Key points we covered in this talk:

  • Essential marketing can encompass a range of values, not simply profit; otherwise, you may imbalance your business
  • We are learning more about the value of being ourselves
  • Mad Men style marketing has done a real disservice to small businesses, who try to copy the giant corporations, and ignore their superpower, to leverage their real connection
  • People want meaning and purpose in their exchanges, including in business ones; small businesses can do this much better
  • We are learning to speak a language of connection and relationship, as genuine values for small business, that cements customer loyalty, and people are happy to pay for

Here are the full notes:

Chris talks with Kathryn about what she’s been discovering and finding this last week.

This has taken a mind shift. When we start working with clients through this process, it will be a similar mind shift. It’s taking am ore expansive view of “results”. Looking at the things we want to look at, in helping clients get results.

  • Income
  • Enjoyment
  • Meaning
  • Purpose
  • Impact

A lot of work in past has been very tactical—getting more leads, visibility, etc. To “make something happen”. And shift is moving into… being in a more of mindset of joy. Wow, helping to make a difference for somebody today. And they’re going to be my kind of person. And I’m going to do it with integrity about who I am. Not that I was being inauthentic before, but with more transparency and vulnerability. I don’t have to put on some kind of “marketing hat” that isn’t quite me. Instead, I’m going to be out there talking about what I love, and the difference I can make. Not just for me personally, this is where we want to take our clients.

To fundamentally be human, and be in touch with the joy, and the sense of contribution that we get from doing the work. When I’m in that place, I can be there longer and longer, it’s been tough to be in there and I can be there longer and longer—about contribution and delight. Rather than “oh, this has to be good copy,” etc.

We were each trying to some degree, to put ourselves into an old costume of a marketer. In desire to have ourselves make sense to other people, we were losing more of ourselves than we realized. Trying to fit into what people expect can have you lose a lot more than you realize. What we are doing now is a lot more, making the box of our business fit who we are, and what we see is possible for our customers.

Referring back to the list above, keeping multiple factors of success in balance: think of a bar chart (looking back at the list above), of keeping them growing in harmony. If your impact on a company was you created a lot more profit for them, but all the other elements fell way down, you may create a better few quarters for them; but say the CEO were to go from 40 hours per week, to 100 hours per week. And then they can’t see their family, and parts of their lives start to fall apart—will that really be helping them?

We could find ways of measuring that for our customers, as KPIs (“key performance indicators”).

In writing book, Kathryn realized that big companies learned how to do Mad Men style marketing. It emphasized disconnected products, where SMB (small businesses) were the opposite of that. But then what happened, was that same Mad Men style of marketing became popular everywhere. In the process, lots of small businesses tried to use that same mentality. And it never took advantage of the things small business can do—about connection, innate value, meaning, purpose.

And it trained small businesses to think in terms of big businesses, and not be able to take advantage of what is really special about them. But the huge differentiator for SMB is relationship. The personal encounter with your customer. That is something a big company can never have in that way, at all.

Big companies have to try to manufacture that connection, through automations, focus groups, and other artificial means. And often, it has nothing to do with the actual customers, and what they really want.

And we encourage SMB to use these same tools, which actually can encourage them to be less personal and connected, and ignore the actual, day-to-day connections they really can have with their customers.

When restaurants closed because of virus, so many people funds poured in to help them. Very often I think those businesses are surprised by the level of support they get. This is an indicator people don’t really realize how much what their customers love about them is also about the relationships.

And the consultants are doing a disservice to the SMBs as well, telling them to operate as a big business, and use the tools in the same way, and ignoring the relationships.

When you don’t have a language to describe something, it often gets missed. Drift talks about making an emotional moat around your brand, and that really struck me, as one of the first times I’d seen it given a name.

People want to be part of something bigger. Lots of traditional, old school marketing seems to have emphasized so much the bottom rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—surviving, eating, etc. But in reality people want to feel their lives have purpose and meaning.

I think everyone wants to live in a village, in their minds. Even though most of us don’t live in an actual village, we want to feel like we belong. When our purchase of a coffee gives us an interchange where people seem to really care about us for a second, that makes me feel seen, and as though I belong. When the teller is robotic and just going through the motions, I don’t get that feeling. In the positive ones though, I’m not just getting a coffee (or whatever), I am adding to the story of myself, another place where another villager interacted me, and we felt valuable to one another. I don’t need a ton of those interactions to feel like I matter, they matter, we matter—but I need enough to feel that way, and it’s very valuable.

And you can have these feelings from buying a coffee, invoicing software online, or anything, as long as it has that feeling really connected with it.

People are moved and get something out of being of service to someone else.

People want to be useful.

You can appeal to animal nature, human nature, and higher nature. You can inspire people to a cause, a mission, and this gives people a bigger “why”.

So we are hoping to form a language for this more multidimensional sense of what people actually need from their relations in life — whether they are commercial, or they are not commercial. They have a whole scope of needs with that. People want to have a sense of meaning.

Chris needed car insurance, and bought from Farmer’s. It automatically assigned him to the local agent, who he remembers had a storefront in his little downtown. He had already wanted to create some relationship with this guy, because it would help him feel related to this town (which he likes), and he admired the agent for being willing to pay for the storefront and be “a part of the community.”

But what surprised Chris, was that this “emotional capital” that had been built up around this story—the local agent never bothered to send him a hand-written welcome card. He was very surprised, because according to the other cues he had seen about the agent, this wold have happened. And he missed this opportunity, which would have really cemented the relationship much more.

People have a fundamental need to be seen. To be seen as existing. If the clerk never looks at you, never speaks to you, it doesn’t feel good.

In my day, the exchanges that end up feeling like transactions, I feel lonelier, and they do not nourish me. The ones that feel like an exchange of our humanity, it does feel nourishing, and helps with my balance and connection. Those little moments where the cashier asks a question about what we are buying, or asks how it’s going, can really create much more of a feeling that you are connected. It’s the old song from Cheers was about “everyone knows your name”.

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October 10, 2020 - Chris Burbridge + Anita Edge
Towards an Economics of Thriving - With Kathryn Gorges