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Correct first, then easy

It’s timeworn advice: Make it easy for the customer. Be easy to do business with. Staples has driven it’s whole brand image around that easy button. And, like most advice, it’s correct a lot of the time. But I was watching my wife install some software recently (yeah, we really know how to have fun as a couple). and it occurred to me that there’s something more fundamental than easy that we need to focus on first.


You’ve all seen the screen I am talking about. It’s the one near the beginning of the software installation process that says, essentially, “Do you want to do the standard installation or the customized one?” Or “Do you want the easy button or do you want to be in total control?” They don’t always use the same words, but they basically are trying to ask, “Are you someone who just wants this to be easy or are you picky about what we do with this install?”
And, at first glance, that seems like a perfectly reasonable approach. But I don’t think it is. Oh, sure, it’s reasonable for the folks that want the easy button because they are incapable of anything more, but what about for those plenty capable of performing the customized install? Just because we are able to do it, does that mean we have to?
Well, yes. You see, there’s no information about what you get with the easy install. It could be that I am perfectly happy with the easy install, but I will never know that because all I am told is that it’s easy. I’m not told what I actually would get.
And this, folks, is the problem with easy. Easy only works if it’s perfectly clear that the right thing is being done. When the right thing is being done, then of course you want it to be as easy as possible. But if you care about the right thing being done, you shouldn’t be sentenced to the hard way. Now, understand that I am not looking for all the details—just a basic understanding of what features the easy version gives me vs. what I miss out on.
It’s like the fast food places where you go in and order a cheeseburger and they say, “Do you want everything on it?” Now, it’s easy to ask for “everything” but what does “everything” include? If you don’t know, that isn’t an easy question at all. Now the reason that this can work is because you have repeat customers who learn what “everything” is.
Software installs have no repeat customers, we hope. You install it once and then you don’t do it again until the next release (which has a different installation process anyway, most of the time). So there’s no learning here. There’s not much value in an easy button where I don’t know what I’ll get when I press it. It’s only useful for people who are incapable of deciding any more than whether to press the button. Yes, I want to help those people have an easy experience, but I like things to be easy, too.
Ask yourself if what you’ve done to make things easy for your customer are truly easy. Is it totally clear to the average customer what the easy option does? Or is it the marketing equivalent of “Trust me”? Think about whether you can simplify the experience without obscuring what the customer gets.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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