I can count on one hand the number of marketers I know who get to do "Marketing" every day. (with a capital M).
Accountants do accounting all the time. Salespeople spent a lot of time selling. But marketers, it seems, have a long list of things they do (budgets, coupons, projections, photo shoots, bizdev meetings, meet and greets, etc.) that is technically marketing–cause I think everything an organization does is marketing–but is hardly in the sweet spot.
Think about the giant marketing successes of our time. From Disney to CAA to Boston Consulting Group… from Ronald Reagan to the Mormon Church to Habitat for Humanity… in every case, these organizations won big time because of a kernel of an idea, a marketing insight that they built upon.
There are more than 50,000 restaurants in New York City. Perhaps 200 of them are marketing success stories. Yet at the other 49,800 restaurants, the owners spend very little time working on their breakout idea, and tons of time doing stuff that feels a lot more important.
Once an organization is up and running, it’s almost impossible to carve out the time to find the marketing vision that will make all the difference. Are you too busy working to make any money?
I was trying to figure out Etsy, sorting the paintings by "times viewed" and was completely stunned by the fact that some paintings have 500 times as many views as others. And not because of the price, or, apparently, any obvious difference in quality.
Instead, you’ll notice that certain artists (like Emily) have hundreds of views. By my calcuation, she’s sold more than twenty thousand dollars worth of paintings so far. (she’s sold over 400 works of art, at 10 or 50 or more dollars a pop).
This isn’t a post about blogging or myspace or even etsy. Instead, it should be proof to you that the whole thing is raveling (which means the same as unraveling, in case you were curious). That all the systems that kept all the processes in place and leveraged mature industries and experienced players are slowly (or quickly) filtering to the masses. Faster than you thought it would happen.
The folks at etre were kind enough to do some eye tracking analysis of Squidoo. You can see the entire tape, unedited (but at slightly lower youtube resolution) here:
This is fascinating stuff. The blue dot shows you where the user is focusing her eyesite… it doesn’t measure peripheral vision, which is crucial. It reminds me of watching some bugs approaching food–or perhaps it’s a trap… The path is very jumpy, impatient, experimenting hither and yon.
You can see that some of the participants are slower, more linear readers, while others are jumping like mad, taking it all in.
I think websurfing is a hunting activity. The eye is looking for anamolies, for things that don’t belong. (That might be why the word anomaly, spelled wrong in the previous sentence, got your focus). Once our peripheral vision confirms that something is familiar, we can ignore it and just worry about the new stuff. Squidoo is stuffed with new stuff (nearly all our visitors are first-time visitors) and so, for example, there’s almost no focus on our Google AdWords. That’s because they’re familiar.
One of the takeaways is that bad web design might actually be a good thing! Slightly bad design isn’t familiar. It’s off. It demands attention. (Very bad design demands the ‘back’ button, of course). One of the reasons that experienced power tool users–like table saws–can still lose a finger is that they don’t pay attention… it’s too easy to turn the thing on and just use it.
The biggest lesson wasn’t news to me, but it might be to your boss: your prospects are not rational and organized and linear. You can’t count on them sitting still and hearing your story from beginning to end. They won’t.
The answer is not to try to change human nature. It’s to embrace the hunting skills that people are bringing online (and to their daily offline media consumption) and to make your media match their needs.
Why isn’t there a master calendar… in the spirit of evdb, but perhaps more RSS focused… I mean, why can’t I see a calendar of every baseball team (minor and major leagues) all at the same time, all in my area? Let’s say it’s Friday afternoon in Kansas City and you’re looking for live music… why isn’t there one place that shows it all, in various levels of granularity? Or I want to play in a pick up game of frisbee or maybe soccer somewhere within ten miles of my house…
If each venue published their schedule as an RSS feed, it seems trivial to put this together. I know, I know, you’re already working on it, but I wonder why no one has made the winner yet. This has ‘natural monopoly’ all over it.
Here is the first of three common pitfalls that wreck your marketing efforts:
Lots of marketers (and most of their bosses) like to say, "I’ll know it when I see it."
That’s why they want to see three or five or twenty executions of an ad. Or ten or fifteen mockups of a car or a facade. That’s why marketers put their staff and their freelancers and their agencies through an infinite loop of versioning.
"I’ll know it when I see it."
Actually, you won’t.
You didn’t know it when you saw the first iPod or the first iteration of Google. You didn’t know it when first exposed to email or JetBlue or the Macarena or Britney Spears. No, in fact, you hardly ever "know it." If you did, you’d be a lot smarter than the rest of us, and we’d all be eagerly watching for your next product.
What is true is that we often know success when it smashes us in the face. We didn’t "know it" when Google went public at $85 a share (did you buy shares with your house as collateral?) but we sure knew it when it hit $300.
Perhaps Clive Davis knows a hit song when he hears one, and certainly Giorgio Armani has the magic eye. But, just speaking for myself, I don’t have Clive’s ears or Giorgio’s eyes.
Marketing campaigns are frequently crippled by managers who are sure that they know "it" when they see it–and this isn’t it. Some of my favorite stories are the ones about all the naysayers who tried to kill the stuff that ends up being great. They just didn’t know what it was.
Gene David writes a note about a simple idea: how being in sync with your market can change everything. He writes:
I am in Santa Elena, CR. Off the map. No paved roads by choice. Few locals and lots of ecotourism (read tourist town which is really hard to get to). If you like frogs, bugs, toucans, and zip lines through the rain forest, it is a great place.
There is one bus to the coast at 6am each day. Mostly filled with tourists heading to surf or see the leather back turtles (I will be on it tomorrow). Right across the street from the bus stop is a panaria (bread and roll shop), which opens at 6am. Everyday 20 to 50 people who just scrabbled out of bed to make the bus on time. Opening 10 minutes earlier would mean sales. Just 10 minutes ealier. I know I would buy. I will buy tonight before heading to bed, but many more turistas will not have planned ahead.
May 29, 2006
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