Create the Experience you’d Like to Have

  Five Star thinking

It's a simple idea, isn't it? So why is it so hard to do? Well, for one we're not our client. We're someone's client, and many scenarios come to mind. Service situation? Communication disconnect? Can't find what you're looking for?

    We all live in specific worlds and problems. We all use search to find many of the things we want, even when we don't buy online. We also pay attention to the recommendations of others. I recorded some thoughts on finding gold nuggets in online reviews with Target Marketing a couple of years ago.

    Research helps you understand how people view value in products. It also helps you see where existing advice and communication are falling short.

    There are as many problems in search of solutions as solutions for the problems we have online. This is a huge opportunity for people who work on content production and optimization, for technologists who work on products, social media and community builders, innovation and brand people. The list goes on.

    Some of these areas of the business are interrelated.

It's summer, so how about travel advice?

    Every time I research a travel destination I come across an avalanche of information. I end up making a patchwork of advice and writing my own itinerary. I've been working on a side passion projects for the past several weeks. It's something that had been on the back burner forever.

    So shhhh, it's not official yet. But it involves travel and food — two of my favorite activities. it's more than that, though. I'm one of the crazy ones who thinks building bridges is a much better value proposition that erecting walls.

    That aside, I was pleased to see an opinion article on the NYT that offered a simple spreadsheet# to build an itinerary in Google docs. This is what I'm talking about. You can take it a few steps further — specific things that people who like cycling tours do, for example.

    How many people are there? Maybe more than you think.

Do you want to be everywhere, or where it matters?

    That was a simple move by the NYT, and I can see there are 65-68 people online looking at the doc at any one time. It signals definite interest, otherwise why bother. Our job in any business is to understand our clients better so we can continue to deliver value.

    It's word of the obvious, but being where the people you want to serve are, even if it's just listening and not marketing there (in favor of higher value channels), can help you serve existing clients better. If they're still buying from you, they're likely happy or content in some ways. They might not tell you which ones.

    Listening helps you identify things you had not thought about and could add value. You can learn a lot that you might not be able to use right away. However, it can help you see patterns or holes in current services.

    Sometimes, we put so much focus on what we say — or in digital terms what we produce and share — and not enough into what's happening with prospects and clients. What they say and do, especially when not on our web site.

Not enough hours in the day

    I get it. Some of these things are simple to do. If only our plate was less full, or we had a budget to undertake a — you name it, new segmentation study, customer survey, rebrand. Those are all great initiatives that will give you a leg up longer term as appropriate to your situation.

    Short term, you can do more than you suspect. Have you put in place a process to gather feedback continuously? To test and improve your communications as you go? To provide more useful tools to clients regularly?

    Do you have someone who gets your business model and brand voice quickly and can pitch in — do the work, some qualitative research, writing, help sharpen your point of view, coach your team?

    Noticing where the market falls short is super useful. But not being able to fill that void with value on a timely basis means saying goodbye to opportunity. Digital and technology have not changed the rules on business plans and marketing — you still need to make a profit.

    It has created more opportunity to solve problems than you have time for — some of those problems are worth understanding and solving. You could be validating ideas, researching questions, finding creative solutions to help you tell a better story. You can do that by getting to what I call, “five start thinking.”