Help Me Connect the Dots! (A Buyer’s Lament)

On Christmas morning, my oldest son was excited to receive a variety of electronic devices from family and friends. But while he was registering his various new toys online, he became increasingly frustrated as the instructions were NOT intuitive. After three or four of these complaints from him and his other two brothers, it became obvious that many sales and marketing departments get an “F” for their lack of helpfulness and logical thinking.

On Christmas morning, my oldest son was excited to receive a variety of electronic devices from family and friends. But while he was registering his various new toys online, he became increasingly frustrated as the instructions were NOT intuitive.

“It says ‘enter device passcode,’ but that’s not an option on the unit itself. Instead my choices are ‘device registration number’, ‘secret code’ or ‘PIN key,'” he lamented. After several false starts (and error messages that generated warnings that sounded like the device might explode), he finally got everything working properly.

After three or four of these complaints from him and his other two brothers, it became obvious that many sales and marketing departments get an “F” for their lack of helpfulness and logical thinking. It seems simple enough: Label a code by one name on the device, and then replicate that same name in the instructions. Duh. So why do companies make it so hard?

I’m sure somebody in IT created the code itself (and probably created the name of that code), and product marketing was responsible for writing the copy for the instructions (whether contained in the box and/or online) … but why not use the same labeling terminology? Was one group working in another country and couldn’t communicate, in English, with those writing the instructions? Perhaps.

The people at Ikea (who have figured out how to ensure language won’t be a barrier), provided a link to a YouTube video where I could watch Sally and Stan (or Svetlana and Sven) assemble my new furniture without so much as a word, sound or manual. My husband laughingly called it “The Epitome of a Dummy’s Guide to Assembly.” Personally, I loved it—they even supplied the tools you need for assembly in the product box so my new desk was operational within an hour of unwrapping.

Amazon, those amazingly straightforward folks who brought me my Kindle, also clearly understand how to make it simple. One of my kids (who hates to read any kind of instructional manual), figured out to how to set up his new Kindle, link it to my Amazon account (um.. wait…), download 3 or 4 books and start reading, all before I had a chance to shout, “Use your own credit card!”

The i-anything was easy to set up and use—exactly what you’d expect from those Apple people—while the new GoPro camera came with a small book, with small type, that will require a magnifying glass to read. As was to be expected, the college-age son tossed the manual in this backpack (where it will get ripped into several un-usable pieces) and said he’d figure it out on his own.

After a lovely morning sitting around the tree, followed by a frustrating hour or so trying to set up each new gift, I retreated to the kitchen to start working on Christmas dinner. Thankfully, I already know how to read a recipe book. The food processor, and all its attachments, however, might take me until the new year to figure out.

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

One thought on “Help Me Connect the Dots! (A Buyer’s Lament)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *