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Why we should focus on helping our customers become better people.

One of the coolest short books I've ever read about marketing is Michael Schrage's Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become? A recent blog post by Seth Godin (see below) got me thinking about it again. 

People in marketing and advertising profession are often seen as venal. (Thanks, Mad Men.) What if we focused on helping our customers become better people? 

Seth's blog: Marketing about power and with power, 2017-Aug-28 by Seth Godin

Danny Meyer has built a restaurant empire around the idea that customers ought to be powerful. Instead of bullying his patrons, he trains his people to serve. No velvet rope, just a smile.

Each of us gets to choose what sort of marketing we respond to. Those that use bully tactics to gain power over us only get away with it because it works (on some people, some of the time). And often, when power is put into our hands (sometimes known as freedom... the freedom to create, to speak up, to lead, to challenge), we blink and walk away.

Some people persist in thinking that marketing is about ads or low prices. It's not. It's about human nature and promises and who we see when we look in the mirror.

When you see confusion, look for fear, and look for the dynamics of power.


To change someone's mind: start by exploring what you can learn from them

We could make an impression on another person with an impassioned speech, but we are unlikely to change their mind unless we show them that we actually appreciate their position. Not that we validate it, but that we accept it. It is what it is. From there we can begin a journey. The first step is to show the other person how their ideas have influenced us, what we've learned, and how we're going to change based on learning from them. 

When I started studying training as a profession, my role models made a point that adult learners are competent. They are NOT looking to be fixed. We should start by asking them how they are currently coping with challenges. What do they know and how have they succeeded? We learn together. 

Harvard Business Review: Closing the Strategy-Execution Gap, 2017-Oct-30 by Alison Reynolds and David Lewis

People do not change their minds through being told, however open and inclusive the communication may be. When we have skin in the game, reason counts for far less than we might think. It is an oft-forgotten feature of human nature that if you want to influence someone, a good start is to show they have influenced you. If you are open to others, others tend to be open to you. Influence comes through interaction.


More than technology, CRM is process

We now have so many excellent CRM applications available, the challenge is finding one that can fit the processes that you will actually use. 

Clearhead: You Can't Buy Personalization, 2017-Jul-18 by David J. Neff

You can’t buy personalization. Why not? Because it’s not a single technology point solution. Don’t get me wrong: when it comes to technology point solutions you can buy product recommendation tools. You can buy testing tools that allow personalization. You can buy audience segmentation tools. You can even buy a data warehouse. But you can’t buy personalization. So why not?

To personalize in a meaningful way you need to bring together disparate data sources and teams that might not typically ever operate outside their silos.

Similar to testing, we find that lack of technology isn’t the problem when it comes to personalization. According to our latest research, while 64% of retailers have the technology they tend to lack the process and rigor needed to execute their personalization efforts.


Vince Lombardi on loyalty and leadership

Last month Fast Company co-founder Bill Taylor sent an email newsletter that resurrected a story about Vince Lombardi which resonates so strongly these days when everyone seems intent on belittling everyone else. It also reminds me that the greatest achievements of my life have occurred when working on teams. 

Bill Taylor wrote:

...it reminded me of an essay I wrote for HBR on Lombardi’s surprising message for businesspeople who like to draw lessons from sports.

What was that message? That love is more powerful than hate. “The love I’m speaking of is loyalty, which is the greatest of loves,” Lombardi told the American Management Association in his first-ever lecture to executives. “Teamwork, the love that one man has for another and that he respects the dignity of another…I am not speaking of detraction. You show me a man who belittles another and I will show you a man who is not a leader…Heart power is the strength of your company. Heart power is the strength of the Green Bay Packers. Heart power is the strength of America and hate power is the weakness of the world.”

The Lombardi quote comes from the David Maraniss 1999 biography of Vince Lombardi, When Pride Still Mattered: Lombardi.

Bill Taylor's essay for Harvard Business Review is here: On Valentine's Day, an Ode to Leadership and Love, 2012-Feb-14. You can subscribe to Bill's wonderful email newsletter here




Narratives that work

Narratives have traditionally been entertainment or history. The call to use them in advertising has had mixed results. We are finding more coaches who are pointing out HOW to design a narrative that works for a commercial message. 

Medium: Helping leaders tell strategic stories, 2017-Oct-24 by Andy Raskin

One of the most powerful ways to turn prospects into aspiring heroes is to pit them against an antagonist.


Trying to figure out Facebook

I would prefer not to use Facebook, but I would prefer not to drive a car, and I'm not getting anywhere on exercising that preference either. I drive. I use Facebook. I know what I think about cars, traffic, and air pollution. I'm not sure what to think about Facebook. 

My customers and their customers are using Facebook, so it's important for me to figure it out. This article points out that different people see and use Facebook in different ways. 

Quartz: There are only four types of Facebook users, researchers have found, 2017-Jul-12

The massive social network is more than one thing to its customers, however. Some of us use it to keep tabs on distant friends, for instance, and others to promote their creative works, or “literally” too-cute toenails. Still others see Facebook as a passive medium, a television channel made up of shows starring everyone they know and some they don’t.

Now a new study, published in the International Journal of Virtual Communities and Social Networking, confirms that Facebook has a Rashomon effect: various user groups interpret the experience of using it very differently.

It's intriguing to see that people both experience Facebook differently AND they interpret that experience differently. In other words, not everyone can imagine how others are experiencing Facebook. So we have the blind men and an elephant problem... 


In order to help my clients with Facebook, I have to research and imagine the many different ways people see it and use it. We now have one study of 47 people (so few!) that categorizes four different Facebook experiences. So here's a start:

1) Facebook as communication tool used with friends and family (How was your vacation? I'm going to the concert--will I see you there? My daughter graduated, etc.) 

2) Checking Facebook without participating. These types often use it to research people or places. 

3) Using Facebook to share public, not personal information, especially news. These types see Facebook as a soapbox. 

4) Seeking attention on Facebook by posting selfies, accomplishments, and discoveries. 

So when we post on Facebook, we can expect that post to be received different ways. 

  • Did I learn something about people I care about, does it make us closer?
  • Did I learn something interesting about the world?
  • Is this information I can use to my own advantage?


The Harvey and I

Friday afternoon is the right time to write this post, although I suspect I shouldn't publish for a few days... 

I'm embarrassed about the fact that Harvey was a major inconvenience in my life. Not a tragedy. Not a detour. Not a sacrifice. 

Our family suffered no losses during/after Harvey except the ability to show up to our jobs and earn more money. (Except for my son, who has managed to hold onto a traditional salaried job, which he resigned right before Harvey but, considering, they ask him to continue for a few more weeks.) The rest of us are contractors. No work--no pay. However, we have not been damaged. We had savings. 

The thousands of people in Houston who live paycheck-to-paycheck were not so lucky. If they did NOT lose their homes, they still may lose their homes because they can't pay their mortgage because they can't work. And it's even worse for renters, who have to honor their lease even if the place is miserable. (If they can convince someone it's 'unliveable' they can get their lease canceled... if and when!)

I have Survivor's Guilt. 

I also feel guilty because I'm NOT one of those people who went out in boats or formed a new rescue initiative or showed up at the shelter and rekindled hope or anything. I just stayed out of the way. Because in the past, when I went to help... I just felt out of place. Never did it look like I could make a difference. 

For the record: I sent thousands of dollars. And I will send more. 

Hurricane Harvey caused me major anxiety because my mother's house was vulnerable. She has Alzheimer's and I was told to get flood insurance for her 4 months ago, and last month I finally got around to it, but it didn't go into effect until Sept. 15, so I spend the whole time anticipating that I was going to be punished with thousands of dollars of damage to the home she loves, her refuge, where she and my brother live. 

Probably the reason that my mother's home avoided damage is that my brother, who lives with her, is the kind of person who woke up in the middle of the night on Saturday, realized it had been raining hard for hours, jumped out of bed, grabbed a shovel, and headed out to the street to make sure the storm sewers were working. When he got there he saw many other people in the street, poking into the storm sewer openings and making sure they worked. No one on that street was flooded. Luck played a big part but vigilance made a difference, too. 

Hurricanes are complicated. Insurance and vigilance can help, but sometimes they make no difference at all. It can be very cruel. For one of my friends, Harvey was their third instance of water in the house. He and his wife have decided to be home owners no more. I don't blame them. 

Writing about Hurricane Harvey has made me feel better. I hope I can make you see that a hurricane is not a weather event. It's a life event that is different for each person who experiences it. I hope your experience was bearable.