In Search of the Straight Line

During one of the conversations that shape the book VelocityStefan Olander, who's in charge of Digital Sport at Nike, describes his attitude to serving customers:

“When you are taking that important leap into the unknown, you can and must draw confidence from the connection that matters most: a clean, straight line to the customer.

If we ask why whatever product or service we create will make people’s lives easier, better or more fun, rather than just starting with how it might just contribute to the bottom line, we’d see more successful business.”

Strong connections = Strong brands

Stefan argues that enhancing a customer’s experience creates a strong  connection between them and a brand. There are many ways to do this, some costly, many not. Stefan’s team at Nike created a feature on the Nike+ mobile GPS app.  When you’re going for a run you share the fact with your friends on Facebook, and they can cheer you on by liking or commenting on your status update. Every time they do, you hear a stadium roar over your music in real time. It’s a feature that gives you a little spurt of energy and makes you smile. Others, such as Amazon, develop direct connections with customers that are built on trust. Trust that Amazon have the product they want, that finding and buying it will be easy, that the delivery will be on time and that their credit card details won’t be compromised. Simple things, but easy to get wrong. Amazon gets it right, that’s why the brand is almost synonymous with ecommerce.

Zig zags, polygraphs and the truth

The approach Stefan describes can be applied to any product or service, it just requires us to think about what matters most to our customers, rather than what matters most to us as marketers. If we look at online video advertising, we need to think about how we engage with video as consumers. Fortunately, we all tend to watch online video these days, so it shouldn’t be too hard.

When we watch video it often acts as a catalyst for taking action. It makes us do something. How many times have you watched a video and then instantly popped open a new tab and searched for more information? Video is part of our discovery process. You see a movie trailer, you check for release dates or show times. Maybe it’s a car ad, so you check if it’s in your price range. If you see a great piece of creative you might think ‘yeah, I’d like to see more of this’, and end up subscribing to the brand’s YouTube channel or liking their Facebook page to get more content.

Think about the process you have to go through to get to your final destination, it’s rarely a straight line connection, it’s often more of a zig zag from web page to web page, a journey that resembles the polygraph results of a compulsive liar.  The truth is that we would all rather be able to take just one step to get to our destination, not several.

A to B, that's a straight line

So, how do you help your consumers using online video? How can you make their lives easier? Wouldn’t it be great if you could create a connection, a straight line from point A, your video, to point B, the place your consumers are trying to get to? Take the example of a consumer trying to find the official Facebook page for your brand after enjoying one of your videos. They want to become part of your community but there are loads of unofficial fan pages, locating the right one can take time and they might just get bored and give up.

Create a straight line, a direct route from where your audience is to the place they want to get to. Make it easy for them to do what they want and you’ll have made a strong connection. 


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