French Fries and Iphone Covers

We think we know what people really want.

Few of us really do.

We’re all enigmas. We’re irrational. We make illogical choices, take actions that contradict our stated plans, and take the most useful things for granted while treasuring (and buying more of) things that shouldn’t matter nearly as much.

I hardly ever wash my car. I eat french fries in it while driving, occasionally dropping one between the seat and the center console, never to be seen again. I got the oil changed, finally, but only after weeks of annoying wrench shaped lights on my dashboard.

You will never see my iphone in public without its protective cover. I have 2. One for normal, every day use. One for running. I won’t use it with dirty hands, or let my 6 year old play with it (bad Dad!), or let too many days go by without cleaning the screen with an appropriately soft and non-scratching chamois. Same goes for my laptop (the not touching it with dirty fingers, not the chamois).

I love my car (it gets me to work and meetings and goes really fast). I merely like my iphone (it lets me make calls while playing Fieldrunners). If my iphone suddenly split into 2 equally shiny and pretty pieces tomorrow, life would go on. If my car blew up in a mushroom cloud of french fries and gum wrappers, I’d be in a serious bind.

Yet I continue to value my phone more than my car, at least in how I take care of them. I’m illogical.

So are you.

So are your customers, leads, prospects, bosses and coworkers.

Logic alone won’t tell us what people will value. What they’ll want. What they’ll respond to. Educated guesses just begin the experiment.

To find out what people really want, watch and listen for clues about what they already treasure, then give them more of that…

The Online Marketing Sweet Spot

With so many online tools and channels, it can be very difficult to decide where to start and which ones to focus on. What makes any one online marketing tool relevant to you?

Most don’t actually start out that way…

    1. At first, it’s so new that few marketers know what to really do with it. Twitter was a good example: 140 character long “tweets” about where you’re having lunch or which movie you just saw? At first, its marketing value wasn’t quite clear.
    2. But then, some really creative people figure out how to use it to expand their reputations online and connect with new prospects and clients. As this happened, its cost-effectiveness (time invested, not just money) goes straight up. This is the online marketing sweet spot.
    3. Unfortunately, once marketers discover something, more competitors start saturating the channel and raise the cost to compete. End users start to get sick of all the noise, or just get bored with it altogether, and jump on to the next best thing. We’re seeing this with email today. Spam nearly killed it as a viable marketing option, and although it’s still a critical part of any online marketing campaign, it’s definitely past its prime. People block out so much of their incoming mail while at the same time companies like Facebook and Twitter have shifted how people communicate with their friends and coworkers.
    4. Which leads to the last step: the death plunge into obsolescence (remember Friendster?).

Appealing To Everyone Is The Fastest Way To Go Broke…

Lack of specialization is one reason why the industry is seeing such downward pressure on pricing. Companies that don’t specialize are stuck selling a commodity in a market where new competitors enter every day. The only way to compete selling a commodity is branding (think Quaker Oats) or price (think $5 logo design).

The narrower your specialization:

  • The more money you will be able to charge, even if your potential market is smaller.
  • The easier it is to answer the question “Who are my customers?” and start marketing to them.
  • The easier it will be for the right clients to find you.
  • The easier it is to reach out to the right repeat users/connectors with enough depth and consistency to become relevant to them.
  • The more selective you can be about which clients and projects you take on.
  • The less effort it will take to convince clients that you are the best choice for their specific project.
  • The easier it will be to create an effective web site, search ad, blog and every other marketing campaign you will need. You’ll be clearer about what to say and why, because you’ll understand the real value of what you do.