I am on the record as being a huge advocate for ‘new thinking’ in shopper marketing (and, in fact, in any field).
But in reaffirming that point of view, I want to emphasize the second word in that phrase: thinking. There’s a big difference between ‘new thinking’ and ‘doing what’s new’: just following every fad or idea hawked by the latest VC-rich wunderkind.
Thinking should be, by definition, a critical & selective process. Yet too often today we see marketers following the ‘flavor of the month’ without knowing why. Or worse, without any objective for doing so. How many people have sat in a meeting in the past 5 years where someone proclaimed, “I feel like we should be doing something with the Facebook”? (Or ‘the Twitter’, or ‘this near field communications stuff’, or…).
I call this particular disease the ‘solution-looking-for-a-problem’.
This little sheep offers up two reasons this paradox plagues business thinking right now:
1) ‘solutions’ are currency in today’s corporate world: When ‘solutions’ are the way to the top, people start ‘imagining’ problems to address with whatever ‘solution’ they have found. (Hell, I’ve done it myself!! Why let a great idea go to waste just because it’s not solving a problem (or tapping an opportunity) that’s meaningful to your business?)
2) decision-makers are not educated or familiar enough to be effective filters: with a lot of digital or truly innovative ‘solutions’, managers are often entirely unfamiliar with the technology or environment they’re looking at, because the speed of change is so rampant. When the content is foreign, it’s difficult to be a critical thinker, impossible to make an informed choice and easier to follow the lead of a (any!) person you believe understands things.. which is often the person pitching the idea in the first place.
Given these two issues, we end up pursuing a lot of “ideas in solutions’ clothing” and, sadly, end up missing opportunities to solve real problems.
A classic case for me in Shopper Marketing are QR codes. Everyone thinks they’re ‘kinda neat’. Everyone wants to be on the bandwagon (lest someone crucify them in 2 years because they ‘didn’t see that trend coming’). When you look around though, who is really applying them in a way that meaningfully addresses a shopper need?
“Snap the code to view our website” is widely used and hardly helpful. I probably have no interest in your website, and if I did, guessing your URL is hardly rocket science. As a shopper, I want you to help me meaningfully. Solve a real problem or challenge I have while shopping.
Imagine instead that you gave me an app to snap the QR codes on your products when I am at home and close to running out, which auto-add a reminder to my calendar for my commute home (or text my better half to pick it up later?). You just saved me getting home and seeing the empty pack again.
Not everyone is QR-clueless though: SCJohnson used a QR code in a helpful way, to explain their new Drano product which includes both a tool & gel. A new concept that could be difficult to comprehend, and hard to convey through packaging alone, so they included a QR code on the shelf display to show shoppers the product in action via a web video on their smartphone. Bravo Drano!
Your turn… What’s the best thinking you’ve seen (or would you apply) to turn QR codes into a true solution to a real problem?
the orange sheep