Are You Going In For The Hug Instead of the Handshake?



going in for the hug instead of the handshakeEver have someone lean in for the hug when a handshake was more appropriate? It has happened to all of us. There is that awkward moment when we go to put out hand out and they are thrusting towards us and we are standing there as stiff as a board wondering what to do next. MOVE AWAY! It makes us feel uncomfortable and what is just a few seconds, feels like forever. Did they miss the memo that not everyone is a hugger or are they just treating everyone the same and hug away? While we appreciate the outward show of affection, we would just rather the handshake.


Going In For the Hug

A hug is a warm embrace that comes in many different forms as we have the bro hug, the screaming girl BFF hug, the family hug, the consoling hug, the intimate hug reserved for our partners and the of course obligatory hug as they went in. We have seen or experienced these all and while we may have adopted the General Store mentality, others are a bit more reserved on who they want to be that close to. How can we tell if someone is open to receiving a hug or prefers the handshake? Tough call however as we get to know people, we learn. We have learned in business that we need to treat our customers differently by identifying their wants and expectations and then fulfilling them. There are some client or customers who prefer a phone call to an email, some that focus more on the procedure/logistics than the time it takes where as others prefer to receive the final product and without much communication. It is up to us as a business to know how our client/customers wish to communicate with us. Very important in how we earn our customer share vs our market share.

The Handshake

A handshake is a warm greeting in an introduction, an acknowledgment of the person, a job well done and something that Bill Belichick seems to forget at the end of a Patriots/JETS game. The handshake is safe and still warm, it is not overdoing it by overwhelming or making people feel uncomfortable. In business this is more earning your market share as opposed to your customer share. Market share is to the masses where as the customer share is earning each customer by knowing them. The handshake is the masses. It is the standard greeting that many times is more appropriate than a hug. Although, we have to look at when we are launching something new. Are we targeting a more intimate group within our target market (the hug) or are we going to the entire target market and then some (the handshake)?

Knowing Your Clients/Customers

This is not new or groundbreaking advice. It is something that we all practice every single day. There are some customers that we adore and some that are more difficult that require us to take a few deep breaths before we communicate with them. We learn this pretty quickly and respect that. In social media there seems to be a bit of a disconnect. Do we know a lot about our connections? Are they prospects or those that share the same industry and would be a referral agent? What about our subscribers to email lists and blogs? Do we know which of them would be potential buyers and those that would never buy at all? Have we ever taken the time to look or is it more about the numbers?

Social media has reverted us back to the masses and not the individual customers. Peter Shankman recently wrote  I Will Never Hire a “Social Media Expert,” and Neither Should You where he talks about social media and how things have gone a bit awry:

“Rather than embracing this new technology and merging it with what we’ve learned already, we’re throwing off our clothes and running naked in the rain, waving our hands in the air, sure that this time it’ll be different, because this time it’s better!!”

How often do we go through our followers or friends and qualify them as prospects? When we have a blog article that breaks the barriers for us and gets us record traffic, do we look at those that shared and retweeted to see how they would fit into our business model of prospecting? This is more than visiting their profile, blog and sending a thanks and retweeting their articles. We get so caught up in the traffic numbers and forget that while the numbers look pretty and are shiny, the share of customer is so much more important to build brand loyalty and grow your company.

Are you going in for the hug or the handshake?

photo credit: ruben van eijk

Does Your Audience See What You Say?



building brand loyaltyWhen you are talking to your audience through your advertising and marketing efforts, can your audience see what you are saying? Are they creating the visual of your words in your ads, blog, tweet or Facebook update? In Bill Maynard’s book, Incredible Ned, the other children see what Ned is saying. He is forced into silence as when he says anything, it appears next to his head. Imagine as a brand if what you say appears next to the person hearing it. A big win for the brand as you have captivated them and when their visual is positive, you have a new customer. A customer that has an emotional connection to your brand and if your product/service performs well, you have a created brand loyalty. We could look at this and say once a purchase has been made that customer themselves is now showing everyone what you are saying however, it is a bit deeper than this because you have to brand your brand to get them to buy first.

Seeing What You Say

Seeing what you say sounds almost ridiculous until you really think about it. In order to build brand loyalty you have to build trust and we build trust from what we are saying; when people believe it. Does your audience need to see what you say? If you want them to see your product or service fulfilling a need that they may or may not realize they have, you need them to. They are focusing and concentrating on your brand and eliminating all other messages that are coming their way, even if for a short while. The audience has connected with your message by seeing what you say which allows them to establish the need and, in purchasing, is satisfying that need.

I did not know that I needed Lysol wipes. I knew I needed a clean counter top and previously the need was satisfied with some 409 and paper towels. Lysol came in and showed me that I was using a spray that was not only spraying the surface area that I needed to clean but others that required some extra paper towels. Their disinfecting wet wipe cleans my counter, removes the additional time in wiping down areas that were not intended to be sprayed and decreased the need for additional paper towels. I was sold. I saw what they were saying and purchased. I still purchase and have yet to receive a message from the paper towel companies other that it dries up a spill where my my Lysol wipes cleans up the spill. Big difference! 

Brand Challenges

In Incredible Ned, he has challenges as a brand does except his are that people do see what he says and they like it whereas with a brand the challenge is to get the audience to see what you are saying. His teacher sends him to the nurse. For a brand when someone pays attention and shares your name with someone that trusts them, they are hoping that they will have the same reaction. We want to be associated with a brand that others like as well. We need that common ground, that ability to talk with others and get their acceptance. With Ned he is bounced from his teacher to the nurse, who sends him to the music teacher, who sends him to the french teacher. He is being pushed around in the same way a message is within the audience and others that they want to introduce your message to. If this new audience is not seeing what you say, they are not paying close attention and have moved on to the next message that is coming their way.

Visual Thinkers

In every day life we deem people who see what you say as visual thinkers. When in conversation and someone says that were waiting in line at the grocery store, I draw a picture in my head of what I think the store looks like and the long line.Visual thinker? Maybe, I guess. Though, I actually thought that everyone did this. Little did I know, this not the norm. Neither is being bowlegged but that is a different story.

In the book, Ned gets a visit from the principal who tells him that he is to say nothing or go and stand in the hall alone. He opted to not speak. As a brand are you aware of who your brand is being introduced to? Are your listening stations created and being responded to or are you saying nothing? Nothing is allowing them to move on to the next message and be silent to your brand. A new message is being introduced to them which is diminishing the need for your offering and creating a need for a new one. This happens multiple times a day, even when we are paying attention.

The story ends with the art teacher who figures out that Ned is an artist. In marketing we are artists as those that are able to have their audience see what they say get noticed and those that do not standing alone in the hallway.

How we get them to see

We get them to see by telling the story … one story. If you have not had the pleasure of reading the words of Jim Mitchem, I highly recommend that you do. He tells a story in all of his writings that engrosses you to the point of not only seeing, but  you feel. His articles about his daughter not being selected for the A team in soccer which she previously had been angered us. I felt for her as an athlete and also for him and his wife as parents. When the A team played the B team so many of us wanted so badly for them to crush them. We sat and waited for his updates from the game and when the A team prevailed we were upset as how bittersweet would it have been for his daughter to have the winning goal? Imagine as a brand how powerful this is and having people seeing and also feeling what you are saying.

Margie Clayman in her engagement series where she talks about needing a censor button and the people who through their own ignorance and insecurities have treated her in a manner that is almost unfathomable. Being under 4’11 she has been called a child, pointed at and even asked to stand up. Her words have us seeing this scenario and wanting her to have found something insulting to say back to them but yet we champion her for not allowing herself sacrifice her own integrity. We read, we lived and in both of these scenarios, we felt and became them.

These are only two examples but they pack the most powerful punch. When we see what the message is saying are we also feeling it? Do we need to feel it? Feel as in the emotion and not the physical feel. If we do not feel can we buy? This may be a different post that delves into the feeling after we see. If we are thinking of buying an extension cord are we feeling? Probably not until we actually have it and are able to see all the uses it has. If it is powering the Christmas lights and our house looks better than anyone on the block, that extension cord has more meaning than if it was powering the light that we have over there that is not close to the plug and we never see it.

Your time now, what do you think? Does your audience need be the Ned and see what you are saying?

photo credit: kevinspencer

Kenneth Cole Apologizes But Is it Too Late?

Kenneth Cole rocked Twitterverse this morning with its spring collection tweet directed at the unrest in Cairo. The past 24 to 48 hours in Cairo have been filled with complete and utter chaos that continues to deteriorate quickly. The people are revolting and have turned to violence. The violence is not limited to the supporters and non supporters of the government as we saw with the attack on Anderson Cooper and his crew. The violence has escalated to gunfire and loss of lives. This unrest is felt all around the world and has people fleeing the area as quickly as possible just to be safe. The severity of this conflict and how it is felt all around the world is what makes the Kenneth Cole tweet all the more concerning. Kenneth Cole sells clothes. They sell clothing through their advertising efforts, quality of clothing and established brand image.

Kenneth Cole Rocks Twitterverse

In advertising, the use of humor is a well known and very effective practice. The Kenneth Cole tweet to some is humorous. To others, it is extremely insensitive. The tactic of using something that is very hot in the media to garner the attention of the audience to then take the focus off the topic and shift it over to the brand is also one that is practiced. Kenneth Cole, it appears, was trying to grab our attention and hold it long it enough to have the focus be on their spring collection. We definitely paid attention but not to their spring collection. Their Facebook page exploded with those threatening to boycott all Kenneth Cole merchandise, some threw items away, some supported them and some resorted to wishing harm upon Kenneth Cole and his family.

kenneth cole twitter

Kenneth Cole Apology and Brand Responsibility

We  hold brands to a higher standard. We expect them to manufacture clothing that meets and exceeds our standards, use the best materials, create and maintain a safe and manufacturing plant that is not is not a sweatshop and we also want the brand to be carried within a retail chain that also is responsible to our standards. Kenneth Cole through their attempts to create a buzz for their spring collection was irresponsible. Their apology came at least 2 hours or so later and only was after their was such an out pour of disgust from the online community. kenneth cole rocks twitterverse

Is this apology too late? Is it sincere enough? Is the brand image tarnished or is this the story of the day and will be forgotten by tomorrow or especially over the weekend as we prepare for the advertising-palooza that comes with the SuperBowl? I am thinking that this will be forgotten by the weekend and the spring collection will not suffer especially since the line was purchased months ago and has already been shipped to retailers.

Brand Voice

The voice of the brand is one that we pay close attention to. We as consumers do not want to be associated with or support a brand that conflicts with our values. When we purchase and consume a brand or wear their apparel, are we saying that the brand represents our voice? We are not going to agree with everything that the brand does however we know that when a brand is supporting a cause we back, we trample one another to be a part of it and show our connection to the brand. When they are irresponsible, we abandon the brand in drones. This is sending that message that we will not tolerate corporate irresponsibility so if we look at that, we then have to consider when we are supporting them that we are telling the brand and everyone that sees us purchasing, consuming and wearing their brand that we are allowing them to be our voice.

What do you think? Is the apology too late? Has the damage been done or are those that have speaking out in such disgust not even Kenneth Cole customers?

Tweet photo credits:

Kenneth Cole New York photo credit: Ben Sutherland

Are You Faking It Thinking You Are Going to Make It?

faking it to make it Faking it. We all have done it in different degrees. It could be in the bedroom, talking to someone pretending to be listening or even liking them, or even when someone approaches us remembering us and we are at a loss as to who they are. We give the sure, sure or some sort of reassurance that we do actually remember them (as we walk away thinking who on earth is this person?) It happens, and sometimes pretending to know is a whole lot easier than disappointing by telling the truth that we do not know. I am not saying it is right or wrong, it is just something we do.

Our actions in these types of situations are generally based upon the actions of others as if someone approaches us with such an excitement or knowledge of a previous meeting, we do not want to let them down by telling them that we do not remember them as it is telling them that they were not important enough or did not make enough an impact to be remembered. Harsh, yes, reality, yes. If we are approached a bit more passively and questioned if we remember them, the door is opened for us to be honest and say, “refresh my memory.” This is generally my approach as I guess I am not that verbose to think that people would remember me in a short interaction.

Faking It Thinking We Will Make It

Faking it thinking we are going to make it is a dead end. No other way to describe it. There are a myriad of ways we can fake it until it catches up. In social media we are almost being enabled to fake it. We can create a profile that is telling what we think people want to know and almost create a character of who we believe we want people to think we are. Sounds foolish but yet we see it. The haters who come out time and time again and wonder how are they filled with so much hate for everything that everyone writes? I suppose some live like that but for others they are faking it to make it as the person who hates. They build that reputation on hating. We can think of them in our mind as reading this. While some do make it for a while as the hater, in time they become ignored. Why? Well for one people do not like being around those that are constantly negative and also who wants to join the bandwagon of hating?

The over the top nice folks who seem to never complain, are always around as that bright bit of sunshine, we like them to a point. In the beginning they are great but after a while, we have to wonder. What are they really all about? No one is this happy all the time or even around that much. We start to question ourselves and in a way better ourselves by being around more and being more positive through commenting more on blogs, being more active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The competitive part of us comes out. They share our small triumphs and are always there to lend a hand in how we can improve. When we are perceived to be better they are no where to be found.

The Backlash of Faking It

The backlash of faking it enormous. They feel it. They try and recover from it or when we find a faker, we feel a bit betrayed. We question if we are that person. Sometimes we are and that hard reality is very difficult to swallow. Their supporters fade away like the the leaves falling off their branches in New Hampshire after the first few signs of frost. At first the leaves change as do supporters and then community members when they fall as fast as the trees are bare and the faking it is apparent. When we fall off the tree like the leaves we are wondering almost what we did wrong when all along they were faking it to be someone that used us to make it. Sad but powerful. We all want to make it, we all want that success but on different levels. For some the fame and the numbers matter regardless if the audience is buyers or lookers, for others the buyers matter. The fakers are building and getting the attention and we know when hear enough about someone or a product, we are compelled to look. Positive or negative, we are compelled. If positive, we have to be a part of it, if negative, we have to be sure that we are better than them. We have to be a part of it.

How We Make it

We make it by being great. Simple, yes, realistic … not always. We can be a great writer but a horrible conversationalist. We can be a long winded conversationalist but one that provokes thoughts. We make it by being great though. We all have flaws but in our chosen field when we are consistent, knowledgeable and talk the way we always talk, we make it. The talk the way we always talk is so important. This is where we see a lot of the fakers come to life. Are people professing that they give more to the community but yet we see them absent when a member of their community excels? Those that are great share the happiness and work harder to have the happiness.

We all talk in a certain way and this is not accents. We use certain words, phrases and when we go outside of them we struggle to continue to do so. The biggest and the best, are not only showing us their best in writing, product, brand but also how they talk. Ok this can be a bit disputed as we know that the celebrities endorsing a product have a script written for them and every ad we see is written but if the person cannot pull it off, we do not believe it. The writers have to know the person and the brand. So similar to blogging isn’t it? Bloggers use their words but those words have to be consistent with the brand and the person writing it.

Why We Get Big

We get big from what is discussed above. But what happens when we struggle with being big and great? Do they coincide? In the beginning yes but then the harsh reality sets in that we need to be great before we get big. This is in every aspect of business. If a product is launched and it does amazing but customer service is lacking, then the sales will be compromised. Does this constitute a faker? No  but really no? Did they forget this part? So are they faking it by overlooking a big part of the business?  What about in blogging? Do we get big before we are great?

Margie Clayman wrote a fabulous post with sensational comments on about being great or big and how this relates to blogging. But this discussion is not limited to blogging. If we are a company selling anything we have to be great before we are big. We cannot build brand loyalty or even engender the trust without being great. I may be wrong but then I look at very successful brands, large and small that were great and through the greatness became big. They have one thing in common, they did not fake it. Now albeit this is coming on the heels of the Taco Bell scandal but also the revolt against government in Egypt. Two totally different spectrums but we can see how when something is lacking, the greatness is lost and the supporters are gone as the brand was faking it with being something it was not.

Are you trying to make it by faking it or are you climbing the ladder by trying to be great?

photo credit: Zawezome