Beating Customers to the Retail Punch

Paying retail is so last century.

Now that customers have instant and infinite access to flash
buying, social shopping, online couponing, special incentives, daily deals, free
shipping, loyalty programs, promo codes, online auctions, digital classifieds
and hyperlocal discounts, there’s no reason not to find every advantage, and
take it.

And companies can grumble all they want about the customer
expectation of collective bargaining, but if they really wanted to blow customers
away, if they really wanted to leverage this trend, they would reverse their

They would befriend the current.

What if your company launched an application that was an
aggregator for codes, discounts and coupons of its own products? Imagine a
platform, branded by the company itself, which curated, in real time, all the savings
offers from the web, then arranged it as a search engine to help customers never
pay retail again.

The website could be promoted as a digital love letter, a
secret menu, a remarkable pricing strategy, to be personally delivered to your
best customers as a massive thank you for their business.

They’re already not paying retail anyway. Why not beat
them to the punch?

That’s something worth talking about.

When you
meet the closed heart of the world with kindness, when you create an act of
generosity in a moment of scarcity, customers can’t resist.

Every Customer is the Most Popular Girl in Highschool

Every customer is the most popular girl in high school.

She’s smart, she’s pretty, she’s pursued relentlessly, she
has high standards, she has low patience, she has a busy schedule, she has a voice,
she has a camera, she has a platform, she has an audience, she has serious influence
over her friends and she’s used to getting what she wants, when she wants it,
the way she wants it.

How might that change the way your company interacts with

Blogs Aren’t Going Anywhere

Blogging is only dead if you want it to be.

Personally, I think it’s more alive than ever before. In
fact, I believe blogs work for a number reasons.

Blogs work because
they drip.
It’s the continuum of output that has volume and gravity and
narrative, all of which will carry your name to a wider pool potential work.
What did you write today?

Blogs work because
they heal.
It’s the digital
surfboard for riding the waves of life’s anxiety, your very small way to nudge
the world in a positive direction. How are you writing through the pain?

Blogs work because they
the dangling sword of obligation and its built in accountability of having to
show up every day for readers that keeps you in the game. What’s your publishing schedule?

Blogs work because they
the power of pressing the publish button that reminds your heart you’ve
built up sufficient meaning capital to hold you over for another day. Have you
decided to matter?

Blogs aren’t going anywhere.

Not the good ones.

Are You Shouting Over the Clutter or Carving It Up?

Big ideas are overrated.

Too much company advertising, too little customer interest
and too powerful computer technology have rendered the excessive marketing
habits of the past obsolete and wasteful, tolerated at best and loathed at

It’s not about shouting over the clutter, it’s about carving
it up, cutting through it and connecting with people on the other side with
ideas that are small,
simple, smart and social.

The simplest idea is the drop of iodine that purifies all
the water.

Tegu wanted to make a difference
in the lives and economy of the people of Honduras, where two thirds of the
population lives below the poverty line. Inspired by that vision, they invented
magnetic wooden building blocks that inspire creative and curiosity.

Their launched an interactive digital playground where people could tangibly
experience Tegu’s magnetic wooden blocks from their living room.

out, practicality was the best promotion. Outright invention is
the future of marketing. Instead of creating an advertisement, it’s a useful thing that advertises.
By making the product inherently social, customers can’t tell where
the product ends and experience begins.

Do You Communicate All Three Dimensions of Your Value?

When you sell a commodity, you differentiate through language, purpose, emotion, education, interaction, technology, leadership, narrative, culture, connection, service, support, responsiveness, honesty and humanity.

That way, instead of lowering your price, you’re raising
your value.

And you won’t have to feel like a grain of sand lying on a

A smart strategy for doing so is to make the intangible

To take the service you provide for customers and find a
unique, personal and creative way to visually substantiate the process,
facilitate a graphical understanding of the milestones along the way and
amplify the care and effort you put into your work.

If you design web applications, send clients screen captures
with demos of the new features. If you install residential landscaping, send
families daily progress videos of the project. If you create digital marketing
campaigns, send clients panoramic shots of the team working on office

If you run an auto repair shop, text customers pictures of
technicians hard at work on their cards. If you manage a pet daycare, upload pictures
of owner’s dogs romping around with their canine friends. If you design custom
wedding bands, send couples time lapse videos of comps and concepts of their

In an increasingly commoditized world, credibility
is a function of process, not product. And a little extra intention and
attention goes a long way.

Memorialize the method, brand the service and publicize the
how behind the what.

Communicate all three dimensions of your value.

What Beliefs Have You Outgrown?

Every organism has to keep changing just to stay competitive.

If we’re not ready to adapt and remake ourselves as the
environment changes, the world will evolve and leave us behind.

Time waits for no man. Especially not the man addicted to what
used to work because he’s romantic about it. Technology is the obvious example.
We can insulate ourselves for a while, but eventually, it will become harder
and harder to say that we don’t want to be part of it. And when we start to
feel like it’s the story of our time that we’re not a part of, the fear of
missing out will force us to evolve.

There’s always a choice.

Negatively govern our growth by insisting we never diversify,
or outgrow our old beliefs and
open ourselves to the complete possibility of what might be.

Allow the Solution to Present Itself

Physics isn’t about the solution.

It’s about approaching the problem in a sound, positive,
intelligent and systematic way so that the solution presents itself.

the same could be said for business.

not about selling a product, it’s about approaching an industry in an entirely
new way so that the product sells itself.

Woolley, a law firm in Stradford,
conducts most of their correspondence online by calling attorneys based in
different parts of the country.

Aced, an online gambling community, has secret features, bonus codes and free
invitations to live poker junkets embedded into their table designs.

Zack Borer, a singer and songwriter, released a new digital single
every month throughout the year, leading up to the release of his new record.

Works, a textile material company, holds annual roundtable discussions to
involve all levels of their supply chain in the conversation.

These people aren’t exactly changing the world, but at least they have the guts
to speak out against the system try something innovative.

way more interesting than marching in lockstep with the culture.

isn’t that what physics is all about?

Are You Following the Money or Following the Feelings?

Big companies have big hearts.

They’re deeply and hopelessly in love with their own
marketing, their own products, their own brand values, their own policies,
their own language, their own ideas and their own technology.


What’s important about this infatuation is, it creates an
interesting opportunity for us, the outsiders, the objective observers, the
arbiters of unconventional wisdom, to deliver a heroic dose of customer centric
perspective by finding something the client would never think look for.

Personally, I gain the most insight by reading amateur
online reviews, browsing sarcastic social media hashtags, searching for video
parodies, looking at patterns in customer photo streams, poking around for
controversy attached to the industry and googling the client’s brand with
emotional words attached to the search phrase.

By tapping into these ordinary conversations and normal discourses people
are having in their daily world, we see things the client can’t.

Because we don’t follow the money, we follow the feelings.

Feelings aren’t facts, but they do leave fingerprints. And when
we listen loudly enough, we tend to pick up on the little things that can change

Find the path that’s already been laid out for you and start

Advertising is Dead, Technology is Alive

How we go to market is as important as who we are.

With the erosion of
competitive advantage, the collapse of distinction and the homogenization of
pretty much everything, it’s time to admit that what we sell isn’t that
different from the competition.

So something has to be.

exciting is, the explosive growth of channel and device choices, combined with
the connection prowess of the Internet, means that distribution is the biggest opportunity for brands to reach the
right people at the right moment with the right product.

you’ve been wondering how to get your products into the customer’s hand, consider
asking a few of these scary distribution questions:

What if we rewarded customers
for planning their shipments months in advance? What if we offered non-monetary
online redemption coupons? What if we had a mobile food truck stationed at
strategic locations? What if we had a monthly subscription program so customers
never had to think about replenishing? What if we had premium delivery options
for impatient people? What if we had a discount aggregator offering daily

What if we had home pickup
like the milkman from the fifties? What if we had smartphone delivery tracking? What if our
customers never had to leave the house again? What if we had alternate payment
options? What if customer content was the coupon? What if there was no such
thing as a physical retail store? What if we had amazing relationships with
third party vendors that operationalized restocking issues and socialized the

What if we text messaged real
time inventory updates? What if we built a bat phone customers could ring
during emergencies? What if we used geotracking to deliver to people’s cars?
What if we used local businesses as pick up depots? What if we created
non-traditional sampling locations? What if we used reverse logistics, invited
customers to fill out their weekly calendars and we delivered according to
their schedule?

Advertising is dead. Technology is alive. 

is the new marketing.

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