The customer base shrank, revenues fell, and prospects told sales reps repeatedly that the product was losing relevance. Not true, said the executives. It was only a misperception, they claimed – industry-sponsored studies indicated product usage was steady, even increasing a little in some areas! But the studies were wrong. The decline was real.
Why such a huge disconnect between the survey results and market reality? Simple. For the most part, they surveyed consumers with landlines, publicly listed phone numbers, who were at home during weekdays, and had the time and willingness to take a long survey. This method has been used for decades, and could be reliably extrapolated over the general population. But the world has changed. The increasingly older consumers willing to answer the phone in the example above still comprise an important constituency – but they are not and should not be construed as the average consumer. This traditional survey bias was also a factor in the 2012 Presidential election polling. Skewed survey results masked problems with candidates’ outreach operations and produced nasty surprises on election night.
In the case above, older consumers were still using the product at the same rate. But younger consumers weren’t. Younger consumers are also less likely to have landlines, have publicly listed phone numbers, spend weekdays at home, and agree to take a long survey. That’s why the surveys (which were otherwise conducted with scientifically accepted methodology) let the executives keep believing the decline was temporary. They told their sales reps to defend the product by explaining to prospects that their perception about product relevance was wrong – they had the surveys to prove it. That did not turn out well.
When the real world indicators don’t look anything like the marketing research, defending the research is usually not a winning strategy. Let the research unearth the worrying tends and inconvenient truths about your products. At least you can develop a roadmap to deal with them before your competitors do.
yin and yang we’re not
more like Hatfield and McCoy
pair programming blows
sorry I was wrong
for coding “Hank’s a tool” see
it’s commented out
crude no elegance
still it pains me to admit
your code works just fine
hell no they’re not bugs
yeah that’s what they are
I’ll buy you Red Bull
you debug my subroutine
okay Twizzlers too
When it comes to meetings, meanings of common phrases differ depending who’s talking;
“So that’s the problem in a nutshell. Thoughts?”
- “I’d like to hear your opinion on how I might approach the solution.”
- “I want you to solve this for me, but I don’t want to ask you outright.”
- “I got nothing. Any ideas? Pleeeeze?”
- “Tag – You’re It!”
“Let’s circle back on this later.”
- “There are more pressing priorities, so we’ll revisit this topic at another time.”
- “We aren’t making any progress here – and I need a Red a Bull really bad right now.”
- “You’re clearly delusional. We’ll talk about this once you re-enter earth’s atmosphere.”
- “If you don’t stop talking, I’m going to gouge my eyes out with this pen.”
“That’s a great question.”
- “Good question.”
- “Stupid question.”
- “Phew – I know the answer to this one.”
- “Crap – I got nothing.”
I fly US Airways a lot. Not road-warrior gold status, but several thousand miles per month.
In the many years I’ve flown US Airways, my assigned boarding zone has varied. You know, sometimes you win (Zone 1 or 2), sometimes you lose (Zone 4 or 5). But something’s changed – in the last few months, I’ve been consistently assigned Zone 4 or 5 for boarding. Understand, it’s not just drawing the short straw occasionally – it’s become a running joke among my travel colleagues – “Bye Cathy, see you in [insert city here]“.
Lately I’ve eschewed wheeled luggage for soft duffels that will fit under the seat with my computer bag. As any traveller knows, Zone 4 or 5 = no overhead bin space = “sorry, we’re gonna have to go ahead and gate-check that bag for ya, ma’am.”
I am loyal to the airline. The airline frequently assigns me TSA Pre-Check status. My ticket fares are rarely in the aggregator bargain-basement tier. They have every reason to like me. So why is this happening? I have a theory.
I’ve never signed up for their credit card. And I suspect my consumer and behavioral profile fits US Airways’ propensity model of customers who should. One of the perks of a US Airways credit card holders is – wait for it – Zone 2 boarding for all flights. My hypothesis is that the inconvenient boarding zone assignments are being used as a prod – to nudge me into signing up for their credit card so I can start carrying a wheeled bag again.
I’m so onto you, US Airways. You are the masters of segmentation. But I don’t care how many times you assign me to Boarding Zone Siberia. You can’t make me get your credit card. I can hold out. Two words. Travel knits.
Update 4/18/14: the siege is over – got Zone 2!!
Cell 1 [Side of the Road A] Attrition = -1
Cell 2 [Side of the Road B] Acquisition = +1
Net Gain = 0
Key Drivers; Insufficient Sample Size, More Data Needed
She didn’t. Chicken concept didn’t fly – focus group liked the puppy.
The Side Of The Road A landing page needs to be retooled to improve engagement.
No puppy. The client chose the chicken concept. Actually they asked if it could be a rooster.
Can the rooster be black? With red tail feathers?
No roosters. We need to bring back the chicken. Their CMO was once bitten by a rooster.
Tell the chicken to code the time spent road crossing to Account CHIXCROSS438.
The client’s just signed on a new CMO. She liked the puppy.
“Lean In” Mule
Vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice, made between 11:15 pm and 6:30 am because that’s the only time you’re not at work.
Macerate 6 mint leaves in a simple syrup of tubinado sugar and water, add a shot of Cuban rum, juice one lime into…geez, this is taking way longer than the estimate, we’ll have to carry it in the next sprint.
Skittles-infused vodka, orange juice, and a pile of swizzle sticks to organize by length and color.
Last year I downloaded an app to help me keep track of my Christmas shopping. I paid the small fee for extra functionality and no ads. It did all the things it said it would do. But it annoyed the crap out of me every day I used it.
This year I downloaded a different app to accomplish the same task. The design is clunky and uses gaudy colors. It’s done up in some kitschy font – looks like Comic Sans on a bender. It also does all the things it said it would do. And I like it much better.
Why? Both apps track budgets, recipients, gifts and costs. But here’s the difference. This year’s app lets me think like a Christmas shopper, while last year’s app forced me to think like a DBA.
Let’s say I bought my nephew Alex a Tom Brady jersey for $48.
Last Year’s App:
Step 1: Click to the Recipient area
Step 2: Enter my nephew Alex’s name.
Step 3: Click “Save”.
Step 4: Click to the Gift area.
Step 5: Enter “Tom Brady Jersey” in the Gift field and $48 in the Price field.
Step 6: Click “Save”.
Step 7: Click back to the Recipient area
Step 8: Find Alex in the Name drop-down.
Step 9: Find “Tom Brady Jersey” in the Gift drop-down.
Step 10: Click “Save”.
I had to repeat these steps for every recipient, and almost every gift. It did have a feature where I could choose multiple recipients for the same gift. Useful if I was giving all my nephews the same Patriots jersey – which I wasn’t. So using it got pretty old, pretty quick.
This Year’s App:
Step 1: Click to the New List area.
Step 2: Enter Alex’s name.
Step 3: Enter “Tom Brady Jersey” in the Gift field.
Step 4: Enter $48 in the Price field.
Step 5: Click “Save”.
And we’re done. It probably creates the same tables as the other app. But it lets me enter the data using a shopper’s thought process instead of a programmer’s. So it’s a keeper. I guess now I have to pay $1.99 so I don’t get an ad every 30 seconds begging me to play Candy Crush.
10. “Just pile your coats on the bed.”
9. “Let’s eat – oh wait, we should say grace.”
8. “Who wants to say grace?”
7. “Somebody took my fork.”
6. “Oh no, are the rolls still in the oven?”
5. “Five hours cooking, and the meal’s over in twenty minutes.”
4. “I cannot possibly eat another thing.”
3. (Same person, 5 minutes later) “Just a sliver.”
2. “Nobody ate the green salad.”
1. “I’m just gonna let that pan soak.”
Calling one segment “A” and the other “B” doesn’t make it an A/B test.
You are not a representative sample. You have skin in the game and you know too much.
Your typical user is not a programmer. Don’t force him or her to think like one.
Designers rule at Apple. Programmers rule at Microsoft. One created the iPod. The other created the Zune. UX matters.
If you can’t find the relevant copy on the site, it doesn’t matter how cool the font is.
Testing Phase – Period that elapses from a cheery “Sure we can make that change” to a sign on the back of your chair that says “ADD IT TO PHASE 2″.
Aggressive Deliverable – You’ll get there with some hard work, a little luck, and seven or eight cases of Five-Hour Energy Drink under your desk.
Stretch Goal – It’s definitely achievable. So’s the Triple Crown. You’ll actually see that portion of your bonus about as often.
Just a Small Tweak – It’s not like you have to boil the ocean or anything – just Boston Harbor and Puget Sound.
In Scope – It’s something new we want in the software. And you’re writing software. So it’s all the in the scope of – you know, software. Plus, it’s nothing major, really just a small tweak.