Mimecast: a case study in how NOT to write ads

For the past few weeks myself and a number of colleagues who work with Microsoft products have seen our Facebook feed continually lit up with ads like this from Mimecast:

Before I go any further let me apply a disclaimer: I have no beef with Mimecast. I am not on the payroll of a competing vendor. I do not think Microsoft security is perfect. In fact I think that Mimecast make some good products.

So why am I writing this post and why do I care? Because apart from continually hiding these ads, they continue to appear and assault my senses with their poor messaging. I have attempted to post a comment on the ads but it appears the “social engagement” here is only one way.

What is wrong with these ads you ask? Two main things:

  • Calling out “numerous security gaps”
  • Incorrectly stating that Office 365 only has a “single security layer”

I work with a number of vendors that build solutions to enhance and extend Office 365 functionality, ranging from end user widgets through to corporate governance solutions. Notice how I didn’t say Office 365 has gaps in its functionality?

It’s not a case of being right or wrong This comes down to marketing messaging and copywriting. Vendors who buddy up to other vendors and offer complimentary solutions should not be calling out where the other is deficient, and that they have the fix. Calling out limitations and where a product ends is one thing, because no product can do everything for everyone. Language is everything in today’s ever-social online world. Trash-talking is what vendors do when they compete with another vendor, and even then, it doesn’t come off as a positive representation. Trash-talking a vendor you compliment, well that’s just stupid.

So, Mimecast: please take down your ads from Facebook and replace them with something that does not prey on fear, but instead refers to where your fantastic solutions go above and beyond what Office 365 offers.

Cloud for nothing and your disk for free

A few small conversations have resonated with me lately around public cloud offerings.

The first conversation went like this…
Person: I hate Go_gle Docs sometimes, the formatting is just terrible.
Me: Why don’t you try Office Web Apps as part of Office 365? They do a great job of maintaining document fidelity while presenting you with rich formatting options.
Person: Only when they make it free.
Me: Try Windows Live / Hotmail then, it also includes Office Web Apps but doesn’t cost anything.
Person: (silence)

The second conversation went like this…
Person: I want to share documents with my team, we use Dropbox at the moment because it’s free but it’s not as functional as I want it to be.
Me: Have you heard about SharePoint Online as part of Office 365? It’s great for managing & sharing documents, as well as improving the collaboration between team members and the sharing of data through some amazing out of the box features.
Person: But does it cost anything?
Me: Yes, but only around the same price as a sandwich per person per month.
Person: Not interested, it can’t beat free.

Those aren’t the only two conversations I’ve had like that, and unfortunately it’s a culture we’re starting to live in now – where you can get things for free.
Unfortunately a lot of free service users don’t realise that their provider is generally using one of two models:
Freemium – where a subset of functionality is free but the moment you want any of the good features or more space you will need to pay.
Advertising supported – this doesn’t always mean you’ll see the ads, as your information could simply be mined for trends and patterns which is then sold on to advertising partners and may follow you to other sites.

Something that consumers of services (business or personal) need to realise that if they are not paying for the service then they’re not actually the customer – THEY ARE THE PRODUCT!

In the first of my pieces for Dynamic Business I talk about the differences between paid cloud versus free services.