The Perspective by Edward Bwalya Phiri: ‘Goodwill is the mightiest practical force in the universe’

World acclaimed Mark Elliot Zukerberg, the co-founder and CEO of the social media giant Facebook, once said that, “People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

And a Swiss designer Yves Behar once opined that, “our principal role as designers is to accelerate new ideas and the adoption of new ideas.” It then goes without saying that a failure to innovate and propel the ideas spells the beginning of the end of any sort of business. Therefore, the lifeline of any venture is in its ability to innovate and its eventual adoption.

On The Perspective today, consideration is on adoption. And as a business concept, adoption is the process by which people become users of a product. Product adoption is one of the most cardinal goals in business, because it borders on both the success and failure of any ilk of entity.

In 1962, American communication theorist and sociologist Everett M. Rogers introduced the adoption theory known as the Diffusion of Innovation [DOI], to explain how new ideas or new products are adopted by people. Rogers proffered that there are four main factors that influence the spread of new ideas namely; the innovation itself, time, communication and social systems.

The product adoption process is a dichotomous practise consisting of encoding and decoding courses of actions, between the entrepreneur and the potential customers. I have summed up this into a four-stage process namely; impression, perception, goodwill and adoption. While the innovator sets the process in motion by initiating the first stage, the prospective client responds in a progressive triad.

1. Impression

This is a critical stage in the whole product adoption process because everything else depends on it [the created impressions]. The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the noun impression as the effect produced by impressing. It also expounds that it is the communicating of a mold, trait, or character by an external force or influence. Impression may also be known as an imprint or a favourable influence.

Just like the admonishment given by Rogers in his DOI theory, great care must be taken when innovating, so as to have likable brands. Communication must be deliberate and effective and social [networks] systems must be leveraged to the benefit of the business. The primary goal is to forge favourable relationships with different people.

A renowned American Television personality Jon Taffer wrote that, “all successful business is about creating the right reactions in customers. The way you present yourself and your business, your curb or web appeal, your logo, where you put your products or how you place your content, the color of your marketing pieces, price points, dress code – everything you do in your business—creates reactions. The best reactions always make the most money.”
And in order to achieve and maintain this feat; one needs to constantly evaluate the clientele’s needs and wants through the various feedback, which will be gotten from time to time. It is this feedback that will help the entity to keep innovating, so as to retain relevance on the market. A Czechoslovakia writer, Milan Kundera also said that, “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” Businesses that fail to innovate always knock themselves out of the business competitiveness, and ultimately go under.

2. Perception

Perception is the ability to see, hear or be aware of something through the senses. And according to the DOI theory, a person must perceive the idea, behaviour, or product as new or innovative. It is only through this that this diffusion [adoption of a product] is possible.
Every brand is defined by two terms; perception [promise] and impression [experience]. While a brand fosters expectations through perception, it creates impressions through fulfilled expectations and ultimately triggers a positive reaction. The primary role of a brand is to create a perception that will compel the majority to like and accept it. And the secondary role is to create a lasting impression on the masses by leaving an indelible mark in their minds.

Positive customer reactions are formed by the brand utility. According to Investopedia, utility refers to the total satisfaction received from consuming [experience or interaction with] a good or service… it directly influences the demand, and therefore price, of that good or service.

American internet entrepreneur and Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh at one time said that “We take most of the money that we could have spent on paid advertising and instead put it back into the customer experience. Then we let the customers be our marketing. Historically, our number one growth drivers have been from repeat customers and word of mouth.” And American business magnate and founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos once said that, “If you do build great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.”

Perception is the retention of a sensory stimuli that may be organised into mostly, a lasting experience. There are five basic types of perceptions and these are; visual [sight], auditory [hearing], olfactory [smell], haptic [touch] and gustatory [taste]. These are a summary through which a person can experience an idea, product or service and be influenced to either have positive or negative attitude, towards an individual or entity and its products.

You can therefore make positive perceptions in people by favourably appealing to their senses in whichever way possible. If you have had an encounter or witnessed how hawkers sell their merchandise, you may have seen how they sentimentally appeal to people’s senses. Numerous people end up buying, out of impulse unlike on reason. Allow me to illustrate this point: a merchandiser selling toys on the streets will first demonstrate how a toy works and hand it to a child who may not be willing to let go, and he will then politely entreat the parent or guardian to buy for the child. Another one will let a person try out an article, and then describe how you look.

3. Goodwill

Goodwill is either a cooperative attitude or an established reputation of a business. According to Charles Fletcher Dole, “Goodwill is the mightiest practical force in the universe.” It is goodwill that will compel people to not only continue buying from your outlet but to also pull others along. It is goodwill that will help business to fend off competition even from tough competitors. American entrepreneur and founder of Marshall Field and Company, Marshall Field once opined that, “Goodwill is the one and only asset that competition cannot undersell or destroy.”

Every business must therefore strive to earn goodwill through the innovations and their marketing strategy.

4. Adoption

In its simplistic form, adoption is the process by which people become users of a product. To put it differently, adoption is simply the acceptance of a brand by customers. You must therefore realise that consumers buy brands and not commodities. In human relationships too, people choose brands and not persons. There are so many human beings out there but we only pick a specific brand that promises to satisfy our unique needs. Philip Kotler wrote that, “If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.”

Allow me to end with a quote from Noreena Hertz who once said that, “Goodwill and reputation are intangibles, but they are the keys to business success. Since they are also inexorably linked to social values, it follows that a change in social norms will have a significant impact on profits. For today I will end here; it’s Au revoir, from EBP.
For comments: elbardogma@yahoo.com/SM

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