Get in the way of a whale swimming at top speed, and there is no way it can slow down fast enough not to knock you to smithereens. It’s physically impossible.
That’s because inertia, in a nutshell, is the resistance of an object to change in its pace or position; and it can be a powerful (and deadly) force.
But note, that this resistance to change works both ways. It can result in inaction.
In business, growing cultures have had to adjust to the market constantly, speeding up in many cases, and slowing down in others. Customer preferences start to shift in an odd, unpredictable direction.
What makes this ever harder — the bigger the organization, the harder it typically is to adjust to the change.
Why? Because it is never just one thing that’s been changing.
A whale can’t get eaten by a single piranha all at once. It takes a school of them taking a million little bites over time.
Along the way, it’s been a million little things about what the customer experienced that drove her to reconsider her current purchase patterns, or chose a different communication method.
It’s the app that she used to skip the line at Starbucks.
It’s the way she can yell to Alexa for a Lionel Richie record in her own home, and have her every wish granted ‘all night long’.
It’s the Lyft she took to your HQ the last time she came in town to visit.
It’s her salon that has her on an account and no way to pay inside the retail space.
It’s the way her other supplier started to let her text in her orders and ditch the complicated macro spreadsheet that wouldn’t ever open in Google Sheets.
Technology took friction, locked it up, and threw away the key for consumers.
But for some reason, when we came to work. We still forget all that. Because, well, we are already in motion.
We peddled white-papers instead of leading with the value, and then we dripped campaigns in the hopes that we could catch someone by phone days or even weeks after they’ve left our website. The problem is that by then, the intent that the buyer had displayed while on our site might be all used up.
This 👆strategy worked pretty well for a few years until a lot of people started to follow the same formula. Folks started to wise up to what happened when they filled out forms, and they’d wait longer and longer as a form of subconscious shark repellent.
But many of the mighty, the ones who were doing great work, the ones who weren’t abusing the trust of their audience suffered on. They didn’t deserve it. They weren’t the ones with the bad behavior. But they were punished nonetheless for the misdeeds of the other.
It is this inertia (the tendency to stay in motion) that causes us to wake up every few years and notice that something has happened. Our customers have found some other path just a little more friendly.
As we look to meet our customers where they are, we often forget to look right in our own backyard for inspiration.
How can we take inspiration from our buyer’s (or even our own) experiences and start to apply that to how we treat the customers.
The good news about piranhas is that they can’t eat the whale all at once. It takes a school of them and a million little bites over time, and NO piranha can catch up to the golden rule.
How do you want to be treated? Start there…
Sometimes people just want to ask a question. No strings attached. No games, qualifying calls, or followup campaigns. Just some simple information to help them get on with their day.
But, there’s sometimes where they really want to get what you have now. For these folks, its best to open up a fast lane. Get them where they need to go faster. Communicate with them the when and where they want to communicate.
It’s not too late. Inertia isn’t a force that can’t be overcome. The whale may be big, but the damage isn’t yet too great. There’s still time to get up and going in the right direction.