No Show Versus All Show

You might have noticed that Sony announced another camera last week: the US$1200 RX100m6 (Mark VI in Sony's Roman numeral fetishism). You probably couldn't escape noticing. 

bythom sony rx100vi

I'm not sure how many media and web folk were at the Sony event in New York City where the launch was also live-streamed, but just a day after the event I could already count almost two dozen vlogs claiming "first look" or something similar. And, of course, dozens of blogs and news articles trumpeted Sony's marketing of the new camera. 

Behind the scenes, I can also tell you that Sony is being very aggressive these days about loaners, too.  And those loaners are shipping with pre-orders or just before. 

Basically every time Sony announces something, the Internet drums are beating heavily in support. Add in events like Kando, a very active Image Artisans group, an active and engaging alphauniverse site, aggressive advertising and marketing campaigns, dealer support, third party lens announcements constantly tickling the wires, plus the enthusiasm of the fan boys, and what happens is that every time Sony launches a product you get this wave of un-ignorable publicity.

Canon and Nikon? Not so much. 

While I get press releases from Canon and some support from them, those tend to be late. They're so afraid of leaks that they've cut off many of their press from embargoed press releases now. Canon's Web online learning site looks drab and old-school compared to alphauniverse. I also can't find a way to sign up on that site to get push notification of new materials being posted, which means Canon hasn't fully discovered how to use the Internet the way Sony has. Canon's approach is a very "you come to us" one, while Sony's is a "we'll come to you."

Meanwhile, Nikon isn't announcing anything, it seems, and despite having asked nicely more than a half dozen times, I never get press releases from them when they do announce something. The last few times they have produced a new product, Nikon has seemed to be completely lazy in doing so. In my review I've written about how the excellent D7500 has basically been mostly neglected by Nikon marketing. From the very launch through today. 

Nikon counts far too much on old-school word-crafting in press releases and on their Web site (buried in the D7500 product details: "the D7500 is built to outperform any camera in its class with top-tier image quality, blazing speed, flawless autofocus, 4K Ultra HD video and pro-grade creative tools..."). Outperform! Buried. Why that isn't the lead and why that isn't then proven via others like their Ambassadors is beyond me. Because it does outperform its class rivals. And some classes above it, as well.

Like Canon, Nikon is very much "you come to us." There are a few exceptions. Nikon has an active Twitter account (though frankly, B&H's active Twitter account is more pro-Nikon than Nikon's). 

One problem is that Nikon hasn't really gotten aggressive about courting tags. NikonUSA will retweet and highlight #nikon type tags. But what's generating those tags? Note that Sony at Kando was giving away tens of thousands of dollars worth of gear to people who used the @sonykandotrip tag in their posts across all social media (disclaimer: I made one such post, and I didn't win anything ;~(. This isn't the first time Sony has used incentives to get more posts, which they then can turn around and point to via things like alphauniverse.

You engage customers via emotion. Via storytelling. Via supporting the customers' own messaging. In this world, I'd have to give Sony an A-, Canon a C-, and Nikon a D (bordering on an incomplete now that they have stopped announcing new products, at all. Bueller? Bueller?).

Sony shows up big time with every new product. Canon shows up. Nikon is mostly absent. So is it any wonder that Sony's sales are up and the Web is full of Sony stories these days? 

Nope. 

I'll state it outright: the bean counters in control of Nikon right now are making a huge mistake. By slowly disconnecting the company from its customers in all forms—new products, marketing, advertising, Internet social media, customer service, etc.—it is making the obstacles to stop their continued sales contraction almost impossible to overcome. 

The Nikon faithful are all waiting for any indication from Nikon about how the company will handle any addition or transition to mirrorless. The problem now is simple: even an exciting product, if launched and marketed the way Nikon has been doing, will probably not change the customer perceptions enough to change Nikon's trajectory. 

As an aside in support of my thesis, I'm going to comment here about something I asked Nikon at NAB. That show was now two months ago. The question was whether Nikon could say anything about the future of XQD/CFexpress and how that applied to the existing XQD cameras (D4, D4s, D5, D500, D850). I was assured by three Nikon personnel they'd look into this and get back and answer. I've since asked two additional times about whether there would be an answer, only to met with the same "we'll get back to you." So. Instead of engaging current customers on a topic that is of express—pardon the pun—interest to them, Nikon is still in hibernation. Not even a corporate "we're exploring that..." Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. 

If Nikon wonders why Sony is stealing their thunder, they only have to look at Nikon's own actions. Or rather, lack of actions. There seems to be some belief within Nikon that they can just wait until they have something Big to announce and that this will make everything right. I'll point to the D850. Best received camera of the last year despite somewhat lackluster efforts on Nikon's part to promote it. But Nikon is still contracting despite having a hit product. 

The notion that "a product will solve our problems" runs rampant in tech, but it's rarely the case that the product all by itself does so. It takes a lot more, including customer engagement. Sony gets this. Nikon does not. Canon is in the middle. 

To no show or not to show—that is the question. There's only one right answer.



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