“Complexity kills convenience.”

June 12, 2016

“Complexity kills convenience.”

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Terry B. Jones speak Thursday evening (for more info on Terry, see http://www.tbjones.com/ ) at the NSU Art Museum Auditorium. Terry has started several successful ventures throughout his career. It was yet another fine speaker brought in by the South Florida Interactive Marketing Association (SFIMA – https://www.sfima.com/ ).

T Jones (2)

He made several telling points during his presentation. But the one that stuck with me was the one I used for the headline of this post: “Complexity kills convenience.” I have seen the validity of this statement rear up throughout my career, but today, with the open availability of information and alternative opportunities, it is even more true. People and organizations who can create the simpler experience – one that is more convenient for others to use – will win the day, every day.

From an organizational perspective this approach of making interactions simpler and easier needs to apply to our Customer relationships, our Vendor relationships and also our Employee relationships.

One of the benefits of having some gray hairs is being fortunate to have worked with numerous organizations over a number of years. In many instances, the people in some of these organizations have often expressed the thought that “it takes a great deal of effort to work with us.” While they were most often referring to their customers, it was also reality for vendors, partners and employees who were also expected to “work hard” to maintain their relationship with the organization. This is not an approach that works very often today, as the costs and obstacles of vested parties making a switch away from that organization have been drastically reduced.

Part of this is the shift is due organizations today are leaning toward a more service driven offering. In a product driven world, (most) consumers never liked complexity. But it was often part of the “package” because of a need to buy a product to cover all contingencies, and have a useful life that justified the purchase.

This was particularly true in the B2B world, where we often invested in the more complex, expensive model because we did not know what we would need in 5 years. We had to make an investment that could return a positive ROI. Services, on the other hand, have a shorter shelf life, and purchases can be justified (or terminated) on a more immediate basis.

We see this everyday with cloud computing, subscription software, consulting, marketing services… organizations can often switch rather readily if they feel they are not getting the service (think convenience) they want. And if the service provider seeks to make that switch difficult, their competitor is more than willing to ease the transition.

In closing, I find it sadly ironic that the efforts organizations make to increase customer engagement often make life and the relationship more complex for their customers, not simpler… and simpler is what customers really want. Everyone is busy and in most cases, they want ease of use, not what passes as support from the organization.

Many times this support forces customers to think too much, engage too much and waste more of their time than they are willing to provide. When this happens, we increase the possibility of defection, not reduce it. To steal a phrase from Gerry McGovern (http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/ )…sometimes the customer just ran out of coffee…

Empty Coffee Cup

Empty cup from My Favorite Kind of Crazy –

 

 

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Fridge Commerce

May 13, 2016

This post is really more of a test than anything else, as last week I wrote on this topic on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/heralding-age-f-commerce-mark-tietbohl?trk=mp-author-card ). This week I also did a video on the topic on YouTube. I wanted to find out how easy or difficult it is to embed a video:

 

As it turns out, it is fairly easy…

If She Knew What She Wants…

April 30, 2016

This line from the Bangles song in the mid 1980’s sums up the plight of the marketer today. The current marketer’s mantra is to provide the customer with what they want, instead of what we as marketers want, and then the sun will shine and all will be well. The customer will feel loved, we will have engendered loyalty, etc., etc…

However, like the song states, we as consumers (of either gender, as men often do not know what they want either)  don’t always know what we want. If we did, this consumer-centric focus would certainly be easier for marketing organizations, and more organizations would be executing successfully. However, what people articulate that they want is typically not what they really do want.

 

If She Knew What She Wants

I have been taking an online course from the University of Queensland on the topic of “The Science of Everyday Thinking”. This course makes it crystal clear that people have very little idea as to what they want and as to how their thinking processes really work. There is also a great deal of resistance to changing behavior once a pattern is established. It takes very compelling evidence to make a mental shift, and even this is often discounted depending on how it is presented.

So surveys are often misleading, social signals are often misleading, even comments on organization web sites can be misleading. In an earlier blog post, I posted the old statement from Henry Ford where he once stated “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” If Steve Job (“focus groups are worthless…”)  had only listened to what people said they wanted and looked only at past market performance, we would never have seen the iPhone (or the iPod for that matter).

That said, it can also be very dangerous to go into a market with preconceived ideas that are based solely on your organization’s needs and not ones that are founded on some kind of need in the marketplace. This is a conundrum when solved makes the difference between really good marketing companies and truly inspired ones.

So how do we do this? While there is no magic bullet, Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers suggests that the best place to start is to ask people what they have been struggling with. If you ask for thoughts in this context, people typically do know what their challenges are in a given area, and what pain points could be improved upon. This is especially true when the struggles tie into emotional rather than rational thought. Most people are more able and/or willing to report accurately from the emotional perspective than the rational if the right environment is provided.

The key here even with this method of asking is still based on brand trust and authority, which we will discuss further at later point. (There are some really good sources out there for brand authority, both on and off line. There are the obvious choices -Seth Godin for one- but I might also suggest Denise Lee Yohn, Harley Manning, Marty Neumeier, and if online is specifically your interest I would suggest reading Mark Traphagen, Neil Patel and the Moz Blog and the Kissmetrics blog specifically on articles related to building authority and trust.)

Once you have the feedback, focus on talking through and solving the problem, not building the solution…at least at until the problem is fully understood. Understanding the full nature of the problem…or your customer’s struggle…will lead to ideas on how to best solve for eliminating the struggle and making your solution the easy choice.

And for those of you who do not know the song, here it is 🙂

The Bangles VEVO Video – IF She Knew What She Wants

 

Indecision may or may not be my problem…

April 17, 2016

That quote from Jimmy Buffett sums up my writing efforts the past couple of weeks. I have been working on several topics to post, but for whatever reason, have not been able to get them to gel. So I thought that thinking through it here, on electronic paper, with you, might help.

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Photo courtesy of  workplacepsychology.net

 

They are all difficult topics, and all have been written on already (in some cases extensively). So one of the hang ups for me has been attempting to make the post unique…to not be just another “me too” post. There is an incredible irony here because as you can see on the list of topics I would like to write about below, Paralysis by Analysis is the very first one on the list.

Paralysis by Analysis or Why Action is Necessary Today in Order to Conduct Viable Research – We just don’t know enough about the way the consumer thinks, and more specifically behaves in the digital space, especially when it comes to mobile. Not only is mobile is changing rapidly, it is changing the consumer mindset as well. This has become a market where past history does not mean a great deal, so (thoughtful and intentional) action is required.

Alienation – Everyone is writing about alienation in one form or another…alienation due to social media attachment, alienation due to technology, alienation due to lack of empathy. I feel a strong need to write on this topic, but mine will be more about alienation in time and space, or maybe just geography.

Content Marketing– No, I do not want to write about the wonders of content marketing or the 7 things that make it work or the 5 things you must avoid. I’m more of the mind to write here about why people who claim to be writing content for their audience are often deluding themselves.  In many ways, I feel that the content emperor has no clothes. The appropriate situational content has great value. However, it is also arrogant to presume we can write content our audience wants when we make little effort to find out what content they want, or if they even want content beyond a simple answer. I suspect that post will annoy a few people…

Why Growth Hacking is Not Marketing (or is it?) – There are definitely two sides to this discussion, both with very strong points of view. To my thinking process, it depends on whether you are talking mind set or tool set. Growth hacking is also certainly contextual, and not a great deal different than the old concept of guerilla marketing or from online marketing on steroids.

So there you have a few of the topics that have been swirling around in my brain, but have not yet fleshed out enough to put into coherent words on paper. Or at least coherent thoughts that are strikingly different than the content that is already out there….

Does community always matter?

April 6, 2016

…and additionally, is “community” always the same or does community look differently depending on time, circumstance and context?

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A Cosplay gathering (Image courtesy Pixabay user nile | CC0 Public Domain)

Brain Solis has been quoted as saying: “Community is much more than belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter.” The sentiment expressed here seems to be that belonging for the sake of belonging may drive longevity, but it definitely does not drive engagement. At least not in long run. Engaging together as a group in an activity is what makes belonging matter…at least from a community building perspective.

But is that actually so? Do we need to be involved in the sense of “doing something together” to be a community? Does community always equal engagement? Are communal activities always needed to drive community?

It seems to me that sometimes, we just want to be a part of a community, and that there are different levels of commitment, but all may be communities. After all, there are valid arguments that belonging matters more than engagement in the sense of shared activity: it matters to us for visibility…or the size of the group may be what matters… or we may belong because the group inspires trust. In fact, there seem to be times when just belonging for the sake of belonging is what matters. And these “communities” are often vibrant. The real question though may well be: are they long lasting or just a moment in time?

I have listed some references below that speak to various aspects of this thought. I’d like to know yours.

Just belonging matters:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201203/it-is-motivating-belong-group

http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/18/belonging-matters-researchers-halve-racial-gpa-gap-with-brief-exercise/

Visibility matters: http://gradworks.umi.com/36/63/3663476.html

Size matters: http://macdgroup.com/2013/10/15/why-size-matters/

Trust Matters: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00661/full

Build engagement, not dominance with your customers…

March 28, 2016
Man-looking-happily-at-phone-Betsie-Van-Der-Meer-Taxi-Getty

A man who is happy with his mobile experience

 

“As the consumer’s device of choice, mobile is almost always on hand. It’s the brand’s first point of contact with the consumer, but that doesn’t mean forcing them to walk around with the entire website in your pocket. Rather, the mobile experience needs to address the context of a mobile user.” ~ Carin van Vuuren, Usablenet

Fit the technology to the user, rather than the other way around. An important thought to live by in this era where many organizations still view technology, rather than engagement, as the path to competitive advantage.

Proximity marketing…is there value?

March 19, 2016

I have been much more active lately posting and sharing on LinkedIn than on this site. I do hate duplicating content, and have not had the opportunity to do both as well as I would like.

I am going to try and work on that. Maybe I could start with a discussion thread on tracking your phone (by beacon or WiFi), as the whole issue of tracking within the store is an interesting one.

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I believe (my opinion only) that in the past couple years, consumers have become more accepting of in-store proximity marketing, if for no other reason other than it has become so much better. Understanding the likely reason to be in the store (based on past interaction with that retail brand), and ability to pinpoint specific areas of the store has definitely improved. Retailers are learning what is too much (or too little messaging) and how to gauge time in store, time in a specific area, and progress through the store in sending these messages at more appropriate times.

Yet, this is a practice that is certainly still in transition, and mistakes are still made. How this process is executed may cause consumers to get their backs up. Receiving an offer after just making that purchase is annoying. Many are opposed to the practice of having competitor’s geo-fencing another store and providing competing coupons, while others find this fascinating. Getting bombarded upon entering the store is usually not desirable.

Also, consumers may not recognize that they may have opted to receive messages from the store location itself, but may also simultaneously be receiving ads and messages from other apps that they have on their phones and other sources they have previously opted to have messages from. To say the least, at times the whole process can get messy.

Here are a few data points that all the more underline why proximity marketing may the best way ahead (note: the originator of this material certainly has a vested interest in beacon technology, but interesting still the same):

  • The average clickthrough rate (CTR) for a Facebook ad is 0.119%, according to a recent Wordstream report
  • The average clickthrough rate (CTR) for an email is 1% to 3%, according to a recent report by Mailchimp
  • The average clickthrough rate (CTR) for beacon based push notifications can be as high as 80%, according to the data published by push notification technologist Kahuna (Beaconstac, 2016).

(more on this discussion can be found here: Sheehy, A. (2013, August 19). The Mobile Advertising Value Chain.  http://www.nakono.com/tekcarta/analysis-insight/mobile-advertising/mobile-advertising-value-chain/  )

I do think that one of the big drawbacks to this type of push marketing is that not all consumers have their phones out at all times (I know…it varies by generation, but it still can be a pain to have your phone out in a department store sometimes).  That is why I am encouraged by some of the other ways that proximity marketing can be accomplished such as displaying digital instore signage of items that might be of interest if you have your phone on or through Near Field Communications (NFC) marketing, where you hold your phone close to the sensor to receive more information. Personally, I also like the fact that proximity marketing for that brand ends when you leave the store or certainly shortly thereafter.

What about you…proximity marketing, yea or nay?

Thought and Planning also Required…

January 24, 2016

“You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” ~ Daniel Keys Moran, an American computer programmer and science fiction writer.

Some experts thinking on marketing in 2016…

January 8, 2016

This is a particularly good and succinct collection of predictions/thoughts on inbound marketing for 2016: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/145335/16_on_16-_Inbound_Marketing_Predictions_for_2016.pdf?t=1452198942029

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Paul Roetzer’s section on Artificial Intelligence and Automation is particularly interesting to me, but all of the thoughts contained here are intriquing. You will also want to check out Luke Summerfield and his thoughts on industry shifts.It will be interesting to see how much of this actually occurs in 2016. Cheers…

“Begin, be bold and venture to be wise.” – Horace

January 2, 2016

  Just had to share..this is a great overview on Joint Ventures by Stuart J. Davidson – Grow Your Business Through Joint Venture Marketing 

Joint venture marketing can be very valuable for the reasons listed in this article. Joint ventures can quickly add to revenues, but also can add to the credibility of both parties and help build customer loyalty. The key is finding a partner that has as much to gain (from their perspective) as you do.