March 03, 2014

A "Must Read" Article

I know, you've got better things to do than to read an article written by Mark Cuban - about SMU Basketball. Take 5 minutes, click here, and read anyway, because the essence of this article directly relates to your business. I'll wait while you read the article, go ahead, take a few moments ...

... ok, you're done? Good!

What did you learn?

There's a quote ... "they all asked me what I thought of the atmosphere at the arena".

What is the atmosphere like in the arena you play in?

Mind you, I'm all about numbers, a degree in statistics to boot. But analytics have ruined retail, and are holding e-commerce back.

The things that make shopping magical have nothing to do with analytics. In fact, the things that make shopping magical are the exact opposite of analytics. When you walk into an Apple store and there are eighty people, about sixty too many for the numerous blue shirts in the store, you know something magical is happening. It's the opposite of walking into a Microsoft store that is twice as big with a third as many people in the store ... at that point, it's 1/6th of the experience ... and it doesn't matter how well Microsoft executes, it doesn't matter how data is used to improve the experience ... the magic simply isn't there.

None of us can compete with the companies that have taken over the world, the 1% of companies that generate all the sales and profit and control how the sales and profit happen for everybody else.
  • Amazon.
  • Google.
  • Facebook.
  • Microsoft.
  • Verizon / AT&T.
  • Comcast.
  • Apple.
  • Add your favorite company here.
Your business is like SMU - they have a 7,000 seat arena, they're not playing at Rupp Arena with more than 20,000 in the house. SMU cannot compete against major programs - except, in recent years, a few things changed.
  • They hired a Hall of Fame coach.
  • They renovated their basketball arena.
  • They worked hard to create a good atmosphere.
How about in e-commerce, cataloging, or retail? What is the parallel?
  • You hire experts to manage the business (or not).
  • You invest in your store, catalog, or website to provide a great shopping experience (what some might call #omnichannel).
  • Atmosphere - this is the story you tell, the story that causes folks to love your business.
Which brings me back to the question I asked earlier ... "what is the atmosphere like in the arena you play in?"

Notice Mr. Cuban's quote ... "I know it drives everyone in pro sports crazy when their team finally does well and fans don't immediately respond."

This quote directly relates to everything we do. When we make a change, more often than not (and especially if the change is the right change for the long term), customers do not respond. This is where analytics are killing us. The numbers say that something did not work. So we pull the plug.

Well, the analytics are not saying that. At all. Analytics are saying that something does not work at this moment in time. So when we become slaves to numbers, we greatly limit our ability to protect the future by allowing numbers to maximize today's performance.

Analytics and technology go hand-in-hand. We're bombarded by messages that we must "be mobile". Sometimes, I think mobile is the by-product of having a great experience, not the tool that causes great experiences. Always, I think social is the by-product of having a great experience, not the tool that causes great experiences.

Why is it that so few people talk about creating great experiences (atmosphere)?

I call experiences and atmosphere "story". In our modern age, "story" is largely ignored. Is it any wonder, then, that almost nobody wants to talk about the businesses we work for?