When Technology Fails

woman-with-laptop-laughingAs I entered I was astounded to see The Effective Detective quietly laughing. I could not allow this rare occurrence to go without some comment.

“Sir, are you feeling alright?” I asked

“Eh? Watson, what would cause you to ask such a question?” The Detective replied to my question with another question.

“I rarely see you in such a jovial mood. I deduced there must be something strange afoot,” I answered his question directly, albeit with a slight smile on my face.

“I see Watson. You are mocking me. No matter. Watson, are you familiar with the concept of personalization in email?” The Detective, still smiling, shot back.

“Of course sir. It is similar to using the mail merge function of Microsoft Word to include contact information in the subject and or content of the email. For example first name. It is designed to make the email more personal and friendly. However, I fail to see anything humorous in that choice of email tactics,” I replied, now feeling a bit puzzled.

“Correct Watson, there is nothing inherently humorous in the use of personalization. Where the humor enters is when the technology used to implement it occasionally goes south,” answered The Detective, who actually seemed to be stifling a laugh.

“Sorry, sir. I am still not following.”

“Observe Watson,” The Detective said as he repositioned his laptop so I could see the screen. “Check out the salutation on the first message.”

“‘Hey blank field’,” I read. “What the blazes?”

“And this one Watson?” The Detective opened another message.

“#FName# you need to check this out!” Now I began laughing.

“Precisely Watson, technology is often hailed as a panacea to all of a business’s marketing woes, but sometimes, the technology fails, and at least in these cases, hilarity ensues,” The Detective, still smiling began his explanation. “There is of course a dark side to this too. A member of your list could assume your technology’s failure is yours as well and abandon you as a potential vendor. However I feel that most would react as I did, with laughter and a shared sense of the risks of completely relying on technology,” The Detective took his customary pause to allow me to interject my thoughts.

“Shouldn’t they report it as a bug to the software manufacturer sir?” I asked, unsure of my mentor’s lackadaisical attitude to the problem.

“Rubbish, Watson. You have no idea if this was truly the software’s error. The data might have been coded incorrectly, who knows? Why would you waste your time and the vendor’s time on chasing down a ghost. Of course there will be some literal-minded jerks out there who believes that even such a minor issue that could have happened for multiple reasons, is a reflection on the  competence of the creator. If we all reacted like that, we would never get anything out the door, we would be obsessing over the table alignment on a page until the wee hours of the morn, and never launching. No thank you,” The Detective looked at me expectantly to deliver the closing observation.

“So you are saying it is OK to laugh, but not OK to judge, criticise or obsess over it. Just let it go, and understand that the best of us or even machines cannot avoid all mistakes. Who knows, it might even make you seem more human,” I replied after a few seconds of contemplation.

“Excellent Watson! Lets move on to less humorous work, shall we?” exclaimed The Detective, ending the conversation.

Why I left Infusionsoft

Why???I realized my jaw was hanging open in a most unbecoming way, so I shut it momentarily – long enough to gather my words together to verify what I thought I had just heard.

“Sir? Perhaps I misheard you. Can you repeat yourself?”

“Of course Watson, and for heaven’s sake shut your mouth, you look like a fish gasping for air,” The Effective Detective initially answered my question with his typical sarcasm before continuing on. “You did not mishear me Watson, I have dropped Infusionsoft in favor of one of the so-called lesser alternatives,” The Detective concluded, and waited patiently for my reply.

“I don’t understand sir, haven’t you yourself said that Infusionsoft is one of the most powerful tools available for the types of processes we design and implement?” I asked, hoping that my mouth had ceased opening and closing spasmodically.

“I have indeed Watson. And I stand by that. Don’t misunderstand Watson, I am not leading a rebellion against high-powered software that admittedly costs a pretty penny. If someone is using Infusionsoft to its potential, and truly benefitting from it, by all means stay with it!” The Detective answered.

“Then why would we switch, sir? I admit I am finding this quite confusing,” I mumbled.

“Watson, while I must admit it was a hard decision, when I analyzed our own lead attraction and sales funnel system, I felt that Infusionsoft could be a bit of overkill. I will also confess to some consternation over them working towards becoming “Swiss Army Knife software” – doing lots of things, all of them competently, but none of them excellently.  But lastly and most importantly, our clients, Watson. Are many of them best served by that particular software package? I think not,” once again The Detective paused to allow me to interject a comment.

“But aren’t there features that are critical to implementing our system sir?” I asked, finally regaining my composure.

“There are, but features can be duplicated either by human processes, or outside intervention via our own software solutions. We can tie into these supposed lesser systems, and I think that most of them hardly deserve that title. It is simply a matter of working out the processes and designing both a manual solution, and then a software solution. The result will be a cost-effective way to implement the proper processes in one’s business without driving one crazy,” The Detective concluded.

“We will be discussing these processes in this space of course?” I queried.

“Watson, do you have even a shadow of a doubt that we will be discussing this extensively?” The Detective asked, looking incredulous.

“Of course not sir, but you have already dropped one bomb on me today…”

“Hush Watson, we have work to do and word to spread,” The Detective smiled, ending our conversation for the day.

Trying Too Hard To Be Cool

b9f58083-caaa-42d3-9cc2-63891438da79“Watson, are you familiar with the terms, ‘Cutting Edge’ and ‘Bleeding Edge’?” The Effective Detective asked, abruptly looking up from his computer.

“Sir? I believe the terms refer to technology: ‘Cutting Edge’ is fairly new but reliable tech, while ‘Bleeding Edge’ is extremely new and often buggy tech,” I answered, “but what does this have to do with marketing?”

“Bravo Watson, and an excellent question,” answered The Detective before continuing. “Surely you have noticed that technology now plays a large role in marketing? Email auto-responders, CRM databases, texting, software data collection, the list goes on forever. The problem comes when you, in an ill advised attempt to seem cool, or more technically advanced than your competition, latch on to some brand new technology which crashes and burns on you,” The Detective paused, obviously hoping I would interject. I obliged.

“Is there a particular technology you can give as an example, sir?” I ventured.

“Nice segue Watson! There are many, but one that I find particularly irksome is Google Hangouts. Mind you I have nothing against Google in general, and as you well know I am a huge believer in video, just not jerky video that cuts out on a regular basis making you and your guests look like you are in an old stop motion film. And then there is the sound! I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys listening to someone speak as if they were in a garbage can.

“Google Hangouts may not be bad for a video meeting between friends, and perhaps in a pinch you could do a business meeting utilizing it – so long as everyone on the call is patient and in a good mood, but for marketing, where the impression you make is so critical? Bah!” The Detective paused for a quick sip of water, and I took my chance to bring up a point I felt valid.

“But sir, the technology has improved! If noone uses it how will it ever improve?” I asked.

“An excellent point Watson, yes, the technology has improved, because there is a demand for such technology. As to noone using it, if there is a demand, then there will be people who are willing to try it, and experiment with it, and that is well and good. But to use bleeding edge tech for one of the most important aspects of your business? That is a recipe for disaster. There is an old saying Watson, pioneers get arrows in their backs and the settlers ride over them with their wagons. I would think long and hard about the potential downsides of a being a pioneer when it comes to technology in marketing. The upside – ‘Wow they are really cool!’ is rarely worth it,” The Detective finished.

“So the holographic projector with the seventeen speaker wireless sound system is out for our next presentation sir?”

“Quite so Watson. Quite so,” The Detective answered as he went back to work on his computer.