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Smart Brands Up-Skill Their Customers

Instagram, one of the world’s biggest social media platforms, has a key word smashed into it that helps to explain its phenomenal success: instant.

Instagram, one of the world’s biggest social media platforms, has a key word smashed into it that helps to explain its phenomenal success: instant. With the Instagram app one can instantly become a ‘pro’ photographer and editor, cropping photos, adding arty filters, fiddling with alignment, changing colour saturation, and so on. Instagram effectively transposes specialist skills to amateur and less-than-amateur consumers without the latter having to spend the normal time and effort needed to acquire them.

This is an important new trend in consumerism, and an understandable one in a society addicted – for better or worse – to instant gratification. From a business point of view, it opens up a whole new and luxuriant playing field for entrepreneurs and brands alike.

There are two critical impetuses behind what has dubbed ‘instaskills’. First of all there is the consumer’s desire to maximise his or her lifestyle, to live in a zone of experiential abundance. Second is the appeal of producing professional-quality products or outcomes (sans the training), and this feeds into the first motivation. An app like Instagram is therefore the perfect instaskill instrument, as it allows you create high-quality, personally tailored memories.

When thinking about instaskills from the producing side, always bear those two motivations in mind. In your strategizing, ask yourself: does my product offer the customer a superior product or outcome that is connected with an enhanced lifestyle? If it does, you may well be onto something!

Case study: Seedsheet turns customers into pro gardeners

While the realm of apps is rife with instaskills possibilities, so are physical products. One particular product that very nicely conveys the concept of instaskills is the Kickstarter-sponsored Seedsheet. Described by its makers as an “agricultural paint-by-numbers”, it is a biodegradable, weed-blocking planter sheet with vegetable, fruit and/or herb seeds embedded in strategically spaced disks so that when you lay it down on the ground and water it, the disks dissolve and the seeds begin to germinate.

The manufacturers of the Seedsheet allow you tailor your order to your garden by selecting the size sheet you want and what seeds you want in it, based on their advice, if you like, of what will grow best in your area. The inspiration or philosophy behind the product is instaskills at its best: how to equip people to grow their own food when they have no gardening experience.

As to the other half of the litmus test suggested earlier, we could also ask about Seedsheet: does it promise to enhance one’s lifestyle? The answer is clearly yes, not only because it allows you to grow your own food and so save on time, petrol and money buying food from a store, but also because it offers you nutritious food and the ‘back to basics’ pleasure of eating something you’ve grown with your own two hands.

Cloudfarm – The Future of Fresh from Cam MacKugler on Vimeo.

So time to get thinking … what do the folks in your target market want to do for themselves, and can you help them to do it?


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