Tag Archive for culture

5 Reasons to Move Past Mere Marketing

cialis-1

As our laughter at what Phil Dunphy just said settles down into a chuckle, the screen goes black momentarily and then the commercial begins.

Warm, soothing music. Lovely people lounging on a beige couch in a sunshine-drenched white room laughing in silent slow motion about something.

At this point, we’re not sure if this is a financial institution commercial or a Cialis commercial. We haven’t seen side-by-side tubs yet, so we’re banking on it being a financial institution commercial (see what I did there?). Our suspicions are confirmed when we hear someone telling us, in their very best TV commercial voice, that Such-and-Such Bank has low rates and great service.

Pan back to smiling people. Superimpose logo. Fade to black.

Bing’s online dictionary tells us that marketing is defined as the business activity of presenting products or services in such a way as to make them desirable. I know, I know, some of you prefer more highbrow sources for your definitions. Just for you, I’ll include Merriam-Webster’s definition, which, in (not) shocking news, you’ll find is strikingly similar to Bing’s. The fine folks at Merriam-Webster tell us that marketing is the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.

Essentially, that’s what I’d call mere marketing. It’s marketing that’s divorced from any human or meaningful context. It’s just…marketing stuff.

Financial institutions are notorious for mere marketing, but they by no means have a corner on the market. Those of us in marketing have to ask ourselves: Do we really want our marketing efforts to just blend into the media milieu? Sure, it may be easier to play it safe, but still.

There are at least a few reasons we need to move past mere marketing:

1. Mere marketing tends to be largely focused on products and/or services.

The problem with this is at least two-fold: (1) It presupposes that products and services are the primary reason people do business where they do, and (2) it tends to exclude the very real human and emotional elements of people connecting with an organization’s identity.

2. Mere marketing can dehumanize a brand.

We can know in our heads and believe in our hearts that the reason we’re marketing a particular thing is because it’s potentially helpful to our patrons, but us knowing that doesn’t necessarily mean that our marketing efforts will reflect that people-centric philosophy. More often than not, if we sell the product without putting it within its human context, folks will start to believe that your main goal is, well, selling them something rather than helping them meet a very human need.

Quick aside: Just having humans in a commercial is not synonymous with humanizing a brand.

3. Mere marketing often isolates products and services from an organization’s culture and identity.

For example, in the banking and finance world, most of us say we don’t want to cater to rate shoppers, because we know what an exercise in futility that is. There’s always going to be someone with lower rates. What we need to do is use marketing as a vehicle to communicate more about our organization’s brand, culture, and identity. It’s that sort of thing that can form an actual emotional bond with the folks we serve.

4. Mere marketing actually trains people to shop in ways that are counterproductive.

Think about it. To stay with our example, if you’re incessantly marketing to your rates, won’t that encourage people to start comparing yours to everyone else’s? And how often is yours really that much better than everyone else’s? We’re almost unwittingly teaching people that rates (or checking accounts, or whatever) are the primary thing that makes us or any other financial institution different, and if folks buy into that, you can be assured they’re going to jump ship when they see a better rate elsewhere. I’m not saying we don’t ever market our rates; I’m just saying that can’t be it.

5. Mere marketing is often really, really boring.

Think about the last rate-based commercial you saw.

Hard to remember, isn’t it?

So here’s the thing. Don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not saying marketing is dead. Heck, I’m the exec over marketing here at Mazuma, and we’ve invested a ton of time and energy in our upcoming marketing strategy and rebrand (if I gave you more details, I’d have to kill you). What I am saying is that we need to regularly revisit our marketing paradigm so that our work can evolve into something far more than mere marketing.

 

A version of this post originally appeared on CUInsight.

8 Signs You May Be a Meddling Manager

meddlingkids

8 Signs you may be a meddling manager (or person, for that matter):

1. It’s not enough that people answer you one time.

You have this need to know everything, even if you tell yourself and others you don’t.

2. They have to answer you multiple times. About the same topic and/or question.

This is often tied to a control issue, and can be misunderstood as a trust issue by the recipient of the questioning.

The-best-executive-is-one-who-has-sense-enough-to-pick-good-people-to-do-what-he-wants-done,-and-self-restraint-enough-to-keep-from-meddling-with-them-while-they-do-it.3. It’s not enough that they have to answer you multiple times about the same topic or question. They have to do that on multiple days and occasions. It becomes a lifestyle.

This becomes frustrating to them, which in turn frustrates you to see that they’re frustrated with you.

4. It’s not enough that people answer your questions. They also have to justify their answers to you. You need their rationale. All. The. Time.

Eventually their answers alone aren’t enough. You need to know why. Every time.

5. It’s not enough that people justify their answers to you. They have to justify their answers to you repeatedly. Remember that lifestyle thing? Yeah.

It becomes a vicious and exhausting cycle.

6. It’s not enough that people justify themselves to you repeatedly. They have to justify themselves repeatedly to you until they provide a justification you deem valid.

At this point, though you wouldn’t say it like this, you really are, for all practical purposes, wanting this person to think exactly like you. It begins to seem like you might just secretly feel that you always know better than others.

7. You unwittingly and often unintentionally anoint yourself the ultimate arbiter of what they should or should not do, when they should or should not do it, and with whom they should or should not do it.

Refer to the above.

8. Soon, you may even find yourself doing this with their personal lives as well as their professional lives. You’ve accidentally gone from micromanaging them at work, to meddling in the entirety of their lives.

Yikes. If that’s you, be self-aware enough to realize it, and humble enough to admit it and quit it. That way, everyone wins.

6 Non-Creative Thoughts on Creativity

creativityisintelligencefuneinsteinAs cliché a topic as it may be, creativity, and especially creativity within organizational settings, fascinates me. In some ways, I think it fascinates a lot of people though. We spend oodles of time reading about it, blogging about it, wondering if we have it, wondering how we get our teams to display more of it, or at least how not to discourage them from being creative.

One of the cool things about creativity is that every leader, every employee, and indeed every organization has the potential to be creative and likely already is to at least some degree.

But if all this is true, why haven’t “we” — and by “we” I mean the biz world at large and our respective workplaces specifically — got this thing down yet? Here are at least a few reasons that come to mind off the top of my head, as well as considerations for helping us think through what creativity is and isn’t.

I’m sure you can think of more. Feel free to add those in the comments section below!

1. People misunderstand what creativity actually is.

It’s not always going to be some big, shiny, new, amazing thing. Sometimes we think and/or talk ourselves right out of believing we can be creative by defining it incorrectly. In our heads occasionally, anything less than recreating the wheel (what exactly would that be, anyway?) isn’t creativity.

Well, as many of my fellow Mazumans and Mojo mates have heard me say a time or twelve, words mean things. And here’s what creativity actually means:

  • the state or quality of being creative.
  • the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.
  • the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.

2. Bureaucracy gets in the way of creativity.

Leaders need to find ways to be more idea-friendly. Here are 6 ways they can do that.

3. Sometimes creativity is simplicity.

In a lot of instances, creativity is actually finding ways to make things simpler for people. It’s not about finding new, complex products and services. It’s about making others’ lives simpler.

4. The good idea usually starts as a bad idea.

Great, creative ideas rarely, if ever, come out fully formed and ready to implement. That’s why collaboration and connection are so important.

5. Companies are more often built to maintain than create.

Take a look around you. Is your team built and structured to create or simply maintain? Do you hire people with a propensity to create? Or are you more interested in folks who’ve demonstrated an ability to consistently maintain?

6. Understand that organizations are always trending one way or another.

There’s always some sort of trajectory. Creating increases the likelihood that that’s a forward trajectory. That means sometimes you just have the sand to say “to hell with the data” and create something.

What else ya got? Any other comments? Suggestions? Things you find especially helpful as you think about creativity?