CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAP, WHY THEY DO OR DON’T BUY

The customer journey map, why they do or don't buy with Bob Berry

  • That basic phenomenon of simply not being able to complete the task is one of the major things that we encounter.
  • The vast majority of what happens on the customer journey is based on individuals, making individual choices within the experiences that we provide them.
  • You have to find some way to be with them and observe them experiencing all of those things or any one of those things as they experience it. So you get to be inside their heads, inside their hearts, understand their motivations, understand where they're succeeding, where they're failing. 
  • One of the great benefits, the beauty of digital marketing is that we collect all this data and over the last 20 years, we've gathered a tremendous amount of information about our clients.

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Customer journey success factors have two dimensions. It's what is the customers or users or prospects success factor, and what is your success factor as a business?

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Doug: Well, welcome back. This is just another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today's guest is Bob Berry. He is a principal at a company called AnswerLab where he's guiding companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and many others to create new optimal online experiences. He's also the founder of a company called the Human-Computer Mastermind Academy. I had such a great conversation with Bob. You're going to want to listen because he's going to help you understand and answer the question of why. Why do people engage with your brand? Why do people engage through social media, why don't they? Why do they buy, why don't they buy it? What experience are they having when they're interacting with you?

Bob's experience is helping businesses confront the world-changing pandemic shock that's happening, that's rocking the world, but he teaches you how to relearn what your customer's experiencing, what your customers want and what your customers expect and how do we as business owners create this optimal online experience as fast as we can to make sure that we're able to compete and win in our business. I'd like to welcome Bob to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast today. Hey, Bob, super excited to have you on the show today. Welcome to the Real Marketing Real Fast podcast.

Bob Berry: Thanks, Doug. Glad to be here, looking forward to having a chat with you.

Doug: Well, you might be, and this isn't a comment on my other guests, but you might be the smartest academic person that I've had on my show. I was looking through all the details and what you do, but what I really admire is that you apply it to help your clients move the dial, increase their business efficiency and make it more profitable. Do you want to share with our listeners just a little bit about what it is that you do and how you make that happen?

Bob Berry: Yeah. I appreciate that. Yes. My expertise is user experience and we define that pretty broadly. We look at the full context of what prospects customers, users are doing in their lives, whether they're a B2B for a personal perspective, or B2C from a business perspective. We really want to understand who these people are as purchasers, as potential clients, as collaborators, whatever role we see them and we really want to understand what their lives are and really understand how they make decisions. 

What is it that motivates them? What are their needs, their interests, their passions, how are they going to engage you as a business? How are they going to respond to whatever marketing programs you have? At the moment in my professional world, that takes two forms. I'm a principal researcher for AnswerLab, which is the premier user experience research company in the US. We work with a lot of major clients but right now I'm doing simultaneous projects for Google, Amazon, FedEx, and Facebook and we've worked with them… We work with a number of other major-

Doug: It's no big well-known brands, right?

Bob Berry: Some, yeah. [crosstalk 00:02:59]. 

Doug: Just [inaudible 00:02:59] guys.

Bob Berry: Then on the other end of the spectrum, I have my own online consultancy and digital academy, which is called ItsTheUsers.com. Because there are a lot of people that want to learn about this art, this science, and can't afford what those big brands can pay to do the research that they do and so we introduce people to this whole world and really help them understand their users, their customer population, and find out how those people are going to make the best decisions that are going to move their business forward. 

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Customer journey success factors have two dimensions. It's what is the customers or users or prospects success factor, and what is your success factor as a business?

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It's real and everything in between. From the smallest startups, individual professionals, all the way up to the biggest brands really understand what role the experience plays in business success.

Doug: Well, I think that's something at least from my personal experience and for myself and for my clients is often over overlooked. One of the things I did like about AnswerLab was that they're very close to a place I'd like to stay when I'm in San Francisco, which is fourth in the market down at the Palomar, which is a Kimpton property. Not sure if it's still there. 

Bob Berry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug: I thought, hey, they're in the neighborhood. I'd like to hang out in. In terms of what you do in terms of helping people to understand this, can you explain why the service that you offer exists? Because I'll tell you why just to give you a bit of backstory. Often you get people coming in and say, “Hey, I have a problem. I don't have enough sales. I don't have enough this. Or I don't have enough of that.” And what they're looking to do is they're looking to find the tactic. They can just pour money into, to solve the problem. I'm sure you're going to push back and say, “Hey, pause for a minute before you do that.” I'll turn it over to you.

Bob Berry: I have been doing this for going on three decades. I worked for HP in the early days of the internet and the web when we were designing the very first social media, online learning cloud-based services,  eCommerce we didn't even have those terms back then. I've been doing this for a long time. 

Doug: Yeah. 

Bob Berry: I can tell you from experience that the vast majority of what happens in business and beyond, but obviously the topic here is about business. The vast majority of what happens is based on individuals, making individual choices within the experiences that we provide them. I challenge you to think of any business outcome, whatever your goals are or your KPIs might be. I challenge you to name one that's not tied to some person making a choice, whether that's making a purchase, downloading something, signing up for something, attending something, it's human behavior that drives the outcomes that we see in business and all of those decisions, all of those choices occur within the experiences that we provide, those prospects, those customers, and those users. 

It's ubiquitous and if you extend that it really drives the global economy. There's so much that within that experience, that unless we pay attention to it, there's so much, we're not going to learn and know about who our users are and how they make those choices.

Doug: Well, the reason I was really excited to have this conversation with you is that I do a lot of work in the email space and there's been a significant change and a shift just like there has in society. So for our listeners that are thinking, well, why do I really need to know that? Well, you're being penalized or rewarded, based on how people make decisions about the email you're sending them. They like them. They don't like them. They open them. They don't [inaudible 00:06:28], they click, they don't click, they unsubscribe, or they're reported as spam. Those are all individual decisions and if you stop paying attention to those, you'll get penalized and you won't get delivery. Just like if you're posting on social media, you're not getting engagement, the platforms aren't going to give you an audience.

Bob Berry: Yes. Correct.

Doug: Where's typically the low hanging fruit. So if you're working with a small to medium-sized business, or maybe even it's a startup looking to get going, kind of were ground zero, where do you start?

Bob Berry: Well, the challenge today with ground zero is that we're in a very unique time in history, really. We're at a time when there's so much happening in the world that we've never experienced before. With the coronavirus, the economic collapse and certainly all of the unrest that's occurred in our cities over the last couple of weeks. We actually have to start with some very important considerations that are not specifically tied to business or experience. And that is we have to figure out how we're going to protect ourselves or people, our clients, our customers. So most of this kind of research is done with some element of face to face contact or traditionally it's been that way of really getting with our customers, our prospects, our clients, one on one, and really learning who they are. 

We can't do that now. So first of all, we have to figure out how we're going to do that remotely. And we've actually done a lot of that. We've gone entirely remote, all the brands that I've mentioned, and many more have all gone remote and gone virtual and we're doing all the work that we do with them now from our kitchens and our living rooms and our home office.

Doug: That's right. [crosstalk 00:08:02] Some people in their backyards with a glass of wine, I've noticed when I've been on some Zoom calls.

Bob Berry: Yes. It's been fascinating seeing all the backgrounds in Zoom as we go through this and seeing where people are doing this from. Second of all, we have to be sensitive to the personal and economic impact that our customers and clients are going through because they're going through types and degrees of change that they've never encountered before. We have to start with really understanding the… Again, that's actually part of their experience as well. What are they struggling with? How are they adapting? What are they having to do?

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Doug: How do they respond to that? I mean, I know a little bit in terms of personality styles that we all respond to stress differently, so that's obviously and it'll dictate how I may respond to your offer, to your marketing, to your website, to a conversation with you.

Bob Berry: Yes. Those human personal considerations are first and foremost. Once we've done the right thing for those and paying attention to respect and safety and all those things that are now critical we have to understand, first of all, who our customers are and how we're going to have that degree of communication with them. Now, you can imagine that for a while these big brands that we work with, we have very expensive facilities and research methods and tools and platforms and systems and they all work great. But if you're just getting started in this, you don't have to spend anything. 

I can name examples of projects that I've worked on that ultimately had literally millions of dollars worth of impact and we started with no budget whatsoever. We just figured out how to locate who our customers are and begin to have a dialogue with them and begin to observe them experiencing what we give them as they experience it.

You have to create some kind of environment where if they're looking at an email, if they're reading your social media, if they're on your website, if they're playing with your app, you have to find some way and it's actually quite simple to do this. You have to find some way to be with them and observe them experiencing all of those things or any one of those things as they experience it. So you get to be inside their heads, inside their hearts, understand their motivations, understand where they're succeeding, where they're failing. There's information and insight that you're going to discover there that's business-critical that you cannot learn any other way.

Doug: Well, you're going to see friction points too. I remember I was at a conference. I think MarketingSherpa had a conference in San Francisco, and we were going through some usability stuff and heat maps and eye-tracking and all of the other that was kind of new then and how people engage and how people get stuck when they were monitoring people's computer screens that had come in for a survey and say, they've asked them to complete a simple task, like go find this on the website and they couldn't find it. 

Bob Berry: Yeah.

Doug: The guy who built the site, the guy who wrote the copy knows where it is, but your user is showing up for the first time hunting for it and can't track it down.

Bob Berry: Yes, and there are so many other things. That basic phenomenon of simply not being able to complete the task is one of the major things that we encounter. We test a lot of different types of marketing programs. A lot of the things that we've been talking about here, we test these things and evaluate these things regularly for companies of all sizes. Another thing that we're discovering more and more is simple functional problems. Way back when I first started doing this, you could test everything on Internet Explorer, on a Windows PC, on the desktop, and you covered 95% of the user population. 

Doug: That's right. Yeah.

Bob Berry: Okay, you probably remember those days. 

Doug: Yeah, I do. I remember the DOS prompt and the amber monitor.

Bob Berry: Yeah, but those days are long gone. Okay? 

Doug: Sure. 

Bob Berry: We have so many mobile devices, so many different apps, operating systems, so many different ways that people can interact with the interactive stuff that you have to test it in the wild. That's actually one of the benefits of the world we live in now. Having to go remote means that we get to observe people in their living rooms, in their home offices, in their whatever, where they naturally live and work and make decisions and do what they do. 

And they're using stuff that they maybe even haven't used before. We get to test all of this on new devices, new platforms, and we uncover functional problems that we didn't know we're there because we can't replicate the hundreds of different combinations of technology elements that people are working on without in the world today. Again, if you don't test those, if you don't actually put those in front of people and try a lot of different combinations, you'll never find them and people are hidden to you, invisible to you. People are struggling with those, those things may be breaking in addition to their inability to click complete some of those tasks you mentioned.

Doug: How much of what you're sharing, do the business leaders and the marketing departments understand the concept and the importance of doing this? Is this a widely known? Is it you and a hundred people like that understand that this is important? Or is it you? And most of the marketing world understand this?

Bob Berry: Well, that's sort of and It depends. So our experience has been that the big companies, the big brand, especially the technology companies, you know, the Facebook's, the Googles, the Amazons, their bread and butter is online interactive in so many different ways. They've been doing this from the beginning. When you look at Amazon and it's all of the vast amounts of business that they do through their website and through their apps. They have armies of people that do this, and it's deeply embedded in their culture and if you look at somebody like Jeff Bezos is deeply embedded in his whole value system, so that's one extreme, that's probably one rail.

Doug: Yeah.

Bob Berry: The other end people in smaller companies, even medium-sized companies, in many cases, don't understand the value of this. Or again, they may define it pretty narrowly. They may think of this as traditional usability. When in fact, again, it goes much beyond that. Again, it's about those narratives about those individual people's lives, what context they're living and struggling and working in, how do they make decisions? How are they motivated? What tools, platforms, this is the larger picture of their whole life story that you have to consider. 

On the high end is very well known. It's part of the culture, millions are invested. It's an ongoing process at the other end of the spectrum. Some smaller companies and organizations are not doing it at all and everything in between.

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Doug: Okay. Well, fair enough. Fair comment. I mean, I've seen that with lots of technologies that are out there that people just aren't aware of, like say the smaller companies aren't aware of. Just so… I'm still trying to get my head around the, like you said, not the user journey, but understanding the decision to where people are at and so, I'll default to something that's simple enough for me to understand. So feel free to poke holes in it or gut point us in the right direction. 

I would go to something simple in your example, like Google Analytics, and I can look at what browsers people are using and what the bounce rates are and the page successions and the form completions, or I could look at what device they're using. So that's at the very simplest form. I'm seeing, I guess the last mile between the user and my business. So are you talking about doing something before that, during that evaluation, after, how are you looking at these users at a deeper level? I mean, I can't get my head around that space.

Bob Berry: What you just described with analytics and with online and the web and the internet and all of the digital, virtual tools, platforms, products we have now we can gather vast amounts of data and we should, that's all very important. That data tends to be quantitative and that's critical. That data is going to tell you, in most cases what happened, and maybe to some extent how it happened, but what it won't tell you is why it happened.

Doug: Right? Yep. 

Bob Berry: Okay. That's why it's important to do both because, for example, we may do some very in-depth user experience, research sessions with a small population of people, and spend 90 minutes with each of them and learn a great deal about why things happen or don't happen. Well, then we need to… we do that with 10 people, then you need to figure out how relevant are those findings with your whole user population.

Then you've got to go to something like surveys or analytics or something. That's going to give you a broader view. You could flip that around too and say, okay, I'm looking at my analytics or I ran a survey and I found out there's a bottleneck here. Somehow people are not getting through this, add to cart button or this download button or whatever it might be. All I can see is the data. All I know is that I have a large number of people that are getting to that point and for whatever reason, a small number are getting past that point. 

Okay. So you know what happened, but now you need to put that eCommerce system, that app, that checkout form, whatever in front of individuals and again, observe what they do and how they're manipulating, how they're navigating up to that point and what decisions they're making when they get there. So you can learn why.

Doug: Yeah. I mean, that's what I was… you said that and I'm thinking, I know the question's going to be the why, but how do you figure the why out? You're saying that's really basic almost a market research level where you're putting a group of people in front of your content. 

Bob Berry: Yes, yes. Again, that's that whole process of experiencing their experience of being able to, and again, we do all of this remotely now where we get somebody on a Zoom session or a WebEx session or Skype or whatever the platform is, and they share their screen and you assign them basic tasks and they get up to this point and you find out what they're doing or what they're not doing. Now, again, some of it can be functional, the app or the website doesn't operate as they expect, and they get stuck. Or it might be the navigation doesn't make sense. So there might be some usability issues there. 

There might be a motivation issue. You know, they might be curious about your product, but when it comes time for them to actually commit to giving up their name or their email or even money, they may just not care. So there's a whole variety of answers to the question of why, and you don't know those lies until you can actually see real people confront those bottlenecks and see what they end up doing.

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Doug: Well. I don't believe up until just recently, we connected and I was just thinking of an email I sent out to my list. I'm highly recommending that all of the marketers that receive it go through their whole sales funnel process because I've been a user on the other end looking to create a partnership or looking to buy somebody's product and it's typically I'm looking to buy somebody's service and how frustrating it is to not be able to complete the transaction or get pushed into a sales funnel. That's totally not appropriate for what I want to do. 

It's like, no, I don't want an exploratory call. I told you, I want to demo. I'd like to purchase this. Just listen. So to your point, listen to your user who'd like to give you their credit card, but now you've wasted an hour of my time, which has annoyed me. So I'm going to go someplace else. 

Bob Berry: Yes. 

Doug: Yeah. Marketing has been spending all sorts of money, creating all sorts of wonderful stuff to get me there, and then that experience was a letdown and it was more than let down. Sometimes it was a disappointment or frustration that I might even share with my audience saying, you know what? These guys I like what they're doing, but just, you can't do business with them they're so difficult to get them to take your credit card.

Bob Berry: Yeah. Again, all of what you just described is hidden to them, everything that whole frustrating experience that you just went through. They don't see that unless they make an effort to uncover it, to make it and make it visible. 

Doug: Yeah. 

Bob Berry: You're doing all that on your own and then unless you're going to send them an email or get on their customer response form and give them feedback or post something nasty on social media, they're not going to know that happened. All they know is that that's just one more sale they didn't get. There's another really important dynamic happening right now too Doug that I think we all need to be paying attention to. One of the great benefits, the beauty of digital marketing is that we collect all this data and over the last 20 years, we've gathered a tremendous amount of information about our clients.

We use that in our marketing programs, we target people and we know more about them. We know how to give them offers that are relevant. We know how to follow up with them and support them. We know how to move them through various stages of a funnel. All this is essential and we can't do marketing without that anymore. Well, right now a lot of the world is changing. A lot of… we're at a, what is it? 2020, a 5% unemployment rate, customers are evolving and adapting. They're going virtual. A lot of companies have simply cut way back on their marketing budget. People are working remotely. They may be using different emails or different communication platforms. So all that marketing data we've collected how valid is it?

Doug: Well, that's what I was wondering when you were talking about that. That's what I was thinking at the risk of sounding like I'm working for you guys to drum up business. I was thinking how valid is the data you've had before? Because we didn't just have a one day or two-day crisis or a one-week crisis. We've been under extreme stress for three to four months and then the stress has been escalated by unrest and violence and it's affecting the global population. So like you said, people are unemployed. So I'm thinking, well, you probably need to go back and the term that I really dislike these days, there's two of them. One is a pivot, because the marketers have ruined that term and the other is the new normal. So what is the new normal?

I was talking to my wife about it. I said I like some of the new stuff that's happening. I'm not going to have to go to the doctor all the time. I'm going to be able to do some of the calls through Zoom because they figured out how to do it and they probably figured out how to bill the insurance company, which was an impediment before. So there isn't going to be a new normal. So if you surveyed me or had watched my user experience before, and then today to your point, I'm totally different.

Bob Berry: Totally different. 

Doug: Yeah. 

Bob Berry: If you think about all of those ways, and I agree with you, a pivot is getting very old and so is new normal and some it's unprecedented.

Doug: Yeah. Let's just take those out of the dictionary. Let's get together on org or whatever it is and write a petition.

Bob Berry: Well, what is happening though is a number of really intriguing innovations. You use the example of your doctor. There's a cafe down the street that we used to go to and enjoy dinner and coffee. They've had to shift, they are now providing curbside service and we hear about this all the time. Every community has restaurants that are doing this. You know, there's a construction company that has figured out how to go to entirely video planning and preparation. They'll show you how to take a video of your house and where you want to have things changed and they'll come back with simulations of what your newly renovated room is going to look like. 

So they figured out how to innovate, how to adapt. All of those are new experiences, that doctor sharing with you over Zoom. I had a doctor's experience a couple of weeks ago. That was just dismal. It was pretty clear that his office hadn't yet figured out the technology. We eventually gave up and we just talked on the phone because he could not get his staff to figure out how to make… they were actually using Microsoft Teams. Which [inaudible 00:24:09] part of the problem. 

Doug: Yeah.

Bob Berry: But-

Doug: Oh, I bet we always share a few [inaudible 00:24:14] common views. I can tell. Yeah.

Bob Berry: Finally I just dialed his office number. We talked by, it was just plain old telephone, which worked fine, but we obviously he got us to do some health, getting his office to figure out the new technology, but all those are new experiences and there are so many of them that we have to pay attention, ask, listen, understand experiences a lot better than before and they were very important before they're even more important now.

Doug: Well talking about kind of where we are now. So if we put a kind of a stake in the ground for today of whatever business we're in, however, it's been affected and we want to look forward and say, okay, we want to cast a vision for what the next six months or a year is going to look like. How would we use your services or the companies that you work with your services to try to determine that with because I think what is happening now, there's a lot of navel-gazing. We're sitting around half a dozen people on a Zoom call trying to figure out what our customers are struggling with, what the problems are, how we're going to serve them. 

So we can keep our doors open, keep our lights on, but we're not having those conversations at least to my knowledge of the group of people I'm talking to, we're not having those conversations with the customers, we're having them with our masterminds or the business groups trying to anticipate how to solve the problem.

Bob Berry: Mm-hmm (affirmative). One of the things that we do, and we do this regularly with all the companies that we've worked with, again, that's in with AnswerLab, with the major brands or with it'susers.com with individuals, small businesses or professionals, is we try to understand what are the success factors and by success factors referring back to what I mentioned earlier about, every business outcome is a single decision that somebody has to make within an experience that they're encountering.

Those success factors have two dimensions. It's what is the customers or users or prospects success factor, and what is your success factor as a business?

Doug: Right. Yeah.

Bob Berry: When we have those… and hopefully those overlap because if they don't overlap, you're probably not very successful as a business. You have to really be very specific on identifying what those are, first of all. Then you have to down and say, okay, based on the state of the world today, the type of business or service that I have, the type of customers that I'm trying to reach, and the larger context, what are the vectors of those two groups of success factors? 

Are they going to be diverging in the future? Are they going to be converging in the future? Then again, we need to find those very simple ways to begin to track what those success factors are, because, if you're a business and you're having to innovate, if you're having to take what was once face to face and go all virtual, then your definition of a success factor may change entirely.

Doug: Right. 

Bob Berry: Or if you're a customer and you now have to figure out how you're going to stay at home and get all these products and services that you want someone out in did face to face, then your success factors are changing too. And so you now need to really boil this down to be very specific and really begin to project where you think they're going and then put in place ways to begin to track them and actually see. 

Now some of those might be direct research. Some of those might be those qualitative means of actually interacting directly with those people to understand the why, or some of it might be the quantitative, the data, the metrics, the analytics, or the really understanding in volume, where are they going? And some of it, you might be able to track through secondary research by going on Google and reading reports, so much information out there now that there's a lot we can learn just from what other people are studying, because a lot of companies are paying attention to this, and you could actually learn a great deal from what other companies are doing. The research that they're gathering, how they're analyzing all of this. 

Now, don't rely on that because you need to relate that back to your own business, your own customers, but that right now is an excellent source of information.

Doug: Well, I think of a speaker that I heard a couple of years ago, what was his name? Rasmus Ankerson and he's kind of a rugged sports soccer looking guy, but he has a book he's published called Hunger in Paradise. And one of the examples he gave me, I think, comes to mind with this conversation in that he compared Erickson to Apple with the iPhone. He basically went through, you know Erickson's thing was, hey, or was it was… pardon me it's Nokia. 

Hey, look, you know, we have a better phone. The battery lasts longer. You can drop it off a building. It won't break. No one's going to buy the iPhone, it's too expensive. It breaks the battery sucks. And so there was an example of not understanding what the customer success factor was because clearly people were willing to spend two to three times as much and have a different user experience and while Nokia went away.

Bob Berry: Yeah, I'm actually glad you mentioned that example because there are a few historical events around an experience that occurred that have actually changed the world. One of them was the invention of the web browser. So back in… the internet existed in the late '50s with DARPA and US government and the web actually existed in the eighties when the university started to figure out how to do hypertext and share content, but we didn't know the web existed until Netscape came along, until somebody invented a user experience, the web browser that made it easy and understandable and actually provided some kind of practical use. 

And of course, the web browser changed the world. That example that you mentioned of Apple's iPhone also changed the world. So I was a Blackberry owner. 

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Doug: Yeah, me too.

Bob Berry: I was a CrackBerry addict. I thought my CrackBerry was the best invention ever made until one day I walked into an Apple store, picked up an iPhone, and then it was over. I mean, there was no way that the experience on that Blackberry was going to come close to what that iPhone did. Now, when Steve Jobs and Apple invented that interface on that iPhone, that touch interface, there are now more smartphones on the planet than there are people and that's what drove that and that changed the world. So those are just two, there are lots of others. Those are just two examples of a new experience, whether it was a web browser or a touch-activated handheld device that changed everything.

Doug: Well, I think the other example he gave, which was really cool, was Lego, who was the dominant player in the toy business. They had a discussion around who their competition was and their new CEO. He said it's pretty hard to scold your team when you're number one in the industry and profitable year after year after year. And he went, “No Megablocks is not a competitor.” Given the choice, the kid with X number of dollars would rather have an iPhone than have Lego blocks. So they decided to build an interactive app where you could build something from the physical blocks, take a picture of it and then import it into the game and play it on the phone.

Bob Berry: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, yeah. Those kinds of creative innovations are what make a difference. And Doug, it's all experience, everything we're talking about is experience.

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Doug: So you want to share an experience that was a good user experience for your customer and for yourself, somebody that you helped kind of make that maybe a transformation or a shift, or at least change their thinking that resulted in a different direction or a more profitable company. 

Bob Berry: Well, actually I can share one, one personal example. Back in the early days of the web, I mentioned that I worked for HP and I started a side gig and the side gig was creating some interactive programs to help young people graduate to real life. It was about life skills and finances and work and career and stuff like that. We actually invented this really nifty interactive website. This was in… we launched this in 2000, so it's been about 20 years ago and we targeted parents. 

We thought parents would buy this because every kid has to eventually leave home, go in the workforce, go to college, whatever they're going to do, everybody's got to emasculate at one point or another. Therefore everybody's got, parents. So parents are the target. We struggled for a long time and we could not get parents to pay attention to this thing much less but it. 

It gradually started hearing from teachers and counselors and they were the target audience. And until we said, halt, stop, let's go really look at what look the life of a parent looks like, let's go look at what the life of a middle school or high school teacher looks like. That's when we recognized that we were pointing at this entirely the wrong direction because the parents were not the ones that were going to take responsibility for this. It was those professional educators and counselors, and then [inaudible 00:33:37] which was fine because, with parents, we'd sell one at a time with teachers we'd sell 100 at a time.

Doug: That's right.

Bob Berry: It was actually a good shift, but until we really stepped back and went and really spent time here, we talked to these people. This was what a fail and actually that business still exists today. We still sell those programs to teachers and counselors and educators today. 

Doug: That's really sweet.

Bob Berry: Even after 20 years [crosstalk 00:34:01] but we still don't sell them to parents. 

Doug: Yeah. Well, you might have had a better chance now with this pandemic that's come through with the parents having the homeschool. They might've been looking for an easier way out of having that interaction.

Bob Berry: Yeah. That's actually a good point. We're actually starting to experiment with that. There are some websites online that do that kind of educational program to homes, home school parents, et cetera. So that's a very good possibility.

Doug: Let's back this up then. For our listeners that have got a business of some sort, they're going to have some form of online presence, so likely a website, some social media, what's the first step that you would recommend that they do. So they're listening to this [inaudible 00:34:43] Okay. That sounds kind of interesting. I really don't understand how to take the first step, or I don't know what questions I should ask, or I don't know what I should look at first.

Bob Berry: Again, I would go back to what we talked about a little bit earlier here in the conversation about really identify those success factors. 

Doug: Okay. 

Bob Berry: Figure out what is it your customer must accomplish for them to succeed in whatever experience you're providing, and then what must you have them do in order for you to succeed as a business, and then start to understand where those are headed? Are they converging or diverging? How are you going to track those? How are you going to have those direct interactions with those prospects, those customers, to see what they're really up to, and then how are you going to measure that in any kind of volume?

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There actually are lots of tools out there, like a phone or for a free version of Zoom or many of the other free platforms out there where… or if you want to just survey people, you can go use Google Forms, or if you have a larger business, and you're really looking at really optimizing all of this and for larger businesses, if you can squeeze out of there five, six, 7% of your conversion rate, that can make a huge amount of money.

Doug: Yeah.

Bob Berry: As a marketing expert, you know that, so if you want to do that, there are lots of ways to start small with virtually no budget, if you're really serious about this, and you do want to invest in it in these rapidly changing times, then there's a lot that we can do for you to help you through that process.

Doug: Now, I'm assuming you probably have access to different data points than the average business owner does as well.

Bob Berry: Yes, there's a lot of impact on work with AnswerLab for example, we have about 25 or 30 different types of research services that we provide both qualitative and quantitative. That really looks at that holistic view of who these people are, how do they live their lives? How do they interact with whatever type of device or software or app or whatever it is that you happen to be using? How do we integrate all that into some kind of an action plan that you can then directly apply to your development, your marketing programs, your messaging, whatever you're doing? So you can begin to squeeze out those extra few points or more of conversion or whatever your KPIs happen to be.

Doug: Well, I'm going to just share a few pieces of information that I've pulled off of your website, itstheusers.com, just to make sure that our listeners are paying attention. The first one is that it says 62% of marketers either have seen a decline in Facebook traffic or simply aren't sure if it's growing. Your headline was Facebook traffic declines. 

Bob Berry: Yes. 

Doug: The second one was annual social media user growth worldwide continues to decline. 

Bob Berry: Yes. 

Doug: Then the amount of time spent on social media continues to decline. So it's interesting while everybody's pointing to social and saying, “Hey, newspapers are dead. TV is dead. Radio is dead.” Although yes, those numbers have declined as well. The platforms that everybody's talking about today, the information on your site showing all three of these areas are going down, not up.

Bob Berry: Well, and I would suspect that there's actually a very different dynamic that data's probably, I probably put that up there maybe a year ago, so that some of those trends probably continue, but what's actually happening right now. In fact, there's lots of data out there to prove this in the last few months, social media usage has actually turned the corner and is now starting to go up again in some cases dramatically, but businesses investment in placing ads or doing any type of paid placement with social media has actually gone down. So those two lines have diverged [inaudible 00:38:26]. I'm sure you're seeing some of this data as well.

Doug: Yeah. I think it's hilarious because, I mean, you mentioned something before in case our listeners missed the phone. What I know in talking to one of my clients is when they phone their prospects, their prospects say hello, because they're at home. 

Bob Berry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doug: So there's never been an easier time to reach somebody by phone and has never been… their basic feedback to me was people are happy to take the phone call and have the conversation, even though it's a business-related conversation.

Bob Berry: Yes. 

Doug: There's an easy one. Yeah. And I agree, I see the numbers going up. What I don't understand is I don't understand why advertisers are spending less at this time because people are to your point, they're spending more time online than they've ever spent. So you've got a bigger audience than ever before the prices for advertising have gone down and people are withdrawing their advertising. To me that those things don't add up.

Bob Berry: Well, I think there's a couple of dynamics there that's hard to quantify because it's moving so quickly, but I think the reason that the advertising is going down, is because people are kind of circling the wagons. So individual purchasers, both businesses and individuals are spending less money. 

Doug: Right? 

Bob Berry: There are just the people, it's tough economic times, people are just uncertain and they're just not spending and that obviously is a major driver of the economy. Then, therefore, businesses are also spending less as well, depending on your business, there are a few segments that are booming because of all the dynamics of this economy and everything going virtual, but there's a lot of segments that are not. Those people are just sort of… they're sort of circling the wagons as well and just saying, paying salaries and keeping the lights on are more critical right now than what we were spending on marketing a few months ago. 

Doug: Right. Yeah. Which I don't agree with, but that's fine. Like I agree to keep the lights on, but if you don't have any sales, you can pay all the light bills you want. 

Bob Berry: Yes. Right. 

Doug: At some point, your line of credit is going to run out and you're going to have to shut the lights off. 

Bob Berry: Yes. Well, and this is another whole podcast, but the number of opportunities that are starting to emerge here, anytime you go through a crisis like this, there's always opportunity and the creative people are figuring out how to innovate. They're figuring out how I won't use that P-word, but they're figuring out how to ask customers, where are they going [crosstalk 00:40:54].

Doug: Or maybe that's the word we should come up with is just come up with the word and it's not the pivot word that the businesses are starting to listen to their customers and then address their customer success factors.

Bob Berry: The other thing we're fighting, and this probably comes as no surprise surprises that during times, like these people liked to be asked, people liked to be able to tell their story and be able to feel like somebody is actually caring and listening. So again, yes, when you call them, they are at home, they will answer the phone, but they're also, they're in a more open mindset. They're more willing to work together, to try and find solutions. So that's a huge opportunity as well.

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Doug: I think so. I mean, we buy from people that we know like and trust. And so even if that call, if you're looking at metrics, it doesn't ring the sales bell, but a deep as the relationship. So when they do come into the marketplace, they think of you first, that's a win.

Bob Berry: Yes, it is. Absolutely.

Doug: One of the questions I didn't share with you, and I apologize is I kind of stole it from Tim Ferris. I like it. And that is, what's the bad advice that you hear about the kind of work that you do. Like everybody… there are people out there that are just misinformed and they're giving bad advice. I don't like to see anybody at the wrong advice. So is there bad advice around looking at user experience and doing the type of research that you do? 

Bob Berry: Yeah. I think it relates back to some of the things I've shared. I think there's still sort of this perception, that user experience is to sort of narrow technical, geeky, usability thing that we do. Where we put people in a lab and we make them go through these different experiments and you can find out some pretty narrow things about, can they do some pretty technical tasks and we don't look at it like that and [inaudible 00:42:47] and we look at the holistic individual, the holistic business, about motivators, about emotions, about what's happening with people's worlds and how that drives the decisions that they make and how those decisions affect your business.

So I think there's still some of that perception out there. I think gradually it's been going away and people can see this bigger picture, but I think there's still some lingering misperception about how ubiquitous this is and how much power it has and what impact it can have on you.

Doug: Yeah. I agree with the impact on your business like you said that the bigger companies are fully aware of this, they're scaled up, their budgeted up and they're looking at it and for the small business that's trying to compete, while the internet is a pretty nice leveling ground for someone to start a new side hustle that doesn't come without risks, and you should do the research too, to make sure you're going in the right direction, to your own example no parents aren't going to buy this. Teachers are going to buy it. Well, that was a huge win for you guys once you figured it out and went that direction.

Bob Berry: Yeah. I guess related to that same misperception too, is that you don't have to spend millions of dollars as Facebook or Amazon does, again this is at this scalable as you want it to be and don't think that you have to have a huge budget, especially these days in order to be really successful with this, you can do it with almost no money at all.

Doug: So this is something that somebody would work with you and engage you in. You would have maybe a start time and there'd be some work to do. Then there'd be almost like a… I don't want to use the C-word, the coaching word. But I mean, it's ongoing. I don't think this is something that you just do once you set it and forget it.

Bob Berry: Yeah. In fact, with itsusers.com, what we do is we will have you bring some experience that you're working on or that you already have out there. Is it a website? Is it an app? Is it software? Is it a marketing program? Is it your social media? Whatever it is. Then we will actually walk you through the entire process step by step of a lot of what we've just been talking about. So you have the benefit of optimizing whatever that… if you have some eCommerce system, you have the benefit of opting that eCommerce system, squeezing a few more points of conversion out of it, but you also learn the process. Then you can take that process, those tools, everything we provide you, and turn around and apply it to the next website or the next app or the next marketing program.

So yeah, it's very hands-on and it's really a lot more than learning. It's doing, so you end up with a result at the end where you're going to see more business results, and you're going to know how to replicate it over and over again.

Doug: Yeah. That sounds so cool. I mean, that's the point of execution at the end of the day, instead of just having a bunch of new knowledge, you've got an improved process or improve whatever it is, user experience, more customers, more revenue, whatever you're measuring which is way better than just another degree to hang on the wall. 

Bob Berry: Yeah. There's so much content out there, there's so much learning and such a tiny percentage of it is ever actually used and applied to solve real problems and that's what we're trying to get beyond here.

Doug: Yeah. No boy. I'm with you there. Well, I want to say thanks and ask you a couple of questions and let you go on with your day. One is who's one guest that you think I should have on my podcast. 

Bob Berry: The CEO of AnswerLab, Amy Buckner Chowdhry is a really dynamic individual. She does a lot of podcasts and she's very active in the business community. She's also very active in helping our company lead our company through a lot of these challenges that we're facing in the world today. I think she would have some really brilliant insights on these topics we're talking about, but just in general, how to be a successful business, how to lead a team through some of the really really amazing things, and very challenging things that are happening in the world today.

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Doug: That's great. I'd like to have more conversations, like the conversation that you and I are having today because there are enough conversations already out there around tactics and hard analytics. I don't think the world needs many more of those conversations, but they need to understand how to execute. 

Bob Berry: Yeah, I agree and if we don't execute now, then we're going to very quickly fall behind. Right now, it's a matter of survival. So I totally agree with you. 

Doug: Yeah. There are a few industries that I've worked in before that I have grave concerns that there's… I don't know what the answer is going to be, but they're in deep water. 

Bob Berry: Yeah, they are. Yeah. There's a lot happening for sure. 

Doug: So Bob, where do you want people to connect with you? So we've got some listeners to say, “Hey, this is really cool. I'm a small company. I want to connect with you. I'm a medium company, or I'm a big brand.” Where do you want them to track you down and begin a conversation? 

Bob Berry: I created a landing page specifically for your podcast. So if you go to realfast.itstheusers.com, then you can sign up for a very extensive library of resources, materials tools, and a lot of what we've been talking about. It starts very simply. It's very beginner all the way into some in-depth, more advanced topics. You'll get a free consultation from me. I do this all the time with companies of all sizes to really again, it's what are you trying to accomplish? Who are your users? What motivates them? What drives their decisions? Let's break that down and really understand where your challenges are and come up with some action plans on how to make progress. 

Again, if you have a larger budget and you really want to tackle this in a big way, then we'll get you connected with AnswerLab and we can talk about how to make this happen for you and really in a lot of cases, transform your business.

Doug: Well, that's really cool. I think as you said, there are lots of opportunities now, and we're either going to move forward or not move forward so we can try to ignore what's going on in the world. Or we can take a grasp of what's in our hands and see how we can make a difference. I want to say, thanks. I really enjoyed the conversation. I learned a ton of stuff today. I don't know if I'm going to have to think about anything else for the rest of the day, but I appreciate you taking time out of your day and sharing with us.

Bob Berry: Thanks, Doug. I've enjoyed it as well, and good luck with the podcast, and good luck as you go forward with all your goals as well.

Doug: Thanks so much. So there you go, listeners are a different take today on our podcast. I hope you enjoyed this. I could talk to Bob probably for days, love the direction he's going. I'm spending more time looking. That's what I've done during this. This is so much slower time in the economy is just in a lot of reflection, looking inside to see how people are engaging with us. So love what he's talking about. Make sure you check out the show notes. We'll make sure that the links to his website are there. I want to say thanks for tuning in, and we look forward to serving you in our next episode.

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