BT, Gordon Ramsay and 'digital DIY'

You might have seen in the press that Gordon Ramsay is to front a new ad campaign for BT Business (a client of mine). It’s a brave choice at first glance, but having spent yesterday attending an invitation-only exhibition of their business services, it makes good sense.
The message behind the campaign is ‘do what you do best’ – and leave the rest to us. It’s a sober reminder to those of us in this business that whilst we love ‘flexibility’ and ‘possibilities’, most people don’t feel a need for it, and could find it an obstacle.
Take, for example, their new BT Web Clicks service. You pay a fixed price, and BT guarantees to bring a fixed number of visitors to your website using search engine advertising (ie Google). My immediate reaction was ‘why? Surely the great thing about Google ads is the fact that you can edit your ad’s text, tinker with your bids and budgets, etc etc?’ But the product manager made a convincing case that most ordinary small businesses don’t have time for all that, and probably aren’t all that interested anyway.
It’s a mark of Google’s success that businesses want to be in there… but they don’t necessarily have the time or inclination to do it for themselves. ‘Pay X, get Y, and leave the how? to us’ is a very simple proposition – it’s basically what Yellow Pages or the local paper does. Businesses are used to it.
Same goes for the BT Workspace document sharing and collaboration product. If it sounds like SharePoint, that’s because it is SharePoint. But they’ve made a deliberate decision to remove large chunks of the customisation ability. Why? Because users don’t want to be faced with a blank screen and/or a list of options. They want to log in and go. Sure, they might be able to tweak a particular template to their exact needs… but is it really worth it to them? BT seems to be betting that ‘plug and play’ is what businesses are looking for – and they make a convincing case.
I’ll say more about the BT Tradespace product later, as it merits a piece in itself. But to continue this train of thought… it isn’t the best blogging tool out there, it isn’t the best photo sharing site, and it isn’t the best mapping service. But it’s more than adequate at all of these things… and it’s all done for you. Yes you could mash up your own hybrid site with APIs, plugins, a bit of PHP, a bit of Javascript, and so on. But again, in the real world, would you?
It’s all too easy for those of us in the web business to forget that flexibility is a double-edged sword. We love it, because we have the knowledge and energy to use that flexibility. It’s digital DIY, if you will. But a lot of people – possibly even the majority – find flexibility an obstacle. They would rather someone told them what they need, and probably did it for them too. And BT wants to be that ‘someone’.

One thought on “BT, Gordon Ramsay and 'digital DIY'”

  1. Have you tried to find out about this services on the number given on their website??
    No one knows about it – I was holding for over half an hour!
    Can’t really see the point of it?
    Seems very expensive – guaranteeing 100 clicks per month for £100 – £1 per click??
    Also, they choose your key words.
    I had a salesman come out to me and he did not have a clue about the service and couldn’t answer any of my questions and in some cases he made them up which contradicted the information on the website.
    Complete disaster from what I can see.

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