o, Web 1.5, and Web 3.0. Nobody can.

Web 2.0 jargon is contained in countless technology and business articles, on numerous Websites, and in the themes of endless conferences. But, Web 2.0 doesn’t motivate people to buy stocks and socks online. That makes using it a boondoggle.

The reason technology marketers are obsessed with Web 2.0 is that, after all this time, they still think people buy technology. Wrong. This common misperception is a symptom of the syndrome I call technologica erotica.

People buy pleasure, fun, laughter, sex, convenience, knowledge, competitive advantage, efficiency, clothing, vacations, security, potential for profit, and connections to other people — not technology. Yet, the technology-infused oxygen in Silicon Valley is so intoxicating that engineer-speak rules the day.

Marketers who don’t bother learning to speak like their customers inevitably resort to jargon by default. This laziness — and major violation of Marketing 101 — will render their companies part of the white noise, indistinguishable from their competitors, difficult for customers to choose.

Anything that makes choosing your company and buying your products a nebulous or difficult experience — especially a jargon-filled, vendor-centric experience — is a loser strategy.

Pretend to be a customer; visit your company’s Website. Does the messaging resonate viscerally with you, talk directly to you? Do you feel overwhelmingly compelled to purchase your company’s product or service? If not, you have work to do.

Learn a lesson from Apple: speak the verbal language and body language of your customers, not the argot of your engineers. Tap into the emotions of your customers; don’t tax them with useless acronyms and engineer-speak.

Messaging is not listing the features of your products. Messaging is articulating the problem or wish your customers have that your product addresses — and why they’ll be glad they bought it.

Keep internal vernacular internal: never let it go beyond departmental memos and architectural plans. Eliminate Web 2.0 from your corporate and product messaging.


About the Author

Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of the book,
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.


© 2008 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Web 2.0: The Latest Tech Boondoggle”

  1. Bill says:

    Mr. Good Doctor: not so sure I agree on the boondoggle. Web 2.0 is a category of products, services and offerings. I don’t buy a category of anything. I buy a specific produc. I’m not just buying “a car”, I am buying a Toyota Camry. Web 2.0 includes a variety of business enhancement tools, all with the common thread that they are much smarter than the initial web-based apps of years ago, and all are much more likely to work together via the Internet.

    Is there crap in the mix? Absolutely. Snake oil salesmen abound, but there are also some very real tools that make sense being called “web 2.0”.

  2. Marc Rudov says:

    Bill, you don’t buy a product — you buy what the product will do for you. Your product-oriented POV is pure engineer.

    You’re not buying a Toyota Camry; you’re buying value-based, worry-free transportation, with the knowledge that your cost of ownership will be extremely low.

    A man who buys a Lamborghini is really buying a crutch he thinks will bring him chicks and bragging rights to his buddies.

    When tech-heads are put in charge of marketing, their companies remain in the white noise and their customers get confused and turned off.