Look for the shorter processes that are most effective

I interviewed a friend of a long-time client as a favor the other day. She called for directions from the road. She had no idea where she was, but she had a GPS in her car. I gave her the address, which she had forgotten to bring, and although she was about fifteen minutes away, she got here in about forty minutes.

The interview went fine, and she seemed nice. I could tell she was firmly planted as a contemporary of the current generation, and it served as a perfect analogy for what I see in marketing nowadays: People lost in a sea of unknown choices, trying to make technology do for them what they could easily do themselves in less time and with greater effectiveness.

When she left, I asked if she needed directions. “Sure,” she said. Nice of her to accept them I guess.

I proceeded to tell her: “Go up the street to the stop sign, take a right, take a left at the signal, then another left at the next signal, and that will take you straight to I-5.” I could have drawn her a map in about ten seconds. They were pretty easy directions, but I could see she didn’t know what to do with them. I asked, “You’re going to use your GPS instead?”

She nodded her head yes, smiling, and walked out the door thanking me for the time. I poured some juice, and looked out the window about five minutes later. She was still sitting in the driveway messing with the GPS with a furrowed brow. She fumbled with getting the GPS to stay on the windshield for a couple minutes, before driving away.

People complain they haven’t enough time today. Today’s new processes take infinitely longer, even for the generation brought up on them, and they are less effective. Let’s take a look at a couple of simple examples of this.

Example #1
Old way of making contact:
1. Look up phone number,
2. Call,
3. Talk.
Conclusion: Pretty darn effective and quick to boot!

New way of making contact:
1. Turn on computer or PDA,
2. Log in to facebook,
3. Login failed,
4. Look up password,
5. Log in to facebook,
6. See if your friend is available for chat,
7. See that your friend is not available for chat,
8. Go to friend’s profile,
9. Mindlessly read their ‘wall’, and learn about Enquirer-like headlines
10. Send message to friend,
11. Wait for reply,
12. Still waiting for reply three hours later,
13. Take a facebook test. And so on.
Conclusion: Oh my. What do we have here? Why it’s a total waste of time and no connection!

Example #2:
Look at facebook ‘fan pages’ if you need another example. If you’re over the age of 30, facebook is not your primary communication tool, and you don’t ‘get it’. If you’ve started up a fan page for your business, you are not marketing. You’re playing. And that’s fine, as long as you’re not expecting a gratifyingly high return on the effort, and you have plenty of spare time in your business schedule for connecting with your friends, because that’s what facebook was designed for. Oh, and you already have enough business too.

What the hell does your business need a fan page for? Businesses don’t need fans. They need customers, plain and simple. Anything else is just playing around. Fan pages are akin to high school popularity contests, complete with cliques (approve your friend as your facebook friend), gossip (read your approved friends’ walls), and scratch fights. Well, maybe not the scratch fights.

I know, I know, updates can go out to your entire fan base with the click of a button. So? How big is your fan base? Is it 100 people? 250? 2000? Unless your fans number about 250,000, you are playing, not working. You can effectively reach infinitely more people with a plethora of other media in a fraction of the time. And remember that time equals money. Your time is valuable. Add it up.

Stop playing if you want your business to succeed. Look for the shorter processes that work instead of the longer ones that just waste time.

Now excuse me while I go try to find my GPS so I can wonder where my cell phone is so I can get that address so I can look it up on the GPS that just fell off the windshield and drive with one device in each hand while steering with my teeth.

Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.


Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

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