11/12/2012 02:07 EST | Updated 01/12/2013 05:12 EST

Always Strive for the 100% Solution

With all due respect to Sherlock Holmes and his Seven-Per-Cent Solution, I'm banging the drum for upping the ante to The 100% Solution. In a nutshell, everything we do should be focused on converting every visitor into a customer.



I was filling in as a guest professor at my friend Pinny Gniwisch's Digital Marketing Class at McGill last Tuesday evening. Given it was a night class, the student body was composed primarily of those actually working in the digital sector, which happily served to elevate the level of understanding and the depth of the back-and-forth conversation.

At one point during the class, while I was outlining my strategy of tweaking and adjusting of the Just For Laughs flagship website away from content to focus on sales, a student raised his hand and asked:

"What conversion rate are you looking for?"

Without blinking an eye, I responded immediately.

"100 per cent!"

The class laughed, and so did I, but I quickly admitted that I was actually quite serious. "I know that I'm probably NOT going to get it," I said, "but it is truly what I am LOOKING FOR."

Ah, the joy of semantics!

Upon reflection later that night, my "100 %" reply lessened as an off-the-cuff flippant remark and took on added importance and relevance.

As I walked home from McGill, I passed by blocks of closed retail stores...granted, most closed because it was after 9 p.m., but many because they had gone out of business, leaving ugly, barren storefronts in their wake.

I thought about the oft-used shopper defense mechanism of "Just looking!" when approached by a sales rep, and I realized that if I owned a store, I would be pissed if someone came in and didn't buy anything. It's like being rejected at the high school dance; like what, I'm not good enough for you?

The sad part is that indeed, for the most part, we are not good enough. By accepting anything less than 100 per cent conversion, we are not aiming high enough, and settling for second best, or third best, or 18th best.

So damn right I speak the serious truth when I say I want 100 per cent conversion. Why in the world would I want anyone to come to my site and NOT buy? When I go to Amazon, it's rarely to "browse." Same thing with iTunes. Once I've landed, its rare that I take off again empty-handed. Why shouldn't I demand the same from my customers?

So with all due respect to Sherlock Holmes and his Seven-Per-Cent Solution, I'm banging the drum for upping the ante to The 100% Solution.

In a nutshell of a manifesto, The 100% Solution says that everything we do should be focused on converting every visitor into a customer. This involves microscopic attention to detail, obsessive gathering and crunching of analytics, and a constant flow of change...not for change's sake, but for success's.

Back to retail. If that were my line of work, like in politics, I would conduct "Exit Interviews" to inch my way towards 100% conversion. I'd run after people down the street, if I had to, and find out why they left without buying. Was the music too loud? Were the prices too high? Was the merch hard to find? And then I'd study the Apple Store, which perhaps comes closest to achieving The 100% Solution in the market today.

Over to e-tailing. On the Web, there are thousands of software tools, gurus and case studies that we all can use to lessen the distance to the holy grail of 100%. Trust me, I am overwhelming myself with them in my quest.

But it's not just business. The obsession to getting that "Perfect Score" can apply everywhere. When I work out at the gym, I try to ensure that every single rep -- every one! -- I do is the best that I can do. No slacking off or working at 75 per cent capacity. Same thing when I play hockey: every on-ice shift is played full-out, balls-to-the-wall (sure helps when your linemates are half your age and twice as good).

Even this damn blog post is being written, re-thought, fine-tuned, shuffled, sculpted and honed with the (somewhat egomaniacal) thought that everyone who reads it should love it, immediately share it with countless others, and wait impatiently with bated breath for my next one.

Yes, I know life doesn't always work like that, or holds itself to those ideals.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for the ideal.

And until someone invents a fourth dimension where the whole is greater than itself, the only ideal is The 100% Solution.

And now...back to the top of this post for one more edit/re-write.