Last installment, I convinced you that Game of Thrones is the perfect analogy for understanding how and why to implement an A/B testing and optimization solution for your organization. This week I’m going to get much more specific. We all want an optimized solution for our constituents — whether they be visitors on our digital channels or citizens of Westeros — but the time comes when we have to weigh the costs and benefits of different solutions. Stannis Baratheon’s trajectory serves as an edifying allegory. Here’s how Stannis can help you get the most out of your A/B testing and optimization solution.
New platform, new price
When we left off, Joffrey had just taken the throne but is subject to contention from multiple sides. We have Daenerys, the Starks, the Lannisters, the Greyjoys, all with some kind of claim to power, while Renly and Stannis Baratheon fight it out. But Stannis actually makes major strides toward taking the Iron Throne.
To gain a competitive edge, Stannis enlists the guidance of Melisandre, the Red Priestess. Melisandre’s first major step is to kill Renly Baratheon by way of shadow magic, and she performs other spectacular sacrifices as well. So, this new way of waging of war seems powerful, effective, and potentially wipes out the competition.
His downfall comes when his followers realize the price they pay does not reflect the value they receive. It turns out Melisandre’s predictions, and her actions were wrong. Stannis has proposed an optimization and personalization solution that seems new and pricey, but he delivers more of the same with no return on investment.
More cost, more loss?
It’s worth examining what Stannis really offers. Stannis’ primary intervention in the Seven Kingdoms is his introduction of the Red Priestess as the religiopolitical advisor to the realm. Without Melisandre, Stannis is pretty darn boring. But even with Melisandre, Stannis offers more of the same: he still rules with religion, just like the Seven Kingdoms already does; he still depends on violence to maintain rule, though it’s ritual “sacrifice” versus execution; he still promotes a hereditarily justified succession to the throne. In the end, Stannis’ main claim is the same as Joffrey’s, and that claim is the name Baratheon.
This means that the Red Priestess’s “innovation” is like introducing an entirely new platform to your customers, for a higher price, with no improvement to the product. Most A/B testing and optimization solutions also need an innovation, but like Stannis and Melisandre teach us, the same product can come in many packages. Imagine being forced to change your operating platform, pay more for it, but still see the same quality of results. That’s Stannis and Melisandre.
What’s the real price?
Like his men grow wary of the Red Woman, you should be wary of expensive platforms that require you to change programs. Likewise, you should invest in quality (so you don’t end up with a Joffrey situation). You shouldn’t pay the Iron Price for solutions that make your organization thrive.
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