I've been following very closely some of the discussions and posts at gapingvoid recently. Hugh posted on how Love reaches into far deeper places than Trust ever could and Lovemarks, part deux.
They both reminded me of Fast Company Real Time in Philadelphia. It was 2001, and Kevin Roberts the guest at one of the main sessions. It was an experience that informed the way I've thought about brands and marketing ever since. In his talk, which he very appropriately named Love Addict, Roberts "came from the edge of the planet to talk about love."
His definition of love: "an all-consuming, passionate, overwhelming emotion. An addiction." Before reaching the climax of his talk, Roberts reviewed the addictions that marketers cannot shake. Why is it so difficult to shake them? Because they have inflicted us success, and we often tend to become very good at what worked in the past. See if you recognize them:
- We worship at the altar of rationality -- in the face of the fact that even financial markets are swayed by emotion, we persist on thinking that people make decisions based upon rational attributes. Face it, we never act based upon logic; we act up on our moods.
- "We are in danger of being exactly wrong, rather than approximately right." (John Banham) -- want to keep slicing and dicing that customer data and metrics? You'll never break away from what has worked in the past. Loosen up, expect the unexpected and be ready to enter into a conversation with your customers in real time.
- Stop obsessing about control -- you're not in control. All you can do is show up and pay attention. When was the last time you tried to manage your love relationship? How did that work for you?
- Pessimism is contagious -- in order to affect real contact with the heart, you need to remain optimistic, forward-looking. Keep your story expansive and your marketing intelligent. I've often found that when companies are in trouble, the very first budget and activities they cut are for marketing. It goes further, the company literally holds on for dear life and closes up to its customers. You won't be surprised to know that customer service goes silent as well. What message does that send to the marketplace?
- Brands are not the end all, be all -- and herein lies the secret. Brands may be known, reliable, safe. Lovemarks are what comes next, the glue to lifetime relationships, because they draw on high respect *and* high love, says Roberts. They inspire loyalty beyond reason.
Are you still addicted to metrics? Are immediate results the only way you're going to invest in your customers? Will you consider changing the way you do things?
My personal bias is to spend the money, time and effort to have meaningful conversations with our customers. Having worked in all of the marketing and communications disciplines over the years, I see the conversation as the winning strategy over all activities. I took Roberts' questions to heart and got to work on injecting love and inspiration into everything I do. I must be honest with you; the odds sometimes put me at a disadvantage with some of my more traditional colleagues-- never with my customers.
What happens when we're open to two-way conversations? People discover what sets them alight and moves them. Wouldn't that be the environment you'd rather be in and contribute to creating?