June 26, 2012 1 Comment
This is awesome. Watch it full screen and crank up the volume.
Solving mysteries at 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).
May 21, 2012 1 Comment
A lot of my friends and colleagues have been passing around this infographic lately:
As the chart clearly shows, we’re a social group. I’ve seen (and posted myself) this chart on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and others. It shouldn’t surprise me. It shouldn’t surprise any of us. We’re in the business of communications, we’re constantly searching for some new, different, way to communicate. When you factor in that our clients demand that we have a POV on every new Instagram clone, or digital pinboard, of course we’re going to be heavy users of social media.
But we also need to remember who we are talking TO.
This past Saturday, I spent part of the afternoon wandering through Boston’s Earth Fest on the esplanade and was harshly reminded of who the mass audiences are. I guarantee the people I saw there have been the target of at least a few of my clients over the years. And this isn’t me being a snob, or passing judgement on anyone (except maybe people in the advertising world), but the truth is (and backed up by the chart above) that most people are not nearly as tech savvy as advertisers would like to believe they are.
What I saw was people outside, listening to music, sampling eco-friendly food and products, hanging out with their friends, enjoying the nice weather.
What I didn’t see was people with their hands and faces glued to mobile devices. I didn’t see anyone carrying around an iPad. The only tablets I saw were being used by the vendors to collect names/emails, or process contest entries. I saw a Samsung Galaxy Note tent, but didn’t see a lot of people lined up to play with a new tablet. Not nearly as many as I saw lined up for a taste of sweet potato tater tots.
Facebook may have 900 million users, Instagram may be worth one billion dollars, but when it gets down to real people, living their daily lives, they aren’t checking in constantly. They aren’t posting everything the moment it happens. They aren’t showing the world every single piece of food they consume.
One of my favorite bloggers/planners, Martin Wiegel, once posted a series of “bold statements” (as I called them) including one that said “It’s still mostly a 1.0 world.” Looking around the masses who attended Earth Fest with me yesterday, I couldn’t help but agree. These are the mass consumer, yet they are not constantly looking for the next big thing. They aren’t seeking to find the coolest things ever and share them with their friends before anyone else does. That’s a very small subset of the much larger audience.
I recently took part in a two-day workshop with clients from a regional bank in New England. They position themselves as being all about service, about going above and beyond in the name of the customer. After two days of constantly referencing Zappos, the COO turned to me and said “What does Zappos sell?”
You’d think we had been talking about Fab.com or some obscure niche site, not the largest online footwear retailer ever. Not the darling of every business school, business magazine, and online shopper. Not a company that had been acquired for almost one billion dollars just a few years before. And yet, he had never heard of it.
Since Cracked, Mashable, and BuzzFeed have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that everyone loves to
consume read lists (only marketing targets “consume” media, real people read/watch/listen/play with stuff), I’ll use that format for my recommendations:
April 25, 2012 Leave a comment
I’m not really a huge Henry Ford fan. While you have to respect his business acumen and innovation, it’s really hard to see past his anti-semitism and support of Nazi Germany prior to the US entering WWII.
But one thing he did that I do like, is provide the world with this quote:
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
And then decades later, Steve Jobs came along and echoed a similar sentiment:
“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
Often times, we are too reliant on asking people what they want. Or what they think they want. Or whether they would like some abstract idea. Notice that Steve Jobs didn’t say “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show them a concept board.”
The problem is context. Even if you have a great idea, without the proper context consumers cannot imagine how a new idea/product/service fits into their lives.
One example of this from my life is tablet computers. In 2005, when I was in grad school, our IT strategy professor gave us a lecture about tablet computing. He demonstrated tablets by running his whole class on something like this:
That was a state of the art tablet at the time. It was essentially a laptop where you could swivel the screen around and fold it over the keyboard then write on the screen with a stylus. It was a terrible experience. It was heavy, not terribly fast and really, offered nothing that regular laptops didn’t (other than writing on the screen – and who really needed that?).
And then came this:
And it blew every other tablet out of the water. It revitalized the whole concept of tablets. And I’m sure that Steve Jobs didn’t ask customers if they wanted tablets. He looked at how people use technology and made a device that enhanced their experience. If he had asked people whether they wanted a tablet or what they thought of tablets, they would have imagined that Toshiba above and said “no thanks.”
But my absolute favorite example of this is text messaging. In 2001 I participated in a focus group about text messaging. Because as strange as it seems now, back in 2001, in the US, not many people were using text messaging. Back then, I was using one of these:
It pretty much just made calls and stored phone numbers. So when I was told that I would be able to use a phone to send text messages to people I thought it was a terrible idea. I couldn’t imagine typing on a number pad to send one-way messages. I couldn’t imagine when I would WANT to use text messages. I conceded that if I was in class, or in a loud bar, it might be more convenient than making a phone call, but I couldn’t grasp the idea of sending someone a message and not getting an instantaneous response like you do when you are actually talking to them.
And now? Last month I sent 393 text messages. Thats 13 a day. How much did I talk on the phone? 135 minutes. 4 minutes a day. I hate talking on the phone and pretty much only talk on the phone with my parents and customer service reps.
21 year old me thought that talking on the phone was more convenient than texting and waiting for a reply. But now, most people would agree that calling, waiting for the other person to answer, making pleasantries, and then finally getting to the reason for the call is much more inconvenient.
So stop asking your customers what they want. And definitely stop asking your clients what they think their customers want. Get out there and meet your customers. Spend time with them. Observe them. Talk to them about how they solve problems in their life. And then take what you learn and figure out how to solve those problems better.
But unless you make faster horses, don’t ask them what they want.