People are feeling hacked off.
In so many markets, someone is trying to shortcut something – and it’s costing them customers.
Case in point:
I work a lot with businesses who provide services to other businesses. We call it B2B, because acronyms FTW 😉
And one of the things they tell me again and again is how many people choose them after feeling let down by other service providers.
Their customers are discovering the limitations of services focused on cost-efficiency over quality.
I’m talking about businesses that trade in shortcuts, hacks and side-doors.
They’re selling services with a product mindset, and coming up short.
For a while, that’s what some of these markets wanted. So they went to the companies who offered to hack and automate their way to accomplishing (some) things faster and cheaper.
Which was fine, at first.
Until something broke…
Or until the limitations of ‘faster & cheaper’ were exposed…
Or until they needed the personal touch only an expert service provider can offer.
People are uncovering the limitations of shortcut solutions in markets left, right and centre, and my clients – smart people that they are – are scooping up disillusioned customers by offering better alternatives.
There’s now so many ways to do… well, pretty much anything… faster and cheaper, it’s easy to lose sight of WHY we do it in the first place.
Sometimes slower is just… better
We all appreciate the personal touch of an expert who really knows what they’re doing, but we’re sometimes leery of paying expert prices or waiting for one to become available.
Cue: shortcuts. Automation on top of automation.
But with so many shortcut-solutions competing in the market, we end up inventing ways to demonstrate the value of these incomplete processes:
This Facebook strategy will get you more likes!
Ok great, but… so what?
This SEO hack will 5x traffic to your site!
Yeah, sure, but… what does that actually m-
Just let us increase your Adwords budget and we’ll turn your $$ into clicks!
Wait, shouldn’t that be the other way arou- ah, forget it.
In so many niches I’ve worked in recently – DIY businesses, tour operators, machine performance monitoring, lead generation – someone is selling meaningless marketing metrics as if they were the end goal.
They’re usually based on the idea that getting more attention = more money.
But as we’ve seen before, getting attention is the easy part…
Retaining attention is harder, because you have to offer something more valuable than just surprise or interruption.
There’s a great quote about this recent shift towards attention marketing from Intercom co-founder Des Traynor:
The Faustian bargain of the internet is that you can swap your credibility for attention anytime you want.
It’s not hard to get your name / product / company / brand well known, even if you’ve done nothing of note, but getting it well known for the right reasons is a different challenge.”
In online business, attention is overrated…
But it’s also oversold. It’s been translated into a thousand meaningless metrics.
As he often does, Seth Godin put it best when he said that if you invent a proxy (a measurement to represent the value of something else) because it’s easier to measure than what you actually want to achieve, you risk gaming your own system.
You lose focus on your original, more important goal.
And over-relying on hacks and shortcuts will blur your focus like a drunk wearing someone else’s glasses.
I’m not against the idea of Growth Hacking per se. There are some useful strategies to be learnt from some smart people in that field.
And sure, low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing/media? I’m all for it.
To quote Pearl Jam: it’s evolution, baby.
But Growth Hacking is an unfortunate label in that it puts an emphasis on the idea of ‘hacking’ – trying to create a shortcut to something to save resources.
Shortcuts are limited, and often simply self-serving…
So you made something easier or cheaper for you. Great – but what does that mean for your customer? Do they benefit? Or does quality go down?
As Des Traynor points out in his article:
A meaningful metric captures a moment of value for the customer and the business. There should be no way that it can increase without both parties receiving value.”
Now if you wanted to be single-minded, you could say the only meaningful metric in business is profit…
But for many entrepreneurs and biz-owners, the end goal isn’t simply more money.
It isn’t solely about 2x’ing or 10x’ing income.
Profit can be an important gauge to help run your business better, but it can be distracting.
Because profit can be a proxy for ‘success’ too…
…if a search for ‘success’ was what drove you to you quit your J.O.B. and spend your days building / writing / photographing / whatever-ing things that matter to you… or helping people who matter to you.
You took that step with your own image of ‘success’ in mind, but only part of that image was the colour of money.
Check the news any day of the week and you’ll read about seemingly ‘successful’ individuals whose unhappiness – despite their bank balance – brought them trouble.
(And for some people, just staying out of trouble = ‘success’).
When you create sales messages to help win people over to your product or service, remember that some of them may have already been burned by automation, hacks and shortcuts.
You can rescue them from further disappointment if you remind them of the advantages of slower, better, more personal. You know, the way YOU do things.
If you need help putting that message together, drop me a line.