When we think about marketing strategy, or even market research, we always think about one of the Four (or Five) P's, Place. Place is about distribution. How does the thing get into the hands of your customer?
Our advice is always to make it as easy for the customer as possible. The omnichannel movement has preached the gospel of having your product or service be accessible everywhere and anywhere the customer is. It sounds very caring and good, in this season of giving. But recently, we've had an experience or two that has made us pause to reflect on that.
I ordered a few items online from a large department store. I can get to said store in 15 minutes, honestly, but I was super busy, knew exactly what I wanted, and loved the convenience of having it delivered to my door, while I worked on something else. There was an online sale, and free shipping, making it even simpler. Fantastic, right? Here's the thing...
The first thing that happened was a notification that the first item had shipped, but that the second was on backorder. These were very small items, size-wise. So the first arrived within a day or two, in a box more than ten times its size. Such waste! Oh, the poor planet. The other item said it was shipping a day or two later, but took nearly two weeks to get here. Tracking showed that it went from a warehouse in the west end, to a sorting station, to another station in the east end, and eventually, after sitting who-knows-where for the rest of the time, to my door, downtown.
Now I, as a customer, was pretty patient. I didn't need these things urgently, I just wanted to save myself the time and trouble of a trip to the store. But it did annoy me that the second item travelled all around the city. How many GHGs were pumped out while that occurred? And then when it arrived, again, a box many times its size. Neither of the items were breakable. They didn't need special cushioning. The store just used the boxes they had, I guess. Either item could have easily fit in a padded envelope.
My reflection was this: I did like the convenience. What I hated, I mean, really hated, the fact that these items travelled all over the city, and used so much packaging, by the time they arrived. And I think, if I had been given a reminder or even an incentive to come to the store, I might have done it. Heck, I know I would have, since I have been to the store at least once in the ensuing two weeks. And I might not have felt so guilty at the impact my perceived savings and convenience have had on the planet.
So by all means, make it easy and convenient for your customer. But when making it easy and convenient for your customers comes at another cost, perhaps a higher-order cost that may matter to them, it's worth reminding them of that. In the long run, we'll all be better off.
I'm Megann Willson, and I'm one of the partners here at PANOPTIKA, along with Steve Willson. For nearly two decades, we've been helping our clients see everything they need to know to make better business decisions, using strategic research and expert facilitation. And today we've been married for 39 years. Happy anniversary! You can find more content from us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. We also share business news you can use, offers, and recommended links and reading every week. You can subscribe using the orange button, and if we're not adding value, subscribe anytime.
This post was updated in January, 2020
Sometimes when we work on research with a client, they are very familiar with a specific kind of tool, or they have a strong understanding of how to understand a certain kind of data. Surveys are a good example. Most of us like the certainty of surveys - we can understand the statistical value of the data, the numeric nature of data makes good charts, and it can be organized and displayed in incredibly beautiful and insightful ways. When you use a survey, you're a collector of data. Oh, you might add a few open-ended questions, but the bulk of everyday survey work is about things you know, and figuring out whether you can make a great discovery by connecting them, or organizing them in different ways, or by gathering new (but finite) facts. How many trees are in this photo? How often does the river overflow its banks? At what time is the light best for a photo like this one?
On the other hand, when you use qualitative research, it's more like being an explorer. You don't bother to guess what might be around the corner - you explore. You might do that observationally, by taking a walk in the woods or along the river's edge, and taking photos, or making notes. Or, you could ask the person in the photo why they're here. What led them to this spot? Have they explored here before? Are there things that might have been helpful on their journey so far?
The thing is, it's difficult to be a collector and an explorer at the same time. The first requires precision, a certain fore-knowledge, and many data points to validate. The second requires a sense of wonder, an openness to the idea that the answers my not be easily quantifiable on a chart, but delivers a richness and depth of understanding that is hard to see in a pie chart. Both are necessary, and each kind of understanding of your customer, your market, your operations, deserves your attention and care. When you have big questions that need answering, think about whether you need to be a collector or an explorer, and it will help you decide how to structure your research in a way that matches with the hat you're wearing for this project.
I'm Megann Willson, and I'm the CEO and one of the Partners here at PANOPTIKA. Our company name means "see everything", because we help our clients see everything they need to know, to make better decisions. If you're wrestling with the right kind of approach to get the answers you need so you can find, know, or keep more customers, we can help. For more ideas like this, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook - and if you want insights delivered direct to your inbox, you can subscribe by clicking the orange button, below.
Megann and Steve, Partners in PANOPTIKA, are working for our clients every day to help them see everything they need to know to make better decisions in their complex business environment.
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