What Smart Entrepreneurs Know About Engaging Their Customers

Engagement is the new marketing.

How people experience you, plus how people experience themselves in relation to you, is now what determines your success.

Straight from my column on monthly column on American Express Open Forum, here’s what smart entrepreneurs know about engaging their customers: 1. Master the power of personalization. If your customers wore nametags, would you give them better service? Sure you would. Names reduce the distance between people. Today, my flight attendant noticed my nametag and said, “Scott, I wish all my passengers wore nametags, that way I wouldn’t have to say sir!” Makes sense. With a nametag, it’s an unmasking. It assures you’re no longer just another face in the crowd. It humanizes you. And it makes it easier for people treat you with dignity, respect and compassion.

Sadly, most organizations miss this. They obsess over offering better customer service, but fail to see the big picture about the actual relationship. Truth is, the purpose of a nametag isn’t to enable customers to tattle on someone who gives poor service. The purpose of nametag is to help you become better friends with customers, that way, better service happens naturally. Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt—it brings people back.

2. Lower the threat level. I was meeting my friends for sushi once and they invited a girl named Sandra, a friend of a friend who was passing through town. When we met, she thanked me for wearing a nametag. “It’s just so non-threatening,” she said. Interesting.

How do you lower the threat level when you meet people? With most strangers, you’re starting with negative balance. You’re operating from a deficit position. It’s just the posture of the masses. People have been sold, scammed, conned, manipulated and used too long—and they’re tired of it. But a nametag takes a few bricks out of the wall. A nametag immediately and intentionally disqualifies me from people’s fears.

3. Trust is a function of self-disclosure. The more you reveal about yourself, the more likely people are to trust you. That’s a basic tenant of human communication. But you don’t need books to know how trust works. That’s what the nametag proved: Strangers trusted me more once they knew my name. Not that much more, but there was enough additional trust to be noticeable. People recognized my willingness to stick myself out there—albeit in a small, simple way—and as a result, perceived me as being a more trustworthy person.

But it was weird. I didn’t really do anything. Just wore a nametag that said, “Scott.” And yet, people would tell me things. Personal things. I’ll never forget the time I sat down next to an older guy at the train station. He noticed my nametag and said hello. I did the same. He then proceeded to tell me every single detail about his wife’s schizophrenia. And I was happy to listen, but the whole time I kept thinking to myself, “Sir, why are you telling me all this?” Simple: He felt like he already knew me.

4. Enable reciprocity. I was in a cupcake store in Australia. When the cashier rang me up, I clumsily grabbed all the coins in my pocket, took one look at the confusing shapes and colors, then took one look at the long line behind me, turned to cashier and said: “Here. You do it.” She smiled back; picked out the coins she needed and completed the transaction.

That’s reciprocity. If you want people to trust you, trust them first. Even if you have no logical reason to do so. You always gain a greater interaction. The world is a mirror. What you put out, comes back. It’s not a cliché—it’s human nature. People have mindless, automatic reciprocity reflexes. And they perform certain actions when the world presents them with certain patterns of input. That’s why strangers will spontaneously introduce themselves to me: Not necessarily because they want to meet me, but because of my nametag—I’m willing to meet them.

REMEMBER: Interaction is the agent of human decision. Help people have a better experience with you, and of themselves in relation to you, and you’ll win customers for life.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How could you engage your people in a way they’ve never seen before?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

4 Keys To Success That Small Business Owners Often Forget—Even The Pros

Small businesspeople are smart.

They’re masters of marketing, sales, leadership, operations and customer service.

But occasionally they forget basic elements that make them successful. And to ignore them is to ignore the potential of new business.

Straight from my monthly column at American Express Open Forum, make sure you don’t forget these four keys:

1. Simplicity is eloquence. It happens all the time. Nametag companies send me their fancy, cluttered badges to wear instead of my own. No thanks. Not that I don’t appreciate the gesture. In fact, I save all the nametags people send me. But my brand is a friend of simplicity. Is yours? Or, do you try to be too fancy, make things bigger than they need to be and create riddles that take too long for impatient customers to solve? Simple means instantly repeatable. Simple means easy enough for a kindergartner to understand. Simple means explainable in less than ten seconds with less than ten words. Simple means eliminating the extraneous, letting the necessary speak and disengaging the inessential.

Unfortunately, simple is hard. It requires more energy, more brainpower and more courage that complexity. But simplicity, pursued relentlessly, can change the world. Is your brand a friend of it?

2. Friendly costs nothing. My business card is a nametag. But it doesn’t say Scott – it says Scott’s Friend. I don’t give people a choice. Everybody my friend, whether they like it or not. Amigo del Mundo. That’s how I was raised. I want to be friends with everyone, all the time, everywhere. And I want to love everybody I meet forever and then some.

Over the years, these friend cards have created a lot of special moments. I’ll never forget the incident on the tarmac. I was waiting to board my plane when I felt someone’s eyes upon me. Glancing up at the door, I noticed the groundsman holding up his laminated security badge with one of my business cards facing outward. “Hey look everybody – I’m Scott’s Friend!” he laughed. “Wait a minute. Where did you get that? Have we met before?” “No, but you flew through here last week. And I think the zipper on your bag must have broke, because we found three hundred of your cards scattered across the runway!”

Great. Not only am I a litterbug, but now my contact information is all over the trash. “Oh, don’t worry about it Scott. Matter of fact, I made my entire staff on the runway wear your cards in their security badge holders.” “Really? Why?” “Well, our airport just got a new general manager. His name is Scott, and he doesn’t have any friends.” It’s not who you love – it’s whose life is better because you love them. How many friends did you make last week?

3. The problem with the Internet. When I went to my ten-year high school reunion, I had this romantic, cinematic vision that I’d walk in the door, tell everybody the story about how I made a career out of wearing nametag and watch as they listened in disbelief. One of those how-do-you-like-me-now moments. But it doesn’t work that way. Not anymore.

Instead of asking what I’ve been up to since graduation, former classmates I hadn’t seen in a decade came up to me – didn’t even say hello – poked my chest and asked to see my nametag tattoo. I’m fine, how are you? That’s the downside of the Internet: We never have to wonder about anything anymore. No finding things out on accident. No learning things through trial and error. No imagining things by sitting around and pondering. The Internet just gives you a blank box and puts the entire world behind it. And personally, I think that’s too easy.

The secret is, we can never bury our sense of wonder. It’s what makes us human, helps us feel alive and enables us to connect with each other. Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge. I say imagination is more important than anything. What does your brand say?

4. Decide what your legend is. Whether I’m attending a conference with colleagues, practicing yoga with friends, interacting online with readers or having dinner with family, people constantly tell me stories about telling my story. A few years ago I was on the bike at the gym. The guy next to me noticed my nametag. And after a few moments of awkward silence, he launched right into the rumor:

“You know, I once heard a story about some guy who wore a nametag everyday in college. I think it was a sociological experiment or something. But they made a documentary about him. And think he set a world record. Pretty crazy, huh?”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him. The rumors were far too interesting to listen to. And I didn’t want to ruin the image he had about the story. So I just kept asking questions. “Did you ever meet him?” “What ever happened to that guy?” “Do you think he went crazy or something? I wonder if he knew I knew.

The point is, your brand tells a story whether you like it or not. And while facts are misleading, rumors are always revealing – even if they’re wrong. If you want to make your legend worth crossing the street for, if you want people to feel proud and eager to spread your myth, you have to manage your story like an asset. Because people don’t just buy what you sell – they buy what you tell. Are you spreading positive rumors about yourself?

REMEMBER: Never underestimate the power of continual application of the fundamentals.

Forget the rudiments and forego the revenue.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What are you overlooking?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “8 Ways to Out Give Your Competition,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2012!

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!

What My Nametag Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

After four thousand days of wearing a nametag, I’ve learned more lessons about being an entrepreneur than I ever could have learned in college.

Straight from my column on monthly column on American Express Open Forum, here are a few to consider: 1. Interaction is the agent of human decision. Any time people decide to listen to, buy from, get behind, partner with or tell others about you, it’s probably because of the interaction they had with you. How they experienced you. How they experienced themselves in relation to you. And fortunately, the cost of interaction is approaching zero. Thanks to the Internet, we now have greater access to each other than ever before.

Brands are reaching users. Writers are reaching readers. Artists are reaching collectors. Leaders are reaching followers. But you don’t need a nametag. You need to be open to what can emerge from every interaction. You need to interact with people in praise of whatever they have to offer. You need to approach everyone you encounter with a spirit of acknowledgment. Because every time you interact with people, you make a choice.

A choice to engage with swift responsiveness, nonstop gratitude, unexpected honesty, exquisite playfulness and loving unfairness. Those aren’t just interactions – they’re social gifts. And they change people forever. Are you known for a unique way of interacting with the world?

2. The media is your customer. I once got an email from a television screenwriter. He wanted to pitch a network reality show that revolved around my nametag. Awesome. But I had to ask the crucial question. I had to find out why he picked me. Not for ego purposes, but for market research purposes. I wanted to know where the rock created the ripple so I could go throw more rocks.

“Television is about the personality and the message, somebody who would be fun to watch every episode. Viewers don’t care about talent and skill. They want to laugh, be entertained and have their imagination captured. And after doing a lot of research on potential, I didn’t like anyone else. But you – you remind me of me. And that’s why I reached out.”

Cool. So we did a few conference calls, got the lawyers involved, signed an option agreement – I even flew out to Hollywood to meet with a few network producers. Unfortunately, the screenwriter got an offer to become a lead a writer on Survivor, the highest rated reality show of the decade. Damn you, Jeff Probst!

And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. But I wasn’t devastated. If anything, it was another glimpse into that whole world. It was an educational experience that taught me what the network wants. That’s one thing you learn about working with the media: You can’t get your hopes up. You can’t beat yourself up. And you can’t torture yourself waiting in limbo. Nor can you run around telling everyone you’re going to be on television.

The media is your customer, and you are an ocean under a fickle moon. You just have to keep saying to yourself, “It’s only a matter of time.” When it hits, will you be ready?

3. Enable the mystery. “I just have so many questions!” I get that a lot. When people find out I wear a nametag everyday, they’re instantly curious about a number of issues. And I’m happy to oblige. Comes with the territory. I once met a guy in a jazz club in Hell’s Kitchen. Noticing my nametag, he asked me if I had just come from an episode of The Price is Right. Good guess, but no. Even though I’ve always secretly wanted to be on that show. Just let me play one game of Plinko and I’ll be out of your way.

Anyway, the point is that people are enthralled by mystery. They never grow tired of things that invite constant interpretation. And your ability to fascinate them is a tremendous asset. Like Houdini, you have to emanate an aura of delightful unpredictability. You have leave the public always wanting more, wondering about your next move. Will you underestimate the profitability of mystery?

4. Reputational capital. The first interview I ever did was for Headline News. Three minutes. Five million people. Twenty-two years old. Yikes. I don’t remember much about my segment. I’m sure I rambled like a pro. But what I do remember was rushing home to watch the tape. And the moment that would be forever burned into my brain was noticing what CNN wrote on their lower third screen graphic: Scott Ginsberg, Name Tag Wearer.

And there it is. Four years of college. Thanks, mom and dad. Money well spent. But I learned something that day. You can’t outsource reputation. It’s not what’s in a name – it’s what after a name that counts. And if you don’t make a name for yourself, somebody will make one for you. Nametag Wearer. Sheesh. What would be written under your name?

5. Take a stand. I believe in having a point of view. Philosophies. Opinions. Perspectives. Theories. These things matter. These things make us uniquely human. They don’t have to be right or wrong, they just have to be ours. And it’s our responsibility to share them courageously and prodigiously. Otherwise we’re just decorations on the wall.

That’s what my friend Matt likes to remind me: You weren’t wearing a sticker – you were taking a stand. Damn right I was. I was taking a stand for my identity. I was taking a stand against anonymity. I was taking a stand in the name of approachability. When you do this, people notice. It draws them in. It teaches them how to treat you. And it reminds them that you’re a person with feelings and you demand to be heard.

Life’s too short to keep our doubts to ourselves, too important to keep our positions unknown and too beautiful to keep our conclusions quiet. Opinionated is the new black. Are you wearing it well?

REMEMBER: To be an entrepreneur is to take a risk.

You don’t need to wear a nametag – but you do need to stick yourself out there.

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What’s your nametag?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For a list called, “11 Ways to Out Google Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

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