A Missed Opportunity

Two years ago, during the 2006 Soccer World Cup Univision and ESPN published their ratings for the Mexico-Iran game which showed 5.6 million people (if I remember correctly) watched the game ton Univision, plus about 1.5 million on ABC.  That’s almost 10% of all households with cable and TV (data from worldscreen.com). And this only accounts for fans that speak spanish and/or those who follow Mexico as a team. 

It is evident that the number of soccer fans in the US is a sizable market measured in probably tens of millions, a market that is being largely ignored.

Coming back from work it is very hard to find a TV channel with a good summary of the day’s games – the best I could find is 20 minutes on ESPN at 10pm. No major sponsorships as you would expect from McDonald’s or some other fast food chain, no special offer from the cable company or Best Buy to buy a better TV (except for a few ads in Univision). At work many people were having a hard time finding a t-shirt to support their national team.

Surprising for the most competitive market in the world.

Entrepreneurs, mark your calendars – the World Cup is back in 2 years!

Hiring for Performance

Sure – but what is Performance?

Harry Joiner made a post on his blog that made me ask myself this question. Why? here is what I posted as a comment on his blog, which by the way is an excellent blog.

Harry, I agree with the principle from Peter Drucker, however there is a big caveat: How do you define “best performers”?

Every company hires people based on their culture and their unique criteria for performance. Just like there are my aspects to what we call “intelligence”, performance- or “ability to execute” is an ambiguous term in its definition and especially in the way to measure it.

As an example during the 90s, Motorola is a company with very high performance people in terms of their engineering ability. As a consequence, the company filed an incredible number of patents and innovated in many areas creating technologies that have changed our lives.

The problem is, these high-performance thinkers/engineers/problem solvers were not very high performance marketers.

Visiting the Motorola Museum is enlightening both in the number of technologies created by Motorola (from the first square TV to the first car radio to the transponder used to communicate with Apollo XI) as well as the number of markets created by the company, only to be lost to competitors in an amazingly short timeframe.

A good example is the cellular industry – created by Motorola a few years ago, worth many billions of dollars in infrastructure, services and handsets. According to data reported by Monitor this week, Motorola has only 18% of the handset business – and this is after a strong comeback.

Is Google hiring high performance engineering talent-focused thinkers with a big ego, creating a culture that is extremely ambitious and self-confident? Can they really take on companies like Microsoft with 10 times their manpower and recognized by hiring high performance people?

People Buy Emotionally, then Justify Rationally

From the teenager girl buying her next cell phone at a mall to the CIO making a multi-million decision that will impact his company’s information platform, people make emotional decisions and justify them rationally.

Why have people grabbed over 50 million Motorola’s RAZR phones? style. Not because of its performance as a phone, ability to get multimedia content, or ease of use. It is cool  and it’s the gadget to have. Even Samsung this week launched a copy cat.

When we talk about mobile platforms for enterprises, people talk about “security” as a key factor in making purchase decisions. However, most of these people do not have a thorough understanding of what should be their security requirements and how each platform meets those requirements. Surely there are many people who do, my point is that many decisions are made based on perceptions and pre-conceived notions.

Most people who like technology feel very passionate and personal about the technology decisions they make. When I was in high school I was part of the Commodore 64 clan, and we tried many times to convince the people on the dark side (Apple II users) about the superiority of the Commodore machines.

In retrospect, I remember feeling a bit envious of some of the Apple’s  features, but my choice went far beyond a simple purchase. I still have a strong emotional attachment to Commodore that influenced my decisions and the recommendations I made. Quite frankly, I cannot say all the advice I gave to friends and customers (I used to own a computer reseller company) was completely unbiased and facts-based. but I am not the exception.

A CIO who is anti-Microsoft, for example, would be naturally predisposed to support Linux and see that platform as more secure and more cost effective. His feelings will be reassured every time he would read an article about a Microsoft patch, subconsciously ignoring the article on the other side of the page talking about Linux’s vulnerabilities. The same happens for a CIO who has been using Microsoft’s (or Sun’s or Oracle’s) platform successfully. It’s just human nature.

So how are you as a marketer optimizing your customer engagements for emotional impact?

Can your company create an iPhone?

When the iPhone was first announced, I remember exchanging many emails with industry colleagues -as many people did – speculating about the possibilities of Apple hitting the 10 million target that Steve Jobs set during the announcement.

Many emails were based on market research: how many people were buying phones at over $500 at the time, how big was the market for smartphones, etc. I was skeptical given the complexity of the software stack that powers a phone. Most of us had to eat our words.

How did Steve pull it off?

There are amny answers: articles and surely books are being written about it. I found a key piece today while reading a new book “Do you matter? how great design will make people love your company“. In this book, the authors explain how apple and other leading companies are design-driven and how most other companies are metrics-driven.

As a marketer and product marketer, many times I have had to justify my plans with market research: opportunity analysis, market sizing, CAGR (compound annual growth rate) numbers, etc. Most companies financial discipline require this type of financial justification based on hard data and require some kind of proof that an investment will yield results based on research, focus groups, etc.

Not at Apple. The key to design-driven companies is that they place significant value in customer experience. The company is aligned behind it. The problem with customer experience is that it is emotional, therefore not measurable. Steve Jobs has a knack for great design (in the broad sense of the word, meaning how to create products people love) and is able to pull it off because he runs the company and the board of director trusts his investments will pay off most of the time. Or at least he has a success ratio that allows the company to experiment.

If Steve had to justify the iPhone based on hard numbers, or if anyone at Motorola had envisioned the iPhone, they would have more than likely been shut down by senior managers because market research, hard data and market trends do not support the idea of a $600 first-generation smartphone selling 10 million units in the first 18 months.

Intersentingly enough, Motorola actually came up with the idea of the iPhone: they went to Apple and had to convince Jobs it was a good idea based on the fact you don’t leave your house without three things: car keys, cell phone and wallet. Everything esle is secondary. But I digress.

If this is a topic you are interested in, I highly recommend the book. It is written by Robert Brunner and Stweart Emery. I am half-way though but it is well worth it already.