Posts Tagged ‘Dave Allen’

Me: Coffee please.
Barista: Would you like Espresso, Americano, Cappuccino, Macchiato, Mocha, Latte, or our new Frappuccino’s??
Me: Erm, Just a coffee.
Barista: A Drip? Grande?
Me: ? just a coffee. please.
Barista: A Grande Drip Americano?
Me: I just don’t know. Do you do Tea?
Barista: ?
Me: It’s ok, I don’t want one now. ..  I’m off to the pub.

The paradox of too much choice is that although clearly some choice is better than no choice, too much choice causes paralysis which leads to no choice at all. The need for extra information to assist an educated choice becomes overwhelming, so a reduction in decision confidence leads to a decision not to act at all. A classic 2000 supermarket study involving choice of exotic jams showed that although more shoppers were attracted by 24 varieties of jams in one stand, only 3% of them bought any of the jams displayed. On the other hand, 30% of the shoppers who stopped by the stand that offered only 6 varieties of jams bought some jams.

This flips conventional marketing wisdom for internet advertising on its head and compounds the theories that ‘TV industrial complex tactics’ practised by generation X are ineffective. We can’t continue to expect that when faced with a universe of unlimited options, consumers will apply some complex mathematical formula in their head to ascertain the merits of all choices and optimise the very best, even if overall having those choices are in fact better for them. Instead they avoid a decision altogether because they are unable to handle unlimited choices, there’s a defined limit to what they’re able to cope with. Barry Schwartz talks about the paradox of choice in this video.

 But with the exponential growth of communication, punctuated by the transcendence from TV marketing’s one to one, web 1.0’s one to many, and now in web 2.0, the social & viral internet paradigm of many to many, how do you combat information overload and limitless choice? Dave Allen in his book Getting Things Done talks about combating information overload by emptying your mind of open loops through total organization thus achieving a Zen like state of ‘mind like water’. Tim Ferris in his best seller ‘the 4 hour work week’  takes a more aggressive approach, suggesting adoption of disciplined, information overload reducing tactics where amongst many suggestions you only permit email delivery twice daily to efficiently deal with communication in bulk and reduce distraction. And Seth Godin eulogises about making your products stand out, to be remarkable like a ‘Purple Cow’, segregating your message from the average masses. All of these approaches are practical solutions, but more importantly they anticipate the prevailing wind. Therefore it is with welcome arms that yesterday Google announced the launch of Priority Inbox for its web based email service Gmail. An inevitable evolution towards reducing the white noise of limitless choice in your inbox.

In essence, Google has developed a complex set of algorithms that can analyse a user’s email behaviour, and rank emails depending on their perceived importance. Users will see their messages separated in to three categories, with emails deemed important and unread bumped to the top of the inbox. Messages that have been “starred” by users as a way of denoting importance, or something that they still need to action will appear next, with all other emails appearing at the bottom of the inbox pane. So in essence, Priority Inbox is a refreshing solution to email overload. This changes the dynamic of your inbox, instead of priority being given to a date stamp, priority is now given to relevancy. Halleluiah.
See techcrunch.com article for more information on this.

My colleague Philip Storey, Creative Consultant at eCircle recently gave his thoughts on how Priority Inbox will affect brands and email marketers in this great Econsultancy post ‘Gmail Priority Inbox: implications for email marketers’ .

It’s easy to arrive at the obvious conclusion that this will harm commercial email, but this would be embracing marketing strategies in their traditional form which are no longer effective. See Seth Godin’s talk on this topic here. A heartwarming conclusion is that those mailers who will suffer with this new development are the generic mailers, who’s tactics have thus far been to interrupt, shout loudly and to repeat mail en masse. We saw this when adverts interrupted our favourite TV show again and again until the program wasn’t worth the interruptions, so we switched over, or off. In terms of email, those same exploited, brow beaten consumers have already snubbed this approach by unsubscribing, complaining and junking. That’s because those customers are not your customers or prospects, they’re irrelevant, so they ignore you or complain. The development of Priority Inbox speeds the demise of those brands who have failed to make the necessary adaptations to emerging marketing trends. Rather than attempting to push unremarkable, mass market offers to the early and late majority, priority inbox commercially forces email marketing brands to engage their super fans, the innovators, early adopters or ‘sneezers’ who will happily spread your brand merits for you. These individuals will tell their friends and create highly lucrative, many to many communication which happily sells your brand for you. So priority Inbox can be the economic agent that heralds the rebalancing of the inbox by reducing consumer choices to definitive, tolerable levels through behavioral accuracy, making your message count only if you’re prepared to respect, understand and listen to your customer.

Me: Beer please
Barman: Usual sir?
Me: Yes please.


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