Milkshakes and Ladybugs

Strawberry_milkshakeLong time sufferers of this blog know that I am a big fan of Clayton Christensen.  I’m currently listening to The Innovator’s Solution.

One of the most important business/marketing realizations in the last 100 years (in my opinion) is Christensen’s idea that people “hire” solutions to get jobs done, and that almost every decision you make fits this idea.  You hired your lawn mower to cut your grass, you hired your bicycle to help you exercise, and your users hire you to do something for them.  Accepting and understanding this concept can completely change the way we approach our work.

Christensen and his researchers tell of a project they worked on for a major fast food retailer, the goal was to sell more milkshakes.  A large percentage of milkshake sales are in the morning, which doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me.  The team made in-store observations, then interviews to determine why.  Turns out milkshake buyers were looking to have something to do during their boring commute, and stave off midmorning hunger pangs before lunch.  Bagels are too hard to eat in the car, donuts are too sticky, coffee and sodas are too thin…didn’t last the whole commute.  The rest of the story is better told in the book but the point is, when the restaurant understood what the customers were “hiring” the milkshake to do, they were able to make adjustments and increase sales, which they were unable to do before the research.

Brad Panovich recently shared some user data from his blog:

“I love blogging because I learn so much about my audience. My strictly weather related blog posts do very well, but this week reminds me how it’s always good to relate to the viewer. My Sandy 1 yr look back post did fine, but my post on the Ladybug swarm in many peoples homes had 10X the page views and almost 1,000 shares on Social Media. Both were done this week on the same day.”

People in Brad’s market were looking to “hire” a solution, “Why so many ladybugs?”

Your users put out signs every minute of every day.  “Help Wanted: How is the weather going to affect me while I do the thing I need to do…willing to pay qualified applicants with my time, attention, and repeat business.”


About Kevin Selle

Chief Meteorologist, KFDX-TV. Co-host, WeatherBrains.
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