It will have been one year ago, the first week of February, that I trekked from Kensington, Maryland to Rock Hill, South Carolina to see the Cube for myself. By that time, I'd had a chance to try out the Cubify web site and had a lot of questions regarding the direction in which they appeared to be going.
In particular, I know that most, if not all, of 3D Systems core expertise was in business-to-business marketing. My fear was that they, like many companies with that limited core expertise, were going to find it tough going in the consumer marketplace. And, from what I initially saw on the Cubify site at that time, that fear seemed to be well founded. Frankly, while I came away from those meetings with a real excitement about the Cube, I can't say I had the same enthusiasm for the Cubify web site.
Months went by before I began to see that they WERE "getting it". And, now, just one year after they revealed Cubify.com, I am fully convinced that 3D Systems IS one of those rare business-to-business companies that CAN and HAS successfully learned how to market to home users.
The change, I believe, when I listen to members of the Cubify team talk, and see their new product offerings, is that they have grown from equating 'consumer' marketing with 'mass' marketing, to evolving to see that the consumer is not some big people aggregate; but, is made up of unique individuals that respond to products and services with individual aspirations, skills and needs.
I was thrilled when 3D Systems purchased MyRobotNation as part of the Cubify family. To me, that was a stroke of genious. My grandchildren and I had already enjoyed the My Robot Nation experience well before the news that they had been acquired. If there was ever a company that "got it" when it comes to offering the consumer a unique and pleasant buying experience, it was My Robot Nation. For 3D Systems to see that potential as part of their own transformation into the consumer marketplace was brilliant. And, connected or not, the transformation of the Cubify web site and the Cubify experience has seemed to blossom from that point forward.
What brought all this to my mind is that yesterday 3D Systems and Cubify.com announced that they were teaming up with StarTrek.com to allow users to "join the Star Trek crew" with a customized figurine having their own face on it. Very cool! Here is the link to the blog entry.
What struck me, when I saw this, was that in just one year 3D Systems and the Cubify team have covered a LOT of ground and made tremendous strides in delivering appealing content as well as hardware to each of us as individuals. They are marketing to our uniqueness and that is a winning formula.
Star Trek was not one of my favorite television programs when it came on in 1966. In fact, personally, I never had much interest in it. But, from the first, I have been fascinated by the loyalty and passion of those that embraced it. I was teaching in 1969 and I vividly recall one 3rd grader that would run around the school yard with a TV controller pretending it was a phaser! He tried his best to make his pesky science teacher disappear into molecular mist. LOL!
Fortunately, TV controllers make for very poor phasers. I didn't disappear and we still keep in touch. :)
The point is that there was something about the Star Trek consumer experience that touched individuals in a such a powerful way that close to 50 years later the brand is still young and fresh! That is nothing less than magic! And, something tells me that Cubify.com is showing signs that they have found some of that same wonderful magic.
And... I expect a whole lot more to come!