I’ve Fallen and I CAN Get Up

Last night while running, I fell. Not a dainty trip, but rather a full fledged, face to the ground spill. For those of you who run, you know that this happens every once in a while. You get in the zone, completely focused on the horizon and then from out of nowhere something fairly minuscule like an acorn, twig or uneven sidewalk gets in your way and causes you to tumble towards the ground so fast you barely know what hit you before you’re lying in a face full of dirt.

The same thing can happen in business.

You’re plodding along when all of the sudden success starts to take hold. Things are working – they’re in the flow. But then something “small” like an illness, a family emergency, a tax audit, a law suit, a bad rumor that spreads, an economic turn, a┬á change in technology or any number of other obstacles trips you up and impedes your growth.

In this moment while you are down you have two options:

1. Stay down in the muck feeling sorry for yourself – but this option has it’s downfalls.

A) You’re lying in muck and that’s no fun.
B) Self pity is a sure-fire way to ensure you stay down in the no-fun muck.
C) How are you going to move forward towards your goal if you’re stuck in muck?

2. Ask for help getting up, deal with your problem and move forward.

No doubt we will all fall at some point. Whether it’s running a marathon or running a business, things will come along and trip you up. But it’s how we deal with these falls that separates those who win from those who stay stuck.

And for the record, I’m up and plan on running again tomorrow. ­čÖé

The Empathetic Marketer

Here’s a riddle for you – what is the most important character trait a successful marketer must possess? Analytical skills? Shrewdness? Communication? While all of these are important, I believe empathy trumps them all.

Empathy is not to be confused with sympathy, which is simply feeling compassion or sorrow for another person’s misfortune. Instead, empathy is the unique ability to take the facts of a person’s situation and translate them into an understanding of their feelings and motives. In other words, stepping into someone’s shoes.

Empathy is the key to successful marketing.

1) Empathy will encourage you to listen to customer feedback so you can improve your product or service. Take for example Proctor and Gamble, who realizes the benefits of having customers give ideas instantly. Products such as the Swiffer and Crest Pro-Care Mouthwash were all inspired by real problems customers faced. P&G took this information, created a better product (a Purple Cow according to Seth Godin) and was able to better compete in a crowded marketplace.

2) Empathy will help you create a message that connects with customers. Are you struggling to move past the bland and generic world of messages so diluted and generic that they loose all impact? Then sit down and work on your empathy. Close your eyes and ask yourself the following questions:

If I were this person how would I….

– feel about the situation?
– attempt to resolve it given what is currently in the marketplace?
– react to a given message?
– search for information?
– tell my friends about something that is good or bad?
– want to be treated?
– be motivated to make a purchase (i.e. do I shop because something is inexpensive or because it’s high quality?)

Once you’ve stepped into the shoes of your target market, you’ll find the right message stands out bright and clear.

3) Empathy turns marketing into a field of service. For years marketing has been perceived as an industry that manipulates public opinion and as a result marketers have a pretty bad rep. I believe that marketers have the capacity to truly make a difference in the world by bringing consumers real solutions to their problems. When marketers adopt a stance of empathy, their approach turns from “how can I convince everyone that I have a better product or service when I really don’t.” (which doesn’t work anymore – again, read Purple Cow) to “how can I create a better world by identifying, developing and informing people of solutions to their problems.”

So how do you feel?