When you call a cab company, a 56 year old woman who smokes 3 packs a day says “hello” in a scratchy voice and puts you on hold. She tells you your cab will be there in 45 minutes.
55 minutes later you call back, wondering where your ride is. She says “I’m sorry, sir, the driver is being held up by road construction. He’ll be there in just a few minutes.” At minute 66 he finally turns up.
His cab is dirty and he has air fresheners hanging from his mirror and he’s playing sports on the AM radio. He’s cranky because he’s been driving 11 hours and he’s still got 2 more to go.
When you arrive at the airport he pressures you to pay cash instead of credit card. When you ask for a receipt, he tears a blank piece of paper out of an oily notebook stuck between the seats and hands it over to you so you can fill it in yourself.
You get to the airport 20 minutes late and run frantically through the terminal so you don’t miss your plane. Ever missed a flight because check-in closed 5 minutes before you got there?
Once a cab driver picked me up at my house on Long Island. He said “Where to, sir?”
I said “JFK Airport” which is 20 minutes away.
He said, “Where’s that?”
Two months later the same thing happened AGAIN. I had to give him directions to the airport.
Can you imagine a cab driver not knowing where the airport is?
If you take a New York City cab to the suburbs, they charge you “Time and a Half.” The driver always has difficulty calculating what that actually comes out to.
In case you’re wondering, I hate taxi cabs. (Although the ones in London are delightful.)
But have you ever used Uber? Uber is the phone app that gets you a ride from Point A to Point B in major cities all over the world. Guys and gals who wanna make 20 bucks an hour and own a clean car can sign up and Uber pays them 95% of the fare.
You open the app, it pinpoints your location. You say where you want to go. It quotes you a fare and tells you exactly how long it will take for the nearest driver to reach you. You select whether you want a regular car, a taxi, a limo or SUV. It automatically charges your credit card and you rate the driver just like on Amazon.
It is SWEET. Last time I took Uber, the guy was driving a Lexus.
So now the cab companies are fighting back.
Are they replacing the 56 year old chain smoker with an app?
Are they replacing their CB radios with technology from the current century?
Are they replacing foul-smelling Crown Victorias from the Mesozoic era with new Toyota Priuses?
They’re trying to outlaw Uber at City Hall. Seriously, in cities all over the world, the cab companies are fighting Uber and similar companies with lawyers.
Good luck with that strategy.
Cab companies, I have a prophecy for you. Lawyers or no lawyers, the prophecy is, you guys are going to be upside down with your legs sticking up in the air like a dead cockroach in about 2 years. Recess is over. No amount of bribes to corrupt politicians can save you.
Now there is a marketing lesson in all of this. Actually several. So listen up.
This is NOT a unique situation. Almost every industry on earth has some ancient practice that annoys EVERYONE but has somehow become entrenched as “just the way it is.” But there IS a simpler, more elegant, more straightforward, less pain-in-the-ass way to get things done.
But people who live INSIDE the industry every day take it for granted that it “has to” be this way.
It does not and it will not. Some industry disrupter will come and sweep out the old. The new regime almost never comes from the old guys. It’s usually (but not always) an outsider.
The easiest way to identify where this opportunity lies is to simply ask yourself how this conflicts with OTHER departments in customers’ lives that have already become so much easier.
Years ago FEDEX came along with overnight delivery. That was new. As soon as that happened, waiting “4-6 weeks” for mail order was suddenly out of step with the times. Now it had to be 4-6 days, or I’m not going to buy from you.
Today it’s headed for 4-6 hours, or even 4-6 minutes.
If you and I were having beers and a burger with some other marketing mavens, we could absolutely find an opportunity in the art marketing industry that’s a lot like Uber vs. Yellow Cab Company. There is a good ol’ boys club and it’s time to break ‘em up.
The second thing I want you to notice is:
Industry disrupters - paradigm shifts - always have TWO ingredients:
1) SIMPLER. The whole process of doing business or using the widget or whatever has been simplified.
2) More ELEGANT. Because of the simplicity, you also get MORE of what you want, FASTER.
What SIMPLE and ELEGANT innovation would give your customers MORE of what they want FASTER?
A killer answer to that question will be more powerful than a million dollars of advertising.
And now I’m going to turn the question on myself. What age old tradition in art marketing education needs to stop? What simple elegant art marketing innovation would enable me to give you more of what you want faster?
I’m all ears, would love to hear your comments. Please post them below:
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