Over on the Corante marketing hub, we’re taking a closer look at Tom Asacker’s “Ten Truths” this week. In going over Tom’s posts, I was so inspired by what I read that I wanted to allow some of his wisdom bleed over a bit on the BrandBuilder.
I’m going to resist the urge to cut and paste his entire post here…
… but it won’t be… easy.
Here are some of my favorite bits of wisdom from his tenth truth – Truth Ten: From Rah Rah! to Ah Ha! (Enjoy.)
“To flourish in a rapidly changing world you need the ah-ha’s! and not simply the rah-rah’s! Success is a by-product of childlike inquisitiveness and rapid experimentation. And it comes from a culture of curiosity and caring, not from a head down, plow ahead mentality.”
“When they asked Wayne Gretsky, arguably the greatest hockey player of all time, what made him more successful than other players, he replied, Most players tend to play where the puck is, whereas I play where the puck is going to be. Or as the professional trend-spotter may explain, Gretsky smartly followed the “drift” or “general course” of the puck. Now, to anyone who has played a game in which hitting or catching a moving object is essential, Gretsky’s insight is absurdly obvious. And to anyone who has developed a successful business from the ground floor up, so is trend-spotting customer behavior (regardless of the fact that major corporations spend a ton of money to frequently have it done for them). Because the truth about trends – and staying ahead – is that it has nothing to do with the future. It’s about being intimately involved with your audience today! Being part of the dynamics of change now!”
“Sam Walton used to say, Whenever you get confused, go to the store. The customer has all the answers. A profound, yet often ignored, truth. Because it’s your audience’s attitudes today that are the best indication of their actions tomorrow. It’s their feelings that are the promised land of the ah-ha’s! – those breakthrough ideas that will lift your brand from the shallows of mediocrity into the full and exciting sea of possibilities.”
“Therein lies the paradox of branding: To stay relevant, your brand must constantly reinvent itself. Your audience will continue to grow and adjust – building on their life experiences – and you must change with them. You have to continuously appeal to their changing predilections with the appearance and experience of your brand. It’s an endless game of seduction. It requires vision, belief in collaborative innovation, and a passion for experimentation. Instead, what do we typically get? Routine tasks and a whole bunch of rah-rah, say-nothings (especially towards the end of the accounting period).”
“(…) We want a higher sense of purpose. We want to be uplifted by a worthy ideal. We want to contribute, to be treated with respect, and to be recognized for our contributions. We want meaning. We want to make a difference. But here’s the rub (the biggest issue in our organizations today): we’re disorganized. There is no unifying perspective that inspires us and guides our actions. We’re not clear about our direction, so we end up running around following our own self-serving agendas. There are no fresh perspectives, since our culture stifles creativity and candid discussions. And, in turn, this disorganization leads to passionless team members, uninspired customers, shrinking margins, layoffs, accounting scandals, Dilbertesque cynicism and a vicious – and totally avoidable – downward spiral.”
“Here’s your way out: Your brand! Understand and embrace your uniqueness, that simple, yet powerful emotional idea that distinguishes you and motivates clients. And then use your brand to inspire confidence and risk taking. Use your brand to attract attention. Use your brand to convey order and focus, and to achieve clarity, coherence, and commitment from everyone. Use your brand to instill a sense of belonging among your customers and associates. Use your brand to inspire sharing, open-mindedness and teamwork. Use your brand to bring creativity to life in the form of new and exciting products and services. Use your brand to prevent panic from creeping in during dufficult times, and to prevent arrogance from settling in during the good ones.”
“(…) Disturb the comfortable. Comfort the disturbed. Never let your brand become bland. Surprise people! You’re not in the “make stuff” and “do stuff” business. You’re in the life improvement business. So use your brand to heal the psychologically wounded, and to bring some excitement to the complacent and uninspired. Remember: Feelings are the only value proposition left in our developed economy. So rediscover your unbridled imagination and idealistic hopes and tap into that proposition and create new and preemptive benefits. Shatter what conventional wisdom tells you that your audience needs. Try wild ideas. Go for the extremes. Stay passionate!”
“The business world is like an old dog guarding a meatless bone. It chews on grand concepts like “customer-centric” and “employee-empowerment” and remains hungry. The simple solution is to get back to the basics. Be passionate about your story. Be obsessed with the details. Experience the real world of your audience. And make a difference in people’s lives. William James wrote: I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big successes. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or the capillary oozing water, yet which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of human pride. The time has come for a brand new world. The time to act is now!”
There’s a reason why Tom’s blog is one of my favorites among favorites.