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August 08, 2005



I think these 'dumb' approaches reflect some very deep seated assumptions. The phrase 'our customers (or our employees) are our greatest asset' is an example. An asset is something that you own and control. It's there for you to do as you wish with: to extract value from. The direct marketing mindset is about using information about people to extract value from them. Witness the way that cold-call outbound telesales companies (especially the companies that sell lists of 'hot' prospects) are outraged by BT's latest offering BT Privacy, which signs people up to the Telephone Preference Service. All they can think about is how it is threatening their revenue streams - not why people hate them so much in the first place.
Right Side Up is simultaneously a search for new, better mechanisms of value exchange, and an argument about underlying attitudes and assumptions.

Steve Leegood

On Peter's point, it's almost as if these sellers who are sending us junk mail and unsolicited sales calls (or expecting us to watch their TV ads) think we've nothing better to do than passively listen to their messages.

In the Right Side Up world, buyers are no longer a passive audience for the messages sellers wish to communicate. Herbert Simon, Nobel Prize winning economist, comments, “Information consumes attention…a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention…the only factor that becomes scarce in a world of abundance is human attention”. The development of this Attention Economy is one of the factors in the emergence of buyer-centric markets.

In this new world it is the individual’s attention that is scarce, and with scarcity comes increased value, and an unwillingness to waste the scarce resource. Individuals are at least tacitly aware of the scarcity value of their attention, and so they demand that it is not wasted. We expect, for instance, that we can quickly find information pertinent to our current interests, that we are not deliberately misled or confused, and also that we are not overloaded by irrelevant data. We expect to receive value in return for investing our attention. If we are to “pay attention”, to coin a phrase, we expect whoever wants that attention to earn it.

(more on this at

Peter Massey

Nothing illustrates the need for Right Side Up approaches than the "wrong side up" calls and junk mail we all receive at home. Why do companies damage their brand and chances of customers buying from them, by making dumb approaches to random customers? Because it was the way that companies thought in the last century and because it preseumably still works on 1 or 2 customers per 100 who randomly happen to have a need. This forgets the 98 or 99 per 100 who were interupted at best or, more commonly, annoyed.

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