Value Exchange Dissonance, or, don’t hand me a flyer.

Whenever I walk somewhere, and someone hands me a flyer, it’s like they’re telling me, “Here, you go throw this away.”
-Mitch Hedberg

29 Indian Food!
Image by wilyumzzz via Flickr

If you’ve ever walked down a street in midtown Manhattan, you’ve most likely been in the uncomfortable position of being handed a flyer for a restaurant, club, event, whathaveyou.  It never struck me before, but this is a great example of Value Exchange Dissonance.

Value Exchange Dissonance is something I just made up.  It describes a situation in which one party takes an action that they believe provides enough value to prompt an action by another party, when the other party feels it is an imposition on them (negative value).

When a person hired by a restaurant hands you a flyer, here’s what their perception of the exchange is:

“Greetings, random person in the neighborhood! Here is a free menu with information on all the wonderful things you can eat at my establishment.  Now, come and have a meal at my restaurant. It’s the least you can do, after I provided you with this information!”

Taking our knee-jerk social marketer hats off for a moment, let’s now look at the experience from the point of view of the person receiving the flyer.

“Here I am just going about my day, on my way somewhere, and some random person thrusts a piece of paper at me, disrupting my personal space, my rhythm, distracting me from whatever I’ve been thinking about and pushing their message at me without regard for my interest or where my attention was.  If I was hungry, I’d go to a restaurant that didn’t need to disrupt my day.  I don’t even like Indian food!  Screw this place.”

Value Exchange Dissonance.  To the extreme.  And the end result is the opposite of what was intended.

There is a crucial point there.  A marketing engagement is valuable or not valuable based on the POV of the ‘receiver’ of the engagement.

In this case, if 0 is the baseline, handing someone a flyer may have a +3 perceived value for the restaurant, but if its a -6 to the recipient, it still nets out at -3.

This is why User Experience is so important.  There are lots of examples of otherwise well-meaning people and organizations who may genuinely not be paying attention to how the experience plays out for the other side.

Are you paying attention to how you may create or destroy value in an experience? Or are you another victim of Value Exchange Dissonance?

I must be able to blog from everywhere, dammit!

I just signed the Wi-Fi 4 NY petition, and I hope you will too.

It’s outrageous that kids in South Korea have better and faster access to the Internet than kids in the South Bronx, and even kids in SoHo.

It’s ridiculous that Verizon, Cablevision and Time-Warner charge working families $600 a year for a connection that is ten times slower than what you can get in Tokyo.

It’s terrible that our schools are ranked #41 in the country in the use of computers in education.

I don’t want to fall behind Philadelphia and Boston as they bring wireless Internet service to all their residents.

It’s time to bring New York City into the 21st Century and connect every New Yorker to the Internet.

Thanks to advances in wireless technology — “Wi-Fi,” for short — we could get every New Yorker connected for less than $10 per person, the price of a movie ticket!

Wi-Fi should be like water. Or like having a dial-tone on your phone. Free in all public places — and affordable for every business and home. It’s that important to our future.

Mayor Bloomberg and the rest of the city’s leadership hear every day from the big telecom companies and their lobbyists.
Now it’s time they hear from us.

Please sign the “Wi-Fi 4 NY” petition:

And help spread the word by forwarding this message to your
family, friends and co-workers.