DOES YOUR ENGAGEMENT SPARKLE?
It’s a simple statement, you’ve heard it a hundred times: four out of five dentists surveyed. Awesome. We know what the first four are doing and what they think, very helpful. But do you know where the fifth one is? I do – he’s in the toothpaste aisle at the market trying to figure out which toothpaste to buy. And he’s going to be there for a while. The Wall Street Journal reported that in March of 2008 there were 412 distinct types or sizes of toothpaste sold at retail. That’s a lot to peruse. And certainly, that number has escalated since then. Let’s say for the sake of argument that there are roughly 500 types of toothpastes currently on the market. How did we get here? And is this really necessary?
Come travel with me in my time machine to the 1970s, when you shopped at Venture in your bell bottoms for just two types of Colgate toothpaste. These were simpler times. Sure, a few competitors existed alongside them offering similar options. But since then, the number of choices Colgate offers has escalated to 52. FIFTY-TWO types of toothpaste. I’m feeling minty fresh already. But wait, there’s more. Competitors were prepared to answer every new “innovation” that Colgate introduced with their own cool thing and the era of toothpaste one-upping began. Paste, gel, fluoride, tartar control, whitening, optic whitening, max whitening, mouthwash infused, sensitive formula, watermelon flavored, stripes, sparkles. Yes, you heard me, sparkles. 500 choices later and we have a bona fide quandary. Which one should you choose? All are made at virtually the same level of quality, boast the same list of benefits and are sold for about the same price. How do you decide?
Well, you’ll probably decide based on what sounds cool to you in the moment, but will you remain loyal to the sparkles? The answer is probably not and that is because none of these “innovations” drive behavior, in part because they aren’t really innovations at all. They are novelties. And novelties do not drive behavior. They temporarily create short term results because people are drawn to your “cool thing”. Let’s be real, everyone wants to be a part of something cool. That is, until it isn’t, and they’re on to the next cool thing leaving you high and dry with nothing but the memory of sparkles to keep you warm at night. Because like any novelty, once you’ve used it or done it, you’re over it and onto the next cool thing. Toothpaste companies spend an inordinate amount of money coming up with the “next cool thing”, only to get short term results with no lasting impact at a high cost. You may be in the lead for a minute. But as soon as the neighboring toothpaste company comes up with something newer or cooler than you, you’re back on the train to one-ups-ville. And the ticket is pretty expensive.
This train stops at your building too, which is where you and your tenant engagement program come in. You are probably asking yourself (and others), “what is the next cool event that I can do?” When you find yourself asking this question, resist the urge! Or suffer Colgate’s fate you will. You will find yourself spending more money on short term results in order to one-up your neighbor. And when they see what you’ve done, they’ll not only copy you but they’ll one-up you right back. And then you’ll copy them, or go for something even cooler. Before you know it, you’re looking out the window of that train, trying to calculate how much money you’ve spent on this adventure and wondering how much longer is this ride to one-ups-ville going to last? Here’s the catch – you never actually make it to your destination. Because in one-ups-ville, they just keep adding on to the track.
So how does one get off this crazy ride? First by recognizing that novelties do not make sound investments. And next, by understanding that real genuine engagement can drive behavior where “the next cool thing” can’t. Worry less about being cool and think more about being genuine. Show tenants through your engagement programming what you are all about and how they should feel about you. This is where you can truly affect decisions and how your property can really sparkle after all.