Not all friction is bad

There’s been plenty of talk recently about what can be learned from Amazon’s obsessive focus on removing “friction”, i.e. any potential sticking points for a customer along their path to purchase. However, when it comes to marketing, can friction also be a good thing?

The first thing to note is that there are actually two types of friction. Static and kinetic. Static friction is a force that keeps an object at rest. So, this is the focus when seeking to remove obstacles from the customer journey. Kinetic friction is a force that acts between moving surfaces, so similar to the tension that can occur between Sales and Marketing is their agendas differ or between Client and Agency if each is working to a different understanding of the brief.

When it comes to briefs, I’d argue that the best briefs aren’t simply written, they’re re-written. The internal debate that comes from a healthy tension can help take the thinking to a deeper level just as a constrained budget can act as the catalyst for creative thinking. Looking more broadly, often where there is tension, there is also magic. Take the cello. The wood that goes into making the curved body, as well as the neck which joins the strings to the tuning pegs and body are under immense strain. In addition, skilled cello players will squeeze the instrument between their knees and tense their muscles to affect the overall tone.

When it comes to celebrating magical moments in our everyday lives, we often open some champagne. It’s a lot more time intensive to produce than other forms of wine and, thus, it’s more expensive. The Champagne region itself is located near the northern limits of the wine growing world along the 49th parallel. The high latitude and mean annual temperature of 10 °C creates a difficult environment for wine grapes to ripen, but the extra effort and friction justify the price premium.

Friction can force us to stop and reconsider our actions. If we embrace it in campaign development, we can potentially find a more engaging narrative that cuts through the clutter. Pearls grow from grains of sand and nasty parasites caught inside an oyster’s shell, but they’re rare. In B2B marketing, content that is recalled after 48 hours is almost as rare. Recent research has shown that more than 90% of messages are forgotten within 48 hours. By working a bit harder on the briefs you write and content assets you create, you'll ensure resultant messaging is more memorable and actionable in the future.

Colin Gray | Head of Marketing Strategy and Behavioural Economics


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