What Honeybees Can Teach Marketers

Honeybees are social insects, always exchanging information with each other for the success of the hive. When a bee finds an attractive new flower with a good supply of pollen, it flies back to the hive and performs a sophisticated waggle dance for the other bees, communicating the distance and direction of the flower from the hive, the type of flower it is, and the potential magnitude of the find. Other bees watch this dance, then navigate to the flower themselves to harvest more of its pollen, which is good because producing a single pound of honey requires roughly two million bee-loads of pollen.

So now imagine for a moment that your company operates a flowerbed, and you are in the business of “selling” your pollen to bees. Your first task is to attract an exploring bee to land and take a look, and for that you need to be sure that your colors are bright and your scent is attractive. That’s advertising.

But the bee is part of a social network, so when it returns to the hive after visiting your flower it’s only going to send for the other bees if your pollen was good. And that’s customer experience.

Advertising and customer experience are both important elements in making your business a success. You can’t grow and prosper without a steady stream of new customers, but you also have to be sure the customers you acquire are in fact satisfied. And the more social your customers are – the more they communicate and interact with each other – the more important the customer experience becomes, relative to advertising.

If customers don’t communicate among themselves, then advertising is all you really need. With an attractive look and a good smell you should be able to get a steady stream of new customers. But once your customers begin to interact with each other, you’ll only prosper if the customer experience you deliver to them is acceptable.

This is the key reason why delivering a truly frictionless customer experience has become so vital to every company’s success in the e-social era. Customers are technologically connected to each other more and more tightly, as social and mobile technologies proliferate.

We’ve all heard of Moore’s Law, of course, attributed to Intel founder Gordon Moore. Fifty years ago Moore noticed that the number of transistors that could be squeezed onto a square inch of silicon was doubling every 18 to 24 months. So every 20 years, computers were becoming a thousand times more powerful – that is, a thousand times faster in processing power and memory, per dollar of cost.

A corollary to Moore’s Law is sometimes known as Zuckerberg’s Law: Every 20 years we interact a thousand times as much with others.

And when it comes to managing the customer-facing side of your business, you can extrapolate this to Peppers’ Law: Every 20 years, customer experience becomes a thousand times more important to a business’s success.


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