The power of an invitation

Engagement literally means a bond. Well, you can only create a bond if both people play their part in the process, and you can only play your part if you’re invited to do so.

The opposite of an invitation is information. This is where you are not invited to participate, but instead expected to understand.

Many engagement efforts fail because they are not an invitation, they are information.

  • A great presentation, for instance, is an invitation to go on a journey together through the talk. A poor one is simply information, and thus death by powerpoint, while the only thing the audience is actually engaging with is their phone.
  • A great employer invites the staff to engage with the company’s mission. A poor one simply informs the staff what to do.
  • A great stakeholder initiative invites those same people to co-create the project. A poor stakeholder initiative tells people what is going to happen with leaflets continuing information.

Communication is what the first stage of engagement is about. Organisationally, it’s about the discipline of messaging and communication, through the various human, digital and offline channels: it is the outbound part of engagement.

If your engagement efforts are failing, it’s possible that you aren’t inviting people, you’re just informing them.

To turn it around, try this simple tip: ask a question.

Did that work for you?

Keep it Simple, or you’re Stupid

3255-3153346586_ae900be48a_m.jpgHave you ever made the mistake of making something too complex?

I remember when I was about 12 years old at school and we did a project called “Make a Million.” The idea was the children had to team up in pairs and then run a project that, during break times, would create revenue. Looking back, it was a great way for the school to instill some business and entrepreneurial skills into us as kids.

However, my project didn’t go down so well. Whereas some teams sold posters of clipart that they printed from their computer, or sold a set of 5 penalty kicks, or charm bracelets that they had made, my business partner and I decided to make a complex game which was a mix of snakes and ladders fused with monopoly. Suffice to say that when break time came, we normally sold one run on the game as it took the whole break to play it. But even then, people were reluctant to play because it was, well, just so complex! It was easy to buy a poster or kick a ball, but this was just too much. Continue…

Buyology Lesson 1: The Logo is Broken

2004-2525524976_c42413b6c7_m.jpgEvery wondered how you know an advert is for a product without seeing the logo or the product?

One of the hot new trends in marketing circles at the moment is neuromarketing. It’s the science of marketing in the sense that it measures people’s brain activity when they are looking and engaging with marketing messages, and thus seeks to deliver a quanitfiable answer to questions like “does engaging senses make a difference?”, “are logos effective?”, and “do anti smoking signs make people stop smoking?”

The leading book on this right now is Buyology, by Martin Lindstrom, which is a very well written journey through Lindstrom’s vibrant mind that debunks traditional marketing methods.


How to make Meaning

Yesterday we asked whether our brands are making meaning after examining the progression of brands from functional, to aspirational, and now to meaningful.

Today: how on earth do you make a brand meaningful?

Guy Kawasaki, when he discusses the Art of Innovation (exceptional videos – 10 minutes long), says that you must make meaning with your offering. He explains that products that go deeper than entertainment and touch at purpose at the ones who are making meaning – that their existence in the life of their customer is one that helps the customer define their world.

There are two core parts here for me that I would say we could distill “making meaning” down to: Continue…

Your Brand: Is it Making Meaning?

Most brands don’t compel people. Today we’re going to look at shift in the consumer mindset that demands that brands who want to go somewhere must compel them.

Robin Wight said in his insight at Like Minds that brands exist to make the purchasing process easier. This was an eye opener for me because I realised how it is indeed the case that a brand reduces my need for original critical thought and makes me rely on what Robert Cialdini calls fixed action patterns – fixed ways of reacting based on certain mental shortcuts.

Certainly for the majority of brands that you’ll see at a supermarket, that’s their role. But what most of the Friends reading this will be in the business of doing is moving beyond brands that merely make it easier for us to purchase or align with. We are interested in making maning, in aspiration, in purpose, in challenge. Our ideal brand is one that people derive identity from. Continue…

If it doesn’t Spread, it’s Dead

1105-881531299_d59fbd0887_m.jpgWant to learn why if you content doesn’t spread it’s dead, and how to make it spread? Read on.

You’ve heard me bang on before about spreadability vs reach. I arrogantly thought that I had come up with the concept, but I found out in the middle of last year that Henry Jenkins and Sam Ford had been using the phrase far longer than I had.

One of the things that Henry wrote about in 2009 that I was re-reading recently was the notion that If it Doesn’t Spread, it’s Dead. I’d advise you take 10 minutes today to read the article. Sam on the other hand has been writing about the difference between sticky media and spreadable media. You can see some of his slides on the subject in this presentation. Continue…