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February 2013
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4 posts from March 2013

Think what your loyalty provides

Tq130327teWhile I'm not fond of Starbucks coffee, I do admire the Starbucks brand. (Overheard while walking the Freedom Trail in Boston last week: "I have to walk all this way with you and there won't even be a Starbucks.") Increasing evidence shows that it's not the products that we acquire but the experiences we acquire which make our lives worthwhile. So I think about this matter when planning my next computer. The Mac Air is really tempting, but my loyal dollars will produce better experiences with a Sony

Huffington Post: Starbucks Brand Loyalty Keeps It Ahead Of The Artisanal Coffee Movement, 2013-Mar-7 by Rachel Tepper

...according to Priya Raghubir, a research professor of marketing at New York University's Stern School of Business. "Starbucks stands for coffee; it's converted that into an experience," ... This quality is in stark contrast to the reputation for snobbishness earned by some independent coffee shops,...

..."The enduring brand loyalty is about the core offerings, which is not just coffee," Raghubir explained. "It is the experience of going to Starbucks."

I'm not telling it right

When I think about all the things I'd like to accomplish, I remember that the first thing I have to do is change my story. Tq130325edI just dug out my copy of Change Anything again, and the first step is to write yourself a good story, one that makes such good sense that you can't help but tell it completely and quickly. 

WebInkNow: Effective storytelling for business, 2013-Feb-18, by David Meerman Scott

Instead of "creating copy", think about sitting in a restaurant with friends and explaining a little about your work to them. How would you say it? How would you hold your friends' interest? Write that down.

- Rather than talking about the features and benefits of your products and services, consider how you help people to solve problems.

- Who or what is the "bad guy" in your market? Is it the big, famous company that everybody does business with but nobody really likes? Is there some silly government regulation that holds buyers back? How can you weave those into a story with conflict?

Email responsibly... using text as much as possible

The rise of smart phones really knocked the email newsletter on its ear. We had all gotten used to having elaborate graphics, which arose from a real desire for beauty, at least on my part. But now the graphics in an email need to be completely justified. In a way, it has made my life easier. I'll miss gorgeous multi-column layouts like you see at However, the rise of the simple solution is a good thing. Fewer words, fewer pictures... make them count. Tq130305md

Campaign Monitor: Should email be 99.9% typography, too? 2013-Feb-13, by Ros Hodgekiss

...while multi-column layouts can break and images fail to load, there's one design element that never fails get the message across - type.

Now, we're not talking about devolving into sending plain-text email here - although as far as consistency goes, nothing can beat it. What we have in mind is a greater emphasis on creating reliable, responsive experiences by taking a type-first approach to email design.

This thinking can be attributed to a similar trend that's happening on the web, where designers are foregoing fancy layouts for simpler, more device-independent designs. As James Young observes in his post, "The responsive web will be 99.9% typography"

TFS: Work on not knowing

While our System 2 mind works intentionally to find the correct or best answer, our System 1 mind is constantly assessing the environment, looking for threats, cues, and change. System 1 doesn't have any intention and no agenda other than awareness

It's impossible to not know what System 1 thinks about your environment. It supports your well-being by looking for danger, putting things into categories, and looking for causality. It's good at calculating averages because it's tuned to detect normality. However, it doesn't always do a good job of adding things up. (Think about it next time you leave the store with more than you intended to buy.)

When System 2 is distracted, stressed, or just unable to find an answer, it may substitute a System 1 assessment for the real answer. 

I may not have figured out the real answer, but I have a bias.

The worst part is that these substitutions often feel good. We are proud of ourselves because we have a hunch. Tq130301taUnfortunately, the strength of coherence (this is what makes sense to me) is driven more by confirmation than doubt. We may be using the wrong information to evaluate our judgement, but System 1 doesn't discriminate based on quality of the data. It just wants to 'feel sure.'

When we have a hunch, we want to look around and make sure that we aren't substituting environmental cues for a rational decision. Also watch for two other pitfalls: 

  • Intensity matching is substituting values across dimensions, as when we think, "Joe is such a smart guy, he must be a good driver." Sometimes all you have to do is say it out loud to hear the disconnect.
  • Mental shotgun is when you let information that's irrelevant influence your decision. The comfort and elegance of a new-car showroom doesn't really indicate how well-designed a car will be, but... it sure creates a good impression. Think Jaguar.