Practice Gratitude


Friday the 13th.

There are countless things on your to do list today. Many of which (if not all) are of little to no interest as you race into a weekend certain to be full of family, pumpkins, apples, hikes, bike rides, pigskin and other assorted passages of fall.

Instead of hammering through your to do list today, take 15 minutes and practice gratitude. That’s it. 15 minutes.

Here’s how.

Find three (3) people:

  1. Someone who became a new customer this week.
  2. Someone who contacted your service / support operation with a problem.
  3. Someone who finished being a customer this week (project finished, stopped using your product / service / etc.)

Call your new customer, on the phone. Thank them for selecting your company, your product, your service. Let them know you appreciate their decision and their support of your efforts.

Call your existing customer who identified or encountered a problem this week, also on the phone. Thank them for taking the time to call you and let you know about the problem – so it can be fixed. It took considerable time from their schedule to make that call and engage with support to resolve the issue. Thank them for caring enough about your product / service to invest this time to make it better.

Finally, call a customer who has just finished being a customer. Do nothing more than thank them for their investment in your company, product and service. Don’t try and win them back. Don’t ask what worked and what didn’t work. Just say thank you.

If these individuals aren’t there when you call – leave a voice-mail message with the same content. You won’t likely receive a phone call back, but you will have left a significant impression.

There aren’t many ways to better allocate 15 minutes on a Friday.


Why Content Marketing Works

Content marketing works because we are hardwired to embrace stories. Not words strung together to be legible or to make some semblance of sense – actual stories that can be quickly told, deliver an impact and be shared just as quickly.

From the beginning of time, history has been most frequently recorded as a series of stories. This isn’t an accident. People shared the most important information in the most memorable way possible. The attention to detail in these stories was significant because it had life altering / life threatening consequences if the details were lost. This is why history (the stories) sustained over dozens of generations.

Move forward thousands of years and stories still maintain one of the deepest connections to our psyche … if not to keep us aware of life altering opportunities or life threatening consequences.

By creating, curating and embracing stories that are highly relevant to our needs (and serving of the brands / products / services they’re associated with), content marketing taps into the deepest reaches of our beings – to a core level of our subconscious that still remains active in our ability to retain knowledge and develop affinity that improves the quality of our lives … if not prolongs our lives.

While most products, services and brands aren’t life altering these days, by tapping into our genetic predisposition for maintaining history, they’re establishing themselves in identical fashions to the tales that have served as our emotional foundation for generations.

There’s a lot to be said for the effective implementation of stories.

Own What You Pay For. A Novel Idea.

Earlier today Amazon announced MatchBook.

The NYT’s Bits blog has a great summary of the announcement.

Within the announcement, Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle Content, said:

“A lot of people are really attached to the idea of sticking books on a shelf”

While people certainly are attached to the idea of sticking books on a shelf, they’re even more attached to the idea of owning the content they pay for. When the T’s and C’s of ebook services are really taken apart, many people have a problem paying for content (in a normal purchase process) and just having access to it v. actually owning the files.

I’ve done a lot of hands-on consumer research in this area so this isn’t opinion.

I’m quite confident in saying the idea that someone pays for something and then doesn’t have ownership of it doesn’t sit well with everyone.

What is your Brand’s Core Strength?

What is the core strength of your brand?

Note: For the sake of this post I’ll use the term brand to mean product, service, company and brand as this exercise applies to all four elements.

Is the core strength of your brand the same for you as it is for your most loyal customers?
If No – Where do these strengths differ? Why do they differ?

What about new customers? Do they see the same core strength as your existing or most loyal customers?
If No – Where do these strengths differ? Why do they differ?

Finally, what about your partners?
If No – Where do these strengths differ? Why do they differ?

If you are able to answer yes to these three questions, you are significantly ahead of the game.

If you have any “no” answers, invest the time – immediately – to gather a representative from the marketing, sales and product teams to discuss the deviations. Uncover why these deviations are present and what can be done to address them. In many instances the “no” will be the result of nothing more than a messaging or positioning issue. However, in other instances, this deviation will be the result of a lack of internal understanding of your core strength or the inability of this core strength to resonate with your target market. If this occurs, it’s always best to remember that known issues are far easier to manage than unknown issues … and to start working through them as quickly (and thoroughly) as possible.

Once you’ve locked in the core strength of your brand – and confirmed it across your ecosystem – you can get right to work building out the key stories that will help educate (and hopefully entertain) existing and prospective customers.

Marketing is a Practice

Marketing is a practice.

Much like yoga or meditation are practices. Force does not make marketing better. In most cases force has the opposite impact on the quality and effectiveness of marketing.

Marketing gets a seriously bad rap because it’s fraught with time consuming exercises that don’t seem to go anywhere or deliver tangible value. The exercises that do end up going somewhere (somewhere people can see) typically end up in a redesign of the website, a change in a logo, the creation of a stock newsletter that rehashes low-value content or a refreshed presentation template – all of which deliver limited value in the grand scheme of things.

This is what makes marketing hard – continuous attempts to solve large problems while omitting the time and attention that needs to be paid to the everyday details. As marketing, your customers don’t live in a land of strategy or theory. They live in a land of practice and execution. Help them execute.

Instead of attacking these larger problems that have questionable ROIs and approach strategy more than practice, go back to the basics. Practice marketing. That’s right – Practice.

Practice being a marketer, not a marketing strategist – not a marketing concept artist. Do the work.

  • Get out of the office and listen to your customers. Address the issues they’re raising – not the way they’re raising them.
  • Get out of the office and listen to your partners.Address the issues they’re raising – not the way they’re raising them.
  • Use your product or service with a new customer. What are the two new things you learned?
  • Use your product or service with a long-term customer. What are the two new things you learned?
  • Talk to your sales team and listen to the stories they tell you. Address the issues they’re raising – not the way they’re raising them.
  • Go on a handful of sales calls with your sales team and see these stories in action.

When you’ve finished each of these exercises, note your learnings. Share these insights with your sales, marketing and product teams – being sure to note why they’re important.

If they’re truly ground shifting developments, share them with your executive or management team – again being sure to note why they’re important and why management should care / act.

Marketing is hard work. Progress is most often disguised as small gains that are very typically missed or overlooked.

Be patient.