Why Talk Doesn’t Have to be Cheap

Language is the packaging of your brand.

It’s the single most underleveraged marketing
hotspot, crucial to your company culture, essential to the way people
experience your service and an ideal strategy for making the mundane memorable.

a website dedicated to insanely great photography projects, uses engaging, playful
and memorable language on their website, newsletters, shipping materials,
warning labels and product receipts. In fact, most their language is dinosaur
related. And according to a host of online reviews, customers can’t help but experience
feelings of elation and whimsy every time they read the words outside and
inside of the box.

Costs nothing, changes everything.

To identify your brand’s trademark language, consider asking
a few questions.

What words govern your questions? What are your
favorite phrases to put in emails? What are your best questions to ask
customers? What sentence would prompt someone to tweet a screen shot of your
website? What words do you own in the minds of the people you serve? What phrases
do you use that nobody else uses? What’s the one word the world will never
think about the same way after buying from you? What language invites customers
to share pictures of your packaging with their friends?

Talk doesn’t have to be cheap.

Brand your language intelligently, and it can be priceless.

How Does Your Brand Make People Feel Less Alone?

To belong is to feel at home.

And home, physical or otherwise, is the place where you are
remembered, met with accepting eyes, welcomed with wanting arms and cherished
for what you contribute; the place that embraces the weirdness you have to offer
and gives you the freedom to use talents you might never exercise anywhere
else; the place that makes you feel part of something most people can only
dream of.

In short, home is the place where you don’t have to wonder
if there are any other people in the world like you.

If you want to foster that sense of belonging with your employees,
members, customers, users, or whoever else is conspiring to advance and
influence your organizational ecosystem, here’s a formula worth exploring.

Our organization is a
second home where people just happen to __________.

The missing word is your company’s primary service offering,
whether it’s work, practice, worship, relax, drink, watch, swim or sweat.

But the key to this equation is the phrase just happen.

Because what you physically do is irrelevant compared to
what you symbolically do, which is create a home, a center of human belonging,
that helps us feel less alone.

Curb Appeal or Blurb Appeal?

First impressions are formed long before first encounters.

By the time people get to you, they’ve already verified your
reputation from a variety of virtual sources. Thanks to online reviews, friend
recommendations, price comparisons, smartphone apps, geolocating programs and
social media conversations, curb appeal has been replaced by blurb appeal.

Consider the implications of this shift on your business.

Smarter buyers. Treating
customers like idiots won’t work anymore. It’s not only disrespectful, it’s
expensive. And when it happens, people won’t take it personally, they’ll just
walk away.

Greater accountability. If your service
experience violates the expectations people already have, they’re going to call
you on the carpet. And when it happens, people will demand that you honor the
online promises they came for.

Quicker transactions.
When customers walk in the door toting papers, pictures and prices, they’re not
browsing – they’re buying. And because they’re already sold themselves, you’re
just the concierge.

kind of spooky.

First impressions used to form in the
first ten seconds.

now, the interaction has inverted.

you’re waiting until they walk in the door to make a first impression, it’s too

What’s Your Something Else?

Masterworks creates art you can ride.

They build gorgeous, fully functioning wooden bicycles,
handcrafted from start to finish, each
with its own unique look and feel, using the finest woods salvaged from
condemned city trees, each of which takes hundreds of hours to build and
thousands of dollars to buy.

It’s a work of art that happens to be a bike.

And it’s a bike people ride to been seen on.


Because the company owners are driven by quality, not money.
They have a lifelong love affair with all things bicycle. They care more deeply
about the value of their work than anyone else. And they put obsessive amounts
of creativity, passion, personality and generosity into everything they do.

They create works of art that happen to be something else.

Are Customers Working Too Hard To Do Business With You?

Companies can no longer get away with being hard to do business with.

your business has inconvenient hours, long wait times, unaccommodating payment
methods, low inventory, complex ordering procedures and outdated contact
information, and when their employees are unresponsive to phone calls,
unwilling to admit mistakes and unfriendly toward inexperienced customers, the
accumulated friction will certainly destroy you.

Customers walk through the door hoping you would give some
joy to them. They shouldn’t have to work so hard to do business with you.

They work hard enough.

If you want your business to be welcome oasis in the desert
of corporate mediocrity, it’s not enough to lower the barriers to entry, you
have to lower the barriers to everything.

Why People Rarely Write Things Down

To write something down is to humble ourselves.

why people rarely do it.

things down means we don’t know everything. Or can’t remember everything. Or might
learn something. Writing things down means we have to pause long enough to
honor the moment and listen to people. Writing things down means we have to
confront our own beliefs and drip a little blood on the paper. Writing things
down means we might have been wrong about something, and god forbid, might have
to be open to an idea that makes us squirm.

we don’t.

convince ourselves that certain ideas aren’t important, aren’t worth remembering
and aren’t worth documenting. And we move on.

the other hand, when we write things down, when we respect everything life has
to offer and treat our ideas with deep democracy, even the ones that scare us, we
start conversations that change the world.

not a pen, it’s a lever.

Burn the Moment into People’s Brains

Don’t hand it over, deliver it.

Whether you’re submitting a proposal, responding to a
complaint, making a statement, giving an answer or telling a story, any time
you can bring surprise and delight and love to the interactions that make up
your day, it’s worthwhile.

The servers at Sidney Street Café don’t just give you the menu,
they perform it.

Each of their items, from apps to sides to desserts, are
perfectly memorized by the server and delivered with more showmanship, more
care and more excitement than any restaurant you’ve ever been to.

And that’s why they’re always on the short list of best
restaurants in the city.

Because we live in an experience economy, and if you’re not
willing to invest a little effort in the art of showmanship, if you don’t
deliver things in a way that people would be happy to have repeated, you’ll
never burn the moment into people’s brains. 

Are People Taking An Interest In What You Believe In?

It’s one thing to give tours of your office.

But the big question, the ultimate compliment in disguise
is, have other companies taken an interest in what you believe in?

A riverboat casino in East St. Louis, who believes that
health trumps all, provides the convenience of an onsite medical clinic. Free
consultations, free medications, free disease management support groups, for
every employee, and their families, forever.

And ten years into their innovative program, Dr. Ken Rybicki,
as the primary care doctor, says that
other companies are starting to
take an interest. They’re starting to model their own healthcare programs after
the Queen’s.

Not just to emulate the casino’s brand, but to echo the
casino’s belief.

Instead of the casino selling the world on the quality of their springs;
they simply give others the chance to jump on the trampoline with them.

How many people are interested in what you believe in?

Are You Speaking From A Deficit Position?

If you want to become famous professional wrestler, it’s not about lifting more weights so you can beat the other guy.

It’s about getting Vince McMahon to like you.

Instead of hanging your fortunes solely on chance, you make
friends before you make requests. That way, when the time comes to make your
move, you’re not speaking from a deficit position.

You’re talking to people with a voice that’s anticipated,
personal and relevant.

not making a sale, you’re working to earn the privilege of a follow up
conversation and the opportunity to reconnect over time.

Ding ding!

Nudging the World in a Positive Direction

If we plan to earn people’s attention, we have to reward them for giving it to us.

After all, attention is the great commodity. It’s an asset
to be protected, not a resource to be depleted. And it’s what every brand,
every company, every organization, every website and every entrepreneur is
killing themselves to obtain.

And because of that, because the chronic bombardment and high
expectation for visual and visceral stimulation, customers are demanding that
we justify their attention dollars every step of the way. That we repay them
for participating in our brand.

But not in the typical way. This goes far beyond coupons,
freebies and promos.

How are we helping people experience a joy that they don’t
have in any other areas of their lives? How are we offering one time, limited
edition, never before, never again moment that actually captures their
imagination? How can we provide true exclusivity that they can get nowhere
else? How are we, in a
very small way, nudging the world in a positive direction?

Those are the real rewards.

That’s what brings people back.

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