Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Expert Syndrome

Far too often when it comes to product advertising, marketing and “line-extension”, and decisions, those who make the decisions fail to consult the most important component of the decision….the consumer. It is completely understandable how the consumer is “left out” of the decision and is mostly due to ego or “The Expert Syndrome” after a company reaches success.

Netflix is an ideal example. Here’s a company that at the outset was brilliant in its product and niche. Netflix is most likely responsible for the demise of video stores such as Blockbuster, Movie Gallery, etc. Netflix has had outrageous success over a relatively short time….and over the last few years introduced the “streaming” extension of its traditional DVD service. Personally, I love both services. I can dig deep into the Netflix library to find those vintage or independent movies…not currently found in its “instant library”….and with an iPad and a simple connecting device can view many movies and TV series on the BIG screen ….anytime, through the “instant” feature from Netflix.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why Netflix would like to increase interest in its “instant viewing” feature. Imagine the money saved when Netflix is not required to send out a DVD or purchase the products required. It’s virtually a money machine….and good for Netflix. One problem. The consumer. The average consumer does not live a “light speed” technical life...with all the bells and whistles offered in todays technological smorgasbord. Most still have a “non-Blue Ray” DVD player and wonder what happened to Blockbuster. Yet Netflix executives assume the contrary. Instead of focusing on developing an awareness (through advertising and marketing) of the simple equipment required to enable a consumer to watch Netflix instantly…they focused on those who already are…increased the prices for both and confused the hell out of the Netflix consumer. Now after the Netflix stock plummeted the CEO and its team of yes men…..set out to remedy the mess by confusing the consumer even more. Soon Netflix will only stand for instant play programming and “Quickster” for the DVD division. WTF?

Well, time will tell if this will work…but I remain skeptical. In my opinion, if Netflix had asked the consumer what was needed to increase use of the “instant” service….I believe they would find this answer. “What equipment is required to use Netflix instantly?” Then Netflix could have focused on offering either a partnership with a WIFI company or provide to every member (for a small charge) a newly designed TV “plug-in” that allows the consumer to access the “instant” viewing programming.

This “expert” syndrome from executives and owners etc, extends to many other products requiring advertising.

As a Voice Actor, I sit on my hands occasionally, as the client will “pick” over and over at the delivery of words and phrases of a commercial or other project. Not because the read or style is inappropriate for the target audience but because they simply have a “sound” in his or her head…and mostly because they can. The own it, therefore they are experts. Of course as a professional talent…I may offer a suggestion or a question, but it is my job to deliver what the client wants, period. You may have listened to the William Shatner session where he is criticized for his interpretation of the delivery required for a commercial he was voicing. If you have not heard the exchange between Shatner and the client…. it’s Classic. I’ve attached it on the right column. What the owner/director failed to consider is that William Shatners' distinct voice and fame naturally command attention and interest…. and therefore the message WILL be heard…not just because of how he delivered it…..but because HE delivered it. It always comes back to the consumer reaction and not the executive or owner.

How the consumer reacts to listening to or watching a commercial is what it’s all about. Research before and after a product is produced is a critical component to enable a spot-on response from the consumer. Focus groups, one on one interviews and other forms of research with consumers enable an unbiased conclusion of the effectiveness of the creative.

"Effective listeners remember that "words have no meaning - people have meaning." The assignment of meaning to a term is an internal process; meaning comes from inside us. And although our experiences, knowledge and attitudes differ, we often misinterpret each others messages while under the illusion that a common understanding has been achieved." ~ Larry Barker

"Big egos have little ears." ~ Robert Schuller

From inside Studio A I’m James Herron

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