January 10, 2017

“Shaped Charge” Marketing

“Strategic”, “guerilla”, “positioning”, and other military adjectives are now commonly used in association with the term, “marketing”. We, at Knowledger, do not quite subscribe to the point of view where customers are placed as a target to be aimed at from across a trench but, nevertheless, let us add to this vocabulary with the “shaped charge marketing™” idea.

Image credit: Isabel Munoz

“Marketing” is too broad and too vague a term to be meaningful without a particular framework specified — just as the topic of “relationships” cannot provide a fruitful discussion before you know whether you are discussing “pick-up techniques”, the institution of marriage, or something else. With the “shaped charge” foundation and a use case in hand, we hope to deliver some useful and applicable ideas.

You have seen a shaped charge — at least in movies or games — in the form of anti-tank warheads — but you might not understand the physics behind why these weapons are so potent. Below are few interesting facts about it translated into the language of marketing and supported by a particular example.

Changing the Rules of Combat

Amazingly, a shaped charge — when it explodes next to a tank’s armored hull — actually moves more mass backward than forward. Targets are hit with only a small fraction of a charge’s mass that is propelled forward and through the armour like a hot knife through butter. This small mass travels with great velocity, enough as is required for an object to escape Earth’s gravitational field and be launched into space. Meanwhile, most of the charge’s mass (i.e. the slug) goes backwards to balance this momentum in accordance with the Law of the Conservation. Due to this extremely high velocity, metals behave as liquids when met and so the “bullet” simply “falls” through the otherwise impenetrable armour. In summation, shaped charges achieve their effect by forcing a target to behave as though it were in another physical state than that for which it was designed.

In marketing, to hit an especially well-protected target — such as an audience with many preconceived notions — one needs to go in exactly the opposite direction compared to the mainstream and to stick to a smaller agenda/audience which has a chance of gaining momentum. If you are going to convert someone to a completely different state of mind, you simply need to design a payload capable of blowing away the status quo.

Ethereum-transported Bank Cheques

Our use case today is Ethereum Cheques, the application for retail banks that allows their chequebook-carrying customers to safely exchange truncated versions of cheques over the Ethereum network. Since 2004, Truncated cheques are the legally accepted form of paper cheques which have been properly scanned into images and transported between banks via the proper communication channels.

Unlike most of the bitcoin/blockchain innovations, Ethereum cheques are bank-friendly — they restore banks’ primary role within payments and revitalize the familiar checking protocols with new blockchain and mobile technology.

Ethereum cheques are closer to a compliant status when compared to any other form of fiat-over-blockchain money due to its use of standard legal frameworks, and in the US, deploying truncated cheques as defined in the 21 Act and subpart D of the Federal Reserve Board’s Regulation CC. The Ethereum Cheques project implies no painful “disruptions”. It merely promises lower costs without trade-offs. Ethereum cheques bring evolutionary improvements to workflow with the help of the existing public blockchain which it uses only as a non-critical auxiliary tool.

This case includes several sets of contraries:

  1. While almost everyone in the banking sector thinks of blockchain innovation in its “permissioned” or otherwise controlled form, Ethereum Cheques offers to use the public blockchain (the soon coming Ethereum Enterprise may add even more value here) as opposed to the contradiction-in-terms known as a “private blockchain”.
  2. While almost everyone in the public blockchain sector mocks banks and can’t wait to dance on their grave, Ethereum Cheques reminds us that — if we find ourselves in a falsely-operated financial environment — the banks’ fault is probably way smaller compared to that of centralized payment networks. Moreover, we still need banks to help us create individual financial stability, where all Bitcoin Gods are powerless anyway.
  3. While almost everyone in the payment sector says cheques are dead, Ethereum Cheques reminds us that despite having been pronounced dead since the nineties, they are nonetheless still alive and kicking. Probably because a cheque is the most natural way of payment when you think of them apart from the burden of preconceived opinions created by non-banks.

Just being “the opposite of the majority” is useless without also creating an ultra-speedy “stretching jet”. Let’s continue to use the “shaped charge” analogy to see whether Ethereum Cheques has in place all the requisite qualities and equipment.

Impact Determined Upon Payload Delivery

What differentiates a grenade launcher from a normal firearm is that the former is comparatively primitive and simple — basically a tube with a scope and a trigger. The complexity lies completely within the charge or payload. The moment of truth is when the target is reached and not at all when someone pulls the trigger. Shaped charges’ visible motion — its trajectory — does not add anything significant to its power.

It is when the Ethereum Cheques application has already been delivered that the question of its efficiency will be answered. Ethereum Cheques is free to use and an open standard on top of the public network. The only obstacles for a bank to join the app network are its own prejudice and superstitions.

Importantly, the overall project’s success does not depend on whether Ethereum Cheques actually break the armour of VISA-type networks’ dominance in a particular region. The success of new projects in the field of payments is extremely rare with “critical mass” issues being the biggest reason. A new method needs to simultaneously collect enough adopters from both merchant and consumer sides. Even Apple Pay, with all its might, is having a hard time becoming merely a slave-apprentice to credit card networks.

In the case of legacy cheques — upgraded by the Ethereum Cheques framework — that is not so. The complexity of the shaped charge has been already “manufactured” — truncated cheques have been around for years with cheques themselves being few hundred years old. Ethereum Cheques’ progressors just need a comparatively simple “device” to deliver the charge. So what is that device and why should you care?