Monthly Archives: June 2013

How to get people to queue

People don’t queue at bars.

They linger.

The bar becomes a flat structure where the only way to signal your turn is to make eye contact with the bar tender.

When the bar is busy, this tactic can prove to be thirsty work.

People with large personalities tend to get served quicker than those who are less imposing.

Despite the injustice of the whole system, people will not form a conventional queue.

So, if this was a marketing problem here is the brief:

How do you stop punters either A. leaving or B. fighting each other as a result of the frustration that comes from trying to get a drink at a busy bar?

The obvious route to go down would be to increase the speed at which you serve drinks.

Although this could help, you are putting yourself into a game that you cannot control.

If the bar gets especially busy you may become overwhelmed and end up missing someone out.

Or what if the beer runs out and you need to change the barrel?

Counting the change that the local who lives next door gives you is an unforeseen burdon.

You see, the speed at which people are served once the bar tender gets to them is not the problem.

So to answer the brief we need to find the real problem.

If people end up leaving or fighting the biggest effect to the bar owner will be loss of revenue.

All of the time your customers spend leaving and fighting is time that they cannot spend giving you money in exchange for drinks.

That is where the genius of a beer festival I attended last week comes in.

Each stall selling beer would not accept cash.

Instead, thirsty punters were required to purchase beer tokens at a separate kiosk.

People don’t queue at bars, but they do at a kiosk.

This meant that an orderly queue was formed at the kiosk whilst each bar could concentrate on serving drinks only.

The beer festival answered the true brief.

How do you continue to take money in exchange for drinks during periods of extreme busyness at a drinking establishment?

The owners of the beer festival spotted the true problem and then they played a game in which they could control the odds and win.

That is creativity.

Turning a problem into a solution.

Getting drunk people to form an orderly queue to give you money.

Brand share vs. market growth in e-commerce

There are two types of advertising that a brand can do:

Brand share or market growth.

If you are the market leader you will often want to do market growth advertising.

Ie. your aim is to grow the size of your market.

If you are not the market leader you will want to do brand share advertising.

Ie. growing your share of the market that already exists.

To carry out a market growth strategy when you are not the market leader can be a fruitless exercise.

To prove why, let’s for the sake of argument say that Coca-Cola has 75% share of the cola market whilst Pepsi controls the remaining 25%.

Market growth vs brand share

This is why it would be a silly idea for Pepsi to focus on a market growth strategy:

Market growth advertising

The grey area represents how the market has grown (the circle is now bigger) after a market growth advertising strategy.

Although Pepsi has gained some new customers and grown as a result (light-grey), Coca-Cola has grown by three times the amount (dark-grey).

The correct approach for Pepsi to take is to practice brand share marketing:

Brand share marketing strategy

Using a brand share strategy, Pepsi is able to take customers away from Coca-Cola – not only do they gain ground but their competition loses some share.

To be a non-market leader and to grow the market is to hand new customers to your market leading rivals and can be the precursor to downfall.

That is why kitchen towel advertisers don’t convince you that you need kitchen towel, they instead tell you why their brand of kitchen towel is much more absorbant than any other brands available.

Using this thinking in e-commerce

This style of thinking doesn’t (or shouldn’t) just apply to advertising, it should be used in other forms of marketing.

An e-commerce website should not be solely focussed on convincing its visitors that they need to buy its product.

It should instead be telling its visitors why they should buy the product from them instead of their rivals. Their rival will often be the likes of Amazon and Ebay – both have market leading credentials.

If a small e-commerce website does a fantastic job of providing exciting information about a product but does not do a good job of giving reasons to buy from them instead of their rivals it is too easy for the customer to default to the market leader to fulfil the purchase.

Reasons can include:

  • Price
  • Security
  • Speed of service
  • Quality of service
  • Familiarity

The trick of the small e-commerce site is to convince the website visitor that what they offer is better than their (often bigger) rivals.

The small e-commerce website must identify a game that their market leading rival is not playing and then win that game.

If you are too good at getting people interested in buying the product (market growth) but are not very good at selling yourself as the place to buy (brand share) you will be handing customers to your rivals.

Sadly, much of the battle is lost on price when it comes to e-commerce, but customers can be swayed.

A good brand share strategy should focus on shouting about simple promises that can be kept.

Customers should understand that you guarantee next day delivery.

They should understand that you are officially endorsed by the product maker to supply their best products.

Amazon makes it hard for customers to speak to a real person: you can guarantee that it is very easy to speak to a real person.

The brand share strategy that you offer depends on who you are.

The important thing is that you put most of your energy into telling people reasons to buy from you instead of your rivals.

Take from the e-commerce market that already exists, don’t get hung up on growing it.

In Out

Last week (29/05/2012), SEOmoz rebranded to Moz.

The change was announced using one of the things that made the brand so successful in the first place: a blog post.

The headline news of the post is that Moz is pinning its hopes on ‘inbound marketing’ as opposed to ‘interruption marketing’.

Accompanying the piece is this ‘infographic':

Interruption and Inbound Marketing

Here are a few points of interest:

  • Moz has a vested interest in the successful uptake of ‘inbound marketing’ because its new analytics package will allow you to measure it.
  • ‘Inbound’ is “powered by creativity, talent, & effort” – Are advertising and other ‘interruption’ techniques not?
  • TV, radio and print ads are “responsible for <10% of clicks on the web” – hardly a KPI for offline advertising success.
  • The whole thing is suspiciously thin on the ground in terms of success metrics – which types of marketing brings results?
  • Interruption (the word) is inherently negative.

Considering these points, the graphic above begins to resemble a piece of (not very creative) propaganda.

I am all for the progression of the online marketing industry but not at the expense of other types of marketing.

To automatically dismiss advertising and other forms of ‘interruption’ marketing is to miss a trick.

Then there is the issue of ‘inbound’.

Here is some gumpf from a Moz video about what they do:

“It’s connecting and being responsive on social media and knowing how those interactions pay off…

…and it’s knowing when and where customers are talking about your brand so you can engage them in meaningful conversations.

Moz analytics makes it possible to measure and improve all of your inbound marketing efforts on one platform.”

Phew, I bet all brands have been waiting for a way to engage their customers in meaningful conversations.

Who cares about selling them stuff and providing customer care when you can have a meaningful chat with them?

I’ve lost count of the times I have said “why isn’t there a platform that makes it possible to measure and improve my inbound marketing efforts?”

Despite including ‘transparency’ as one of its ‘core values’, I’d argue that Moz’s use of indulgent language is exactly the opposite of transparent.

Moz certainly offers one of the best resources for online marketers but its leaning towards unproven trends is worrying.

Can you imagine selling ‘inbound marketing’ to your clients? For now, I will continue to work in online marketing.