Archive for the 'Research' Category

Common sense doesn’t work

There is an excellent guest article by Duncan Watts on Freakonomics called The Myth of Common Sense: Why The Social World Is Less Obvious Than It Seems.  Common sense is, of course, subjective.  Watts presents research that shows it’s social shorthand effective only for small homogeneous groups in narrow situations.  Great for that 2500 BC cave in the south of France … not today’s world with its diversity, complexity, and nuance.

Sorry, Christies, teabaggers, and Republicans.  You can’ wave your hands, wait for fantasy superfriends, revel in the mythology of the past, or rely on “common sense.”  You really do have to look at facts.  Not that I expect logic, reflection, or cerebration to change your mind.

There is one bright light here – the latest generation of kids, Gen Y or Millennials.  While it is alleged that many do not have the motivation, ambition, and persistence of earlier generations, they do have a better ability to adapt, cope, and reason in our technotimes sans superstitions and folklore.  An evolutionary adaptation perhaps?

Love trumps kids, income, jobs, faith & education

I’ve followed the online dating industry for 16 years.  Match.com shares some of their secret sauce in The Love Equation: How Match.com Calculates Your Ideal Mate.

One interesting fact – people don’t make contact if you don’t meet their visual/physical requirements like body type.  But they break their own rules otherwise.  Over 50% of people disregard their must-haves when it comes to kids and income.  Over 20% ignore job, faith, and education.

But it’s unclear whether that means flirting and sex know few boundaries, daters lack self-discipline, or we all lie to ourselves.

In any case, one truism remains.  Women DO like to date good Jewish boys.

Be as cranky as you want to be

This artificial America of high self esteem, low performance, and religious pomposity  places a premium on proper attitude. Our lives and our health are the result of fate and a divine force if good and self-indulgence and neglect if not. Well, turns out your cells and bugs really don’t care what you believe or think in A Fighting Spirit Won’t Save Your Life.

So be as cranky as you want to be, whether you’re healthy, sick, or even dying.  But it’s still always a good idea to be fit, eat right, and call your mother at least once a week.

How to really live long & prosper

From How to achieve ‘biological immortality’ naturally:

Evolutionary biologist Michael Rose, professor at University of California, Irvine, says he has discovered a natural way to achieve “biological immortality” without the use of anti-aging drugs and stem cell treatments.

“It’s one you can start this evening. … It comes at no cost, you don’t have to buy anything, and, in fact, it might save you money.”

Rose says that just like evolution has created aging to maintain youthful vigor in species, it also created natural biological immortality, such as a 10,000 Mojave desert creosote bush and other long-lived organisms.   The  immortality phase is a plateau where the probability of dying remains constant through the rest of the lifespan.

He says:

The key is not to slow the rate of aging, but go directly to the immortal phase at a lower rate of mortality, which is exactly what the fruit flies do.

Do this by adopting a “paleo” pre-industrial hunter-gatherer lifestyle once you reach 40 years old that is fully natural.

  • Stay in motion and exercise daily.
  • Eat meat, seafood, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid dairy, grains and grasses, such as milk, rice and corn

Charity: the trick to consumer-set pricing

This economic depression has forced marketers to be more creative.  It’s kickstarted a renaissance in pricing.  I wrote earlier on Daily Deals in I Can Get it for you Wholesale.  Another trend is letting the consumer set his own pricing.

The difficulty with such variable pricing is that there are no standards, norms, or techniques  to prevent freeloaders who wouldn’t normally buy or “selfish” consumers who maximize their own value at the expense of the seller and pay nothing or close to it.  This is a classical Tragedy of the commons situation.

Typical tactics to increase pricing include:

  • Suggested price. Provide a minimum, suggested amount, or related guidelines, similar to donations in the public sector world.
  • Peer Pressure. Displaying what other users paid.
  • Premium. Award a bonus or publicity scaled by payment amount.
  • Transparency. Disclose actual costs so the consumer can hopefully make an informed decision about how much profit he’s willing to let you make.

Add Charity share to the list.  Giving an amount or percentage to charity has long been a part of the marketing toolset to raise sales or conversion.  But it works especially well with consumer-set pricing.  The Freakonomics blog  points to a wonderful study in  How to Maximize Pay-What-You-Wish Pricing where donating a major share of the payment has a huge impact on both consumer sales and price.

Ayelet Gneezy, a marketing professor at the University of California-San Diego, conducted a field experiment at a theme park (sample size: over 113,000).  Gneezy presented four different pricing schemes for souvenir photos: a flat fee of $12.95; a flat fee of $12.95 with half going to charity; pay-what-you-wish; and pay-what-you-wish with half going to charity.  At a flat fee of $12.95 per picture, only 0.5% of people purchased a photograph; when customers were told that half the $12.95 purchase price would go to charity, a meager 0.59% purchased a photo. Under the simple pay-what-you-wish variation, 8.39% of people purchased a photo, but customers paid only $.92 on average. The final option — pay what you wish, with half the purchase price going to charity — generated big results: purchase rates of 4.49% and an average purchase price of $5.33, resulting in significant profits for the theme park. “When the charity factor is introduced, these casual freeloaders balk at the idea of paying nothing, because it’s more likely to reflect badly on them,” writes Ed Yong. “Rather than naming a higher price, their preference is to avoid buying altogether -– for them, it isn’t worth it. Sales fall, but the actual profits go up because the remaining customers are motivated by their desire for the product and for the cause, will pay for both.”

What other techniques have you seen?

Social media fact: Everyone is doing it

In What social media can do for your business I wrote “Social media is no longer a gimmick or cool toy for geeks.  It’s an established platform that can advance multiple phases of your business, including marketing, sales, customer service, and recruiting”.  Still not sure?

One of the top fears of businesses is that few people are actually using social media.  This is a prudent approach.  When you’re short of money and resources, you can’t afford expensive risks.  It doesn’t pay to be on the bleeding edge.

One example is the rise of  the Internet.  In 1995 the Net exploded.  By 2000 it was clear it was real but the business case for many companies was still murky.  Another five years later the market finally caught up.  Web sites and Internet marketing became a standard part of the business toolkit.

Social media is undergoing a similar transition.  It’s a trend that’s been growing for several years.  Today it’s no longer hype but a fact.  It’s where your customers are.  Maybe “everyone” isn’t quite interacting online, but over half of US Internet users, more than 100 million people, certainly are.

According to Trendstream and Lightspeed Research:

  • 92 million (44%) have a social network profile on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere
  • 79 million (43%) upload photos to Flickr and other services
  • 23 million (15%) upload video such as to YouTube
  • 18 million (13%) write a blog just like this
  • 11 milion (7%) use a separate microblog like Twitter

Your competitors know this.  Already 18% of small businesses have active social media marketing programs, according to Vistaprint and Hawk Partners.  Another 14% plan to start within the next year, for a total of 32%.

What social media can do for your business

Social media is no longer a gimmick or cool toy for geeks.  It’s an established platform that can advance multiple phases of your business, including marketing, sales, customer service, and recruiting.

Here are a few of its uses.  Of course just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  Social media is a means not an end.  Just like any program, make sure you first have a strategic, operational, and accountable plan that serves your marketing and business goals.

What Social Media Can Do
Branding Distribute company news
* Learn what people are saying about you
Promote Positioning
Establish Expertise
Internet Increase web site traffic
Improve search engine rankings
Other Marketing PR & Communications
Product updates
* Industry news
* Competitive news
Sales * Increase Leads
Run Promotions
Improve sales
Promote discontinued/distressed sales
Retain customers
Customers Learn Problems
* Solicit Suggestions
Enable questions
Other Promote open jobs
Seek Funding
Run background checks
* Top 5 small business uses according to a survey
in Ad-ology Marketing Forecast 2010

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