I want my MTV” A single, clear, four-word mantra was all it took. Suddenly, MTV had forced reluctant cable service providers to include MTV in their line-ups through a consumer pull-through strategy. Fact is, consumers were already demanding more cable content, no different than hungry and busy families are demanding more food delivery options, but their demand trigger just hadn’t been activated. So the question is, which food delivery service will most effectively pull through consumer demand? Who, of the big three – Door Dash, Grub Hub, and UberEats – will grab enough share to make it a two-horse race?

While I’m sure all three are heads down on UX, certainly critical, what else are these guys missing? What are some lessons they should be considering?

SHOW ME THE MONEY:  For starters, with $850B in play, restaurant brands will continue to strive for an anytime, anyhow, omnipresent offerings from their own apps, drive-through, walk-in, kiosks,, with the singular goal of creating a frictionless distribution platform. How does a 3PO get a restaurant leaning their way? Consider the CARFAX re-brand launch built around the “Show me the CARFAX” campaign. CARFAX specifically added the line “only at reputable dealers everywhere” in all consumer-facing communications. This strategy not only forced the dealer’s hand in opting into CARFAX lest they be considered disreputable, it lured dealers into aligning with the one brand that more closely tied to their aspirational values. The lesson? Preferred partner > vendor. That’s where your strategy should start.

DON’T FOLLOW THE CHEESY LEADER: Yes, you can own a big slice of a $35B delivery empire and still get it wrong. Meaning just because pizza delivery is the category bedrock doesn’t mean they cracked the code on strategic innovation that creates meaningful consumer interaction. And in fact, the actual delivery of the product is typically underwhelming. Irony abounds as pizza is indeed defined by consumers breaking the rules… more napkins, eating around the TV, kids answering the door, the unmistakable box that telegraphs the food unlike a million and one generic bags. Yet, can you actually think of a single meaningful interaction with a pizza delivery brand? For the record, this isn’t a call for food delivery brands to hire professional entertainers as drivers and bikers. But still, where is the win here? When does the consumer actually scream “Door Dash!” when the bell rings instead of the name of the food brand? The lesson? Remember that UX isn’t just what happens on an app: At some point, your brand is face to face.

LET CONSUMERS SING YOUR PRAISES: The MTV example is a good example of where to place your bets. 3POs have plenty of places to churn cash: Tech, inside sales, affiliate programs, consumer branding and marketing and more. But in the same way a single social post, or a consumer movement (as engineered by MTV) can drive a tidal wave of consumer love and allegiance, you’ve got to understand how to optimize your marketing spend so that every marketing dollar invested comes back as a ten. The lesson? Nothing’s unimportant, but the biggest bang for the buck is when activating the consumer is at once engineered and organic.

IGNORE THE USER:If I asked people what they wanted, they would have told me to build them a faster horse”, or so said Henry Ford. Consider that the consumer cannot imagine what the Grub Hub app might offer that constitutes true surprise and delight. Think about blue ocean theory: What is the category given that you can heretically eliminate for the greater win, no different than Southwest eliminating reserved seats or a circus (Cirque Du Soleil) eliminating clowns. Conversely, what is the attribute or feature that nobody sees coming, the at once disruptive and joyous element that changes the category math? Desktop printing from Cannon. McDonald’s adding McCafe. Ralph Lauren creating Polo, Cemex turning cement into an emotional purchase, and more. The lesson? Ensure that non-linear invention is core, not fringe.

GET OUT OF THE DELIVERY BUSINESS: Short and sweet, you need to answer the proverbial “what business are you in” question. Domino’s decided it was in the technology business. Disney is in the magic business. Fannie Mae’s in the American Dream business. The term 3PO ain’t that friendly so re-define what business you’re in: Food delivery is what you do, not what you stand for, and the only people who make money work at the US Mint. The lesson? Elevate.

While these lessons are merely the tip of the idea iceberg, the challenge is to stop navigating by category norms. Your agenda must be about invention, elevation, speaking for the consumer, not just to the consumer, seeing UX as analog, not just digital, and earning restaurant preference. The brand that hits it won’t just steal share today, but feast on increasing consumer demand that’s only now kicking into gear.

You just gotta deliver.

Published by Cliff Courtney

Cultural Anthropologist, Writer, Planner, Mad Scientist, Brand Strategist, Rider, Musician, Futurist, Professor, Teacher, Designer, Documentarian, Lecturer, Behavioral Scientist, Parent, Blogger, Weapon of Mass Construction...

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