Friday, May 15, 2009
IN DEPTH INTERVIEW: The Heart of Marketing
Questions for Judith and Jim from Philip Harris – All Things That Matter Blog and Press
Q. ARE THERE ANY BUSINESSES TO WHICH YOUR SOFT SELL/ROE DOES NOT APPLY?
Yes, any business or business intention that seeks to dominate and control, because that leads to a need to control not just competition but the buying public as well.
We are all interdependent in this life. We co-create it together, consciously or not. So any business that operates from a top-down, only-number-one-wins mindset must be intolerant, at the least, to the idea of mutual need, and must find repulsive the idea that a successful business is a co-creation of seller and buyer.
Q. IS THIS MORE OF A SERVICE INDUSTRY APPROACH, OR DOES IT ALSO APPLY TO MANUFACTURING?
Understanding the ROI-ROE distinction illuminates the fact that even automotive manufacturers, as an example, engage, for the most part, in ROE transactions. Only a rarified few buy a car with a genuine, thought-through premise of turning that purchase into an ROI outcome.
The manufacturers operate, as a business, on an ROI premise, but the transactions they are ultimately engaged in (an individual’s or couple’s purchase of a new car) are almost exclusively ROE. There are very few transactions that any of us engage in that are strict dollar-for-dollar exchanges. That’s why our new book The Heart of Marketing: Love Your Customers and They Will Love You Back (Morgan James Publishing) will appeal to most everyone who wants to grow their business with integrity and with joy.
Q. WHAT MOTTO WOULD YOU USE INSTEAD OF “LET THE BUYER BEWARE’?
Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) emerges out of a dog-eat-dog mindset which, de facto, shreds the fact and experience of our interdependence. Using the Lone Ranger as a metaphor, he didn’t reside in a community, except for his horse and his Indian companion, Tonto. When anyone internalizes that model of identity they are dangerous because they become pathologically narcissistic, with only self-centered awareness and rarely any conscience.
So instead of ‘Buyer Beware” to take our lead from the sub-title of our book – The Heart of Marketing: Love Your Customers and They Will Love You Back – we propose the best new motto is “Buyer Be Loved or Take Your Business Someplace Else.”
Q. RELIGIOUS DOGMA WOULD LEAD PEOPLE TO BELIEVE THAT SERVICES OF A SPIRITUAL NATURE, E.G., HEALING, COACHING, SELF-HELP ASSISTANCE, SEMINARS, BOOKS ON SELF-IMPROVEMENT, ETC., SHOULD BE FREE. AND YET, ALL ARE ASKED TO PUT THE MONEY IN THE PLATE ON SUNDAY. WHY DO YOU THINK SERVICE PROVIDERS HAVE SUCH AN AVERSION TO ASKING FOR MONEY?
Basically, care-givers are we-oriented. When placed in a me-first environment they experience a discomfort that leads to, at the extreme, a renunciation of the self.
Also, their sense of achievement and well-being are tied to the results they inspire and foster in their clients, and asking for money creates discomfort because it returns the focus back to them. Whatever reason they give—filthy lucre, it’s beneath me, it breaks my connection with the person I’m helping, whatever—psychologically it creates an internal tension, a conflict of intentions, and a disturbing dissonance that often they do not understand. We address this in several sections of our book The Heart of Marketing: Love Your Customers and They Will Love You Back (Morgan James Publising, May 2009).
Re: asking for money to be put in the Sunday plate—that’s just a down-to-earth need for funding spun into a spiritual principle of giving and therefore relegated to a hypocrisy.
Q. DO YOU FEEL PROFIT MARGINS SHOULD BE LESS FOR THOSE WHO FOLLOW THE IDEAS OF ROE/SOFT SELL?
Quite the contrary. While there is no need for gouging, the products and services soft sell marketers bring to the marketplace are sorely needed by the peoples of the world.
Devising and selling another series of mortgage-backed derivatives hardly creates real value, and whatever monetary value it conjures has no more purpose than to conjure more and more profit in an unending circle of purposelessness. Such concoctions are deeply incestuous, severely limited, and, unfortunately, have a wide and destructive reach when such merely cognitive, sleights-of-accounting go bad.
And yet, in the face of what we all know to be true, that many strictly ROI transactions generate no real value—except as a good poker hand “creates value” for the winner—what ROE providers provide in their life-enhancing, experience-changing roles are still characterized as “soft” (in the sense of weak) and therefore do not warrant substantial incomes based on substantial pricing and certainly not high margins.
We repudiate that notion unambiguously.
Q. THE LARGE CORPORATIONS THAT HAVE BEEN IN THE NEWS LATELY HAVE OBVIOUSLY BEEN HARD SELL/ROI ORIENTED. DESPITE ALL OF THE NEGATIVE PUBLICITY, THEY STILL SEEM UNWILLING TO CHANGE THEIR USUROUS WAYS. DO YOU FEEL THAT THE OLD ECONOMIC DINOSAURS ARE SOON TO BE CAUGHT IN THE TAR PITS AND BECOME EXTINCT?
Yes. We believe humanity is undergoing a significant shift in consciousness. This shift has been largely supported by instant worldwide communication which has pulled the shroud from what has, in the past, been the ability to manipulate in the dark. Light is now shown into the darkness and unconscious impulses, which have historically been buttressed by the brutality of the so-called ruling class, are being exposed and come up wanting.
Even without enlightenment as a goal, transparency and serious scrutiny are now not only possible, they have engendered in the public a respect and even gratitude such that there’s no going back. That’s not to say that a different kind of concealment is not possible. But that which has in the past been veiled is now revealed.
Q. CAN THE IDEAS YOU ADVOCATE EVEN WORK ON A CORPORATE/INTERNATIONAL LEVEL?
The notions of “corporate” and”international” represent structures. Soft Sell marketing is not yet a structure (although it can be turned into one). Instead, at this point, it is an attitude, an intention, a commitment grounded in the interconnectedness of all life on this planet. Is that intention applicable and efficacious in corporations? Certainly, but only in as much as those who are involved accept it as such and then practice it. Can this approach work internationally? Except for the limitation that consciousness and conscience are distributed across the globe in various degrees and qualities, the answer is the same—dependent only on how much we all want more human-to-human respectful exchanges and how deep our desire to make that happen.
BTW, we are already talking with several corporations about providing trainings based on our book The Heart of Marketing.
Q. IN A WAY, SMALL TOWN BANKS OPERATED MORE ON THE ROE MODEL. CAN BANKING MONOLITHS DO THE SAME? DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS COULD HAPPEN VOLUNTARILY OR WOULD IT HAVE TO BE FORCED?
ROE can’t be forced in the same way that we cannot compel your love. But we also believe that we must grow into a consciousness that advances past the idea of “enlightened self-interest” without abandoning the idea of the self. We must evolve into a sense of self that is deeply and palpably grounded in community—an I within the We. Then we take care of ourselves as well as one another and live from a purpose that extends beyond the rabid individuality that has been exalted in our culture. Our new book The Heart of Marketing: Love Your Customers and They Will Love You Back is dedicated to create that change.
To live without a sense that self is only a true Self as it understand itself within a community and community is only community when it realizes itself as a mosaic of individuals is what leads to the social madness that we are experiencing today.
Q. FOR A PERSON TO OPERATE ON THE SOFT SELL LEVEL, IT SEEMS THAT A LOT OF TIME WOULD HAVE TO BE SPENT NURTURING POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS. THIS WOULD MEAN A LOT OF TIME ON THE COMPUTER. WILL THIS BE THE MODEL FOR THE NEW ENTREPRENEUR?
First, long-term customers are always nurtured. A proven marketing rule is—it takes between 3 to 9 contacts before a prospective customer becomes a paying customer. So time is and has always been an element the computer notwithstanding.
The computer and the commerce it has spawned will be the centerpiece for many many new entrepreneurs because an online business has the lowest start-up cost and the highest profit margins. It also works 24/7 unlike a brick and mortar store that usually closes for some part of the 24 hour cycle. That’s why several of the answers in our new book The Heart of Marketing: Love Your Customers and They Will Love You Back (Morgan James Publishing, May 2009) are in response to questions that come from marketers on the Internet.
The key here is not the computer itself but the entrepreneurial mindset which thrives on extending oneself and also tolerating risk. Nurturing customers is a particular marketing mindset which is also a particular way of being in the world. The computer is just the medium through which these necessary personal traits have vast opportunity to be expressed.
Q. THIS ALL REMINDS ME OF THE SLOGAN, ‘SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL.’ DO YOU SEE A NEW ECONOMIC PARADIGM AS THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE AND WHAT WOULD THIS PARADIGM LOOK LIKE?
The notion of “small” is quantitative, and no fundamentally quantitative metaphor will serve as a paradigm sufficient to inject into the global commercial system the necessary and essential changes required for transformation. Instead there must be a paradigm shift that assists humanity in overcoming the dominant and dominating, value free, largely mathematical world view that underpins current understanding and beliefs about what commerce should be.
Our book, The Heart of Marketing: Love Your Customers and They Will Love You Back, is composed of answers to 45 questions we received during a survey we took promoting our second Bridging Heart and Marketing conference, the only marketing conference for the online or offline soft sell marketer. What follows is the 45th answer in the book and it addresses your question.
#45 Do you see soft sell marketing as the future trend in developing customer relationships?
Soft sell marketing shows every indication that it is the future trend in developing good, long lasting customer relations.
In fact we recently received a promotional email sent out by internationally recognized copywriter, Bob Bly. He’s been writing for years and is very well known in the direct marketing as well as Internet marketing industries.
His many clients include: AARP, CBS Market Watch, Forbes, Harvard Business School, Kiplinger, McGraw-Hill, Nature, Nightingale-Conant, New York Times Syndicate, Prentice Hall, and Scientific American.
Here’s what he wrote:
“The teaching of how to make money marketing information on the Internet has gone from an honorable, honest profession to a hype-filled, slime-infested jungle. Each day, the claims get more and more outrageous.
‘I made $1 million in 17 seconds on the Internet!’ one promoter screams.
‘Join my Delta Mega Force Team today and get a Rolls Royce with your first affiliate commission check,’ another shouts even more loudly.
“Does brag-and-boast advertising like this - especially from so-called marketing gurus you never heard of before make you skeptical?
“To me, these outrageous promotions … sorely lacking in credibility … make me want to toss my cookies!”
It’s the kind of over-the-top hype Bly writes about that prompted us to start speaking out about soft sell marketing, because traditional hard sell Internet marketing has become, in many cases, ever more outrageous. Hype-filled. Not credible.
When genuine, heartfelt emotion is absent, copywriters are compelled to use hype which pushes their sales message over the top. They’re forced to try to generate a feeling response from their readers, but they only have their own brain-space to work with.
We welcome Bly’s acknowledgment of the problem for which soft sell marketing is the solution.
The Future of Marketing
And as for the future of marketing, Jim came across an article about a new book The Way We’ll Be, written by conservative pollster John Zogby. He’s a political right of center opinion taker and we point that out, not for political reasons, but to highlight the fact that what he writes about in his book would not automatically be expected from a man of his political leanings.
Zogby is a very credible and honest pollster and that’s what makes his findings so remarkable—and so relevant to the continued rise of soft sell marketing, online and off.
The generation now coming of age Zogby calls the “New Globals.” Quoting Zogby, he defines them as “that group of Americans, between ages 18 and 29, who:
● Focus on relationships;
● Are the first color-blind Americans;
● Possess a global perspective;
● Want honesty and fairness;
● Appeal to the best in humanity, not the worst;
● Consider themselves citizens of the planet;
● Demand authenticity and not spin. They yearn for authenticity like no generation before. They’ve had it up to here with marketing, whether political or commercial, that’s all hype and a payoff that falls far short.”
The Promise of Soft Sell Marketing
Soft sell marketing is all about authenticity. The seller has authentic care and passion for the product or service being sold. And the buyer sincerely values being cared for through the solution to their need. It is much like a beautiful dance.
When done well, soft sell marketing is the dance of life lived out on the stage of commercial exchange. The giving and the taking are equally fine expressions of all that it means to be human. And the needs on both sides of the exchange never end. They remain with us, each and every day. Year after year.
So as we continue to open our relationship with you, dear committed reader, we thank you for your authentic interest in what we’ve had to say. Because it is true that soft sell marketing is the future trend in marketing and sales, and in developing long lasting customer relations.
By reading this book, you are our customer. And we look forward to when we may meet again, and developing a very long lasting relationship with you.
As we say: Soft Sell Is Not a Revolution. It’s an Evolution.
Ah, what a lovely dance!