“Regret for wasted time is more wasted time.”
Do you know what your customers value? From a Stanford Graduate School of Business study a few years ago…
Three signs for a lemonade stand, each displayed at different times:
—”Spend a little time and enjoy C&D’s lemonade”
—”Spend a little money, and enjoy C&D’s lemonade”
—”Enjoy C&D’s lemonade”
Customers were told they could pay between $1 and $3 for a cup of lemonade; the exact amount was up to them. After they made their purchase, they were surveyed to determine their attitude toward the lemonade. Which won? The sign stressing time attracted twice as many passersby—who were willing to pay almost twice as much—than when the money sign was displayed.
“Because a person’s experience with a product tends to foster feelings of personal connection with it, referring to time typically leads to more favorable attitudes—and to more purchases,” a professor said at the time.
Even when people who attended a free concert were asked about the low cost of their day versus the time spent, “asking specifically about time increased participants’ favorable attitudes toward the concert.” Even more strikingly, those who stood in line longer—who actually incurred a higher cost in terms of time spent—rated their satisfaction with the concert higher.
We value our time. And yes, if I’m involved in something, or using a product, that I believe is a good use of my time, it makes me quite happy. It validates the decision I made to do that activity or buy that subscription, webinar or ticket. “Marketers have a lot to learn about how they can positively influence the ways that their products improve the lives and happiness of their customers,” the architect of the Stanford study said. Even the now-common phrase—“getting in the workflow of your customers”—means that you are fitting in the timing of their day.
So how should this translate to publishers’ marketing efforts? It would appear that focusing on saving people time might be just as valuable as saving—or making—them money. Just this morning, I saw “1-Minute Strategies” on the Business Management Daily site, so I’m not breaking new ground. It’s just one more thing to keep in mind.
BUT TO UNDERSTAND what they value, you’d better know who your customers are. I read a column last week by Andrew Beyer, longtime horse racing columnist for The Washington Post. He wrote about Christopher Kay, the new head of the New York Racing Association who is determined to “provide [horseplayers] an enhanced guest experience.” (Attendance is way down.) Previously, he was COO for Toys ‘R’ Us and an exec at Universal Parks and Resorts, “two businesses in which taking care of customers is paramount,” wrote Beyer.
The problem with Kay’s plan? Bettors don’t come to the track anymore—only 7.6% of the money bet at Belmont this fall has come from on-site attendance. Yet the money being bet is far more than when crowds were big. People are betting from home where “they don’t have to pay for admissions, parking or overpriced food” and “they don’t have to take a slow-moving train to Belmont Park or crawl along the Capital Beltway to Laurel Park.” Even bettors want to save time.
“Does it make sense to obsess about taking proper care of on-track customers while taking for granted the other 92.4%?” Beyer wrote. “Tracks should focus on improving their websites” and “look for ways to communicate important information.”
Who are your paying customers and are your marketing efforts designed to make them feel at home or are you too worried about those who are just browsing?
One other question from that Stanford study measured iPod use. Again what do you think drew a more favorable response?
—”How much time do you spend on it or how much money did you spend on it?
Of course, time. If the content of what we are buying is satisfying and helpful, then we consider it time well-spent. Think about that in your next sales pitch.
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 as managing editor. Follow Ronn on Twitter at @SIPAOnline