How business can be its own worst enemy

Seems that I am on a theme where, if a supplier won’t provide the service I want to buy, I’ll go somewhere else. Well, it’s happened again. A website I used to have open most of the time for quick reference to the information finally drove me away tonight. Why? Because they’ve loaded their pages with so much flash-based advertising that having that site open used more than 70% of my processor capacity by itself.

I have nothing against sites that have advertising although I do object to the processor load that Flash ads force on me. Advertising is a given on the Internet, and until this site forced me to act, I was prepared to ignore their, frequently intrusive, advertising for the free weather service they provided. Much more up to date than the OS X 10.4 widget, which is often 2-3 hours out of date when it loads.

I almost reverted to that old standby – walking to the door and opening it – to check the weather when I noticed that ubiquitous RSS feed button on the site. Bliss, joy, glory!!! One click later and my weather is now in my favorite RSS feed aggregator (NetNewsWire Lite). Two items in the feed: weather prediction and current conditions. Exactly what I kept the browser window open full time to get.

Absolutely a reminder to me, and probably anyone in business, that the customer has to come first. The moment we start creating pages that are so heavy in advertising that they become unwieldy for the customer, we effectively put ourselves out of business. It’s not like this site has tremendous overheads – they’re only aggregating and presenting information from the National Weather Service. That the page is taking on advertising that slows my computer is greed, and greed only.

Worse still, the site has no feedback link so I can’t even help them improve by providing feedback. As a serial entrepreneur for more than 30 years, I don’t enjoy negative feedback but I want it and encourage it. I love it when people have positive comments about our products or my presentations. That feeds the ego and helps me know what works. But it’s the negative comment, or the critical opinion, that I can use to improve my presentation and/or product.

And indeed, some of the best improvements to the products have come from critical customers. Thank you. Feedback on presentations helps me improve for future presentations. The subsequent audiences thank you.

In the day of alternate distribution our customers have many ways to get the information we supply like using an RSS feed instead of going to a website, something I’m a huge fan of because of the efficiency. RSS feeds can (and some do) contain advertising and I don’t mind that, because it’s one ad per feed message, generally small and definitely not the processor-hogging flash banners that have become seemingly ubiquitous.

Customers have a choice. If we don’t focus entirely on their need, we’re only in business temporarily. If we’re in post production and don’t focus on the customer’s need for improved communication in the context of their business and message then there are plenty of alternatives. No longer are we the “gatekeepers” to production values because, frankly, anyone can buy or borrow the means of production with quality matching the best broadcasters of just a few years ago. Even HD has no significant barrier to entry.

When was the last time you solicited your customers for how you can improve?

4 replies on “How business can be its own worst enemy”

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  1. I got my first iPod this past November, and have just now started exploring the world of audio podcasts. last night, I listened to some of your recent 1 hour podcasts and REALLY enjoyed the experience.

    But fast-forwarding on the pod is klunky for me (although it’s kinda fun to listen to PH in fast-forward)

    Why are your adverts so wanky ? It’s a turn-off and soooooo 20th Centipede!

    When I try to jump chapters, I’m greeted my another cheap-o commercial with music that screams “amatuer” while selling me on “professional”.

    Why not take a page from that cult classic, “Putney Swope” and make your sponsors to just drop the money in a bag, shut-up, and you’ll take care of the rest. Then make their ads with the same flair and creativity you naturally display within the podcast.

    thanksomuch and keep that keep at it, guys.

    p.s. I just finished lunch: french fries, vegan chocolate walnut cake and pomegranate juice! Now that’s a buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  2. Well, feedback for the Digital Production BuZZ should be sent to philip@DigitalProductionBuZZ, but since you’ve commented here, i’ll respond here. 🙂 The ads keep the show going so they’re a fact of life. We put the ads on that our advertisers supply us with. The chapters are deliberately set up so that listeners hear the ads and provide value to our advertisers, and that’s just the way it’s going to be 🙂 Production of ads is additional to the cost of placing the ad, as it is in all radio. About 50% of the ads are in fact produced by a professional when they have us do it, the rest by our advertisers.

    Thanks for the positive feedback though. I agree on fast forwarding on the iPod – it’s clunky and only works about half the time for me.

    Cheers

    Philip

  3. Part of what makes me a good editor is knowing when to NOT take no for an answer. I can usually get my way if/when I make a good argument, so here’s mine: You and Mini have much more personality than perhaps you realize. You can do a better & more entertaining job voicing the ad messages, even having fun with the whole notion of salesmanship and trust. Just let that sink in overnight and tell me tomorrow that I’m wrong…

  4. No, you’re not wrong, which why smart advertisers like Promax, Automatic Duck and Blackmagic Design choose that route. The Intelligent Assistance ads are comps as part of their (extensive) and you’re not the first person to suggest they could be improved, but not by having Mike or I read them – too much of a good thing and I like a little differentiation between show and ads. Plus, we need the break! 🙂

    Philip

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