The Art of Boring

We marketers are always looking for the next big thing. The magic clutter cutter that rockets our lead flow beyond expectations. We want WOW. We want to show senior leaders we really know what we’re doing and that we’re making a big splash.

Afterall, a bunch of big splashes makes it look like we’re really on the ball – proactively engaging the market. Problem is, big splashes die down into a ripple. Requiring us to initiate another big splash to keep the momentum going. And the ante needs to be upped as fatigue sets in. In the social economy, big splashes, unless you’re a company like Apple w/1,000s of raving fans clamoring for your next revolutionary product, are not the best way forward. Certainly, there’s a time and a place, but what matters more, is to be boring.

Boring doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means doing the little stuff so consistently well that you create a frictionless experience for your customers. An experience that is almost so smooth your customers don’t notice it.

You make their lives easier. More productive. You get things out of their way so they can focus on what matters to them. You become a part of their monthly, weekly, daily lives. So much they can’t imagine life without you. So much that they automatically think of you first. They don’t need a big splash to do business with you.

Boring means executing all of the operational areas of your business extremely well. It means providing customer service second to none. Zappos is a company that gets this. They remove the friction – the fear of buying online  – by letting you order a bunch of shoes and send back the ones you don’t want. Even if it’s all of them.

Boring is about making sure:

  • the mundane tasks in your business are routine, frictionless and automated; frees people up to focus on inspiration.
  • you do little things well. A lot of distractions take away from the big picture thinking. Email, SMS, Twitter. If they’re idle chatter, they cloud your thinking and that takes away from what your team brings to the experience. Use time wisely. Think about how the tools enhance your customer experience, not take away from it.
  • phones are answered on the third ring.
  • customers don’t have to jump through hoops to buy from you. Or return a product. Or get help.
  • product is in stock and shipped without delay. If not, it’s automatically shipped as quickly as possible. The words “sorry, we’re out of stock” don’t exist. Instead, you offer alternatives. Anticipate attractive options.
  • your ordering is systematic, automatic – think about restaurants like Five Guys: they’re all about simple
  • you apologize for your mistakes.
  • you say thank you.
  • your employees are empowered to make decisions in the best interests of customers.
  • you break down silos and don’t permit turf wars. Ever.
  • accounting, development, IT, HR and marketing actually understand each other and work together. For the customer of course.

Boring isn’t sexy. It’s sexy to make a splash. It’s natural to want to point out the big launch. Boring doesn’t make for great news. A slick press release. But it’s the tiny things you do every day – from answering phones and email to ordering products to making the buying process easy.

We all know how hard some companies make it to talk to a human. To return a item. Boring is making everything simple. And simplifying it even more. And that’s hard. Because we get caught up by the new. The shiny. The exciting. Even the flavor of the month. Get boring right and you have the makings of a successful business.

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