Playing in the Sandbox P.I: Don’t Fear Experimentation

15 10 2007

The sandbox is a place for experimentation. Learning from your mistakes.

The sandbox is essentially a microcosm of life. As children, the sandbox teaches us basic social skills, how to share, and the most important lesson of all: For some reason that still evades me, girls don’t seem to like it when you pull their hair.

The sandbox is a free for all, it is an environment populated by anarchists, there is no comprehensible law of the land, and there is an imposed social hierarchy awarding size. However, it is also a world where the citizens are extremely forgiving. One can initiate an epic struggle over an action figure that ends in a messy fit of sand tossing and banshee-like shrieking, and five minutes latter your nemesis can be your best friend.

Consumers unfortunately don’t forget.

It’s a tough world outside the sandbox. You often only have one chance to make a favorable impression, and after 20 years of loyalty, consumers will drop you at the drop of dime over a small misunderstanding. It gets worse. In the pre-internet world you would lose customers, recalculate your customer retention numbers and ARPU rates and move on; however, today these disgruntled consumers have amplification systems for their stories of betrayal. Rating systems, blogs, and other online communities allow consumers to share their stories and influence an ever growing number of others that your brand wronged them. It’s not all bad though, the same infrastructure can be used to spread your gospel.

So what’s the silver bullet? How do you get people to preach from your book?

Well, I apologize for bursting your bubble, but there is no one solution and there never will be. There is no silver bullet and you will never get them to preach from your book. Why? Because you no longer own the book, they do.

But, there is still hope.

You just have to try.

Nobody is perfect, but we should always be trying to better ourselves. People simply want to know that you understand them, hear their voice, and are working toward addressing their issues.

So, experiment. Implement new products and services. Much like the sandbox of our adolescence you will find that people are much more forgiving if your intentions are noble.

Stop being so afraid. Get out there and experiment. You will fail at times and you will succeed at times, but at least your trying.

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