Me, me….it’s all about me!

This snippet from Doc Searl’s blog and his link to Don Marti’s post *really* hit a hot button for me. It’s all about using tags to define — in this “what if?” example — a Linux server request for quote (RFQ) that sellers could search on and contact the buyer with offers.

My mind exploded with ideas!!

When I (or any of us are) in the market for goods or services, it’s all about me. What I want, need, expect to pay, expect to receive, hope to be delighted by and with which to be pleasantly surprised. Each of us is not a “customer segment”. Not a “target market”. We’re all ‘me’ currently living in a “segmented and target marketed” world.

When I was in the market for a Nikon D70 and had done my due diligence, I went to price aggregation sites to find the best price/most reliable vendor. I searched. I poked. I prodded. Ultimately I bought…but the onus was on me to take all the initiative. It was extraordinarily inefficient and clearly didn’t allow competitive differentiation by the selling vendors nor the ability for another camera maker to interrupt my clear choice and disrupt (positively of course) my intent to buy a Nikon D70. If my purchase intent had been “tagged” as an RFQ, a Canon reseller could’ve chased my business by pointing out features, benefits or even adding value to the deal in order to sell me on their product vs. buying the competition.

Since I TiVo all my TV programming it is the *rare* occasion where I stop the quick scan through the ads to actually watch one. I’ve often thought about having a Steve-Borsch-advertiser-reachable-profile in some hosted directory (anonymously available to advertisers and ads anonymously delivered to me based on my profile until I choose to reveal my identity) so that stuff I *might* buy — or would definitely want to be aware of for future purchase consideration — would be available to me with personalized and targeted advertising. I’d actually enjoy (and would watch!) all those TiVo’ed ads if they were ones for products I’m interested in learning about or buying.

Here’s another example: I had a conversation with Ron Johnson (SVP of the Apple Stores) when he was in Minneapolis some time back. Great guy and obviously damn good at what he does as evidenced by the incredible success of the stores. Still…as a power Macintosh user since 1984 (and one time Apple employee), he was nevertheless open and asked for any comments, suggestions and criticisms I had about the stores, the customer experience or anything else.

My main feedback was “Ron, Apple doesn’t know who I am. I have four Mac’s at home; tons of peripherals; manage seven Mac’s at my wife’s business; four iPods; and buy virtually everything Apple makes. How come Apple doesn’t leverage that information to cross-sell and upsell me?” We talked about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and other possibilities for Apple to accelerate personalized marketing. We discussed that topic over a year ago and today, Apple still doesn’t know me. Sure would be great if they used the information they do have (from product registrations, etc.) to help me buy more or had a way to look up my profile somewhere — and sent offers that were just for me.

I submit that this tagging capability Doc referenced that Don wrote about could dramatically empower a buyer’s market and accelerate efficiencies by having sellers help buyers buy vs. trying to attract them and hope they’re in the buying mood. Imagine being able to build a tagging system for products and services that could accelerate the purchasing process. Imagine still that a marketer could search blogs (as market research) and discover all the tags for, say, digital SLR cameras? Or advertisers and vendors to automate filling RFQ’s by the millions? (What a great way to use mass customization to take advantage of the long tail of consumers through individualized fulfillment!).

Most of us know what the semantic web
is focused on achieving, but it is monolithic in scope. What I think about
as a better model are what Flickr and Technorati tags do. They’re simple and easily
extensible. If every product or service was “tagging enabled”, tagging such a wide spectrum of possibilities would be daunting if all tags needed to be generated, approved by some body of authorities and then delivered.

Here are two thoughts….

  • What if there was an online repository of pre-done tags by the manufacturer of a product or deliverer of a service? Or, a place where a person or organization could complete a “Tagging Form” at some place like “TagCentral.com” that would have possible fields to be filled in for a tag? I could envision a tag for a Nikon D70 RFQ that had every attribute of the camera and — as tags were added — the D70 tag would automatically proliferate to *every* place that tag resides around the Web
  • Identity Management and directory services have a lot of issues to be solved before there is agreement amongst everyone in the community. Still, I would love to have a Reference ID alias representing Steve Borsch that would allow me to own and manage my identity and profile while providing a complete “interest and/or RFQ profile” of tagged products, services, information, audio/video content and more that would live within one central directory and be available to advertisers and sellers to ping me and make me offers. Apple could use a directory like this to send custom offers to “me”, to power users, newbies, iPodders and any other slice-n-dices of individuals.

1 Comment

  1. Steve Peterson on July 23, 2005 at 10:52 pm

    I think your point about Apple knowing you is right on point, and it has a lot to do with their channel model. Apple doesn’t think of itself as needing to know you; it expects the distribution channel to do so. Interesting to think about this in comparison to Dell; could this be part of the reason that they are 5x the size of Apple when measured by revenue?



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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.