By Fatmanur Erdogan, Hürriyet Daily News
Even people with money are shunning excess consumption in favor of simplification. In the magazines and papers you can read about famous and successful people cutting back on material possessions. “I-can-buy-it-all” is being replaced by “I-don’t-need-it-all”.
You might think the economic crisis is causing this behavior, but the trend started long before the crisis, and it looks like it will continue well after it. People have seen that working harder so they can buy more stuff doesn’t make for a more fulfilling life. And so, they are returning to the basics. Simple is good, simple is refreshing, simple is better.
This isn’t good news for everyone, though. Marketers around the world are pulling their hair out in frustration. When your job is to sell more and more to people, what do you do when they start saying, “We want less and less”?
If you’re one of those marketers, you’re framing the issue the wrong way. Look at the simplification trend from a different angle, not as a threat to your ability to sell more widgets, but rather as an opportunity. It is an opportunity to give your customers more of what they want, by simplifying their experience with your company.
For many companies, simplifying their face to the world feels strange. After all, what has made marketing a success in our time? Deeper and deeper levels of market segmentation, and then the scramble to offer something to every one of them. Our products, our marketing, and even our companies have grown more complex, as digital technologies, sophisticated psychographics, and more flexible distribution systems have made it possible to offer something to everyone. However, more choice isn’t making our customers any happier, it’s just making it harder for them to choose, and less likely to be loyal.
So instead of trying to fight a trend your customers are so clearly behind, why not get out ahead of it, and be the company that knows how to do “simplification” even better than the customers themselves?
Here are some examples of what that simplification might mean:
If you have a customer service call center, stop treating your customers like problematic children, and give your reps more leeway than you’ve ever dreamed possible. Allow them to solve problems on the spot, no questions asked. Customers who want simplicity don’t care about policies, supervisors, and escalations. They just want to spend more time with their kids, and your customer service help line is standing in their way.
Fix your website. You might love your website, how it makes your life so much easier, pushing all those troublesome customers into your FAQ page. But do those customers feel the same way? Chances are, your website isn’t as user-friendly as you think it is. Imagine how amazed, and then loyal, your customers would be if your website wasn’t just “less miserable than calling the toll-free number”, but a tool for simplifying their lives?
If you are a supermarket and your competitors are flooding the neighborhood with low prices, go the other way and be the store that opens extra checkout lanes. While your competitors brag that their box of fruit juice is cheaper than the other store’s box of fruit juice, you can brag about how your fast checkout lanes will get your customers home quickly so they can spend more time with their families.
Simplification doesn’t just feel good, it helps your profits, too. Your competitors are racing to the bottom, cutting prices and costs in a futile attempt to sell more and more units, falling over each other in a mad dash that can only end on the steps of the bankruptcy court.
You, on the other hand, are offering simplification. And when your customers say they want to simplify their lives, they don’t necessarily mean they want to spend less money buying things, they mean they want to spend less time buying things. They want to spend that time with their families and friends, or doing something else enjoyable. They don’t want to talk to you, they want to lie on the couch and read a romance novel, and they will pay you to be the company that helps them do that.