Media Business Strategies

The Blog of David Polakoff

Better Living Through TV

Posted by David Polakoff on June 15, 2010

The Windmills of My Immediate Mind

Media Business Strategies – David Polakoff

“Better Living Through TV”

In The Honeymooner’s episode, Better Living Through TV, Ralph and Ed try to sell the Handy Housewife Helper, an all-in-one kitchen tool, where none of the combined features, can opener, knife sharpener, potato peeler, etc.,  do anything better than the standalone tools it’s trying to replace.  All too often, websites, television shows, remote controls, movies, PDAs, and other media/entertainment content and devices, try to be all things to all people and end up creating more pain than the original intention of solving a basic problem.

There are so many buttons on my cable company provided remote control, I think one of them will actually send the Wonkavator through the glass ceiling.  The cable company nobly attempts to provide an all-in-one device.   However, the end result is a rather complex technology that distracts the user from realizing the full value proposition of the cable company’s offerings.  As a result, revenue generating opportunities are missed and the customer’s brand affinity is diluted.

Web videos are great; they’re short, to the point, they don’t have a lot of fat, they hold your attention, and often pack a good punch(line).  Some of the better web videos are user-generated, but most are professionally produced.  These videos are found on targeted websites; others are virally disseminated.  Most of these videos don’t overachieve or try to be all things to all people; they deliver one great, economical experience to a targeted audience.  These videos solve the problem of offering some comic relief in a sketch format; a genre all but abandoned on television.  These short formats are also well suited to the current viewing habits of web and mobile users.

In my solutions oriented approach to media/entertainment related consulting, whether it be production of original content or a mobile application or website, as I endeavor to simplify processes, I ask the fundamental questions.  Amongst the initial questions – Will this solve a problem and do so in a simple fashion?  Too often, I hear grandiose answers of what the (for example) website will be to “the world,” but before I hear that the website has a self-propelled spear-fishing attachment, tell me the simple value proposition of roll-out version 1.0.  It is the basic offering that will be the hook for future relevant services, be the attraction for the required investment, and also be the primary focus of the build-out or upgrade.  If the concept does not solve a major problem and do so in an easy, intuitive manner, there won’t be consumer interest, let alone investor intrigue, or qualified staff attraction.

I am “entertained” when my new device or software purchase comes with an instruction sheet, but when I access the real instruction manual via the web, its 250 pages.  First, no one has the patience to read 250 pages of instructions; second, was it not possible to design the product more readily understandable?   The customer experience will never achieve full product appreciation and brand loyalty when so many of its features won’t infuse benefit to the consumer because of design complexity and goals that overreach and stray from the basic consumer need.

Today, we are living better through television, computer, mobile, web, and set-top devices, as well as all of their associated applications, and the informational and entertainment content available.  However, there are more devices, software applications, television and web shows, movies and documentaries, and games than an individual could possibly own or utilize.  What will grab consumers’ attention are those that are simple to use, simple to understand, and solve the simplest of problems.  Even simpletons like Ralph and Ed now know that.

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