Mon 13 Jul 2009
This series of personal palpitations is inspired by this relevant rock block: Too much Time on my hands by Styx (as the 1000-word blog will attest), Don’t Fear the Reaper by The BOC and Pearl Jam’s Unemployable –which is actually pretty enlightening despite the title.
A prelude to an actual point
Before I figure out where I’m going, I’d like to take a peek back to where I was the last time we crossed paths in this here wordslinger’s outpost OK…Done. Hmmm…All I can think of is: Who the hell pissed God off in June?
Michael Jackson - R.I.P.
Farrah Fawcett – R.I.P.
Ed McMahan - R.I.P.
Billy Mays – R.I.P.
Karl Malden – R.I.P.
My Job – R.I.P.
And July’s off to a grim start with Steve McNair and Arturo Gatti. All I can say is: Hang in there Patrick Swayze!
This recent foray into obitu-tainment and an air of professional vulnerability at the moment have made me take stock in a few things — as death and loss have a tendency to do.
Family – Seeing my kid swim for the first time and hanging out with my wife at a movie on a Tuesday afternoon were life-affirming ( Go See Public Enemies!) .
Remembering the world through the eyes of a child – Just watching my kid react to something and then ask “Why?” has re-educated me on the importance of not taking anything at face value. And the whole wonderment thing he’s got going for the seemingly inconsequential…I want more of that, for sure! Check out this dispatch from Braden Kelly (www.twitter.com/innovate for you Tweeps) Innovation Through the Eyes of a Child. Get your inner child back via this recap with vids featuring Gever Tulley @ the TED Conference on Tinkering School. And for a longer leap into this idea, Watch Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture — Achieving Your Childhood Dreams video (76 min. of pure gold). Still blown away by the personal and professional lessons in his presentation/book.
Connections with people of like mind — I can’t believe how many people want to help me or need help themselves when it comes to marketing, social media strategy, sales lead generation, Green business communications or health care research. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the kindness and opportunities.
A strict, bullshit-free diet — Seriously, just tell me what you have, what you want and why you think you need it. If I can help I will. With brevity, sincerity and transparency, people will likely be willing to join your parade by being followers, evangelists or customers.
The last life lesson re: avoiding b.s. is hard to do in an uberconnected, socially explosive and largely self-serving world. I don’t spend a lot of time on social psychology but one name that always sticks out is Abraham Maslow and his Theory of Human Motivation, aka Hierarchy of Needs. Sales guys and gals grinding it out day-to-day know this theory all too well. Marketers are trained these days to call them pain points and my guess is that sales reps have adopted the language out of sheer acquiescence borne from too many deer-in-the-headlights interactions with doe-eyed corporate do-gooders.
Putting the pain point out of its misery
Maybe in these dark times filled with grief, fear and financial uncertainty we should pick a new rallying point for how we engage people who don’t know us very well and probably don’t care. The video on David Meerman Scott’s recent blog post Times Change. B2B Fundamentals Do Not says it all (worth the 2 minutes, but basically…Who are you? What do you want and why should I care in both GrumpyVision and BusyVision). Be concise. Be relevant. Be helpful. Or Be Gone. This isn’t about you convincing people you understand their pain with limp phrases like In this tough economy… or a data point from a well-paid analyst that says 80 percent of their peers fear losing their jobs and are eating Xanax by the handful.
Trust me, your prospects know money is tight, that their job is harder than it was a year ago and that their bosses are way too interested in showing hotshot summer interns the ropes in marketing and sales departments all across the country.
Enough with trying to sympathize. Do something or sell something that assuages fear or boosts confidence.
The Maslow Mashup
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy lives in the textbooks of many a marketing student but slowly leaks out of the brain over time due to stress, forced servitude and/or organizational compliance under the heading of “We’ve always done it this way so you will too.”
If your sales pitch to prospects doesn’t somehow tell a good story using at least one of these 5 needs, you need to talk to someone in your marketing department. If you’re in the marketing department and you have no idea what I’m writing about, then we need talk, tweet or telepathically connect.
Take note of the fact that if your product helps people breathe, eat, drink, have sex, sleep, stay chilled out, or poop you are likely going to make a very good first impression. Good for you!
If not, then you need to: Be Concise. Be Relevant. Or Be Helpful.
So let’s put the pain point to bed and try to be a little more reaffirming, huh? I vote for PuppyPoint: Warm fuzzy ways to trick the heart into buying something you know you’re going to have to clean up after, but just can’t resist.
I’ve been part of the problem for about 15 years now, but moving forward I’ll try to market and sell products, services, causes (myself!?!?) in ways that help people keep their jobs, feed and spend more time with their families, save or make money and have more sex. Before you think I’m on the road to door-to-door perversity, remember that even if your product isn’t Viagra or some jaw-dropping gadget, it is likely to have the capacity to help someone in some way to afford a new car, buy a nice place to sleep or grab just the right body spray to get the girl or boy. If you can make that connection with a level of relevance and sincerity in any industry from Agriculture to Zoology, then you’ve done your job.
Let me know what you’re doing out there to make a difference. And if you’re in sales or marketing and want to tell me “DUH!” then feel free to do that below. If you need me, though, I’m ready to help.