I recently started paddling on a dragon-boat team here in Portland. Being non-competitive by nature, I joined a team of people who are in it as much for the joy of being on the water as for winning. I’m the youngest member of the team and reasonably in shape, so I was doing a wonderful job keeping up with the tempo and duration of our practices. I even got a little over-confident, thinking how lucky this team was to have me.
One particularly rainy, cold day without many teammates at practice, the coach set me straight. She watched me for a few minutes and then proceeded to tell me my stroke needed tweaking. “You’re not doing it right” were her exact words. “You’re young and strong, so you can get away with it, but you’re using twice the energy necessary.” She then walked back to where I sat (not a common or particularly safe practice on these boats) and fixed my posture. I immediately felt the difference.
The point? Businesses do this all the time. Especially the successful ones. Just because you’re lucky and skilled enough to be the best at some particular aspect of your business doesn’t mean you should stop searching for ways to do it better. Complacency is a dangerous habit. Blackberry comes immediately to mind, but there are scores of others examples. Examine how, why and what you’re doing on a regular basis. Perhaps most importantly, keep people around who will tell you when there’s a better way to do things. After all, when the coach fixed my posture, that same amount of energy did twice the work.
An acquaintance contacted me a few weeks ago, anxious to get together. The urgency for the meeting seemed odd. We have many connections in common and these related folks urged us to meet, so we did.
This person – accomplished and very lovely – wanted to know if I was aware of issues related to her business. She wanted to know if I was watching her channel.
Maybe she was relieved when I told her that I was not aware of the issues she mentioned. We had a nice chat and that was that. When I left our meeting, I could not help but wonder why she thought her firm’s channel was on my radar. If I am in a position of influence, then her firm had done nothing to get me to tune into their message – or listen to her channel.
Too many companies assume that customers, prospects and influencers are watching their channel. Identifying the right audience – through extensive market research – and fine-tuning the message so that it will create market leadership is what gets people to pay attention to your channel. Most importantly, it takes diligence and consistency to create a channel worth watching.
We get bombarded with invitations to watch far too many channels. Audience targeting, focused messaging, and diligence is the key factor in getting the right audience for your channel.
Seth Godin – marketing consultant and author – just blogged todayabout the art of the putting on a show. In marketing he says, “…even if you're a professional marketer, if your show is cynical or manipulative, it's going to fall apart on you. Even Marlon Brando couldn't live the show all the time if he didn't believe it.”
Scott McClellan, the former White House press secretary, now author, is a perfect example of the marketer whose show fell apart. By taking the job as White House press secretary, he took on the role of communicating public policy. He didn’t believe in the message that he was delivering. It fell apart on him.
Godin further explains that “The difference between a professional and a naive marketer is that the professional can put on a different show in her next job, or for her next brand. Al Yageneh (The Soup Nazi), on the other hand, can only sell soup.”
I’ve sold software to consumers and professionals, consumer electronics, professional services, politicians and non-profits and most recently trail running shoes. Scott, on the other hand, has sold policy and I’m not sure he can sell any of that now.
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