Archives for posts with tag: problem-solving

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The list of countries by Nobel laureates is very revealing:

– The United States has 332 winners.

– United Kingdom 118, followed by Germany (103), France (58), Sweden (29) and Switzerland (25).

– China has 4 winners. India 9.

– Switzerland has 33 winners per 10 million citizens, China 0.052.

Even more revealing is to look at the German specifics:

– Before 1933, Germany won the Nobel Prize 38 times. 38 wins in 32 years.

– Between 1933 and 1950, Germany won it 9 times. 9 wins in 17 years.

What happened?

When countries become less concerned with output and more concerned with other factors (race, religion, political affiliation, class), they become less productive.

Hitler didn’t care about the work of Einstein, Teller, Haber and Frisch. He was only concerned about their religion and his insane racism.

(Now, let’s all be very grateful he didn’t care about their work. These were the people that made the atomic bomb possible. Can you imagine? Let’s not.)

All of us are guilty of this behavior.

We tend to put more emphasis on arbitrary factors than judging the work. Take an agency pitch:

Brands often choose a new agency because of the overall vibe. It can be the location. The architecture of the office. The chemistry. The niceties.

Employers choose new hires based on a cultural fit, not on their accomplishments. They rather create a  comfortable work environment than creating extraordinary work.

I used to have a dentist that was extremely friendly, I wouldn’t mind bar hopping with him. We chatted for 10 minutes before he went to work. Years later I found out that his work was terrible. I was blinded by his receptionist, his demeanor, the overall vibe. My current dentist barely talks. If I’m lucky, he has 5 words for me all day. But he does the work. Maybe the best work in the business.

I don’t care if my mechanic calls me on my birthday. I want him to do the work.

I don’t care if my mortgage broker loves the same movies. I want her to do the work.

Clients want agencies to solve problems.

The advertising doesn’t work. The product doesn’t sell.

So, the CMO gets orders from the CEO to fix marketing/advertising. The CMO has to find an agency to spend millions of dollars with. If I was a CMO, the last thing I’d be worried about is the culture, the fit, the perks. I wouldn’t care who I liked. I’d be looking at the work. At the expertise. The experience. What they have done. Not the charisma, their smiles, the hot latte.

Years ago, Washington Mutual ran the Whoo-Hoo campaign: The idea being that Washington Mutual was so good, all associates and customers should just shout out “Whoo-Hoo” all day. Employees greeted you with a handshake, they wanted to be your best friend and each hour, on the hour, employees got up to scream “Whoo-Hoo” in the middle of any transaction. Washington Mutual wanted to be liked. And they disappeared a few years ago.

Don’t try to be liked. Be competent.

A short movie produced by the Dutch producers Joep van Osch and Casper Eskes asks good questions: What the hell are we actually doing on Facebook? Does it make any sense? Should we “friend” people we barely know? Are we creating a virtual character just to please your Facebook friends?

Rethink your personal Facebook Strategy

A Facebook strategy, really? I thought it’s about sharing ¬†whatever you want to with your friends?

No, it’s not.

You’re developing a virtual brand. Don’t think you can be real on social networks. You shouldn’t be. You don’t want to air your last fight with your spouse on Facebook. Have a serious discussion about your relationship on Twitter.

You gotta be careful.

Never say anything about your clients. Ever.

Never say anything real about your relationship. Ever.

Never be real.

Be Facebook real.

Showcase your strength. Showcase what you want to stand for. So many people talk about authenticity. It’s all garbage. You don’t want to be real on Facebook. You want to be Facebook real.

Don’t share everything. Especially the negative parts.

Share enough. Especially the negative parts.

Don’t convey the Unicorn world.

You’re better than that. You’re real. Just be real in the limits Social Networks put you in. Don’t go all out.

The semi-reality of Facebook

Nobody is a real person on Facebook.

You push your all-time-best pictures in albums. Or on Instagram.

You showcase your best thinking, your best information you gather.

It’s not enough.

You have to refine your Facebook strategy even more.

Don’t define authenticity as a picture from a party.

Define it as new way of thinking, ideas you want to share with people.

Make your own Internet better than just a reunion-stirring-memories-hurting platform.

Make it a platform to define yourself. You can change any day and become some other person. (At least, we in Los Angeles can.)

Why not change your presence on social platforms. Try to be the person you want to be.

More helpful.

More value-adding.

Just a better person.

You don’t become a lesser person because of this.

You become a better person.

Because you are aware.

Because you are.

That’s enough.

What about brands?

The same applies to brands.

Authenticity and transparency doesn’t mean you have to share everything with everybody. People don’t really care about all the customer complaints you field each and every day. They don’t want to hear about the tiny details of your production process.

They want their problems solved.

And they want to find out if your brand matches up with their Facebook persona.

How does your brand fit into their Facebook being? How does it make them look better?

No wonder so many people click on or “like” charity/CSR initiatives. It makes them look better. (“I care. I’m not one of these mindless consumers. I’m a responsible customer.”)

Highlight things and initiatives that make the customer look better. That’s what Social Media marketing is all about.

Make the customer look better.

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Image: Courtesy of Music Philosophy

I’ve seen hundreds of laundry detergent ads. None of these ads affected my purchase behavior. Why? Because I don’t have a laundry detergent problem.

I’ve seen tons of American beer commercials. I’ve never bought one of these brands. Why? Because I don’t have a beer problem. (Meaning, I don’t drink any mass market US brands.)

Good advertising helps people solve problems. Gives them concrete reasons to buy this specific product/service. Explains them why this tomato sauce tastes better, why this computer works better, why these jeans make you look nicer, why this service is more convenient or tells me why this product gives me more value. There are just a few categories where people want to connect on an emotional level with brands. These are mostly frivolous purchases, things that make you feel better (or worse in the long run): clothes, liquor, soda, cigarettes.

In these categories, brands need to build emotional connections because there’s no real problem to solve. And there’s no real difference between a Pepsi and Coke. After all, it’s just carbonated sugar water. A good reason to spend a lot of money on branding. And emotional connections.

That model doesn’t work for problem-solving products. Still, many brands try to apply the emotional connection model to a problem-solving brand. And believe in joining the conversation and building connections with their user base.

Arguably, most people don’t want to talk to a brand. They just want to get their specific problem solved and move on. Just ask the people using self service kiosks in supermarkets, retailers and airports. So, decide in what business you are in. If your goal is to solve problems for people, the best thing you could do is making your solution even better. Let other people do the talking.