Tag Archives: Product

Defining User Experience Within Audience Development

UXinAD

Audience Development requires a different perspective on User Experience. Traditionally, User Experience relates to what the user or customer will experience when interacting with a product, but the key factor of Audience Development extends the idea to a larger conceit of the experience from all touch-points with a brand or product – what we refer to as Brand Experience. Kieron Leppard of SapientNitro posted an Evolution of UX presentation on SlideShare four years ago and, while a strong layout of the basics, it is outdated because of it’s pure focus on the User Experience design within the product and not all touch-points of opportunity within an Audience Development strategy.

Those touch-points that Audience Development factors in are; product, marketing, partnerships, customer service, overall brand, and whatever else makes sense for the particular company. Additionally, these touch-points aren’t considered to be one-way outbound features but enabling two-way communications that builds the bridge between company and audience. This strategy allows for the entire relationship to be fluid and authentic, because without it, consumers start to question the efficacy of the company/brand. Another benefit that many overlook in this strategy is the value to the employees within that corporate culture. With the clear strategic direction and understanding of how everything truly relates to each other, ambiguity and bad decisions can be left at the door.

We’ve all seen examples of the disconnects in the bigger UX picture:

  • A consumer is intrigued to sample a product after being pitched one thing, only to find a product that doesn’t match the promise.
  • Products come out hailing themselves as new and improved, yet are less appetizing to the consumer – even with strong feedback channels, the consumers are often left out of the equation.
  • Receiving bad customer service after completing a purchase on a site with a fabulous user interface.
  • A restaurant with great tasting and well-priced food, but horrible service.
  • Being on a email list for a beloved-brand – only to be bombarded with communications that are too frequent, not relevant, or even worse, both.
  • Original Content is produced and pushed out to try to broaden the audience, but only proceeds to confuse the loyal existing audience.

For companies/brands to be successful in the future, a strong emphasis on an holistic user experience is imperative to Audience Development. One can no longer develop product and then clean their hands figuring that it’s up to others to market it or relate to the customers – that will only lead to disconnects. From first-hand knowledge of a number of our clients who have come to us after falling into the trap of disconnected product; their businesses either struggled greatly to take-off, flat-lined or dipped because of such pervading methods. In many cases, the clients maintained deep insights about their audience (even developing open communication relationships with them) and understood the concept of the full user experience, but couldn’t determine how to address the disconnects effectively with limited or, sadly, wasted resources without taking a beat to delve into the possibilities afforded through proper Audience Development. Once you can look at User Experience as more than just a sum of it’s parts, a path to success and the ability to turn your audience into a tribe will come into focus.

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Timeless Copy, Design And Placement

Some might chalk it up to being in a part of the United States where there is no connectivity, so printed materials are all you’ve got. I chalk my excitement about an ad read while camping in New York up to actually seeing a compelling bit of copy with solid layout and even better placement. In a time where we seem to either find too much copy and imagery cluttering ads, or the other extreme of oversimplified condensing to a hash-tagged  word, the value in good copy is often ignored. That unconnected time in the woods brought me to an ad pitching a British watch made for an American bomber squadron with simple, entertaining and compelling copy. It stands as a timeless example of good copy, solid design and perfect placement.

BremontAD

What is striking is that it seems like we’re just stepping back in time. With a strong balance between negative space, words and imagery, it maintains a feel that is consistent with the brand and this specific product.  The British watch brand, Bremont, does have a little fun with the topic that is – no pun intended – timely regarding revealing too much information. They astutely convey very little beyond some basic facts and the influence of the B-2 bomber.

The ad is somewhat of a throwback in that it doesn’t provide a url, hash-tag, QR code or other gadget – probably because their consumer knows where to find them.

Media placement plays a huge part in this ad as well. Bremont’s ad was in the July issue of Wallpaper magazine – a perfect placement for their messaging and target.

The interesting thing is that the placement was in their July edition, meaning it might have come out in late May or early June – yet the ALT1-B2 was released in April and you can barely find it on their site, let alone in a store.

Which brings us back to their use of copy, design and placement… Sometimes its not about the product that’s being shown. All of these elements – when used properly – go beyond product and begin to convey brand. And that is when it becomes timeless.

Wonka Taught My 4-yo Everything About Marketing

So, maybe there’s no truth in my daughter learning anything about marketing while watching the 1971 Gene Wilder version of WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, but there was certainly compelling content that could lead to a dissertation for anyone who cares to share on their way to a marketing degree. Though one of my favorite movies, I had not seen it in years.  It seemed like the perfect time to share with my daughter – since she had just completed being read the story in her pre-school. The magical moments remain, but what struck me most are the marketing concepts and case studies (good and bad) that play out in the film.

wonka

Here’s just a couple of concepts or case studies from the film:

Kick-off a season or product by giving away product to those who are most likely to come back and buy your product.

The movie start out with kids leaving school – presumably for the summer break – and running to the candy store. It’s clear that not everyone is allowed inside as we see Charlie Bucket on the outside looking in.  What he sees through the glass is the candy man effectively throwing candy at the kids and even welcoming them behind the counter to take what they want.

When we return to the store later, its much quieter and the same candy man requires payment for whatever is bought. That store cleaning at the beginning of the film must have been great for loyalty – and clearing out old inventory to make way for the Wonka Bar craze that was soon to be a boon to the candy business…

Create a promotion with such an insane reward that demand for product skyrockets globally driving sales far beyond consumption capabilities.

The placement of 5 golden tickets leading to a lifetime supply of candy made everyone go insane and those who could, bought more chocolate bars than anyone could eat. Add to that demand by inflating the re-sellers’ market (a box’s auction started at 5000 GBP) and you’ve not only increased sales, but you’ve increased the value of the brand exponentially.

We won’t harbor on the fact that it seemed, in the end, that Wonka seemingly had no intention of honoring the candy for life for all five winners.

Truly create an compelling experience and people will do everything they can to be a part of it.

After 20 years of Grandpa Joe, Grandma Josephina, Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina being bed-ridden, Grandpa Joe miraculously gets out of bed and, within minutes, is dancing in preparation for visiting the Wonka factory.

Throw off your competition by sharing news about the development of a product that is so secretive that everyone wants a piece of it – even if it has no long-term value.

Reports were coming out about the Everlasting Gobstopper as soon as the contest launched (if not sooner) and everyone wanted to know what they were. In this case, the evil competitor reached out to all five winners to entreat them to bring back a sample of the super-secret product.

On a side note about gaming rules and ethics, one has to question how he was able to be in the proximity of every single winner just moments after they won.  In fact, after finding that he was a Wonka employee, one can question the validity of the random-ness of winning…

Had anyone stopped to think about the commercial viability in the Everlasting Gobstopper, they would have realized that there was no future.  It would have done great sales at first, but you would not have been able to sell more than one to a person (or a family with proper cleaning and hygiene) because you could never finish sucking on them – they’re everlasting!

Create a theme park factory to draw crowds.  Even if you don’t allow visitors, the pent-up excitement will find its way into your sales.

It sadly drew parallels to Michael Jackson’s Neverland – where too few people got to experience it and be transported.

Did you see the amazement on the kids’ faces when they see the candy garden, the chocolate river, its boat or the sudsy car contraption that only traveled 20 yards?  That stuff was priceless and was created, ostensibly, to never be seen by anyone other than Wonka and his Oompa Loompas… But, those tales that would be told by the kids after they saw it and the demand it would have created would have only led further to propping up the brand’s image.

Epilogue

Much like this was all fantasy created in the mind of Roald Dahl or the filmmakers, there is always a bit of truth at its core.  We can pick out what we like and discard the rest.  We can gloss over the fact that the contract that Wonka had the minors sign without their parents’ signatures would not hold up if challenged.

The Quaker Oats company actually paid for the production as a launch point for their new candy bars that they were planning to go to market with. The sad thing is that the products got into market at the time of the theatrical release, but they all had to be recalled because they melted.

What is prevalent as the film relates to marketing is that a sense of wonder goes a long way toward its effectiveness. What happens in the long run is up to how strong the product actually is. A great story can launch a product, but a great product can launch a story and reach even greater heights.

Transcending The Pitch And Becoming The Lifestyle

The delineation of Lifestyle Brands as a separate vertical is odd to me.  Its hard to think of “lifestyle brands” that don’t retain a product at its core. Some examples of lifestyle brands – to me – are: Nike, Gatorade, Coca-Cola/Pepsi, and some could argue Apple or Facebook. You could arguably suggest that Livestrong at its height was a lifestyle brand, but its core product was funding and awareness for Cancer research. Perhaps one of the more recent strong transitions to Lifestyle is Dove. Though the Dove brand has been around for a long time with numerous strong campaigns, it has been over the past decade that they have been able to transcend the pitch and become the lifestyle.

What started in 2004 as a way to establish itself in a new market, Brazil, utilizing creative from London, Ogilvy & Mather Brazil’s “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” had a lasting effect that has enabled the brand to create content and community without constantly pitching its products. Perhaps the best part is the fact that the Brazil team launched what seemed to be a local campaign leveraging existing materials that then went on to drive strategy for the brand globally.

RealBeauty

A recent example is their “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” program that has garnered phenomenal viewing metrics.  Rather than describe it, you can check them out yourself, but keep in mind that there is absolutely NO product description. The US 3 minute documentary has garnered over 54 million views on YouTube in just under a month and a half.  The longer 6+ minute version has had 2.6 million US views.  Just the sampling of other markets shows Brazil with another 5.3 million views of the short and 1.6 million views of the longer on YouTube.

Needless to say, the amount of views is of incredible value, but we can’t forget how they got there.  This was certainly not a matter of posting a cool video and just seeing the video completes jump. It was about an almost decade-long investment to build the community with content and programming that helped Dove to become a Lifestyle Brand.

So, with that in mind, the way to think in this technology and media age is how can your brand become “a lifestyle.” It becomes a matter of content strategy, release strategy, Social Media, messaging and campaign strategy. And it could take quite a while.

If done right, it can effectively allow the brand to not even deal with the concerns about brand loyalty. While consumers are becoming more fickle about brands, they are becoming less so about their lifestyles. Red Bull was able to achieve Lifestyle status through their media content and Dove was able to do the same – in large part through their Real Beauty campaign.

So, if marketing product properly and thoughtfully could enable it to transcend product placement and pitching to become a part of life – or lifestyle -, then what constitutes a purely lifestyle brand?

Who Should Studios Listen To For The Clue?

Reused from THR -- Jochen Siegle/MomentMedia

Fox Filmed Entertainment’s co-chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos wrote a piece for the Hollywood Reporter remembering his relationship with Steve Jobs.  It certainly is a nice and interesting read, but the element that struck me was the favor Jobs’ asked for in their last conversation.  The concern Jobs conveys about the film industry learning from the music industry’s downfall was something we’ve discussed a lot amongst friends and associates – with the concern that those in power either weren’t paying attention, or worse, just didn’t have a solution or a clue.  In the excerpt of Jim and Steve’s last conversation below, it shows that at least someone in power has engaged openly with the concern:

I last spoke to Steve a few weeks ago when he called a couple of days after he had resigned from Apple. I had sent him an e-mail congratulating him for finally quitting his day job. He sounded frail but was still energetic and had lots of new ideas and plans. We talked for a while about politics, music, our families and, of course, business. At one point, he said: “Hey, do me a favor, will you? Don’t let what happened to the music business happen to yours — keep coming up with better ways to provide people with your content.”

Now it is up to those in power to actually take the necessary steps to make this happen.  We may never know why they have been so slow to aggressively grasp this concept until now.  It certainly seems within the corporate walls that there is true trepidation to take any steps to make smart moves in this direction.  Yes, there have been some solutions offered relating to the technology – Blu-ray and 3D – but even those are standing on its ear when looking at the 21 million illegal downloads BitTorrent is claiming for AVATAR last year.  Digital Copy is also a technology product that helps to stem the tide, but all of these don’t really respond to the changing tastes in users. Instead, they attempt to shape what the user does and that just doesn’t seem to work.  Perhaps the industry should be taking a large course in Judo – where the key is to effectively leverage the oncoming force of the attacker to reach your hoped-for outcome rather than attack full force in the hopes of changing the attacker’s direction.  Of course, the public is not attacking the film industry, but some of the things the film industry – not just the studios, but exhibitors, distributors, marketers, talent, etc. are all responsible for – could be doing are not be done.  They are certainly not taking enough meaningful trials and changes to help consumers more easily get good content in growing ways or to grow the base beyond the declining numbers they are seeing – at least in Home Entertainment.

Which leaves us at Gianopolus’ last statement.  By reading it, it gives hope that the heads of the industry will not be as stubborn as the leaders of the music industry when change happened the way consumers wanted it – almost unilaterally.

We all owe it to Steve to do that. We’ll just miss him telling us how.

Well, you’ve got many consumers looking for someone to help guide them to the best content and a bunch of talent within your walls capable of telling you how to do just that.  Perhaps they can be allowed to “tell us how…”

Jobs Steps Down – Strong Hopes For Apple

Just last week, I pondered what could happen when Steve Jobs retires and how that could affect Apple and its constant ability to innovate.  Funny how timing is as Jobs just announced exactly a week after my post that he is stepping down.

The letter follows:

“To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.

I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.

Steve”

The stock market has reacted quickly and we can only hope that all it is doing is providing the opportunity for some to get some Apple stock at a slightly reduced price.  The reality is that we will now see how intrinsically Innovation and user-friendly experiences are part of Apple’s DNA. It seems like they had a succession plan in place, but only time will tell if they actually follow through on that.

Jobs is certainly one of a kind and it would be challenging for anyone to be able to lead in the same manner as he did.  Guy Kawasaki – one of the earliest pieces of the Apple team and previously its Chief Evangelist – characterized Jobs this morning on NPR as the most demanding boss he ever had.  He also called out the fact that he is one of the strongest presenter of products – ever.  That element is made somewhat easier when the product is so good, but we’ve seen a vast amount of people with great products and no ability to convey that to an audience and whip them into a frenzy like Jobs.  Jobs was able to do that in spades – from the Macintosh, to the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad.  Yes, there were misses – like the Newton – but Jobs was able to keep them moving forward, even when battling debilitating illnesses.

I don’t have any stock in Apple.  I am not just an Apple guy as I personally work on both PCs and Macs. I have multiple iPods and an iPad, but my mobile phone is an Android.  The truth is that all of technology – and perhaps media consumption – is better off with an Apple that is running on all cylinders.  Their success in innovative products and practices sets a bar that has allowed others to strive for and draft off of.

There is so much chatter online, and in traditional media about this.  He is not leaving the company – only stepping down as CEO. The buzz is testament to the fact that no other CEO stepping down in recent history has brought up as much concern for the future of a company or industry – as no other person has done so much the particular way Jobs has. While people focus on the thought that Apple is DOA without Jobs at the helm, it benefits us all to hope that plans were set in place for the company to continue to grow successfully.

After all, the sign of a good business is not just producing a solid product, but clearly communicating its benefits and setting up the company’s structure so that the business can continue productively long after the founders are gone.