If you fly a lot, like I do, you might be guilty of occasionally buying a “regular” book in an airport bookstore – just in case the Kindle fails you on a long flight. That’s how I picked up “Love Is the Killer App,” by Tim Sanders. It’s subtitled “How to Win Business and Influence Friends,” and outlines a process that can indeed be highly effective in today’s knowledge-sharing business culture.
I won’t go into the entire process, but will share insights that relate to our goals – to build brands.
First, Sanders pointed out that we live in an age where information is more important than seniority. You get paid for what you know, not how long you’ve been around or where you went to college.
People once were judged in terms of rank, status and money. The new economy has obliterated that model. Today it is about knowledge, information and the ability to share it in a meaningful way – not just intellectually, but through emotions as well.
While we have more choices and more information at our disposal, that’s not enough for creating satisfying and memorable relationships. People are still hungry for compassion. Knowledge shared through a network, with compassion, is the winning combination for impact and a position in the mind of the consumer – whether it is your own personal brand, or a brand you are building through marketing.
What does this mean for marketing? It means you must create an experience to make an impact. Use the product as a prop and your services as a stage to deliver a compelling experience. Commodities are measured by their characteristics, goods by their features, services by their benefits and now experiences are evaluated by their sensations and feelings.
By expressing compassion, we create an experience that people remember. When people remember us, it’s good for business.
So how does this translate in practical terms? Thinking about iconic brands I respect, I realized they are already following Sanders’ recommendations:
- Coca Cola doesn’t proclaim itself as America’s favorite beverage for more than 100 years. No, it’s about happiness. It’s about those adorable polar bears (subtext: save this endangered species and save the environment). Watching a Coke commercial is like experiencing an inspirational mini-moment.
- McDonald’s has long ago abandoned its “More than xxxx billion sold” campaign. Now it’s all about the experience – having fun.
- Apple, since its meteoric second act, has always been about the user experience. You’re not buying a computer or an Ipad, you’re joining a movement of enlightened, intelligent, hipsters.
- Southwest Airlines, one of the most successful challenger brands ever, is all about the experience. The humorous commentary, the funny yet accommodating flight attendants, even the peanuts – this is an airline with personality that creates a distinctive flying atmosphere. On my flight last week, we sang “Happy Birthday” to an 8-year-old boy flying for the first time. On the return flight, we gave an emotional “thank you” to all the service men and women on board, just in time for the holidays. Did my heart warm to these connections? Yes. I’m proud to be an “A-lister” and take Southwest every chance I get.
So, as (I hope) all our hearts open a little more as the holidays approach, give your own brand the connection test – what does your audience experience? What is your employees’ experience of your company or organization and the work you do?
And, to paraphrase Dionne Warwick, make this the season to “Put a little love in your brand.”
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