I'm pretty sure there are some consultants out there who are telling big, clueless companies that the way to engage with their audience is to engage with them on an interactive, emotional level. I imagine them saying "let's bolt a few social features onto the product and engage with the MySpace generation." Those consultants convinced Sprint to launch possibly the dumbest website I've seen all year: users fill out a survey and are told which cell phone fits their lifestyle the best.
And now those consultants have conned Epson into doing the same thing on a new site called Epsonality. They ask questions like "You come across a bear in the woods, what do you do?" and "you find $199.99 lying on the ground, what do you do?" and use your answers to somehow determine the right printer for you. All in a sick, highly personalized Flash interface.
My perfect emotional printer partner is, apparently, the Epson C120:
You're an intense, type A-plus with lower-than-average printer patience and a "go, go, go, come one, come on, come on" attitude toward everything from your Internet connection to your microwave oven. You value one thing above all else and the C120 delivers it: blazing speed.
Wow Epson. You nailed me, and I'm a customer for life. Except that I'm not, and never will be. You win the lamest website of the week award and join Sprint as a brand that I will never purchase. The reason? The last time I bought one of your printers the software screwed it up so badly I had to reformat the hard drive just to get it to work again. Since then, I've stuck with HP's.
Fire the consultants, stop trying to be a conversational marketer and just get back to the basics.
Or build a Facebook application. Now that would be cool.