Inspired by the pages of Herd, a book about the hidden truth of who we are as penned by Mark Earls, I have been thinking about the usual suspects in a new light. You know, those elements of marketing, those untouchables in every circle, who are taken for granted as they are. That includes the celebrities and myths inside and outside organizations - the materials, which are often so immaterial to the end result.
Stop talking, start doing
You think you need something material to support making sense of what you're selling to the person who you think is doing the buying. What you have instead is a crutch that allows you to talk instead of listening. Earls puts forth that we rationalize a decision after it is made. How are those materials mapping to that? Are they? Your left brain solution may be a poor attempt to answer a right-brained reality.
Help you customers make sense of their decision after they make it. You do realize that they are making it on their own or with the help of peers anyway.
If what you are looking for as you talk with someone is to confirm what you think you know, well, you may practice pretend listening. Try something for me. Spend a half day with someone and do a debrief at the end of that time. Ask yourself three things you learned about them, including how they process information.
See if you find yourself coming up short on that front. It may mean that the context was yours alone, the interaction was limited to answers, not questions. Behavior is easier to observe when you're paying attention. One to many does not mean you are the one.
Your way is not the highway
What we think of our influence over conversations and what really happens in the interactions are two different things. People like to hear from other people - customers and employees have more influence on each other than we do. One of the reasons why it's a good idea to provide collaboration tools at work is that valuable ideas are generated and executed on horizontally more than vertically. In fact, it is easier and more productive to allow your staff to come up with ways to get things done than to dictate how.
Your role is still important. Managers, marketers, communicators can make themselves useful to inspire, inform, share, participate and mentor. This will be increasingly important for millennials, the "you for me" generation.
How do your customers and employees influence each other? How can you help make those vehicles available? Most importantly, do you know and realize that the key to influence is about who is influenced vs. who does the influencing?
We discussed this in forget influentials - in viral marketing context matters. It does. The tiniest of seeds in the right context can yield amazing results from nothing. As well, the best seed may fall on barren soil in a less than receptive context. Before you make your next move, have you considered the question of who's in charge?
[image by Walter Siegmund]