VOL. 126 | NO. 241 | Monday, December 12, 2011
Small Business Adviser
Coming Soon: Something Better
By Tom Pease
Toothpaste tops tell it all. All of them used to be twist-off. Then came the flip cap, arthritis cap and even a pump if caps stressed you out.
This would all seem trivial if there were not millions of dollars of toothpaste sales at stake. Stay with twist-tops at your peril. “What, you still making me twist off my caps? I‘m walking.”
If you are a business owner, you need to get rid of everything that’s not easy or state-of-the-art, or it costs you business. Answer on the first ring, give cell numbers, real people available, calls returned promptly, paperwork is one page, no push-button menus, needed info available on website, loaners available, you carry away the old one, take all credit cards and no auto-attendant.
I have seen a picture of the greatest example of making something easy. In Japanese department stores, they tear out the space between the escalators and put in shallow bins of simple merchandise you can pluck as you ride up or down. Hey, no sense wasting valuable shopping time riding escalators!
Used to be you had a key to get into your car. That was a bit much, so along came the keyless entry touchpad on the door. Horrors abounded with that degree of difficulty, so now we have the fob, which requires nothing of us.
My wife gets a magazine about all this called “Real Simple.” I guess that would get better circulation than one titled “Hard as Hell.” But this is where we are and what we have to do to keep customers. Cars have to park themselves. And no vacuum get into the Jones’ house that isn’t self-propelled, with GPS and email access. Easy sells. Sell easy or perish.
Ease is probably the top buying criterion of Americans. It always has to get easier. Apple 4 was really easy. Then came Siri, and she activates all functions without that tiresome finger-pushing of icons. We just talk. So, the 4S has outsold all other models, but trust that product designers are, at this very moment, working on the version that won’t require that.
Are we laziness on steroids? No. Easy is synonymous with saving time, and time is money and all that. Any American will tell you they are pushed every day with serious multitasking, which is pretty hard and has to be neutralized with things pretty easy.
Better cater to easy if you want business. Not only that – the expectation of something even easier. Manufacturers are way out in front of this one. OMG, we hold our breath when we hear a newer version is coming because it will surely make things easier. You bought the 6, felt bad you had not bought a 7 – never mind it is still not available even a year later.
What a great marketing scheme – built-in dissatisfaction! Always tease an easier model is coming, and always with a higher number. Coming soon. Tents will pitch at your front door.
Try rebranding whatever it is you do with ever higher sequential numbers and maybe the money will roll in.
Tom Pease is owner of e/Doc Systems Inc.