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In speaking to organizations about technology and its impact on consumer behavior, what I often hear from executives is that they’re simply overwhelmed by the constant deluge of technological choices out there. From new location-based and social sharing applications to mobile payment and rewards alternatives, CMO’s and CIO’s are feeling completely overrun by shiny new tools! Their problem is that each new technology looks like something that might deserve their attention and budget. They’re particularly concerned they might be missing “the next big thing”!
Without a clear focus, this fear of missing out on the latest tech trend can be treacherous. Marketing leaders run the risk of either taking on costly initiatives that may not pay off, or worse, becoming completely paralyzed with fear and do nothing at all.
Very few that I speak to have any defined system with which they identify technologies that really matter and perhaps more importantly, don’t matter to their business. Just because Pinterest, for example, happens to be getting a lot of attention lately, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right for your business or brand positioning.
“Tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring”
- Clay Shirky
The advice I offer clients is this; don’t get caught up in chasing the latest tool. In fact, don’t focus on technologies and platforms, concentrate on behaviors and emotions. Zero-in exclusively on the consumer behaviors and emotions you’re seeking to modify, amplify or propagate. Understand precisely what you’d like your customers to do and feel. Perhaps you’d like consumers to spend more time in-store per visit. Maybe you’re looking to build greater feelings of loyalty toward your brand. It could be that you want customers to feel a sense of belonging when they do business with you. Regardless of your objective, once you’ve clearly articulated the key behaviors and feelings you want to affect, you can then sort through the new digital tools out there that can help you achieve your goal. With customer behavior and emotion as the filter, you’ll distill the universe of choice down to a small subset of stuff that really matters.
It’s also important not to feel that the onus is on you to know about every new app, platform, plug-in or network out there. To do so is a full-time job and there are enough people who drink from that fire hose every day who can help you. Having a functional knowledge of various technologies and social interfaces will suffice.
This is not to imply that iterative experimentation with new technology isn’t a good thing. It’s wise to play with new things and see how they might unlock unforeseen opportunities and paths for your brand. But even knowing what to test requires a process. By narrowing the field initially with clear consumer-based, behavioral criteria, you’ll have a better sense of which technologies to test and iterate with.
In essence, it’s the behavioral change that technology causes – not technology itself – that matters most. By identifying the consumer behaviors and emotions that truly propel your business, you’ll also be identifying the technologies that don’t matter at all.
You might even sleep better.
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