Category Archives: Insight

Anatomy of An Insight: Don´t Ask The Internet

Cyberchondria is a growing concern among many healthcare practitioners as patients can now research any and all symptoms of a rare disease, illness or condition, and manifest a state of medical anxiety.
-Wikipedia

I seldom get sick, but when occasionally I start to feel under the weather I will enter to full-fledged hypochondria. After entering the rabbit hole of Google searches I will be convinced that I have gotten some weird tropical disease and I am on my way to early grave. Knowledge is power, but quite often knowing too much about potential diseases will just result in increased anxiety. To tackle this common behavior, the healthcare app Babylon has launched a new outdoor campaign “Don´t ask the internet. Ask a real doctor”:

hangover

Insight: People find visiting their doctor cumbersome, so they try to self-diagnose themselves with Google and avoid doctor visits as long as possible. This results in false diagnoses and growing unsubstantiated fear about potential problems.

sorethroat

Good campaign idea combining the humans need of convenience and rising cyberchondria. Babylon health app provides diagnoses from fully qualified GPs (with some AI) to your mobile phone, so you can get authentic info but don´t need to physically visit doctor:

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Blocking The Ad-Blocking

Ad Blocking is nothing more than someone saying your advertising sucks.

Sharon Napier, Partners & Napier

NBA: New York Knicks at New Orleans Pelicans

Ad-blockers are changing the digital advertising landscape drastically. Already quarter of Internet users in US are using ad-blockers and about 50% more is considering to start using them.  If digital advertisers are left with audience who is just incapable of using the ad-blockers, it does not sound like particularly lucrative target audience. We already know that people who are clicking banner ads are not necessarily the sharpest pencils on the drawer. Already in 2011, it was 279.64 more likely that you would climb Mt. Everest and reach the summit than to click a banner ad.

Facebook has started to force ads even if you are using ad blockers in desktop. Publishers are testing different ways to battle ad-blocking. But essentially it will a game of cat and mouse. People have already made their statement: majority of them don´t want to see your spammy ads.

So if you can´t beat em, join em:

  1. Brands should do their own ad-blockers

Maybe Amazon could this. Instead of getting non-relevant harasment, you would get personalized recommendations based on the content you are watching. Essentially Google ad network could already provide some of this level, but many of the advertisers are still quite lazy to utilize all the possibilities. New cognitive ads from Watson could provide interesting alternatives to changing the adspace from intrusion to utility.

It could be also strong statement from brands doing constantly good advertising. For example I would rather see Nike ads all the time than majority of other brands (see D&AD Ad Browser filter)

There are already some ad-blockers who are selling ad space (which sounds a little contradicting, but what the heck). The logic is that you replace the annoying and ugly ads with acceptable and beautiful ads.

  1. Reverse ad-blocker

This could be an interesting art project.

When we are flooded with fake news, actually the ads are only thing we can rely on. So I don´t actually want to block the ads, I want to block the horrible content I waste my time on. Think about it if you could block all the Facebook updates, irrelevant Whatsapp messages and biased online commentary. You would only see the good old marketing communications aimed to make you buy more instead of fake news messing with your head.

Blocking is a part of good defense, but great blockers keep the ball on court.

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Power of Negative Thinking

marathon

I have run 16 marathons and now going for my 17th this Sunday. Couple of weeks before the run I am still overconfident and raving about my upcoming new record.  Week before marathon I start to be more quiet. It feels that my condition is horrible. I envision all the possible injuries I will get and the bad weather upon me. Then I usually just run it.

Although people always talk about positive thinking, actually it might be more beneficial to defensive pessimist:

“When people are being defensively pessimistic, they set low expectations, but then they take the next step which is to think through in concrete and vivid ways what exactly might go wrong. What we’ve seen in the research is if they do this in a specific, vivid way, it helps them plan to avoid the disaster. They end up performing better than if they didn’t use the strategy. It helps them direct their anxiety toward productive activity.”

-Julie Norem

Whether it is running the marathon or doing a big presentation, I generally advocate the following pattern:

1. Be generally strategic optimist: Believe in yourself and be confident

When something is still far away, envision the best possible outcome and eagerly plan to make it happen. Make public promises and be overconfident. This usually also inspires me to work more and ensure that I don´t fail.

2. Be defensive pessimist close to your performance: Make the mental image of things going really bad

When the actual event is approaching you start to freak out. That is a good thing because your defensive pessimism starts to kick in. By visualizing all the major things that go wrong you are not affected by the minor things that go wrong.

3. On gameday: Don´t think, just do it

When it is the race day or big presentation, you just let it go. You usually realize that it is not as bad as you envisioned and keep on going. After you jumped from the cliff, it is also too late to climb back.

“I would visualize the best- and the worst-case scenarios. Whether I get disqualified or my goggles fill up with water or I loser my goggle or I come in last, I´m ready for anything.

-Michael Phelps

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Why You Should Not Read This Post

Did I catch your attention?

I thought so.

In his great book ”Originals”*, Adam Grant shares story of how Babble (online parenting magazine and blog network) pitched to Disney. Rufus Griscom started his presentation by listing five reasons why Disney should not buy them. Surprisingly (or not) Disney bought Babble with 40M.

Why this counterintuitive sales tactic is actually really smart?

  1. You don´t do hard sell

Too many times when I listen to pitches, the people sound like used car salesman and are bombarding you with too many reasons to buy. That makes you sound insecure. There is a thin line between passionate and desperate. Confident salesman does not need to push.

Often times entrepreneurs who get the most investment are actually the ones who are the least enthusiastic.
– Adam Grant

  1. You anticipate their biggest concerns.

Investors are always thinking about potential challenges with their investment. When you address the concerns in the beginning you don´t need to sell your best parts so hard.

If he’s confident enough that the company is high quality that he’s willing to talk about its weaknesses, it must have some strength.

– Adam Grant

  1. You catch the attention immediately.

How many time you have been in sales pitch that follows the usual format? By flipping the script, you immediately catch the attention and you are talking to an audience that is awake.

It’s grabbing attention, it’s different, you don’t expect it.

– Adam Grant

This method does not necessarily always work, but it makes sense to shake up the status quo of your pitches from time to time.   

Assuming that the idea has some merit, when people have to work hard to generate their own objections, they will be more aware of its virtues.

– Adam Grant 

*One of the better business books of later years. It does not really have unified narrative or answer what makes people original, but it has useful anecdotes on almost every page that defy the traditional views. With majority of business books I just recommend reading executive summary, but this book is definitely worthwhile to read as a whole.

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Anatomy of An Insight: Jet.com Careculator

They say that it is better to give than to receive. Those people are wrong. Best thing is minimize the amount you are spending in others so that you can spend more on yourself:

Insight: The more you love someone, the more you feel like you have to spend on them. But it is actually hard to estimate how much you should spend for presents. Especially during christmas you feel stressed on buying the presents to your loved ones. and ensuring that you do not go overboard but also don´t lowball. What if there would be an easy way to calculate friend or family member has to you?

careculator

e-Commerce site Jet.com Careculator calculates the “value” of your friends and family based on how much they have interacted with you in Facebook. Then naturally it will recommend products from Jet.com that fit to that particular price range.

It will be interesting Christmas, as algorithm said that my present to my wife needs to only be 0.66 dollars.

Disclaimer: This campaign has been done by R/GA New York

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Elevating Everyday Chore to an Experience

Some people say that things don´t make you happy. I say that those people just haven´t yet had good things in their life.

One of the things I have enjoyed the most this year has been my newly acquired straight razor.

bismarck

Why any modern man would need straight razor?

Not for any rational reason and therefore it is just the right item for modern gentleman. When everything is becoming more and more like commodity, the way to differentiate is to make your product less accessible. We are taking so many things granted nowadays because they have been made too easy for us. Mass industry will continue simplifying things further, so we as consumers need to complicate things for ourselves, if we want to regain our appreciation to everyday things.

Here are five pointers you should apply to your own (mundane) product:

1. Create ritual(s) around your product
When shaving with straight razor, you cannot just start shaving. You need to “strop” your knife with leather belt to ensure that your straight razor is sharp. Then you need to soften your skin with hot towel. Lather cream to your face with the badger brush using a circular motion. Use hot towel again and also some expensive after-shave products. What used to be boring forgettable everyday chore is not highlight of the day*. This is a great example of “Ikea effect” when you put disproportionate value to things you have spent time on. I didn´t have any discussions about shaving before, but now my oldschool shaving regime is a conversation topic.

2. Build your own tribe
Before I started this straight razor routine I did not know how much there are information and shaving aficionados in the world. On global scale there are enough specialists to create sustainable business out of everything.

3. Be proudly old-school
My razor is actually a replica of Bismarck razors. The company was founded in 1852. For me vinyl records are the best format for music, not necessarily the most convenient and the effective for music listening. You cannot compare straight razor experience to modern methods on rational terms, because whole idea of using straight razor in 2016 is completely irrational.

4. Make your product hard to acquire
You cannot exactly buy your good straight razors in your local 7-Eleven. I had latently been trying to find a good razor for over a year and then scored one in Gentleman´s store in Amsterdam. Scarce availability makes you appreciate your product even more. The current manufacturer for Bismarck blades, Dovo, is not either that accessible. Their website is only in German and although I technically should understand it, the experience is not as smooth as your everyday Gillette. That is accompanied with only having product information as PDF. Old-school brand should consider do they need new-school website.
 
5. Have sense of danger in your product
Although we don´t need to wrestle lions anymore, it feels quite manly to take care of your beard with weapon that could theoretically kill you. That makes you humble and grateful after every shave.

Sometimes the secret to making your product desirable is to actually make it more complicated and less accessible than the competitors.

*Using straight razor is naturally easier for guys like me who need to only shave once a week. Current beard trend helps also in that you do not be that clean-shaven daily.

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Ruining The User Experience at The Last Mile

Even some of the best web services fail with the last mile. It took minutes for me to fulfill all the password requirements for this web service:

password

The whole process with the passwords is unsatisfying at best and downright painful at worst (like in the example stated below). The passwords in general are not safe and the whole idea of doing a random list of characters, numbers mixed with upper and lower case is quite outdated. It is more annoyance than something that truly improves your security.

If even Edward Snowden is advocating passphrases, I would recommend majority of web services to change their password policies to favor passphrases (e.g. icanuse4wordsbaby instead of tRes4$Ce). It would improve both security and user experience. And as a user you would also remember your passwords better.

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Show That You Care and Don´t Screw Up

If waiter repeats customer´s order, he is more likely to get a tip. Just by repeating order, 78% gave tip compared to 52% when waiter just confirmed the order. It is a simple thing, but how many waiters really do it?  It is also good rule to live by every time you are serving customers. You need empathy but you need to deliver as well.

Show that you care
People love their own words and decisions. Repeating the order confirms that you have done the right decision. Customers will experience sameness with the servers, like them more and will leave bigger tips.

Don´t screw up
When waiter repeats the order, there are higher likelihood that the order will be right. By doing something that showcases interest of your customer´s needs, you are also securing your own back.

It is win-win situation: you appreciate the customer and same time you minimize your probability of doing mistake. In Singapore context though, I don´t know what would be the result on tip when waiter repeats your order but is still able to mess it up.

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The Difference Between a Champion and a Mere Competitor

ashtoneaton

“He (Ashton Eaton) loves the limelight when it means seeing his name on record boards,” Metcalf said. “But he doesn’t like to beat other people. As a high-school boys’ coach, you can kind of get in the grill a bit and pump them up, say ‘Let’s get this guy.’ But Ashton never worked that way.”

Metcalf told him to think of the decathlon as a competition against the self—a common enough approach, but one that continues to come in handy for Eaton, who, at this point, is often competing against his own records.”

Mary Pilon: Can Ashton Easton Save Decathlon? (New Yorker)

 When you truly don´t care about others and don´t enjoy winning other people than yourself, you have reached the highest level of mastery.

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Caveman Cleaner and The Art of Standing Out in Gym Shower

There are no low-interest categories, there are just boring run-of-the mill products and more interesting ones.

Despite growth in male grooming sector, men´s beauty products remain still low-interest category. Guys generally could not give a less about what shampoo, body wash or other beauty product they use. Our main heuristics usually are what is cheap, available (hence we use our spouse´s products) and little smell has never hurt anyone, ay?

I bumped into this product in the shower of our gym and immediately caught my attention:
 cavemancleaner

Caveman Cleaner from Bad Labs is perfectly branded product in low-interest category for two particular reasons:

1. Value proposition is clear
I remember when 2-in-1 shampoos came out and you immediately started to wonder why you still need a separate shower gel? Shower is not about pampering yourself, it is a daily chore, you want it to be over quickly. Why would you not put toothpaste or maybe deodorant on that stuff as well? This is a hectic, fast world, there is no time for separate beauty products.

2. Branding is attention-grabbing and focused
Modern life is already too complicated and brands wants us to use different beauty products for different body parts. That just adds stress for modern man. We want to return back to time, when we were hunter-gatherers and did not need to worry about trimming our eyebrows. Our ancestors did only need water from rain, some leaves and charcoal and they seemed happy (until they became extinct). As paleo diet is becoming increasingly popular, why would not you go caveman on your grooming ritual as well?

Our gym shower has probably 20 different male grooming products, this is the only one I noticed and remember.  Saying that you work in low-interest category is not a reason to not be interesting. It is just easy excuse.

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