A time of more

When times are good and the wheels of production are in perfect harmony with the ringing of the cash register, we often want to acquire more – What new markets should we enter? What new products should we introduce next year? Are we winning the market share race over our competition? It’s an outward search for more.

But in lean times – when time seems to go by a litter slower – acquiring more is seldom an option. However, it’s the perfect time to stop and reflect about being more. Are we living up to our promises made to our customers and employees? How can we be of more help? What can we do internally to increase moral, industry education, a sense of team and proactive service? It’s all about looking inward for more.

You see, “more” comes in two flavors – acquiring more (more customers, more stores, more market share, more products) and being more (more helpful, more focused, more responsive, more aware).

more

Now is your chance to be more.

Happy Tuesday all.

Words of wisdom from a 10 year old (Part 3)

The Clue Train Manifesto

This month marked the 10-year anniversary for what I consider one of the most important manifestos on the Internet. My goal over the last several days was to entice you to read (again or for the first time) The Cluetrain Manifesto (free). You can read part one here and read part two here.

I’ll leave you with two things: 1). An awesome quote 2). A downloadable PDF version of The Clue Train Manifesto (I heard from many of your that you’d like this.).

Download the PDF version of the Clue Train Manifesto

The market started out as a place where people talked about what they cared about, in voices as individual as the craft goods on the table between them. As the distance between producer and consumer lengthened, so grew the gap between our business voice and our authentic voice. Marketing became a profession, an applied science, the engineering of desirable responses through the application of calibrated stimuli — including the occasional axe in the head.

Marketing isn’t going to go away. Nor should it. But it needs to evolve, rapidly and thoroughly, for markets have become networked and now know more than business, learn faster than business, are more honest than business, and are a hell of a lot more fun than business. The voices are back, and voice brings craft: work by unique individuals motivated by passion.

What’s happening to the market is precisely what should — and will — happen to marketing. Marketing needs to become a craft. Recall that craftworkers listen to the material they’re forming, shaping the pot to the feel of the clay, designing the house to fit with and even reveal the landscape. The stuff of marketing is the market itself. Marketing can’t become a craft until it can hear the new — the old — sound of its markets.
By listening, marketing will re-learn how to talk.

Download the PDF version of the Clue Train Manifesto

Happy Thursday!

Words of wisdom from a 10 year old (Part 2)

The Clue Train Manifesto

This month marks the 10-year anniversary for what I consider one of the most important manifestos on the Internet. My goal over the next several days is to entice you to read (again or for the first time) The Clue Train Manifesto (free). You can read part one here.

When I first read The Clue Train Manifesto I was young in my marketing career. I first read it during a time when I was trying to tie up the loose theory I learned in college while at the same time seeking something that would help guide my future pursuits. When I first read it, I knew I had found what I was looking for. It was almost a magical moment. Hopefully it will help you as well.

Here are today’s money quotes:

  • We long for more connection between what we do for a living and what we genuinely care about, for work that’s more than clock-watching drudgery.
  • [C]ompanies don’t like us human. They leverage our longing for their ends. If we feel inadequate, there’s a product that will fill the hole, a bit fetishistic magic that will make us complete. Perhaps a new car would do the trick. Maybe a trip to the Caribbean of that new CD or a nice shiny set of Ginsu steak knives. Anything, everything, just get more stuff. Our role is to consume.
  • Because the Net connects people to each other, and impassions and empowers through those connections, the media dream of the Web as another acquiescent mass-consumer market is a figment and a fantasy.
  • Markets must come to have faces and personalities in place of statistical profiles.
  • The question is whether, as a company, you can afford to have more than an advertising-jingle persona. Can you put yourself out there: say what you think in your own voice, present who you really are, show what you really care about? Do you have any genuine passion to share? Can you deal with such honesty? Such exposure? Human beings are often magnificent in this regard, while companies, frankly, tend to suck. For most large corporations, even considering these questions — and they’re being forced to do so by both Internet and intranet — is about as exciting as the offer of an experimental brain transplant.
  • Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the corporate firewall. De-cloaking, getting personal: We are those markets. We want to talk to you.

Read The Clue Train Manifesto

Happy Wednesday!

Words of wisdom from a 10 year old (Part 1)

The Clue Train Manifesto

This month marks the 10-year anniversary for what I consider one of the most important manifestos on the Internet. My goal over the next several days is to entice you to read (again or for the first time) The Clue Train Manifesto (free).

Here are some money quotes that are still (if not more) relevant today. Keep in mind this was 1999, well before anything that could have been labeled web 2.0 or social media:

  • Markets are conversations. Markets want to talk to companies.
  • There are two conversations going on. One inside the company. One with the market. In most cases, neither conversation is going well.
  • Most corporations…only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies.
  • [L]earning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.
  • Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what’s really going on inside the company.
  • Companies must ask themselves where their company cultures end. If their cultures end before the community begins, the will have no market.
  • The community of discourse is the market.
  • If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it interesting for a change.

Read The Clue Train Manifesto

Happy Tuesday!

What’s been keeping me so busy lately

faith_feet

She’s cute and very worth it. I hope to get back to the regularly scheduled program soon.

The best of the best practices

I overheard someone asking for “the best of the best practices.” This just goes to show you that many so-called “best practices” are just noise. Sure, they may have been valuable for the company that first discovered them. But over time as the practices were passed around from one company to the next, the sharp edges that made them effective were worn down. By the time they reached mainstream and were called best practices, they had been reduced to “safe practices” or “boring practices.”

At best, best practices are simply minimal requirements. Best practices are to effective strategy as Wikipedia is to curing cancer – it’s a starting point. Never lull yourself into believing the pleasing (but false) notion that best practices will cure what ails you. You’ve got to go well beyond best practices and forge your own niche.

Agree? Disagree?

I heart Café Rio

On the weekend I found myself in my favorite local restaurant, Café Rio. I gleefully strolled up to the counter to pickup my phone-in order with a smile on my face, a gut ready to be satisfied (I could literally feel my stomach sucking up against my spine) and unfortunately an empty spot in my back pocket where my wallet should go (doh!).

Now, let me remind you that most restaurants have a strict policy about not allowing customers to leave the restaurant without first paying for their meal (sticklers, I know). But after flashing the cashier the universal sign for “me so stupid” (Randomly checking your various pockets like 10-15 times in a desperate and halting sort of manner) and mumbling something about not wanting to make the 15-minute trip both ways, the cashier said, “Let me see what I can do.”

Do?” I thought to myself. “You mean my stupidity may not lead to utter destruction?” (Did I mention I was hungry?)

The cashier talked to the manager about my plight. To my surprise the manager took pity on a poor soul and said, “Just put your name and phone number down on this paper and just pay us the next time you come in.”

Without a computerized system to track visits and the fact that my wife almost always picks up the orders, I don’t think the manager even realized that I frequent Café Rio more than all my other restaurant visits put together (I need serious help people).

This just goes to show you that it pays to act small (even if you are), trust is a beautiful thing and leading by principles instead of rigid policies can get you a whole lot further (especially in this economy). So the next time you may find yourself in Salt Lake, give me a call and I’ll treat you to the best salad you ever had. Thanks Café Rio! (And I’ll drop by today or tomorrow to pay for the salads).

Happy Monday!