Jarter Jargon

Spendy Perk or Keen Positioning?

Posted on: September 19, 2012

Recently, Marissa Mayer, Yahoo!’s new CEO, announced that all employees will be given a new smartphone. Mayer is going to allow employees to choose from an iPhone 5, Galaxy S3, a few HTC devices or Nokia’s Lumia 920. Notably absent from the list: BlackBerry. Yahoo is going to move its users off of BlackBerry devices in 22 countries and onto something more consumer friendly.

But why the switch? If you really look at it, Blackberry has been slipping in numbers for quite some time now. The iPhone and other smartphones have taken control. Mayer’s reasoning is to get Yahoo! employees to start thinking and acting like most of its users.

For a company like Yahoo — whose business is a purple mix of technology services, display advertising and media — it doesn’t make sense to focus on attracting BlackBerry users. It’s also unlikely that Yahoo sees much of its mobile traffic coming from BlackBerry users.

If a company is going to create consumer facing products and services, it needs to be able to experience those products the same way its users do. It’s a genius move on the part of Mayer, because it helps push employees from all parts of the company — from product managers to engineers, from sales to customer support — to look at and approach Yahoo from the point of view of the average user.

To me, it seems like Mayer knows exactly what she’s doing. Positioning your entire staff to look at your own business from the eyes of your audience gives you great insight on managing and maintaining a huge brand like Yahoo!. I wouldn’t be surprised to see new features that integrate smartphones in the near future. I think Yahoo! will do great things to develop better experiences for users, and I honestly think it’s something other corporations should take a look at.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that all corporations should give all its employees the newest smartphone; it just means that a lot of corporations spend large amounts of money to gain insight on target audiences when all they need to do is try and view themselves from the eyes of that very audience.

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