Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Looking at the same facts from a new point of view can create a new understanding

By Mark Helfen

Sometimes looking at the same facts from a new point of view can create a new understanding, a new marketing strategy, even a new way of designing a product.

At the November 8 SDForum MarketingSIG meeting, Adrian Ott, CEO of Exponential Edge, presented some new ways of thinking of time, and how it effects your products. If you were there, you would have heard phrases like:

- Time-onomics
- Attention bottleneck
- Inattention economy
- Time value innovation

The basic idea is to factor your customer's time, or more specifically the lack of time, into the design and marketing of your products.

The latest technology funnels huge amounts of data into our brains. The result is that we have to triage our attention.

"Time is driving so many of our decisions," said Ott, factored into everything. It isn't just price that is the basis of a purchase. Decisions are made by comparing value to price, plus the time that needs to be invested in buying or using a product or service.

The day has always been 24 hours long, and marketers have always competed for attention. But technology continues to create new ways to communicate, and increases the information we must confront, or attempt to ignore. And people seem to have even less time to spend on the things you want to sell.

Ott's response to this problem is time value innovation - new ways to think about time and how your customer's time relates to the design and marketing of your product.

She gave a few examples of products that create a new relationship to time. For example, Twitter, which time-slices blogging into 140 character segments. Or a digital video recorder (like Tivo) that allows customer to time-shift their TV viewing.

The analysis of time is broken into four categories (on a four quadrant layout, a requirement for all consultants.) A time saver is that requires your attention, but the minimum time possible. An example is that emergency tube of toothpaste you need to buy at your hotel - price and choice aren't really an issue; you just want to get something quickly. Federal Express is a business that occupies this quadrant.

The value quadrant is where you minimize time and attention to buy the cheapest product.  Autopilot is where time is required, but attention is minimized, like using your bank to automatically pay your bills.

And a time magnet is a product that you willingly give time and attention to - an example might be Farmville for on-line game players.

Analyzing your product this way, and deciding which quadrant your product fits into is a way of making time work for instead of against you - time value innovation.

You can learn more in Ott's book - The 24-Hour Customer. A copy of her presentation to the MarketingSIG is available here.


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



Follow me on Twitter:


No comments: