Category Archives: Marketing Strategy

The Future of WeChat

It is not secret that I am fascinated with WeChat. It showcases the promise of conversational commerce in action. Yesterday I was talking about the opportunities in WeChat in Lead Conference. The different features we all know, but I find the small portion in the end of my presentation about the future of WeChat truly intriguing. We all know that WeChat has made huge leap from communication platform to payment platform.

wechat

WeChat: Messaging platform evolved to payment platform

It is currently the digital lifeline of the whole China, but what they are planning in the future. Below are couple of key points about WeChat future:

What about the global expansion?

WeChat tried to become a global messenger app. They hired Messi in 2013 with big money to be the face of WeChat. And apparently they got downloads but not engagement. Messaging apps lives and dies based on do you have anyone to message with. Techinasia dubbed WeChat´s global expansion “a disaster”. What makes WeChat unique in China is hard to replicate in other markets because of different digital ecosystem, legislation and other monopolies ruling the roost.

Now WeChat has pretty much abandoned these global aspirations as consumer product, but don´t be fooled they are still eyeing for global expansion but less as B2C product but more as B2B offering. There are two main ways how WeChat is creating its global footprint:

1.Being the gateway to China for western brands

WeChat wants to work with International brands to enable them to sell their products through its Chinese online retail platform. The benefit is that companies can then avoid some of the bureaucracy in China when setting up their own retail operations in the country.

“Almost 95 per cent of global [luxury] brands are on WeChat now — in the UK, there is Burberry and Mulberry, in Italy, Valentino, Zegna, Prada, all the big brands. Two years ago, the number was 50 per cent and last year 75 per cent, so the growth has picked up recently.”

-Andrea Ghizzoni (Europe Director, Tencent)

2. Conquering Europe and other markets through payment

Majority of Chinese tourists prefer to pay with Alipay or WeChat Pay, and only 10% would opt for cash or credit cards. This consumer sentiment has not left unnoticed by the western retailers. Chinese tourists are extremely lucrative target audience and if offering familiar paying option can ease the buying process I would be really surprised of not seeing WePay more present especially in western luxury retailers:

“Chinese customers tend to close the sale more quickly when they know that they can pay with mobile. Those transaction times are extremely quick, at under a minute.”

– Candice Koo, the Managing Director of CANCAN

All roads lead to AI

Like other big Internet monopolies, Tencent is making big strides with AI. This year they opened research facility in Seattle solely focusing on artificial intelligence and last year they established AI lab in Shenzen. AI is build around robust data so WeChat has clear advantage as they have vast amount of conversation and connections data. More importantly they also have payment data through its WePay platform. So essentially WeChat is sitting on the most valuable data sources: how people are spending their money? Where people are? And what they are talking about?

“Shopping and search engine data show one type of data, which is purchasing or shopping intent, which is valuable, but different. For example, if you were to build out an Natural Language Understanding engine, you would not use search engine data, because no one searches based on complete conversational phrases.”

-Tak Lo, Zeroth AI

There are already couple of prominent accounts utilizing AI within WeChat. Chumen WenWen is voice assistant that connects to third party APIs and answers questions around what you should do (e.g. restaurants, movies, services and more). Alibaba got headstart with facial recognition with its widely covered “Smile to pay” collaboration with KFC but it will be sure that WeChat will be launching tools based on facial recognition technologies. WeChat has also been improving its search function going head-to-head against Baidu by incorporating more social and connection information to its search results.

On a lighter note, what has become tradition with Microsoft AI Chatbots, their WeChat Chatbot Xiaobing and other chatbot BabyQ also went rogue and started slandering communist party.

“My China dream is to go to America.”

Xiaobing (WeChat Chatbot)

Do you think that such a corrupt and incompetent political regime can live forever?”

BabyQ (to the question about Chinese Communist Party)

If you want to know where Western conversational commerce is tomorrow, you only need to analyze what WeChat is already today.

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Programmatic Advertising should be Slave to The Brand and Performance

“Programmatic is gluten of advertising”

-Jimmy Kimmel

I was speaking couple of weeks back at Marketing Interactive Performance Marketing Confence. It was a really great event and I was happy that I was able to speak from creative angle which quite often gets neglected in programmatic discussion.

Marketing-Interactive Digital Performance Marketing 2017

Marketing-Interactive Digital Performance Marketing 2017

I talked about the state of programmatic, but as in this post I want to highlight three things from the speech that every brand should take into account:

  1. Creativity has to become more ingrained to programmatic advertising.

Creative variables constitute over 50% of programmatic effectiveness, but do you focus 50% of your programmatic efforts to the quality of creative? Over half of the marketing budget is at stake and still many brands are cutting corners when doing creatives to programmatic. Horrible quality will lead to bad performance and will also contribute to ad-blocking (which has exploded in Asia) When same ad reaches person over 40 times a month, sales can actually start to decline.

Also sometimes it seems that programmatic specialists have totally forgotten the importance of strong brand. You can optimize as much as you want, but if people do not recognize and know your brand that tactical tweaking amounts to nothing. Marketing automation will not replace the value of strong brand. And strong brands are built from great user experience and emotional connection.

  1. Programmatic quality will be the utmost importance.

10.9 billion will be wasted on low-quality display ads by 2021. That is over 1/3 of programmatic spend. Above-mentioned creative quality is important element in the quality, but there has been even more fundamental problems within programmatic industry:

  • Viewability (or lack thereof)
  • Ad and click fraud
  • Bots
  • And the poor creative quality (mainly horrible quality and invasive display ads have driven people to block all advertising

Many have been benefiting from ad fraud, whether they have been publishers, buyers and media agencies. Hell, even extremists have done 318K from brands with ads placed to their extreme content. Who have not benefited at all from ad fraud?

Brands and their consumers.

Within the next decade, fake Internet traffic schemes will become the second-largest market for criminal organizations behind cocaine and opiate trafficking. Media (and other) agencies would likely not push dope (maybe consume it) or kill people but they have been happily working indirectly with same criminal organizations.

Industry has to clean its act.

Luckily the quality has become a conversation topic and brands start to realize that if your placement is too cheap it is probably too good to be true. Industry giants are improving as well. Programmatic direct deals in APAC have grown more than 65%. It is everyone´s responsibility to demand and offer quality placements.

  1. Programmatic is not just display advertising

I think it’s a dying industry. The idea that buying a 250 x 250 square display ad is effective, is false, you’re more likely to get bitten by a shark than click on one of those ad units.

– Matthew Oczkowski (Cambridge Analytica) 

Display ads will not be remembered as the best advertising innovations in the world (unlike TV ads and search advertising). 60% of banner clicks are accidental and 90% of them are bots. You don´t need to be mathematician to realize that it is really small percentage of people who are really clicking. And the percentage is not really going up. The world´s first banner ad had 44% CTR and now we have gone to fraction of that (0.16% globally)

However, some are still clicking and they are still bringing results. Display ads are necessary transition for companies to drive performance and learn to operate programmatically.

Programmatic marketing is about machines buying, serving and optimizing advertising (any kind of advertising). Eventually majority of buying will be programmatic, because machines are doing it better than we are. There is probably certain iconic placements that will never become programmatically bought or sold, but they will be small minority. For anything else machines will do it more effectively, accurately and faster. This applies also to actual creatives. If robots can already beat people at GO, conduct entire orchestra or write articles, it would not be the biggest of challenge to create above-the-average display ads. And if you are worried about machines stealing your job, read below quote from this great and acclaimed thinker:

”If machines can do the job, it´s not really a job you want to do”

– Riku Vassinen

Programmatic is still unfortunately in stage of not having unified definitions. When having discussion with different stakeholders of programmatic, it feels like the old parable of blind men touching elephant from different angle. Your view of elephant is totally different based on are you touching its nose or backside. Same thing with programmatic. Some are talking about buying, some about tools, some just about display advertising, some about multiple creative variations etc.

We need to strip away the unnecessary “magic dust” surrounding programmatic and agree on basic definitions. Unfortunately, it has been tainted by snake oil salesmen, who actually benefit of having people confused about what programmatic truly means. They have been benefitting on making it more complicated and less transparent than it should be.

Because at its core, programmatic is a great thing. It is about reaching right audience with right creative on right context and with right price. So essentially it is what advertising has always been. Now we are just able to do it with more precision.

Programmatic advertising is not means to the end. It should always serve as slave that helps to drive stronger brand and better performance.

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The Rise of The Conversational Commerce

Last week I was speaking in Seoul in Digital Marketing Conference for 400 marketing leaders. My topic was around conversational commerce: a topic that I have been writing about a lot.

conversational commerce

Speaking about Conversational commerce in Seoul 2017

I was trying to find an answer to three burning questions that are keeping me awake at night:

  • Why Conversational commerce is happening right now?
  • What it actually means?
  • How your brand should act?

1)Three big trends enabling conversational commerce

a) Mobile-first world

Messaging apps have already surpassed social media apps in popularity. Our audience is not mobile-first, they are increasingly mobile-only and becoming messaging only. WeChat has already shown the future of messaging-first digital ecosystem.

Our audience want the service and content in the platforms they are using.

b) AI-first world

Aptly in the same city I was having my presentation around conversational commerce, Alphago Go-robot beat the hell out of Lee Sedol, the world´s best (human) Go player. It was not even close match, not to mention that apparently in 37th move in second match Alphago did a move that had not been ever done in Go history and was called the most beautiful Go move ever.

Artificial intelligence will enable machines (or robots, if I may) to emulate human-like traits and behavior.

c) Digital platforms will become assistants predicting your needs

There will be more virtual assistants than humans in 2021. All the big digital companies (Apple with Siri, Samsung with Bixby, Google with Allo and Home, Amazon with Alexa and Echo) are building the assistive layer to their products.

Because of mobile platforms and evolved AI, companies are able to predict what you need and provide you personalized service.

2) What Conversational commerce actually means?

 I would define conversational commerce as “enabling people to interact with brands with way that is natural to them”. Interaction is limited to customer service or selling products. There is only handful of brans that people would actually want to have conversation with and the odds are your brands is not one of them. The natural way to communicate means two things:

  • The style you communicate: Whether it is with Emojis and Slang with text or using voice
  • With what device you are communicating with: It can be either chat (with human), chatbot (with robot) in messenger or using internet-of-things device (currently Google Home, Alexa devices. In the future whatever device you will think of).

The benefits of conversational commerce for user are:

  1. Convenience: Use whatever method and device you feel comfortable.
  2. Personalization: You save time (not necessarily money) as you get recommendations suitable for you.
  3. Decision support: Conversational commerce helps you to do decisions easier by learning from your behavior and predicting your next move.

3)What it means to your brand?

There are five key considerations you need to take into account when considering your conversational commerce –strategy:

1. Don´t get caught by hype

Conversational commerce is bigger thing than Chatbots. Chatbots have been one of the first trials on making it work. And they have not been particularly successful yet. Facebook bots have had failure rate of 70% so they were able to get to 30% of requests without some sort of human intervention. That does not mean that people don´t want good service through their messaging apps. They don´t necessarily want it through chatbots.

2. Choose your pilot market wisely

Compared to social media landscape, messaging landscape is much more fragmented especially in South-East Asia. This means that you might not be able to replicate your activities in one market to another.

3. Find the right partners

You don´t necessarily need to create every algorithm from the scratch. There is already quite developed ecosystem around conversational commerce that you can tap into.

4. Provide value and make life easier for your consumer

Like I said earlier, majority of the people do not want to have a conversation with brands. They want to have value whether it is through buying products or getting good consumer service. While you might be interested in creating the most witty Chatbot ever, it might be more wise to first ensure that you are providing straightforward utility first and then start extending to more human-like interactions.

5. Be fun and natural

That being said, the great opportunity with conversational commerce is ability to humanize otherwise transactional brand-human relationships. When you have ensured that you are providing value and clear benefit to the user, the personality of your chat can be a true competitive advantage.

We are living in the peak of hype cycle with conversational commerce and there will be round of iterations when it will truly live to its promise. My point is however clear: it is not question about will the conversational commerce happen, it is how and when it will happen?

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Supermarket Champagne and How Quick Win is Not Always Beneficial for Your Brand

For a person coming from Finland where you only can buy wines from government-run monopoly even seeing wines in supermarket is somewhat mind-boggling. However where I advocate liberal policies, being too accessible might not be that wise strategy if you want to be regarded as premium luxury brand.

In the case of G.H. Mumm the genie is out of the bottle (no pun intented) and it has definitely positioned itself as a mainstream champagne. However even for supermarket champagne this promotion is just plain ridiculous:

gh_mumm

Taking picture of receipts?

Sending messages to dubious WhatsApp numbers?

How low will your brand go?

To me if you want to be perceived luxury you should not even be having promotions or discounts. But even if having promotion you could create a better and more luxurious experience, maybe a nice landing page or if you want to use messenger apps: a chatbot.

Brands are after quick wins and forget that those actions will deteriorate the brand on the long run.

(Some smartass might ask why I bought the bottle in the first place, which is a valid question. In this case, the wacky promotion did not stop me from buying the product (but it was close). I just ignored the promotion) 

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The Age of Assistant: The More Personalized and Predictive Internet

starwars

We are entering the age of assistants, they just reside in our mobile phones.

Internet used to be about destinations. Typing in URL. Searching for something you need in Google and then following that search result to the rabbit hole of different sites. Clicking on banner ads and going to the websites from those banners.

That age is soon long gone.

Although majority of firms are still basing their digital strategies on destination approach, we have already moved to the age of assistant. Internet will become more personalized, predictive and the same time it will become more even more centralized. Our communications will start revolving around our messenger app (mainly WhatsApp), our information gathering will happen in Google app (increasingly through voice) and our buying will start to focus (again increasingly more through voice). Every brand needs to become better in predicting user behavior to provide more personal service:

  1. Prediction will trump the destination approach

When I have booked a flight, Google will automatically say to me to check-in, take a taxi and arrive on time. I am not going willingly to websites of either my airline, the airport or taxi company. The whole journey is prompted by the assistance of Google and I am happy for it. Our digital properties must be able to work in conjunction with this new assistant ecosystem. We need to balance between positive surprise (“How did they know that? So cool!”) and slightly creepy  (“How did they know that?” So scary!).

  1. People want the service in their own personal way

Chatbots have just scratched the surface of conversational commerce. We want to order pizza with emojis. Get song recommendations based on the context (“Hey Google, play that new theme from James Bond”). While the world will become more voice and message-driven, the transactions will become more personal and conversational. We must revamp our service process and lingo, so that we are able to serve our consumers in way that is intuitive for them.

The future of your digital business will be revolving around consumer data. The more you can have it, the better you can predict the behavior and more personal service you can give. We are entering the age of assistant and the best butler will rule them all.

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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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New Social Order: Why Everything You Learned About Social Media is Wrong?

nwo

“Messaging is the new web browser. Everyone has a phone. Everyone has a favourite messaging app on their phone. If your new thing can message people via those apps, then anyone can engage with you.”

Matt McAlister (Guardian) 

Social media has been good to me. I used to work in MySpace in its heyday. I mostly made my name after that doing many succesful Facebook campaigns. I have exploited all the useful social media channels in promoting my books, parties and whatever else I have been doing. Majority of readers to this blog come from Twitter and LinkedIn.

That being said, social media is not what it used to be. It has become big business. It has become boring. It has become predictable. Essentially social media has reached the adulthood.

Marketers took a while to learn the ropes of social media. Now we have to unlearn everything we knew about social media if we want to succeed in the new marketplace:

  1. Social media listening is becoming meaningless

70% of the social discussions cannot be tracked because they happen in ”dark social” e.g. in messenger platforms and to lesser extend e-mail and SMS (older demographics). All the social media listening tools are focusing heavily on Twitter with some Instagram and Facebook mixed in. That is hardly a representative of almost any audience. Social media listening tools focus on Twitter because it is easy to monitor. That is like only doing biceps at the gym, because it is the most convenient movement to do. The reality is that you don´t know what your audience is talking about in digital and most likely will not be able to know in the near future.

Regard social media listening as a pulse (or weak signal) of what is happening, but not the full accurate picture of your audience and what they are talking about. Unless your audience are ”social media gurus” and celebrities.

  1. Engagement with your audience is a myth

Facebook is not social media; it is paid media. There is no organic reach for the brands anymore. You have to approach Facebook with same tools and methods as TV (expect with slightly better targeting opportunities). The most interesting bit about Facebook is the whole ecosystem with WhatsApp, FB Messenger and Instagram. Referring to previous point, we might not know what people are talking on WhatsApp but soon we can target ads based on what they are talking.

Forget always-on, approach Facebook through campaigns. Do less, but bigger things. For smaller things, automate as much as possible.

  1. Chatbots are the magic bullet to bring utility to social and make brands meaningful

The whole digital experience will start to revolve around messengers. The real value brands can bring is not in human relationships, but in human-machine relationships. Community manager –model is not sustainable as it requires actual people running it. Seeing a social post of pizza will not improve your life, but ability to order pizza from the messenger will (or make it worse depending on how many pizzas you eat a week). Conversational commerce will be the biggest opportunity for the brands in the short run to become meaningful in digital sphere.

Define how you can bring value to your audience through messenger with chatbots. Move fast because your competitors are most likely thinking about the same things as well.

  1. Influencers and partnerships are the key to borrow relevance

Ad-blocking is becoming more and more prevalent. Whether your ad is in Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, the default setting for your audience will be to block it. Only way to overcome ad-blocking is Again brands should not play in human-human relationships, but as an enhancer and enabler of star-human relationship. You have to start working with relevant influencers and start creating native content with the relevant media entitities. The answer to ad-blocking is not making better ads, because once you have blocked your ads you will not unblock them just because quality of interruptions has improved.

Go where your audience is and play with their rules.

  1. Forget social media

Like said earlier, the digital behavior will start (has already started) to revolve around messengers. That will be a melting pot of social, mobile and eCommerce and you have to understand that whole melting pot to succeed in the new marketplace. Our audience is not slicing and dicing their life. Messengers are lifeline of their whole existence and there is no boundaries between real-life and digital.

Your audience does not live in silos. You should not select your vendors to specialize in silos either. 

New social order has been here for already quite a while. Is your company ready for it?

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Why Donald Trump Won The Election? Three Lessons for Marketers

Trump was not elected on a platform of decency, fairness, moderation, compromise, and the rule of law; he was elected, in the main, on a platform of resentment.
– David Remnick (New Yorker)

Yesterday was a shocking day.

trump
During the presidential race Donald Trump has showcased racism, hatred for women and downright lack of manners that should not be tolerable for leader of any organisation, not to mention the most powerful country of the world. I hope that some of the comments were just smart strategy (cynical adman in me) and there will be wiser Trump in the office.

Time will tell.

There have been lots of good articles of the reasons why Donald Trump won (both scientific and emotional), but there are three main reasons for the win that every marketer should take into account with their own marketing strategy:

1. Filter bubble

He (Trump) took advantage of a media landscape that has never been more broken, more fragmented and more open to misinformation, disinformation, and even outright hoaxes and lies.

– Matthew Ingram (Fortune)

I don´t have many Trump supporters in my Facebook friends. I don´t have lots of friends living in rural areas. My peer group is mostly comprised by knowledge workers, who have not gotten the short end of stick with globalization. Not to mention that I am Finn living in Singapore who does not really know anything about day-to-day life in USA. That is my digital world, but not the digital world for majority.

Not only in USA, the nations are divided. Is Super Bowl the last thing that brings all the people together in USA? And where digital has improved our life in many aspects, it has not brought us together. Media has lost its role as unifying force and you can nowadays ignore all the opinions that are against your worldview. Social media is not a conversation, it is a shouting match.

Never assume that your digital world is similar as your audience.

2. Top-of-mind is more important than positive sentiment

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

– Oscar Wilde

Many politicians and brands make the mistake of trying to please everyone. For majority, that is a huge mistake. Donald Trump is living proof of this. There were more people who were against him (Hillary got more votes) and he still won. The more people talk about you, the more you will gain followers. Sometimes angering 10 to gain 1 loyalist is worth it.

Find your audience. Only focus on that audience. Don´t try to please everyone.

3. Surveys are the most unreliable method of research

Hispanics won’t vote for Trump. Well, no, it turns out that Hispanics won’t tell pollsters – not even those automated telephone polls that they use in the States – that they will vote for Trump. Many of them just go out and quietly vote for Trump in larger numbers than they voted for Mitt Romney last time.

– John Rentoul (Independent)

If we would believe in surveys, everyone would be eating healthily, recycling and not voting for Trump. People lie in surveys. They want to portray certain image and are bad at self-reflecting. Words are cheap, behavior is the only thing that truly matters. Surveys and digital pre-testing are waste of money at their best and harmful at their worst. 

Don´t believe what people say. Follow how they move (location), how they spend their money (consumption patterns) and with whom they are in contact (social). 

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

-Winston Churchill

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Who are able to Keep Their Jobs when the Robot Apocalypse Happens?

terminator

Majority of the work we are doing as marketing professionals will be done by robots in (not so far) future. So if we won´t embrace that change, we will The workforce lead by robots is not only a threat for luddites but also opportunity for broad-minded professionals. Before anything can be automated and singularity kicks in, there will be a (probably relatively long) period of augmentation when we can work alongside with smart machines.

In their book ”Only Humans Need Apply”, writers Tom Davenport and Julia Kirby list five potential ways for us humans to remain relevant when robots starts to take over:

Step Up
Overseeing the automated systems.

Who will keep their jobs in advertising industry?
A few lucky managers, who are visionary and ruthless enough to replace majority of the workforce with automated systems.

Step In
Learning more about how robots will work and how to improve them.

Who will keep their jobs?
Those who are currently good at their jobs but not opposed to progress and using robots to do majority of the heavy lifting in their work. Combination of machine learning and human tacit knowledge is quite often the killer combination compared to only-human and only-robot approaches. At least for now.

Step Aside
Paradoxically the much-ridiculed ”soft skills” are more robot-prone than the more analytical skills. It is easier to teach robot to kick your ass on math challenge, but way harder to teach robot to have empathy when your colleague is having a bad day.  Using human skills like motivation, creativity, persuasion or empathy while using the automated systems will be the killer combination in expert services (e.g. financial advisory: robots are doing the investing, humans are doing the selling).

Who will keep their jobs?
Everyone who can sell and gets along with people. Evem when majority of the hard work is done by machines you still need human touch to sell those solutions to other humans.

Step Narrowly
Specialize in field so obscure that it does not make sense to automate.

Who will keep their jobs?
Those specialists who you call to perform really weird tasks with high price tag (e.g. the best taxidermy photographer, world´s best copywriter for sanitary pads, scouting agent specializing in New York) and you always wonder how they make their living (from those weird tasks and commissioning premium, duh). In global marketplace there is enough demand for pretty much anything and there is always higher demand for the best one in the field.

Step Forward
Developing new systems and technology to automate processes.

Who will keep their jobs?
Forward-looking people who have good understanding of current processes and preferably understanding of data & algorithms (or alternatively ability to speak the same language as data geeks).

As we can see from this list, there are plenty of opportunities in our field to work alongside smart machines. What combines all of these ways (maybe excluding stepping narrowly which is probably the least applicable route to majority of us) is that we need to embrace the improvements that smart machines can bring to our ways of working.  We need to be willing to work to add value to machines and be willing to let machines add value to our work. If you are opposing change and just hope for legislative restrictions to slow down the inevitable, you are without your job sooner than you think.

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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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