Thursday, 19 March 2015

What’s new?

What’s new in business – probably nothing!

Are we simply obsessed with the concept of new? We’re living in an age where recycling and re-using are seen by most people as sensible if not vital and yet re-using business ideas and processes is shunned as old hat. Trotting out ideas from 20 or 30 years ago is never going to work in the world of business, is it?

Well, I’m not so sure.

I was lucky enough to work for a client some years ago whose products were sold off the shelves of some of the poshest supermarkets in the country. In other words, it was a pretty safe bet that the consumers under discussion here were not unable to make evaluations and come to decisions by use of logic. And yet, by a process of trial and elimination we were able to prove by solid statistical analysis that what influenced sales positively for these particular consumers was the additional of a brightly coloured triangle on the top right of the pack with a jazzy word “new” in it. Just the addition of the word “new” to bring their attention to a product which had newly arrived on their shelves was enough to get them to take the first step and try the product. After that of course we were on our own and that new product had better be good but the important thing was to have cleared the first hurdle!

On the other hand, I was working with a new client recently in the home decoration market and new, up-to-the-minute digital campaigns for them were simply not working at all. In a field where people are constantly searching to buy the latest fashionable products, the word new did not appear to be having any influence whatsoever. It took an exercise into the four P’s of marketing (product, price, place and promotion) to help this business rethink its campaigns.

It was the four P’s which have been around forever which convinced this company that the campaign was not the issue but rather the whole marketing mix which influenced any client that bought into the offer and purchased products. The whole experience had to be right before the sweet fruits of success could be tasted. It was useful to think of the entire process of marketing as being similar to baking a cake of which the four P’s were the ingredients – leave any one out and the end result is a disaster.
The solution to the problem above is anything but new – the four P’s have been around for ages but that doesn’t make them any less valid.

In some cases, new is good and performs well but in others the tried and tested route may be your best option. Think of it this way – “old” could be the new “new” – that may sound a little odd but the bottom line in business is results so why not go with that if it works for you!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

In the internet we trust

I belong to the generation that grew up without the benefit of the internet and google searches. Nowadays,  I guess it’s pretty much all of us who simply grab whichever keyboard’s nearest to hand when we want to check the derivation or meaning of just about anything on the planet. I privately console myself with the thought that my university degree would have been a lot better if I hadn’t had to haul myself off to the college library every time I had to check some facts, dates or generally read up on a subject for some badly needed inspiration!

What got me thinking about all of this was when I recently learned of an internet-related term called “clickbait”. For me it’s one of those words that manage to subtly but quite unwittingly convey quite a deep insight into the dangers of the internet.

Clickbait is something I’ve been responding to, like millions of others, for a number of years. Tired at the end of a long day, it’s easy to be lured in to the kind of internet twaddle that promises everything and delivers nothing. You know the kind of thing – “two things only terrible bosses say” or “the one word that ruins 90% of all CV’s”.  Our curiosity draws us in and in some cases we may even click further as there is often a trail of “clickbait” for the unsuspecting victim.

For me there are three reasons why this practice sullies the internet for all of us, especially business people:

The practice is often concealed within a respectable looking blog or tweet so is little more than deception
Offering more than you deliver is entirely the wrong way to go about business
The concept of clickbait is now so overdone that it is generally seen as imitative and to be avoided at all costs

I have another internet term I love to hate and that is “lead magnet” which, like clickbait, is exactly what it sounds like. All these terms are transparent and rely on not being spotted if they are to work.

Clearly, they are commonly spotted, do not work and represent abuse of the internet. They unfairly detract from genuine use of what is potentially a marvellous tool for us all if we exercise caution.
By the way, the title for this piece is a very poor pun on the words “In God we trust” which I’m sure you knew. I checked my sources first on the internet so I know I’m right. I can also tell you the phrase appears on US banknotes and replaces the earlier phrase “ e pluribus unum”. Much as I love my Latin, I have to say that was probably a good call.

And for those of you who are thinking that google wouldn’t have improved my degree performance by much you’re probably right – the college bar was not very far from the library so I would simply have spent more time in there too!