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The Government is the Nanny of the State

It could have been the worst teaching night of my experience, talking for 2.5 hours about the role of government in business to first year Under-Grad Business students. (okay, we took a five minute break). It ended up not quite so bad after I hit on the metaphor of the Government being the Nanny of the State.

When the children play nice, Nanny gets on with her knitting. Catch a boo-boo? Run to Nanny. Misbehave? Watch out for Nanny. Playing the bully? Nanny takes the bully down. Best case scenario, Nanny stays away until it’s time for treats.

The consensus of the class was: “Keep Government out of business as much as possible.” “Only as a last resort.” “Well, if the economy is completely failing, then of course we do need Government to step in.” I will not rant politics because the general consensus is “Right now we need Nanny”.

One part…

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You shall not covet

I have always been puzzled by the biblical text that puts “You shall not covet” as the finishing flourish of the 10 Commandments, as if this is more heinous than murdering, lying, cheating, stealing. There is no action involved. It is more about attitude. What’s the problem here? And what does it have to do with customer-centric marketing? (The committed acolytes at this point will intone, “Customer-centric marketing embraces Life, the Universe and Everything” in 6-part harmony).

But if you think for a moment about what can transpire in the commercial world, based on the desire to achieve what someone else has (that you have not) then you have a frequent motive for businesses, sometimes egregiously, sometimes sublimely lying, cheating and stealing, to achieve their goals. In the geo-political and ethnic world, you get war.

So, in a nutshell, covetousness is a great way to kill any chance of a relationship.

When…

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Which End of the Telescope Do You Use?

If you had never seen a telescope before it would be reasonable to look through the large end. It is wider, offers more light, and it could be assumed its primary purpose was to shrink things. There is a natural tendency to put your goals first, even when your intention is to focus on the customer. So the customer is smaller, remote and subservient to your marketing goals. It’s a happy thought to many a brand marketer that if the customer had its eyeball at the opposite end of your telescope it would see you many times greater than reality.

By some quirk of our human nature (call it ego), we all see our own perspective in magnification and everyone else’s in minimilization. It is not a simple thing to switch the roles around. But the truth  is that we are judged, not from our own perspective, but from that…

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MAKING THE CUSTOMER THE CENTER OF YOUR UNIVERSE

One of a series of white papers on Touch Marketing®  Click here TouchMarketing White Paper to download the document.

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Honesty In Relationships: Part II

Honesty In Relationships: Part II

Absolute Truth

If there is such a thing as absolute truth, it exists outside of this world. As much as we regard honesty, integrity and trust as roadmaps for relationships, they are relative terms. This represents a risk to business continuity. Any decision you make could compromise your business relationships because of the external impression created by your actions. This occurs even at the most basic level: to choose with whom you want to have a relationship. It is a practical need, yet it is also confining. Since “you can’t be all things to all people” your representation of your well-intentioned relationship is exclusive to these choices. When those whom you exclude put you on the wrong side of their loyalty values we call it pigeon-holing. Marketers are often confounded by typecast restrictions that have been molded around a business by customers with whom it has…

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Honesty in Relationships: Part I

When goals-achievement is the number one priority of a business, the temptation to disguise weaknesses is a real challenge for marketers and legal departments. I remember a copywriter complaining that her clients always ruined her copy by insisting on accuracy. The creative fabrication sold the product so much better.

Too many businesses market their beliefs without testing their own integrity. Expressions like ‘Best’, ‘Leading’, ‘#1’, ‘Lowest Price’, ‘Largest Inventory’, ‘Top Rated’ and ‘Most Successful’ appear throughout marketing copy. The customer who finds a lower price elsewhere will not trust such a claim again. Once the veil of honesty is damaged by the revelation of deception, whether big or small, trust evaporates and is hard to recover.

The Alchemy of Concealment

The temptation to deceive or conceal the truth is part of the human psyche.

Q: “How’s business?” A: “Busy.”

The truth remains agreeably hidden. But, when truths are revealed there can be…

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If All the Raindrops Were Customers and Shareholders, Oh What a Joy That Would Be.

So who is “standing outside with his arms open wide”?

Great question.

I want to discuss the dichotomy between shareholders and customers:

Goals-oriented boards have their jobs hinging on leveraging maximum wealth to shareholders by producing the best financial results possible (within the realm of the law, so we are told). So the shareholder can actually compromise customer values based on the mandate they give to the executive.

If the shareholders were all individual customers were there might be some sort of democracy at the Annual Meeting, where the customer/shareholder would get to vote on whether they wanted 10% less product in the same packaging for the same price, or keep the product the way they need it and earn a lower dividend.

In the goals-oriented enterprise both ends are fighting the middle and compromises are felt at either end of the spectrum through customer attrition or shareholder revolt. The only way to beat…

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CORPORATE MASH-UPS CAN PROPEL YOUR BUSINESS THROUGH TOUGH TIMES

Corporate thinkers and marketing strategists wondering how best to navigate through turbulent economic downswings should turn their attention to non-competing products, where they can add customer convenience and value while reducing cost-of-sale.

Because, let’s face it, in this economy you have limited choices. You could: – Spend your money on restructuring consultants – Slash prices in the hope that keeping busy will hide your losses – Increase incentives and slash prices for even greater losses – Stare frozen into the headlights and wait for the inevitable…

Or be creative. Find more values to sell to your existing customers and enable them to do more with less.

Here are some examples:

B-2-B

Office Cleaning & Building Security – lower property management costs and improve on the cleaning staff integrity. Payroll Processing & Job Placement Agencies – as payroll fee income drops earn commissions on placements of the displaced staff, as well…

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Selling the Environment With Customer-Centric Values

Since Canada’s political balance of power may weigh in on the environment in the near future, how does this monumental issue affect the day-to-day choices of Canadians?

Politics is all about customer-centric marketing. What the voter won’t buy, the politician won’t sell. The marketing of environmental issues and products has to factor a number of different perspectives that reside within voters and customers and bring conflicting values when making personal choices:

The pendulum swings back and forth:

– “It is the nature of humanity to turn land into garbage and garbage into land.” (Jon Sherrington, 2006). Not a pretty idea, but the drive for consumption does just that. Do we feel remorse? Yes and no. Consider a growing forest that chokes the land of sunlight and lives off its own decay. It creates an environment ideal for its living conditions and all other organisms adapt or die. Is the forest a problem…

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ENTITLEMENT AND THE FREEBY GENERATION

If civilized society has anything to gripe about concerning the psychology of the Next-Generation it is the notion of Entitlement. Everyone feels entitled to whatever they want. Whether it is media attention, petty theft, massive fraud, obscene public demonstrations, more pay for less work, or the calculated elimination of ‘whoever gets in my way’, the overbearing sense of “What’s right in my eyes, is not wrong” is at the core of a society overfed on a diet of Entitlement.

I was musing on the source of this growth of human failing and I arrived at the conclusion that it is We Marketers that have fed the beast. We took a youngling generation and bombarded them, not only with hyped-up aspirations, but also the tempting lure of anything FREE – the unearned reward offered for future gain. Nothing breeds a false sense of entitlement better than providing something for nothing to…

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Jon Sherrington

Owner, Strategist, Writer – Hydrogen Creative Inc.

May 1996 – Present

My role is to provide strategic marketing guidance to clients to ensure their objectives are attainable, remain in focus and the communications solutions work.

My expertise is in how to realign goals-oriented brands, products, services or businesses to customer values to build loyalty, frequency and continuity.