Remember the Easy Button? Several years ago, Staples created a television advertising campaign centered on it, and the concept was super effective. It told the story of the company doing everything to make pulling your office together as easy as possible.
The other day, I opened up a box of Kleenex tissues (or more specifically, the brand was Royale). After pulling the box tab, I noticed that the reverse side offered a message to consumers to “Discover new ways to make life easier using Royale products” by visiting the company website. I never thought of facial tissue requiring an easy-to-follow owner’s manual, but the point here is important: make it easy.
Earlier this year, my wife Carla and I purchased a condo in Vancouver and, after much deliberation, decided on a turn of the century colonial theme, something one would expect to see in apartments surrounding Central Park in New York City. The prerequisite, of course, is a carved stone fireplace mantle. Given that fire-burning fireplaces are no longer allowed in our area, one has to combine a natural gas fireplace with the stone mantel.
The trick is getting the two to actually fit together. As an enterprising young (at heart) man, I asked myself, “How difficult can this be?” The mantle requires a fireplace viewing area that is 33 x 31 inches. O.K., that can’t be too hard. So after searching the web, I finally found one that was close.
The next challenge was making sure the vent system matches up with the pre-existing pipe – if not, as I discovered, one would then need to hire a mountain climber to repel off the roof to install a new venting system. In this case, a coaxial pipe with an 8-inch outer and 5-inch inner. Simple enough right?
Well, no. As of the time of the writing of this article, I’ve already spent two solid weeks trying to solve this puzzle and have yet to find a solution. Out of frustration, I finally phoned the fireplace mantle vendor and asked him why would he not offer a cross reference that married his two or three mantle sizes with the various brands of fireplaces that would fit?
Hard To Do Well
In the early 2000s, I developed a product called the Primacoustic Recoil Stabilizer that both isolated a loudspeaker to eliminate ghost resonance frequencies while also stabilizing the loudspeaker so that it would not sway by the transducer’s piston action when big bass was being produced. To make it as easy as possible for the end user to find the right products, we scoured the web to collect the specifications for every nearfield monitor and tabulated the weight and size so that we could create a cross-reference to align our product with theirs. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for customers to select the right Recoil unit to fit their loudspeakers.
There are about 10 fireplace manufacturers that service the market in Vancouver while there are literally hundreds of loudspeaker manufacturers around the globe. Making it easy for the consumer means that someone has to do the hard work. This is the point: if the mantle maker had a simple cross reference, I would have already ordered his $3,000 mantle. But here I am, without a solution. Frustrating – and the antithesis of easy.
It’s tough to do these things well. It takes time, a commitment to dig deep, and the discipline to stay the course. (Discipline is such an ugly word!) Who can really blame someone for not doing the hard work? Fireplaces change, loudspeakers change – how can we possibly stay on task?
One option is to automate the process. Why not contact the manufacturers and let them know that it benefits them if their product line is updated and therefore behooves them to send you regular updates when they make changes to their product lineup? That’s a win-win.
Easy can also be profitable: We sold more than 10,000 sets of Recoils during my watch.