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The Convenience Trap

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing


The homeless man sitting at the Brunswick Street junction doesn’t look up as people walk past. He doesn’t try to catch the eyes he knows are trying to avoid his. He lets the cardboard sign at his feet do the talking. The headline in red crayon tells us that he’s genuinely homeless. There isn’t enough time for a passer-by to take in the detail of most of the rest of what’s written on the sign in smaller print. But the unusual call to action at the bottom stands out.

‘If you’d like to consider regularly donating $5 a month please let me know.’

The homeless man request knows that he doesn’t just need more donors, he understands that he needs more of the right donors—who keep coming back.

In recent years we’ve seen the rise of businesses that make it easy for us to become returning customers. These businesses have worked out that convenience is sticky. And so we’ve seen the rise of subscription services for everything from razors to flowers and apps that will have a meal or ride to our door in minutes. But convenience alone isn’t what drives thriving, sustainable businesses. Companies that merely offer a convenient solution risk disruption. They must live in fear of the next new thing that’s closer or cheaper, faster or fancier.

If we want to earn loyal donors or customers, we must offer them more than convenience. Loyalty is a byproduct of resonance and convenience. Successful causes and companies don’t only make life easier for their donors or customers—they strike a chord with them too.

Image by Kevin McShane

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