Archives for September 2012

Conventional Marketing Is Dead

I have been talking with a lot of funeral directors about their marketing in the last year.  Just to get a sense of what they are doing and how it’s working.

Well it turns out it’s not.  There is a great deal of frustration out there.

The reason, I think, is that our world has changed and we haven’t seen it.  It hasn’t just changed for us.  It’s changed for everyone and the conventional one-way media strategy is outmoded.  In the near future I will be writing more about this in The Creedy Commentary.  But for now suffice to say that markets are no longer segments as we once understood them they are conversations.  The only question you have to respond to is: “Will you participate in the conversations about you or not?”

This is a huge threat to conventional marketing firms as they struggle to retain their position.  Their paradigm is to “speak at” rather than “speak with”.  It’s a huge difference.

In this video the Chief Marketing Officer of American Express talks about how they have been impacted and some of the ways they have begun to respond.  Yes, this is a mega corporation.  But its size doesn’t mean you are exempt.

Courtesy Mckinsey & Co. 

Are the Vast Majority of Funeral Homes Using Social Media Inappropriately

The survey in the attached article isn’t about funeral service and, frankly, most funeral homes aren’t engaged in social media…sad.  And I can assure you that over 90% are using it inappropriately.  Be that as it may, here are some interesting points about the topic that may help you avoid some of the same pitfalls.

 

Vocus teamed up with Duct Tape Marketing to survey 400 decision makers at small- and medium-sized businesses to learn about their struggles and successes using social media.

Specifically, the survey sought to discover the social sites most used by small businesses (SMBs), how they were managing their efforts, challenges they were facing, and the metrics they were using to judge success. While the results were strong in affirming the power of social media for SMBs, they also made me wonder whether or not many business owners were looking at social media correctly….More at Are 87 Percent of Small Businesses Using Social Media Wrong

Change: Or Just How Much Do You Enjoy Pushing Strings Uphill

Everyone loves change…as long as it is happening to someone else.  The moment it’s about me everything changes.  In this article we learn about the:

Ten Reasons People Resist Change

Leadership is about change, but what is a leader to do when faced with ubiquitous resistance? Resistance to change manifests itself in many ways, from foot-dragging and inertia to petty sabotage to outright rebellions. The best tool for leaders of change is to understand the predictable, universal sources of resistance in each situation and then strategize around them. Here are the ten I’ve found to be the most common.…More at Ten Reasons People Resist Change – Rosabeth Moss Kanter

The World of Market Research is changing

Not only is methodology changing but so is the way we access data.  Power to the people.

In this interesting articel HBR discusses how free research tools available through Google often outperform costly conventional research.

“The only thing quote-unquote wrong with the Google data is that it’s free,” said Eugen. “That’s why I always smile when I hear you agonize over whether to rely on it. I think the reason you trust traditional market research is that you have to pay for it out of your budget.” Stefanie was indebted to Eugen for his brilliance, but that grin was beginning to grate on her….More at Ignore Costly Market Data and Rely on Google Instead? An HBR

 

Our Profit Is Unmoored From Our Purpose

Typical “Creedyesque” jargon, but somehow, in your gut, you feel it’s on target.  What does it mean.  In this article the writers discuss this issue and some of the things people are doing about it.

 

It was clear in 2003 that executives were confused about the interrelation of purpose and profits. The goals were considered to be mutually exclusive, even though research at both Harvard and Stanford revealed a significant fact: The most successful companies, both in profitability and longevity, are the ones who recognize the absolute necessity of profits as well as the equally high necessity of having a purpose beyond shareholder wealth.

…More at It’s Time to Balance Profits and Purpose – David K. Williams and

What I Would Do:
It was Peter Drucker who said the purpose of business is to: “Get and Keep Customers”.  In this broader context purpose and profits are not mutually exclusive.  It has been my outspoken belief that DeathCare makes a substantive contribution to society.  But many in our profession have lost their way or, at least, their voice.

There is an apocryphal story about a Russian priest on sabbatical.  One day on walk in a nearby forest he stumbles on an army encampment.  “Halt! Who are you? and Why are you here?”  Challenges the sentry.  Startled the priest pauses and then collects himself and responds with his own question: “How much do you earn?”  Now confused the sentry  responds “What does that have to do with anything? Who are you?  and Why are you here?”  The priest responds in turn: “Because I will pay you that for the rest of my life if you will ask me those two questions every day.”

Who are you?

Why are you here?

Innovation and You

Here is a simple phrase to open up creativity in your organization when it comes to innovation.

Min Basadur maintains that it’s common for companies to expend efforts asking the wrong questions and trying to solve the wrong problems. “Most business people have limited skills when it comes to ‘problem-finding’ or problem definition,” he says. “It’s not taught in MBA programs.” To fill that void, Basadur opened a consultancy, Basadur Applied Creativity, which developed its own “Simplex” process of creative problem-solving for business — with HMW questioning at the core of it….More at The Secret Phrase Top Innovators Use – Warren Berger – Harvard

Something New Is Happening

When I was growing up there was a popular play on broadway entitled “Stop The World I Want To Get Off!”  The article here is part of my first attempt to explain something to you, dear reader, that I have only just begun understanding myself.  Our world has been turned upside down and inside out.

In the coming weeks and months I will be sharing more and more on this because It is now more than ever true that SIZE DOES NOT MATTER.  Except that it may now be that if you are the 800 pound gorilla in your market you are more vulnerable than you have ever been.  But this is not about vulnerability…this is about opportunity on a scale so vast that I am struggling with how to convey it.

So start reading it for yourself.  Yes, it will be difficult for you to connect the dots to DeathCare.  Trust me.  They connect very well.  My goal is to challenge and stimulate your thinking well this is going to be the test.

We’re at an inflection point where work and value creation can reach “scale” without having to be done by a large, single firm. We can see today that Social is more than tools, information-enabled efficiency, products, services, or processes. It is not that we have more ways to be social. It is that the cumulative difference of all these ways of being social allows for an entirely new way to scale — through and with connected individuals. The improvement in what is possible creates new economic effects that add up to a new way of doing business. Organizations that get this are changing the way they create, deliver, and capture value — in essence, creating entirely new business models….More at Our Obsession with Scale Is Failing Us – Nilofer Merchant – Harvard

Things You Learn From Great Bosses

Here’s some great insight from the employee’s side on true people development which is a hallmark of a REAL leader.

My first boss at Bell Labs had a habit of yelling. While he was an equal-opportunity yeller, when he shouted at me in my first department meeting, I got up, told him when he wanted to talk, not yell, I’d be in my office and walked out. I was 20 years old, just out of undergrad, and sitting among a group of aghast Ph.D.’s . Perhaps this was not the best initial career move. But about 30 minutes later, he walked into my office and apologized. He never yelled at me again (though he did keep yelling at the rest of the team), and became one of three manager-mentors that shaped my career at Bell Labs and AT&T — and taught me to manage others and myself. I’ll share one story from each boss and the lesson I learned from each….More at Four Lessons From the Best Bosses I Ever Had – Deborah Mills

What I would do:

To quote Warren Buffet’s partner, Charlie Munger: “I have nothing to add.”

Keeping It Simple…SO HARD…SOOO Important

 

I admire people who can articulate complex issues in simple ways like Warren Buffet.  As a writer I know how hard that can be.  Numerous drafts and rewrites.  Iterative edits to take out superfluous words.

As I have grown older I find the same concept applies to life in general. I wish I had known this when I was younger.  Of course, I would not have listened…or maybe I simply wasn’t wise enough to distinguish silly rabbit trails from the real trail.

Any way this article is an excellent short read on simplification through subtraction:

…by removing things one creates self-imposed constraints, but also clarity and a cleaner context for inspired innovation.

What sticks with me most about the conversation is the simple pragmatism and prescriptive nature of the word itself — subtraction. How much more direct can you get than to say you need to subtract something? In business, we often dance around the subject by using MBA-speak like “focus,” “alignment,” or “prioritization.” These words imply the need to edit, clarify, and rethink, but aren’t as direct as asking someone to subtract.

“Less is more,” the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe liked to say. You may or may not agree with this as a philosophy of architecture and design. But in the world of business it can be a remarkably effective approach. I owe this insight to my friend Richard Saul WurmanHere are five “laws of subtraction” for business leaders to consider:…More at The Power of Subtraction – Anthony Tjan – Harvard Business Review

What I would do:

As I get older simplification seems to become a more and more common theme.  In marketing I am convinced we need to narrow our focus.  In goal setting I am convinced we can execute on no more than three major goals a year.  In direct reports it has always been understood that 7 and maybe 10 is the absolute limit of effectiveness.

I have been thinking about this subtraction for a while.  One thing it has led me to is a clearer definition of the clients with whom I can succeed and those with whom I can’t.  I focus on the former and avoid the latter.

Do You Need An Oil Change?

Business relationships can be tricky.  Maybe because of that they are most often left unmanaged and neglected. Here is an effective way to make them better.

It’s tragic to see this death spiral of relationships happen. A person gets mad, but doesn’t express it. The anger sinks into them and festers. A narrative takes shape in his mind that the other person is bad, mean, intolerant, egocentric, and that their energy is negative. This narrative finds more evidence, and soon the weight of it is overwhelming. In the mind of the person who doesn’t communicate in real time, the other is tried, found guilty and convicted — sentence is then passed, all without the other knowing anything is going on. She is bad and should never be trusted, and it’s best to warn others. And since narratives love to find even more evidence, gossip sets in. The other is now tried and convicted within a family or work group.  To read more

What I would do:

Buried in this article is an interesting link to “oil change”.  Click on it and follow the five points.  It can’t hurt and will probably help.