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The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia (Kristy McDonald)
The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia (Kristy McDonald)

What's your time worth? (A lot more than you think) Add to ...

This week's business books review

The 24-Hour Customer

By Adrian Ott

Harper Business, 224 pages, $31.99

Marketing Lessons From The Grateful Dead

By David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan

John Wiley, 163 pages, $25.95

What Women Want

By Paco Underhill

Simon & Schuster, 214 pages, $32.00

Marketing and sales have traditionally been preoccupied with money, a focal point in the purchase decision. But these days, consumers and businesses contemplating purchases are often fretting over another scarce item: time. They'll spend money to save it.

Consultant Adrian Ott tackles the subject in The 24-Hour Customer, laying out a methodology for involving the issue of time in your marketing strategy. "Today, time isn't money. Time is more important than money. It's certainly more important than brand recognition, product features, authenticity, or most of the other features that usually figure in an executive's product plans. Time isn't the only consideration for customers, but it is the most consistently overlooked and misunderstood factor driving customer decisions," she writes.

Ms. Ott tells of how her early-model MP3 player gathered dust for years because she dreaded the time required to learn how to use it. But when the iPod came along she took the plunge because she knew she wouldn't have to spend time making it work: Apple had her time in mind when it designed the device. As we choose to buy online rather than drive to a bricks-and-mortar store, lap up convenience meals, and grasp at productivity tools, time is clearly a major factor in our purchasing behaviour.

Actually, time and attention, she stresses. The time that is most valuable is the time when attention is focused. That's where some technology goes wrong, Ms. Ott argues, because its use demands too much attention.

She combines time and attention into a four-element "time-ographics" framework:

When customers are willing to allocate both time and attention to your product or service, you are in the coveted motivation quadrant. A prime example is Disney World, where tourists devote days of their vacation time.

Sometimes consumers are willing to devote time to an activity but not much attention, which falls into the habit quadrant. People go to Google because they always go to that search site. They buy the same goods at the supermarket week after week, despite the cornucopia of choice.

Often consumers devote their attention, but only for a short while - indeed, their attention is focused on saving time. That's the convenience quadrant, where fast-food outlets, convenience store, and expedited delivery services like FedEx thrive.

When purchasers don't want to spend a lot of time or attention they are in the value quadrant, looking for products that possess standard features or have differences that can be compared with little or no thought.

Just as companies evaluate their prospects and customers by demographics, Ms. Ott argues they will now have to use this time-and-attention analysis to find out where the market is for their existing or future products. Her book takes you, in detail, through the four different purchase scenarios and how to develop marketing plans based on this approach.

The Grateful Dead, under her schema, found success in the motivation quadrant. In the band's heyday, from the 1960s to mid-1990s, so-called Deadheads fanatically followed the group from concert venue to venue, devoted to the band's music. Essentially, the Dead succeeded by ignoring existing business models for bands, and latching on to some revolutionary notions that became common with the advent of social media.

For example, instead of barring concert-goers from taping the shows (for fear it would hurt record and concert sales) the band encouraged fans to do so, even setting up areas to plug in their equipment. At the end of their shows, the Dead would sell a more sophisticated recording of the concert, produced with superior equipment. The band turned its customers into evangelists - a common goal for companies these days.

The fascinating elements of the band's approach are explored by social-media expert David Meerman Scott and Hubspot co-founder Brian Halligan (both Deadheads), in Marketing Lessons From The Grateful Dead.

In What Women Want, retail anthropologist Paco Underhill looks at what drives female consumers. Topping the list are cleanliness, control, safety and consideration. He explores how those notions can be used in a variety of sales - from real estate to cosmetics, clothing and electronics. It's a lively, informative and research-fuelled tour that will educate anyone marketing to women.

Other new books to put on your reading list:

Just in: The Mobile Learning Edge (McGraw-Hill, 269 pages, $34.95 by research analyst Gary Woodill shows how to use today's new mobile technology for training employees on the move rather than in the classroom.

Consultant Braden Kelley shows how to remove barriers to innovation in Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire (John Wiley, 188 pages, $41.95).

King Of Capital Crown Business, 391 pages, $31.00) by journalists David Carey and John E. Morris charts the rise, fall, and rise again of financier Steve Schwarzman and his Blackstone empire.



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