Educate Without Bias

I won’t believe what you’ll “market” to me.

I won’t believe what your other clients say about you in their video testimonials that I see on your website.

But I will believe if my close friend recommends you.

I will believe if I “tell” myself that you’re great.

How would you let my friend recommend your product? How would you let me believe that you’re great?

Friendship is based on trust. No trust = no friendship.

Why should I trust you? Why should I believe that you do not have any wasted interest in “educating” me about a subject around your product?

In connection economy, every smart business would educate the mass about how their product is great at solving problems. Nothing hip about it.

The thing called “education” loses its impact if it is done with a bias.  Education is not a sales technique but still we do that. Consider the following:

  • 21 SureFire Ways to Bring Your WebSite on Top – Guaranteed!
  • Why You Should Hire a Full Time PHP Developer in India for Your Next Web App Project?
  • If You Are Not Using XYZ App, Then You Are Not Using Mobile (Really!)
  • Why ABC Political Party is Clean and How Other Party is Ruining the Country … ?

I’m sure you would have read hundreds of such headlines … in blogs, in videos, in almost every imaginable media out there.

Education has to be neutral. It cannot be biased and recommend your own product inside body of the content. If it does, people get it. And they don’t believe in what you say.

If you want to educate people, educate without any wasted interest. Educate them because you want share what you know. Educate them because they need to get what you know. Educate them because they want to listen to what you have to say.

That builds the trust and people will give you permission to sell your products, service and ideas. To them, with a positive bias. Not easy to earn.

Easier said than done!

Return On UX

You’ve heard of Return on Investment, I know. But have you heard of Return on User Experience or RoUX as I call it?

Or, if you’ve heard, have your attentively thought about it?

ROI is easy to measure. You invest your dollars, measure the metrics, optimize and win (or lose).

But RoUX?

It takes awareness, guts, resourcing, intention to serve the humanity and the more important…the willingness to act even if your actions may be criticized … all these and what do you get in return?

It’s easy to hire the most expensive UX expert. It’s possible to train a junior who has substance married with guts. But it’s not easy to observe the benefits of better UX in terms of returns.

Your objectives will drive your decisions.

As a retail store owner, if your objective is to make the maximum possible profit from every footprint that you receive, you won’t be much worried about the feelings your customers carry while waiting on the Cash Counter for 20 mins to pay for their $5000 purchase.

But, if, for you, the customers who visit your store are more than just “footprints”, then you might figure out a way where select salespersons will go to the customer, talk to them humanely, and make sure that their billing is done without they standing in a long billing queue.

What would be the RoUX in such case?

Reduced marketing costs? More on-target sales force? The feel good factor in your staff? More sale?

All of these are actually the by-product of better UX.

Better UX, as I see it, ensures that the person at the receiving end, is treated as a living being, his worldview is respected and he’s rewarded for shopping in your shop.

What would you do if you were that customer? Would you hesitate to recommend that retail store to everyone you know?

No chance.

The real RoUX will be the delighted users who will become your raving fans.

And the good thing about fans is they want to buy your products without being asked. I wanted to buy an iPhone before it was launched. I want to buy iPhone 6 which is not yet officially announced!

Apple is doing something right. It has kept my eagerness alive about what they have to offer next. They don’t need to spend on PPC or mobile advertisements to “sell” their upcoming iPhone which may be just an incremental update from their previous version.

That’s the REAL Return on UX!

Better UX reduces the need of investing time to figure out marketing gimmicks to win the competition. Better UX is more than better engineering, it is a better way of living a better life …

Right Location, Wrong Menu!

Are you someone who think:

“Despite the fact that location of my restaurant is in the heart of city, I barely get customers. Repeat customers? Hell No. Maybe I should change the location. Maybe the location is cursed. Maybe … Maybe I can focus on catering side business so that the $$$ I pay to the chef and support staff can be justified.”

Do these thoughts sound similar?

If yes, you need to seriously consider something: Only the “Right” location is not enough, you need the RIGHT menu too.

And, did I tell you that your right menu is made not only of the food items you serve; it includes  right interior, right chef, right customer service directors (Yes, I’m referring to attendants and waiters!) and of course, great customer service.

We don’t live in 2002. This is 2013 and we’re welcoming 2014. We are competing with people who have ample resources, better understanding of the subject and wider marketing capabilities that get attention.

Just Spray and pray won’t work.

So, how should you operate your business? 

By adding value.

Not just by adding value, by adding GREAT value.

How do you add great value?

Understand your customer’s needs. Make unique dishes for them. Offer them your best dish that is best not because you think it is best but because your customer thinks it is best for her.

Create products and services that serve your customer’s needs like no one else does and make offers that are opportunities for your customers.

How do you figure out what’s your customers’ needs?

By learning minute things about your customer behavior. If a customer likes All Vegetables Pizza then she might like Onion Capsicum Pizza with Sun-dried tomatos. Well, there are chances.

Make decisions for your customer and assume the risks of such decisions. Make your customer a fan of your decisions, not just dishes.

q_19dec2013_1

“But understanding customer’s needs is difficult,” You might argue.

Indeed it is. But when you solve that problem, you make your business thrive.

Before 30 years, it was more difficult to enter a new business. Today, it is not. Your unique differentiator will be the experience you will provide, not just the location of your restaurant or the products, which are on your menu.

So it is obvious that you are facing tough competition. No mediocre products will survive for long. You need to push your limits and enter the greater depth of what services you offer.

It is easy to copy menu from one restaurant to the other, it is extremely difficult to copy the user experience from the other restaurant. That’s where you win!

This applies to every business on the planet. May it be offline or online. May it be restaurant or an Online e-commerce Store, the principles remain the same. Run an extra mile or you have begun to lose the battle.

Figure out how you will run an extra mile. Remember, there are no traffic jams on extra mile and that’s actually a good news.

My App Vs. Their App

When you say “my app” and they’re “my userbase”, you’re concluding it wrong.

Your app is not your app and your userbase is not your userbase.

For example, I use WhatsApp and WhatsApp is my app, I don’t care if it is from WhatsApp Inc. or someone else.

I would not write about WhatsApp here if WhatsApp Inc. would have asked me (or bribed me in whatever form) to write about it.

I write about WhatsApp because I consider it mine. It solves my problem and just for $1 per year.

Did you see the point?

Still, most App developers don’t get it. They want everyone to download the app and share their positive feedback.

Techniques to Market Your App would work only when your target userbase would consider your app, well, “their” app.

Don’t get fooled by apparent momentum that your aggressive marketing techniques might bring. In your heart you know, whether your app is your user’s app or not.

Your App is not yours. Your userbase is not your userbase. Action happens only because of your target user’s love towards something that they want to do.

Every App Marketer wants Action (and Calls to Action) but who knows what it takes?

Space-O Team Wins Hackathon at AppFest 2013

It feels so good to be a part of a team that has exhibited great teamwork and won the Hackathon.

Hackathon Winners Team Space-O Utpal

Photo Courtesy: Kavita Vaishnav, my better half from her iPhone 🙂

IAMAI has organized an amazing event called AppFest 2013 during 26-28 July, 2013. Like many emerging and established software organizations, Space-O has also participated in the event.

From Space-O, 20 people participated in the event. The 20 people team was made of Graphic Designers, Android Developers, iPhone Developers, Administrators and CXOs.

Yes, CXOs too. At Space-O, Rakesh, Atit and I, all three believe that no matter what we do, we do it with 100% of our energy such that people are energized and as a team we have an edge. So we execute things.

Yes, it will sound like 4E’s of leadership from Jack Welch and that’s true. That book has shaped our leadership skills in this particular way.

Here’s the highlight of the event:

Day 01, Friday, 26th July, 2013

Two guys from Space-O won the best quality tweet contest for hashtag #AppFest2013. I won the first price and Jigar Pandya from Space-O’s Social Media and Marketing Team got the second. We got professional photo shoot by Abhijit Naikdesai, who is not only an excellent photographer but a fantastic person too. From him, I got to know about a technique called Panoramic Portraits. Great experience.

Here are some of my tweets that contributing in making Space-O guys win the contest:

Here’s my picture with the guy who shoot my photo shoot… (Professional Pictures Soon)

utpal

Photo Courtesy: Atit Purani, apart from being my business partner and CTO of our company, who’s a great friend too!

Day 02, Saturday, 27th July, 2013

 Two guys from Space-O won the goodies in one competition for tweeting about the best app idea. again Jigar and I. VSERVE.mobi guys (Ravi Vyas, Ebrahim Popat and Herat Maniar), it was nice to connect with you. Here’re the T-Shirts that we got from VSERVE.mobi.

utpal appfest2013

Photo Courtesy: Ravi Vyas of VSERVE.mobi.

Day 03, Sunday, 28th July, 2013

Space-O Ninja Team, who developed an app with the code name Book Barter won the first price.

Book Barter App is a unique book exchange platform that increases your knowledge, save money, enable you to connect with like-minded people and works 24×7. It also makes the environment greener by saving trees.

Here’s the detailed post about Book Barter App and the Winning Team of AppFest 2013 Hackathon on my company website.

The teamwork that began since 27th was extended in the morning too. Right from the top management to the junior most person in the team were working round the clock. Some pictures:

Here’s my on-moment tweet that joined the cheerful team! Yes, I wrote the tweet one minute ahead of time believing that our team will achieve it!

Not only that, the whole event was an awesome opportunity to connect with brilliant people who are master of their trade.

We met amazing guys of  VSERVE.mobi, Alexandre Corso from KRDS, heard Amber Krishnan from Human Factors speaking about UX, got to know what Venture Capitalists think about Mobile App Development Industry and more.

Personally, I got to know a lot more about Kiruba Shankar, who hosted the event. His abilities in taking over the audience with his wonderful anchoring is rare. Not only that, he is one of the most enthusiastic human beings I’ve ever met in my life.

Several years ago, I got to know about Kiruba via Tanmay Vora, my close friend and since then I’ve been following him. It was nice connecting with you Kiruba!

Overall, an excellent experience. Lot of energy, enthusiasm, teamwork and commitment was in the air. I said this to our team in the morning:

Quote from Utpal

Wonderful members of our team took it in the right spirit and created something that they’re proud of. Not only that they won too. Sure, Being proud is most important but next is winning. I can say this especially once our team has won, isn’t it? 🙂

Fun apart, wonderful experience that whole Space-O Team and I will remember for the years to come.

Don’t Prove Yourself

If you’re good, good. If you’re not, not.

What’s the need of proving it to someone else?

People who need to know that you’re good, already know it and others just don’t care.

Your work is not to prove yourself. Your work is just to do your best work.

When you work to prove someone what you have done or what you’re doing is right, you work very differently. And, certainly you are not at your best when you do that.

Proving yourself is defensive. Proving yourself requires a lack of faith in yourself. Proving yourself is very unconfident behavior.

Instead, see what you can do to produce your best work; what you can do to get out of your own way; what you can do to smoothen your actions…

Actions matter.

And, here comes my favorite thought:

No actions, no results. Everything else is a commentary.

Now, don’t mislead the proof thing with marketing, which is a leadership act. Marketing something is not proving. Marketing something is educating  people about existence of your work.

However, only a few people in marketing get that. They tend to prove that their products or services are the best. Best marketing, as I see it, is to put in your best efforts to make your products or services great and then just educate people about it.

If it is the best then people would want to have it, wouldn’t they?

If your marketing requires you to prove that your products and services are great, then something is wrong. Fix that, instead of investing your energy in proving the wrong thing.

Focusing on something is good only when the point of focus is right. Hence your focus should be your best work, not proof.