Anthea Stratigos – August 10, 2016
Years ago Outsell’s Chuck Richard got up at Outsell’s Signature Event and pointed to the one more important trends hitting B2B and the world of marketing and advertising in general. He pointed to the need for customer pull rather than advertiser push. So brilliant. So simple. So effortless.
But no, instead each day we are harangued and hassled, barraged and bruised, by the onslaught of messages, email, shrapnel in our home and office email boxes, cookies, trackers, and everything else in the ad tech and martech arsenal to hope, wish, pray, try to influence behavior that forces us to pay attention, look, listen, and ultimately buy. All this on the auspices that the site, or billboard, or TV show or whatever, know what we want. But instead of asking us what we want (wouldn’t that be simple?) they infer, by looking at search and web tracking, and then proceed to do stupid things like put a handbag looked at on a leisurely weekend morning on a business site on Tuesday, or put up ads for a cruise without realizing the phone has been picked up and the cruise is booked with a travel agent.
Ads have a place, and for many, especially in B2B, they are useful information. But when they are more about manipulating behavior than adding value while the solution is standing right in front of us, it just boggles the mind. And that solution harkens back to Chuck. And his easier answer is staring us in the face.
I thought of Chuck this weekend when realizing I have put more time into finding a white cardigan sweater and wondered why there isn’t a website called FindMy.com – Find my sweater, find my red used car, find my perfect trip, find that widget, find that turbine engine part. I don’t care what it is but what I want are more sites that find something that meets my criteria (aka a specification) and does it in a way where I can choose from vendors and buy on site.
You see, I am running around with a 2008 model of a Elie Tahari white cardigan. It is in fact wearing out. It has gone all over the world with me. It’s a favorite friend. But it’s time to retire this little gem and replace it. One would think a white sweater is about the easiest thing to find on the planet. Well not quite. You see, I want a sweater that is pure white. Not eggshell, crèam, off-white, or ‘cloud,’ whatever that is. It must be of natural fabrics or a natural blend: cotton, silk, cashmere, wool with silk. It must be soft and lightweight. And it must be made in the USA, UK, Italy, with a reputation for quality and care for workers.
Beyond that I am flexible. It can be waist length or longer. Sleeve length or style can vary. A little twist on the design, something that makes it pop would be ideal, but not necessary. I’ll buy brand. I’ll buy an indie designer. I’ll buy the dang thing, but I just can’t find it.
I have looked in myriad cities and I travel a lot. I have looked and looked and looked on specific sites like FarFetch an aggregator of 400 boutiques globally or Moda Operandi. I have been on Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue. I have been on Amazon, LandsEnd, Burberry. I have been to online shops, I have been in physical shops. I have looked in department stores and little shops. I have searched on Google. I have to the best of my ability looked all over heck and back and I can’t find the little white sweater I am coveting.
I was shopping with a girlfriend this weekend in San Diego. I was on my mobile device in the airport. She too is now on a personal quest to find my little white sweater. Imagine yesterday’s text from her: “…I became consumed with trying to find you the perfect white replacement sweater! What a challenge! I’m still working on it. I’m determined! Have been scouring the Internet looking for certain brands. Want to be your HERO! But ain’t there yet…”
Her exclamation points say it all. Can you imagine?
C’mon folks – a white sweater is not that hard. Where is the website called FindMy.com or FindMeA.com (eliminating any illegal items, please) where the world can go to ask for the things they want. Why are we searching all over the planet digitally and otherwise while we are faced with ads that cajole and influence, and try to persuade, rather than stopping and simply saying – what are you looking for? Not here’s what I think you are looking for based on behavior you are exhibiting online. How silly. How antiquated. I want a sight where I can put in my request. Have a handful of possibilities and links to a resource that will make it or find it so I can purchase and be done.
Must we deal with all this noise called advertising and lead generation when at the end of the day a model that takes search and makes it about finding could be so simple and efficient. I’m waiting and I’ll accept a small royalty for anyone who pulls this off. Google, are you listening? Amazon? You can do this.
Find me a FindMy site. If nothing else, a perfect white cardigan will do. And with this experience I say God Bless Chuck. If only someone had listened to him. We’d have a new unicorn or two in our midst and I’d have my little white sweater.