This past week I had the good fortune of spending some time with Mark Earls, whose work and thinking I've admired from afar. If you are looking to read during the holidays, I highly recommend his book, Herd - How to Change Mass Behavior by Harnessing our True Nature (I hear the paperback edition is coming out soon).
I learned about Mark's work through Hugh MacLeod. I was able to meet Pinny Gniwisch, the third marketer who animates those fantastic podcasts I have been listening to, this past summer. Pinny is blazing a trail in organic marketing at Ice.com. Even though Mark, Hugh and Pinny are very different people and professionals, what they do have in common is a keen understanding of where business (and therefore marketing) is going. They are listening and, most importantly, taking action on what they learn.
I still smile at one comment in my conversation with Mark. It's in the ending of his book - people are messy. We are not predictable and we are definitely not responding to messaging anymore. Some of us never did. Do you want a message? How badly are you looking forward for that perfect turn of phrase? Exactly.
We may not be looking for a message, but we are looking for connections, for something to embrace. Richard Binhammer wrote recently about the value of connecting. He is qualified to know, he's been living and breathing those connections on behalf of Dell. Does your team wax passionate about customers as they do? It would be in their best interest to do so.
Today at Fast Company expert blog we talk about five ways to change the world for your customers, I'm sure there are many more than that. Five is a good start. They involve asking, educating, encouraging, delivering and being curious and observant. What would you add?
Companies are obsessed with data, when they should really be asking themselves who they are willing to attract - thus making the product or service one that those people would want. Ask who first. Then it's about the stories you want to tell to educate your customers about trends in your industry, what they should know and how they can make smarter decisions. Small businesses often do this much better than large organizations.
Do what you say you are going to do. This to me is the meaning of integrity. While there are many things outside our control, we should take care of those that are within reach. Being curious and remaining observant will let you adjust and correct the course of your business as needed. Mark, Hugh and Pinny have demonstrated it is possible with their work. What are you working on?