February 17, 2009

Bizarro World

A tale of two businesses. Both examples happened recently.
  • Business A contacts me, wanting help retaining customers. This is an online brand that is in Acquisition Mode. The days of easy Google gravy have come to an end. Management wants to "de-tether" from Google, and wants to know how the offline folks spend money in a cost-effective manner to keep customers.
  • Business B contacts me, wanting to trim offline marketing expense. This is a traditional catalog brand that is in Hybrid Mode. The days of easy co-op customer acquisition have come to an end. Management wants to know how to stop spending money in offline marketing, and wants to know how the online brands keep customers in a cost-effective manner.
Suddenly, I'm in the bizarro world.

These are interesting times, and not because of the endless pap we're fed about "...
in these challenging and unprecedented economic times, leading brands are considering social media and mobile marketing and personalization as keys to unlocking customer loyalty ... "

Maybe we're finally being forced to think, to really think.

We're thinking about two fundamentally similar, but opposite questions.
  1. I'm spending money and not getting anything for it.
  2. I'm not spending any money and not getting anything for it.
Both questions fail to address the real issue.
  • If I had not purchased from my own business in two years, is there anything that I could do to get me to purchase again, anything that protects my profit and loss statement?
Business becomes very interesting if the answer to that question is "no".

The world changes when we answer "no" to that question. We're no longer catalog marketers or online brands or multichannel retailers. Instead, we're forced to consider our own viability. We're no longer focusing on putting a shopping cart in the upper-right-hand-corner of a static home page. We're asking ourselves the fundamental question --- why do we exist?

Here's where all of the innovation begins.

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