Sunday, November 13, 2005

Customers are everywhere and anywhere......

Every now and then you get the opportunity to see something which adjusts your perspectives on a couple of things. This weekend I saw two of them .... a hand-dryer in a men's bathroom and a VERY large aircraft... and surprisingly, these two things are linked!

The VERY large aircraft (shown to the right) is the Airbus A380 making its first trip to Australia and the (average quality) photo shows you the sheer SIZE of this thing. There are two points of reference in the photo ... the block of apartments underneath the aircraft and the small black dot to the left of the plane. That is the Learjet which was tailing the plane and taking the footage for the Qantas ads the A380 was here to shoot. As you may have gathered... this is one BIG aircraft.

In its recommended configuration, the A380 is capable of carrying 555 passengers up to 15,000 km. It is faster, quieter and uses less fuel than precedent aircraft. This is a machine designed to help people MOVE around the planet, quickly and comfortably.

People DO move about and travel is getting easier and easier (and cheaper) - I know since I do it a lot. All this travelling is having some impacts on the relationships we are developing as consumers and the business we are doing as professionals. When you add the increased capability the internet is bringing us in communications, services and utility, the reality is that the world is now a very different place. Smart, international businesses are grabbing hold of this opportunity and are reaching out to new customers, often in markets they have never actually set foot in!

I know from my own experience that the companies I am developing relationships with are distributed around the world. My music store is iStore, my preferred telco is Skype (now an eBay company) and my banking relationships are being pursued by international financial services groups like American Express and Citibank - BIG companies, trying to build a relationship with me, trying to make themselves stand out in the crowd, trying to get their message into my hands and then give me the capacity to act.

Which brings me to my hand dryer, found in the men's room of a Sydney cinema complex. This hand dryer has a video screen built into the front of it (a lot like the ones from Impressionaire in the US, but with a much better finish .... NOTE TO THE DISTRIBUTOR of the Product I saw here in Australia - I tried for 15 minutes on Google to find your product and gave up... give me a call, we can help you!!).

The idea is that when I dry my hands in the mens room, the unit will start a video stream which will run for the duration of the hand drying cycle. Apparently these things are connected to the internet and will change their content on pre-purchased advertising cycles. Not a bad idea right - get the message to me when I can't get away. ....

But is it such a good idea?

We have been doing some work for a couple of our clients about how customers are consuming their media and how this will impact consumption of their marketing messages. This is all about justifying the change in the budgets that are required by these clients to support the shift to more tangible and comprehensive online services strategies.

We are learning a lot from this process, but the thing which is resonating for me is the fact that our clients' customers are being bombarded by messages from all angles and from a wide variety of media. We are going to see more and more of this as the Online Services market continues to mature, as the mobile handsets get more capable, the TV/PC convergence continues and as specialist entertainment devices continue to evolve - as online services become ubiquitous.

The challenge for our clients is really now about understanding who their current and target customers are and then work out how they are going to get the right, effective message to those customers in a form and at a time that they can act on the offer being made.

The thing we aren't seeing though is much by way of the development of sophisticated online strategies which consider these new realities as the starting point for strategy development. Most of what we are seeing at the moment is the online strategy as an afterthough: streaming the same TV ad online..... having the above the line agency "cut a website to support the campaign"...... and in too many cases, Australian companies ignoring the Online Services space all together.

We are pleased to say that most of our clients "get it" and we ae working with them to turn this awareness into action. A lot of what we are doing these days is about gathering all of these perspectives, inputs and influences and using them as the starting point for a comprehensive online strategy. We are bringing the technology, the marketing and the business considerations together for the first time... and delivering real results.

I get a lot of satisfaction when I see our bold decision a year ago to evolve into a Pure Online Services Company turn into real business benefit for our clients. Our clients are changing how they spend their money, looking to make it more effective, more accountable - in short they are now working on REAL strategies to make the most of comprehensive, integrated Online Services .... and to make sure they keep their customers away from those pesky international competitors.

As I keep saying ... "we've got a good job 'cause we get to change the world...."


Anonymous said...

What a pile of Qantas dog poo!

Richard Lord - Hyro said...

Thanks for the comment Anonymous... but you are a bit off the mark. This blog is about the globalisation of marketing and business - international companies beating Australian businesses on their own turf by using the internet.

For the record, I have no relationship with Qantas.