I just read about a new plan Internet phone service provider Jajah has just announced. Apparently, users will be given the option of hearing a 15 second commercial before their call is connected. In exchange for “opting-in” users will (supposedly) be given a discount.
At first blush, I’m confounded by who would actually take Jajah up on this offer. After deeper reflection, I’m even more perplexed as to what advertiser would want to do this. According to a recent study, the average American is exposed to 3,000 commercial message per day. Yet, The American Association of Advertising Agencies, a person can process no more than 100 messages per day. I can only assume that an advertiser thinks that by gaining access to a “captive mind”, they’ll break through the clutter. I can’t imagine that it will pay-off in the long-term.
Think about the people who are going to take advantage of this offering. The deal is a consumer is willing to pay with their attention to get a lower cost on Internet calls – which are less than $25 per month. How good a customer can this be? Wouldn’t it be more effective to develop an offering that people want to pay attention to?
My final thought was a realization that those companies that cannot afford to have an advertising budget are in a far more advantageous position than those companies that can. If you can’t afford advertising, you’re only choice is to do something remarkable – and that’s quite an advantage.
The trouble with competitive analysis is that, often, the end result is that you define yourself by your competition – and that’s a recipe for commoditization. Recently, I was at a business conference where a speaker was talking about “analyzing the competitive landscape.” He talked of finding the “open spaces” where your competitors aren’t.
I’ve found it’s far better to pay attention to your customers and desired customers. Understand their world and determine the critical results they are struggling to achieve. If they’re struggling to achieve them, and your offering promises to overcome the struggle, then it doesn’t much matter if someone is competing there or not.
The holiday week’s football came with more commercials than any person should have to endure. I noticed one commercial in particular (though, not necessarily for the reasons the advertiser would want).
Radio Shack is dealing with two typical problems that enduring companies face. The first is how does one evolve a value proposition so that it maintains its meaning, and the second is how does one impart a compelling promise when it does not provide a core or total-solution offering. Their answer is a meaningless tagline – “Do Stuff” – and a meaningless message – “All the accessories you need for all the stuff you got” (apparently Radio Shack has a core value in opposition to good grammar).
I asked myself if Radio Shack has lost its relevance (and before you respond, I know that many marketing consultants believe they have). In thinking about this question, I realized that many firms provide the equivalent of an accessory to a core offering. If Radio Shack has lost its relevance, then so have these companies.
For this reason, I answered that Radio Shack has not (necessarily) lost its relevance – it is just failing to focus on or communicate the relevance effectively. “Do Stuff” sounds like someone mocking corporate America. As more offerings come into the market and more consumers buy more “stuff,” the needs of the consumer may become more nuanced, but not less meaningful. Radio Shack (and any other company providing a partial solution) needs to communicate more clearly and directly how its customers will be better off for having purchased its products or services.
The marketing campaign is proof that Radio Shack doesn’t know what its compelling offering is. Radio Shack, like most companies in America, needs to get back to the basics.
• Identify who its best clients are,
• Look at the world from the clients’ eyes,
• Understand the problems the customers face,
• Determine how the company solves those problems,
• Communicate that promise clearly and directly, and
• Work like hell to deliver.
That’s a recipe for fast growth in 2008 or any other year.