Looking at ZL Technologies suit against Gartner (seeGartner’s magic hydrant) I noticed an interesting disconnect between their filings and their web site.

The filings make impressive claims:

  • Symantec’s search is so slow as to render it useless for its intended purpose
  • Low total cost of ownership
  • Runs in the existing environment, imposes no costly changes
  • Better support than Symantec

They sum up with:

. . . ZL outperforms Symantec by over a thousand-fold in search speed; searches with far greater accuracy than Symantec; scales to one to two orders of magnitude above Symantec in any given vault; and reduces the cost of servers, storage and administrative overhead to half that of Symantec.

Wow. Who wouldn’t check that out?

But try to find those points on ZLT’s web site. The home page spends more time talking about the Gartner suit than their product’s advantages.

Should lawyers do a better job selling the product than your web site does?

Shy techies
How hard would it be for the home page to say something like:

Find out why ZL’s archiving solution:

  • Is up to 1,000x faster than the competition
  • Makes no costly changes to your IT environment
  • Is much more scalable and affordable
  • Has one of the quickest support teams in the business

We’re ZL Technologies. We try harder.

OK, it could use some tweaking. But the point is if you went to ZLT’s web site you’d quit before you learned that. On a web site you’ve got maybe 30 seconds to grab attention so visitors keep clicking and reading.

Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid
A client once told me that 98% of their customers had NetApp installed. Why isn’t that on the homepage? Well, it is too aggressive, too in your face.

But the greatest storage success in the last 20 years – EMC – was brutal going after IBM in ’92-’96, trumpeting every benchmark, customer win and IBM stumble as loudly as they could. EMC was, then, the scrappy underdog against an entrenched and complacent IBM.

The StorageMojo take
There is a lesson there. Challengers act differently than incumbents. They have something to prove, new ideas to promote and converts to make.

Adopting the “trust me” tone of the big vendors doesn’t cut it. You must be aggressive in telling your story.

And that story needs to be simple so the people you want to reach will work to hear it. People won’t dig into your web site unless you give them a reason.

Gartner can label you any way they want. But you have only yourself to blame if you don’t give people a reason to look beyond the label.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Disclosure – companies pay me to help craft their stories, but ZLT isn’t one of them. And yes, that is a quote from Almost Famous.

For another perspective on Gartner, check out “Objective” think tank analysis.