Marketing, Sales, PR Lingo: The Four Too’s vs the Four Tools of Clarity

Marketing, Sales, PR Lingo: The Four Too’s vs the Four Tools of Clarity

From personal experience and conversations with many experts in the business-to-business field, there is reasonable agreement that most corporate sales, marketing and PR lingo suffer from …

“The Four Too’s.”

  • Too wordy 
  • Too complex
  • Too cowardly cacophonous
  • Too valueless

Agree or Disagree?

Why is that?

Essentially it boils down to:

  • Trying to be all things to all people at all times
  • Not knowing you can’t be all things to all people at all times
  • Trying to sound really sophisticated, cool, intelligent, intricate and inclusive

And finally, the biggie, not understanding your customer/buyer. They only want one thing. Understand this. You exist to solve a problem for them. That’s it.

An Analyst study of executives who were likely to buy enterprise software (high dollar amount purchases typically), discovered that large vendors promoted speeds, feeds and technology innovation to their marketplace.

And buyers? Not so much.

Eschew Obfuscation

These promotions more often than not entail lengthy and wordy descriptive obfuscations.  Yes, I know what the word means. I’m trying to sound really sophisticated, cool, intelligent and inclusive. (Didn’t work, did it?)

But Guess What?

Buyers don’t care about that. They don’t care about the sales brochures with their pandemically infected corporate gobbledygook word, or the 182 PowerPoint slide presentation — both infested with words drained of all meaning.

Nope.

It’s Simple

They essentially want one thing: understanding. Simple understanding. Clear, short, concise messages and understanding.

Understanding of What?

Understanding of them, their businesses, their processes, problems.

You Are There for Only One Reason

Understanding that the only reason you are there is to help them solve a problem — or introduce them to an idea that will make them better, or their life easier in some way.

They don’t want or need the wordy intellectual technical features and functions tomes.

Keep it simple! Less is more.

More of less is less of more which is, besides confusing … great! We need more of less.

Many an executive has spun wildly hilarious tales of the innovative creative ways they have used sales brochures. Soon a corporate sales brochure may rival Duct Tape for the many ways they can be ill-used.

 

 

Typically executives throw away all the cutesy, excessively long-winded corporate gobbledygook brochures as soon as the salesperson leaves the room. Or they will store them on a large dusty file cabinet — until they find a need for useless paper.

Some other findings of the analyst study were interesting as well.

Buyers will pay for …

  • high integrity,
  • fast return on investment,
  • inexpensive operation,
  • easy implementation, and
  • excellent service.

But how is that different from 20-30-40 years ago? And isn’t that applicable to any buyer? Any industry? Any country?

Buyers Want What They Want

Buyers are pretty basic. They want what they want. Understanding, practicality and their problems solved – whatever they are.

Would You Buy From This Company?

“We provide…

  • low integrity,
  • no return on investment,
  • expensive products,
  • hard-to-implement products, and
  • the world’s worst customer service.”

Just a wild guess … but I’m thinking not.

The Value Of Being a Simpleton

I like simple messages (I’m a simpleton) that give me four tools to combat the four too’s.

The Four Tools

  • What do you do?
  • How do you do it?
  • What makes you different from others?
  • Why should I buy from you (value proposition)?

I know.

Too simple.

But, having recently this corporate hypothetical supraluminal messaging,

“We build, sell and support hypothetical superluminal quantum particle applications with ERP, CRM, BPM, MRM and PLM functionality targeted at horizontically vertical market particularities with platform-neutral ‘LMNOP” (sorta clever, alphabetically speaking) interoperability.”

Steve Kayser's Corporate Gobbledygook

I find I still prefer…

  • What do you do?
  • How do you do it?
  • What makes you different?
  • Why should I buy from you (value proposition)?

 END

How to Defeat Your Inner Deadbeat?

How to Defeat Your Inner Deadbeat?

Featuring an interview with Steven Pressfield, international bestselling author of The War of Art,” “Gates of Fire,” “Killing Rommel,” and “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” among many others.

In every person’s life, there is a still, small voice that tries to guide you to a wonderful calling − a destiny.

Your destiny.

A calling that you, and only you, were put on this earth to fulfill. Near silent, this voice is powerful enough to lift thoughts, dreams and visions to a higher ground. In ancient Rome, this inner voice was called “genius.” A tutelary inner-mentor to guide your aspirations forward − to be the best writer, politician, businessman, inventor, doctor, lawyer, painter, dancer, father, mother or whatever calling you were placed on this earth to fulfill.

Right or Wrong?

Each of you reading this right now has someplace you’d rather be; some job you’d rather have; something else you’d rather be doing. Your dreams and aspirations of bygone years are mingled with fond, longing memories of an unrealized life.

Right or wrong?

Remember?

Hear it?

That small, still inner voice?

Sadly, for most people, this voice is muted, or completely silenced − sometimes for a lifetime. Silenced by an unyielding, implacable, despicable and evil, yes evil, force. Instead of listening to this inner voice and striving to achieve something great, you end up doing something totally different than you hoped or dreamed, or were put on this earth to do. How did it happen?

Boring

You drifted into boring and safe. That’s right. You drifted into doing something boring and safe that ensnares you. It sucks you in and imprints upon your consciousness the message that you’re too boring, lazy, incompetent, or incapable of reaching out for and capturing your dream. Boring becomes your life − not a dream but a dreary, monotonous, unending circle of boring. You take a boring job
, make some boring money, pay some boring bills, and boringly exist.

Boring is a Force.

But it’s not “THE FORCE.”  Yes, “THE FORCE” is what’s really holding you back. And what we’re talking about is the …

Inner Deadbeat Force

We all have it. It infects everyone.

Every time you start, or try to start, to listen and change your life for the better, this evil scourge kicks in. Your Inner Deadbeat. It manifests itself in many nefarious ways: Rationalization, procrastination, drugs, alcohol, depression, and despair. Any weaselly
way out works just fine for the Inner Deadbeat, as long as you remain mired and mucked-up in a life unfulfilled and unlived. The Inner Deadbeat fights, no holds barred, down and dirty, to win.

How to Win?

Are there ways to overcome this diabolically evil force? Are there ways to break on through to the other side − the better side?

http://www.einarsen.no/frankrike/paris/Wallman.jpg


To not only search for meaning in life, but experience a meaningful life?  Are there ways to battle resistance and win, in your life of business and business of life?

Yes.

And an honorary citizen of Sparta and bestselling author of The War of Art:
Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield, will guide us to some of these answers. “The War of Art” has been hailed as …

“A vital gem … a kick in the ass.” – Esquire

Yes, The War of Art is hell. But Steven Pressfield is our Clausewitz who shows how you too can battle against The Four Horsemen of The Apologetic: sloth, inertia, rationalization and procrastination. Shakespeare, Rembrandt and Beethoven all are proof of what you can do with talent and General Pressfield.” – Frank Deford, Author and NPR Commentator

But First …

I’m a deadbeat.

A real doofy-doozy, ding-a-ling-dinger deadbeat.

You are too (probably, or have suspicions) if you’re reading an article titled “How to Defeat Your Inner Deadbeat.” But stick with me. We’re going to learn and have some fun.

Oh No … Not Him Too!

I have this great novel in me. I use the word “great” humbly, not pompously or arrogantly, but quite conservatively. It’s a bestseller for sure. Not the “Great American Novel” but the “Great Global Novel.”  Harry Potter potential all over it. Nothing will get in its way. NOTHING! Except …

May the Force Be With You … NOT

Every time I try to start writing, a force holds me back; an all-powerful force that kicks me back like a horrified donkey getting sucked up in an F-5 tornado. I’ve battled this force unsuccessfully for over a year now (okay maybe two or three years) and I’m losing ground fast. So, as any person with worldly ambitions and initiative would, I sought expert counsel and guidance.

ENTER: Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield has been a New York City taxicab driver, truck driver, US Marine, oil-rig worker, bartender, fruit picker, and a $150-a-week copywriter for a New York City advertising agency, Benton & Bowles. One day while rewriting the “just-add-water” text for the back label of Gravy Train dog food, Mr. Pressfield asked himself, “Shouldn’t I be doing something a little more worthwhile?”  What followed? International bestselling books and screenplays.

Mr. Pressfield has written or co-written 34 screenplays, and is the author of international bestsellers “The Legend of Bagger Vance” (also a movie), “Gates of Fire, An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae,” “Tide of War,” “The Afghan Campaign,” “Virtues of War” and “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Battles.”

Gates of Fire, An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae, has been included in the curriculum of the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy and is on the Commandant’s Reading List for the Marine Corps.

INTERVIEW

Steve K:  I’m looking for some help. In your book, the “War of Art,” you name “Resistance” (with a capital “R”) as a force, an implacable foe. Evil. Toxic.  It sounds like the same thing I’m struggling with right now, but I call it my Inner Deadbeat. I’m sure it’s the same thing. How do you define “Resistance?”
Steven: Just the way you described it above. Instead of “The Force Be With You” it’s “The Force Be Against You” anytime you try to achieve something positive. The self-sabotaging force we all seem to have. Resistance stops us from living our dreamed-of life. Resistance is particularly strong in creative and business people. The person that dreams of writing a great novel, starting a great business, losing weight or breaking away from corporate boredom to serve a greater cause, all struggle mightily with resistance.
Steve K: About the “novel writing” thing; I’ll want to follow up with you later (at the end of this interview). I have an idea on that. What are some examples of activities that bring out Resistance?

Steven:  How about a list in no particular order?

1) The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.

2) The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.

3) Any diet or health regimen.

4) Any program of spiritual advancement.

5) Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.

6) Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.

7) Education of every kind.

8) Any act of political, moral, or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.

9) The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others.

10) Any act that entails commitment of the heart. The decision to get married, to have a child, or to weather a rocky patch in a relationship.

11) The taking of any principled stand in the face of potential reprisal.

“Any act which disdains short-term gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity. Any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any act of these types will elicit Resistance.” –  – Steven Pressfield, War of Art

Steve K: How does Resistance operate?

Steven: Resistance is a liar. Resistance is relentless. Resistance is destructive. Resistance is creative. It finds ways − reasonable ways − for you to avoid doing the very thing you should be doing.

Steve K: How does it do that?

Steven: One way is rationalization. Coming up with all kind of reasons not to start. Waiting for your health to get better, the right moment, the right opportunity, the right partner, etc. This leads to procrastination. Procrastination serves its devious agenda. Rationalize and Procrastinate. They become bad habits.

Steve K: What are some of the ways Resistance manifests itself?

Steven: Remember I said it’s evil. Toxic. Protean − a shapeshifter. It can manifest itself in many ways. Depression. Despair. Alcohol and drug abuse. Overeating or overindulging in any short-term pleasure at the expense of long-term positive growth.

Steve K: You have a rule of thumb …

The Resistance Rule of Thumb

“The more important a call or an action is to our soul’s evolution,  the more resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

Steve K: How did you come up with that?

Steven: Life experience. Lots of it. For example, I was a screenwriter in LA when the idea for “The Legend of Bagger Vance” came to me. As a book, not a screenplay. Remember I was a screenwriter. But not just any book … a book about golf. My first novel. First novels usually take forever to get published and realize very little financial gain, if any. Not much chance of success there. Resistance fired up the fear engine.  But … the Muse grabbed me. So I did it.

Steven K: And …
it ended up being a bestseller, both commercially and critically acclaimed, and later made into a movie.

Steven: Yes.

“Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example. ” –  Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894)

Steve K: You state in your book that Resistance only strikes in one direction.

Steven: Yes. Down. Never up.

Steve K: Resistance wants you to take the low road? Example?

Steve: Yes. If you’re working to find a cure for a disease, or to eradicate poverty, and decide that you’d rather be driving a cab in Cincinnati, Resistance won’t stand in your way.

“Resistance only strikes in one direction … down.”

“Take the low road!” – Resistance

Steven K: How do you start to overcome resistance?

Steven: Facing death is one way.

Steven K: Uh …  I’ll pass on that one. But, what do you mean?

Steven: How about this example: a woman finds out she is going to die of cancer in six months. She quits her job immediately. She goes to a hospice (or – insert any lifelong dream here), and volunteers to help other dying people.  She’d always dreamed of helping others. Everyone thinks she’s crazy, friends and family alike. But she’s happier than she’s ever been. And P.S. …

Steve K: P.S. what?

Steven: Her cancer goes into remission.

“When we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.” – Sogyal Rinpoch

Remember Tom Laughlin? He starred in the movie “Billie Jack.” He now works with cancer patients. I heard him speak once, and he said (paraphrasing), The minute a person finds out they have cancer, everything changes. What was important seconds ago to them now no longer is. Everything changes.

When it happens, people think back to unrealized dreams. Think back on their unfulfilled dreams of being a musician, painter, farmer, or dancer. Maybe cancer is caused by not following your path − your dreams − what you should have, or should be doing.

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” – – M. Scott Peck

Steve K: How do you defeat resistance? Defeat this Inner Deadbeat? How do you start?

Steven: By starting. There’s no magic in the answer. But there’s magic in the start.

Wonderful things happen when you just do it. Mysterious things happen. Ideas pop up from nowhere. Happy accidents occur. People appear in your life at the very right time. It’s a beautiful thing.

It’s like tapping into this vast collection of creative possibilities just waiting to be discovered. Those possibilities are already out there. Right now. Waiting for you, or someone like you, to discover them. 

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.  It is the source of all true art and science.” –  Albert Einstein

Steve: Just start? That’s it? That’s all there is to it?

Steven: Yes. But you have to be a professional. Not a weekend warrior. Do it as a profession, not an avocation. Not a weekend warrior. Have a hard hat, hard-head, lunch-pail mentality. Think like a professional. It’s an attitude shift. Show up for work every day. Rain, sleet, snow, sunshine. Then work every day. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t collected a check yet. Just keep at it. The money will come. But be prepared for adversity, failures, and criticism along the way. It will come too.

Steven K: Example?

Steven: The first screenplay I had made into a movie was “
King Kong Lives
.” I thought it was going to be a box office smash.

Steven K: And?

Steve: Variety magazine reviewed it like this, “We hope writers Steven Pressfield and Ronald Shusett are not their real names … for their parents’ sake.”  I learned from it. Don’t take it personal. Move on. 

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” –  Sir Winston Churchill

Steven K: How do you do it? Write?

Steven: I put my boots on to write. I say a prayer and invoke the Muse, as the ancient Greeks did, humbly asking for aid to open up the creative channels. Then I just do it.

The hardest part is sitting down.

Let me say that again. The hardest part is sitting down.

I keep at it until I’m done for the day. It can be good … or bad. The main thing is to just do it

Steven K: Final thoughts?

Steven: 
Each person is destined to do something specific that only they can do. Follow your inner voice; just do it.

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sun-dial in the shade?”  – Benjamin Franklin

Steven: If you don’t, you’re not only hurting yourself, you’re hurting others by not helping enrich our world. By not sharing your gift. Do it and don’t quit no matter what. 

None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Steven K: “The War of Art” (also available in MP3) by Steven Pressfield, is a timeless classic. Eloquent, elegant, quick, slick, easy to read, transformatively easy to understand. I very rarely rave about a book, but this book is raveable.

 END:

 

Storytelling Story-Selling Super Sources

Storytelling Story-Selling Super Sources

By Steve Kayser

Storytelling story-selling content is the new advertising, marketing & PR.

It’s a harsh new reality all businesses and employees have to face. You can still shell out tons of dough for advertising, marketing and PR campaigns and get retro-returns on your dollar, or you can do what people resonate with – story-selling by storytelling.

SERIOUSLY …  NO STORY?

Have you ever heard this?

“We have great products with amazing features – but no story.

We rock. We smoke. We’re the greatest. Features, functions, speeds and feeds. That’s us. Rock on Dude and Dudettes!

But no story.

NO STORY –  NO GAME

You got no story. You got no game. You got no game – you got no business. (One of the best things about publishing your own stuff is you can riff horridly constructed anti-prose with non-grammatical grammar and get away with it.)

P4=PROBLEM-PATH-PAYOFF-PROFIT

Whatever business you’re in you have a story. If it’s a good story it informs, educates, entertains and helps people down a path to find a solution to the problem they have.

The trip down the path is your story.

Your story is littered with adversity, obstacles, problems, helpy-helpers, wise sages, pitfalls and pratfalls (always emphasize your own pratfalls; it’s an endearing quality – exposing yourself to ridicule and humiliation. Makes you human. Authentic. If you don’t win the business you still might make some new friends.) and eventually, when you get to the end of the path, you will successfully solve their problem and deliver a solution. That solution is their payoff, and your profit.

PRINT & DISTRIBUTE YOUR OWN CURRENCY … LEGALLY

Well, not so much print – but create. Print is so Gutenberg. The truth is that your business success, whatever business you’re in, hinges on your ability to create remarkable content. Remarkable problem-solving stories. But no matter how great or remarkable your story may be, it still has to be discovered or found first.

CHUNKS AND CHUNKS OF CONTENT CHUNKS

I’m throwing out another formula here.

1-10-1 (soon to, in a parallel universe, be inversely parallel to E=Mc2 famous-osity)

What the “H” does that mean? Pretty simple actually. No matter how great your story, your product, your Grandma’s peanut-butter jalapeno sardine & anchovy cupcakes are, people have to discover it before it receives rightful recognition. To do that you have to EARN the readers attention. And that’s hard now. There are over 1.5 trillion URLS being searched every day by Google and over one million new blog posts published every day. Content speeds by at supraluminal (yes, it’s a real word) speed. So, an Einsteinian luminosity of equational (probably not a real word) simplicity is called for. A new light-bending equation of content creation …

1-10-1

1 Second:

Your title or subject line must capture the reader’s attention in one second to EARN the right to …

10 Seconds 

… more of their time. In that 10 seconds, you have to intrigue, pique or totally discombobulate the reader into believing you are trying to share helpful, unique, specific information. If you do that you EARN the right to …

1 Minute

… of their precious mind-time. In that minute you have to share ideas, information, insights and information that might make a real difference in their life of business or business of life. If you do that you’re on the right path … the  P4 path. (that alliteration isn’t  path-etic is it?)

Think chunks of content. Easy-to-read,  easy-to-digest chunks of content … like Grandma’s peanut-butter jalapeno sardine & anchovy cupcakes. One second chunks. Ten second chunks. One minute chunks. Now, for more good stuff ahead.

DEATH, DESTRUCTION & A GOOD BOILING IN OIL

Now, here’s the part where I try to share information that will make a difference for you – no matter what business you’re in. When you start creating your own currency of content it can, inadvertently lead to a …

DEATH SENTENCE

If your company doesn’t have the ability to create and publish helpful, unique content, it won’t survive long. It’s a punishing reality. Losers get the death penalty. People are searching for answers to their problems, which your company may have the answer for, and people are willing to pay for won’t find you. The only way to fight that is to kill all…

DEATH SENTENCES

Corporate gobbledygook. Using “words drained of all meaning,” ( I heard Steve Wynn use that in a speech once – I cribbed it from him). Absolutus vomitus eruptus words … like seamlessly integrated, world’s leading provider, etc. For an in-depth list of torridly horrid, fatuously flatulent, superbly superfluous corporate gobbledygook check out my Bio.  I think I used all of them.

DESTRUCT AND DESTROY!

The kind of communications (written or spoken) that you’d rather be boiled in oil or burned alive before having to read, listen to or try to comprehend. Wherever possible, weed out as much dreck and anesthetic corporate gobbledygook as you can. Some will always slip by, like an invisible virus to infect your site. But do your best to fight the good fight.

HELP ME OUT?

It takes discipline, rigorous creativity (yes I said rigorous creativity) and is a demanding job to consistently create, write and publish quality content. I don’t care who you are. Write and re-write. Cut, destroy, destruct, boil in oil. I’m not particularly good at it. But I’ve written with, interviewed and know many that are.

FROM ANOTHER PLANET?

The list below is where I’d start if I were new, struggling, a grizzled veteran or had recently arrived from another planet and was trying to create my own storytelling story-selling currency. They’re the …

BEST OF THE BEST STORYTELLING STORY-SELLING SOURCES 

1. War of Art – by Steven Pressfield – (@spressfield on Twitter)

Read the book. Absorb it. Do it. Keep it by your side. Travel with it. It’s the Bible of attitude, style and grace – in writing and life. A true classic. Like the man himself. And check out“The Power of Resistance: Lessons Learned from Bestselling Author Pressfield,” to get a snapshot of what I’m talking about. Steven’s definition of “Resistance” with an “R” plays a big and attributed role in my next pick which is …..

2. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? – by Seth Godin (@thisissethsblog on Twitter)

Seth’s a bestselling author for a reason. Simplicity and clarity are hallmarks of his writing style. Great thinking is his art. I’ve read all his books. I’ve been waiting for him to write the “Purple Donkey” book, but I guess he hasn’t got around to it yet. When he does it’ll be his “Tour de Force.” Anyway, his book “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable,” is the new employment reality. If you’re not a Linchpin person with a Linchpin mindset – you’re either unemployed or about to be. The “report to work and just be present to watch the clock” mentality is no longer the world we live in. You have to be remarkable. In any job you do.

3. The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, – by  David Meerman Scott  (@dmscott on Twitter)

Steven Pressfield & Seth Godin pave the path of attitude, gratitude, and force of spirit. David Meerman Scott walks down that path paving it with real-world case studies and examples of how to turn content into cash. This book is in its second edition and was a BusinessWeek bestseller for six months. I pull it out regularly, just to see where I screwed up.

4.  STORYby Robert McKee

Why this book? Why Robert McKee? Well, he wrote the book on STORY … didn’t he? But it’s a book about screenwriting Steve? No, it’s about STORY. The eloquence, elegance and love of STORY. It’s timely – always. And timeless. For a quick-look read check outA Simple Timeless Tale: Lessons Learned from Legendary Hollywood Guru Robert McKee.”

5. The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells – by Bob Bly

Sure Bob has a great testimonial from David Ogilvy,

“I don’t know a single writer whose work would not be improved by reading this book – including me,”

…but that’s not why this book is a must-have. Bob nails the formulas that help stretch and refresh your mind. He gets it. Writes simple. Sells big. And it’s all about work and process with him. I particularly like his 4 “U’s” for titles. All titles should be Useful, Unique, Urgent, and Ultra-specific. And his “38 Great Ideas for Your Next Headline,” is something you can pull out anytime your having a mental block. But let me share one really intriguing little-known fact about Bob. He has a flair for eclectic, high-value, high-fashion hat wear.

6. Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki

The back cover of this book should be required reading for authors, writers, marketers, PR professionals and anyone that wants to understand how to draw people into your story with well–written, eloquent simplicity. Pick up the book and read the interview “A REAL Business REALITY CHECK with Bestselling Author Guy Kawasaki.”

Now  … fight the good fight. Explore the path.

Write.  Do it right.

Or try best you can.

There …  I’m done.

###

“Joy” image courtesy of H.Kopp Delaney from Germany. He’s awesome.

 

Left, Right and No-Brainers…The Management vs. Marketing War

Left, Right and No-Brainers…The Management vs. Marketing War

Featuring an Interview with Al and Laura Ries, authors of WAR IN THE BOARDROOM: Why Left-Brain Management and Right-Brain Marketing Don’t See Eye-to-Eye – and What to Do About It.

There’s a war going on in American business. It’s a war that needlessly inflicts serious economic harm on customers, employees, companies and stakeholders.

It’s a war that causes great ideas and products to vanish. To get lost in the clear fog of logical logic. A devastatingly destructive war that helps bad ideas take root and grow (albeit briefly), nurtured and justified by common sense and … logical logic.

LEFT-BRAIN MANAGEMENT vs. RIGHT-BRAIN MARKETING

What does that mean? How does it work? What to do about it? Find out in this interview with bestselling authors Al and Laura Ries.

BUT FIRST …

The markets being the shape they’re in – no jobs, no money, no hope, economic despair, destruction and disheartenment all around, I thought it’d be the perfect time to start a new company.

NO-NEW MEDIA

So I did. It’s called “Kayser’s No-New Media.” I specialize in old media – none of that highfalutin New Media Web 2.0 vaporware. My differentiator? I go back through time, find and revive great ideas from the past that have gone bad, mostly because they were ahead of their time, or were poorly executed.

KNOW-BRAINER?

See, I understand the left-brainer vs. right-brainer war mentality. I’m above all that Byzantine internecine strife. In fact I’m going to profit handsomely from it because I’m a “Know-Brainer.” I use both sides of my brain, that’s why the new business is booming. Well … at least my one ( beta account – no money has actually exchanged hands yet) account is.

My first job is for an auto manufacturer. Yes I know, not the best time to be dealing with the auto industry. But my client is getting mega bucks in new investment (from taxpayers) … what an opportunity! And this auto dealer has total faith in my new approach. We’re getting ready to rock the Auto World. There is only one catch. They asked that I run my ideas and marketing concept by some world-class Marketing & PR strategists. “No problemo,” (Sometimes I speak German to impress new clients) said I. “Piece of cake.”

RETRO-STRATEGIC BUSINESS MODEL

I decided to go for it. To go to the absolute World-class Best Marketing & PR strategists – mainly because I ‘m so sure of the concept that I’m looking for endorsements to help grow my unique, retro-strategic business model.  So I contacted Al & Laura Ries, best-selling authors of “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding,” “The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR,” as well as “War in the Boardroom: Why Left-Brain Management and Right-Brain Marketing Don’t See Eye-to-Eye – and What to Do About It.” They agreed to talk to me.

I’m going to trust the reader not to leak the top secret details of the project below – or crib the idea.  Here’s the concept.

THE EDSEL-ZILLA!

We’re bringing back the Edsel.

Sure it was a colossal flop. Worst car of all-time. But that was only because it was way ahead of its time. It was a DaVinci-like beauty.

And the name – Edselzilla?

Car sales are all about the name. Has to be something that rolls off the tongue. Has to be memorable. Meaningful.

I crafted a crafty neologism from the words “Zilla” and “Illa,” and came up with the name, which also has a scintillating etymological iconic meaning … and  could it roll off the tongue any easier?

FULL OF HIGH-TECH PRODUCTS

I made sure the engineers loaded the Edselzilla with incredibly complex and sophisticated products that most people will never use. Products like seats that vibrate and shake to the music – different beats – different shakes, depending on the music. Slick, huh? And, taking advantage of the latest in nanotechnology advancements, the Edselzilla computer sensors monitor the mood of the driver (based upon complex gluteus-maximus seat vibration algorithmic calculations) and displays it for all to see. Can you imagine? A blue-green car means a peaceful driver. A red car … road-rage candidate.

RELIABLE RELIABILITY

And reliability? We rock. What’s one of the biggest value props for a car? Reliability. The Edselzilla prototype’s been road-tested for a year. It’s better than anything on the market. Tops the Lexus and the Mercedes even.

LOW-END OF THE HIGH-END, HIGH-END OF THE LOW-END

Price Point?  A mere $150,000.

We’re going to own the low-end of the high-end, the high-end of the low-end and the almost-highest end of the ultimate high-end. How? We’re going wide. On the drawing boards we have a product line wider than the Grand Canyon.  Proof?

THE EDSELZILLA PRODUCT LINE

  • Bedselzilla: Sleeper Cab Truck
  • Dedselzilla: Hearst – Funerary Line
  • Fedselzilla: Government Line
  • Hedselzilla: Intellectual Line, Professors, Sub-Prime Mortgage-Backed Derivate Analysts
  • Jediselzilla: Star Wars Line
  • Ledselzilla:  Led Zeppelin Line
  • Medselzilla: Ambulance Line
  • Nedselzill: This is sorta niche’ey. For all the guys named Ned Line. Probably not a big-seller at first.
  • Pedselzilla: The Environmentalist/Green Crowd Line- Equipped with pedals.
  • Qedselzilla: For the up and coming Quantum Physicist Line
  • Redselzilla: The only car for People with Red Hair Line
  • TEDselzilla: The Ted Nugent Fan Line. Comes with a zebra-skinned, M-60 machine-gun attachment on the hood, wood-burning grill on the dash (can cook up to 30 lbs of wild game – cookbook included). Coolest feature? The TEDselzilla’s doors flip up and turn into concert venue-sized speakers. Personally, this is the one I’m buying when it comes out – before Ted Nugent captures the Presidency in 2012.
  • Weaselzilla: For Politicians Who Raise Taxes on Everyone but Themselves Line -This one will be huge.

We’ll own the market.

Now … for the coup de grâce . A “slam dunk” as a CIA chief once said. I personally negotiated a distribution deal with one of the largest retail chains in the world. Exposure will be incredible. Edselzillas will soon rule the world.  Guess who the distributor is?

rambler-copy-550pxWALMART!

The largest retailer in the world! The biggest audience.  Take your breath away? I knew it would … that’s about it. Wait until Al and Laura hear about this. They’ll probably want to invest.

ENTER: AL & LAURA
Al Ries and Laura Ries are the dynamic father and daughter duo that have reshaped branding in the 21st century. The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR ruffled more than a few feathers and changed the way we look at advertising forever.

Al and Laura Ries  have been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age, Business Week, and USA Today.

Laura is a frequent media commentator appearing on Fox News, CNN, CNBC, Fox Business, ABC News, CBS, PBS and Bloomberg.

WIN THE BOOK: For keeping the secret I disclosed above – the first 20 people that send me an e-mail at skayser@cincom.com with “TEDZILLA” in the subject line will win an autographed copy of Al & Laura’s new book.

FINALLY – THE INTERVIEW BEGINS

Steve: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I have a few questions about “WAR IN THE BOARDROOM,” and then want to run a real-world business branding concept by you. First … why did you write this book? What prompted it?

Al Ries (Al): 40 years of frustration. Marketing and Management are at war. In our years of consulting work, we have participated in many battles over marketing strategies and tactics. On many occasions, we have lost those battles and have the scars to prove it. The reason for the war is that marketing and management don’t understand each other. The reason they don’t understand each other is that their brains are different.

Laura Ries (Laura): Management people tend to be left brain thinkers. Left-brainers are verbal, logical and analytical. Marketing people tend to be right brain thinkers.  Right-brainers are visual, intuitive and holistic. Our goal with this book is to help establish better communications between marketing people and management people. Better communications leads to better branding.

Steve: Examples of left-brainers?

Al: If you’re the CEO of a major corporation, chances are good you are a left-brainer. Management people tend to be logical, analytical thinkers. In order to make decisions, they want to be supported by facts, figures, market data, and consumer research.

Steve: Right-brainers?

Laura: Directors of Marketing. If you’re in marketing, chances are good you are a right-brainer. Marketing people tend to be intuitive, holistic thinkers. They often make decisions by “gut instinct” with little or no supporting evidence.

Steve: What about “Know-Brainers” (like me) that use both sides off the brain equally?

Al: We call that “Ambibrainerity.” It’s similar to ambidexterity. Most people who are thought to be ambidextrous (switch hitters in baseball, for example) are really left-handers who, with a great deal of practice, have taught themselves right-handed skills. Or vice versa.

Laura: Ambibrainerity is extremely rare. While you can learn to exercise the less-favored half of your brain, working both sides equally is almost impossible. Depending on how you were born, you are going to have to live your life either as a left-brainer or a right-brainer. Every occupation seems to attract people who favor one side of their brain or the other. It might take logical, analytical thinking to run a corporation, but it also takes intuitive, holistic thinking to run the marketing program for that same corporation.

Steve: Is there a common theme or thread that runs through these left-brain vs. right-brain wars?

MANAGEMENT=COMMON SENSE

Al: Yes. There’s usually a common theme to the lost battles. Management argues for ideas and concepts that are just plain “common sense,” a reflection of their left-brain thinking.

MARKETING=INTUITIVE. NOT LOGICAL

Laura: We argue for ideas and concepts that might not be logical, but intuitively we believe are ideas that will work, a reflection of our right-brain thinking.

Steve: I’m going to ask a dumb question …

Al: Who decides in these wars? The deck is stacked. Every marketing decision has to be approved by management.  Guess who loses? Of course marketing loses. But more importantly, the two sides are engaged in a war that undermines companies, careers, brands, stockholders and consumers alike.

Steve: Okay … How about a real-world example of an idea battle that management won that marketing would never have thought of? Maybe something from the auto industry – since it’s a hot topic right now. (I’m prepping them for my pitch here. Subtle … isn’t it?)

THE REALITY OF PERCEPTIONS

Al: Okay. Let’s talk about the Volkswagen Phaeton. It’s a high-end luxury car, priced at $100,255, and received glowing reviews from Forbes and USA Today. Business 2.0. hailed it as, “Overwhelmingly the best value among high-end luxury cars.” Remember this.  Left-brain management types deal in reality. Facts, figures, charts and numbers. Management acknowledges the importance of perception, but believes that perception is just a reflection of reality.

They think if you change the reality, you change the perception.

The reality was that the low-end car sales were being taken over by Japan and Korea. Chinese brands were poised to enter the US market. Logic dictated that Volkswagen needed to move upstream – up market, to the more profitable high-end luxury cars. It’s completely logical. Common sense. And completely wrong.

THE PERCEPTION OF REALITY

Laura: Right-brain marketing types deal in the reality of perception. What matters to marketing people are not the “facts” of a situation but what’s in the mind of the consumer, which may or may not correspond with reality. What’s in the mind of a “Volkswagen” consumer? Do you think buying a $100,000 car is?

BIG LESSON

Changing reality is easy; changing perceptions is exceedingly difficult.

Steve: And what happened?

Al: What do you think?

Steve: Well, I’ve never really heard of the Phaeton. But … it’s a Volkswagen.

Al: Exactly. It’s a Volkswagen. Not a BMW. Not a Lexus. The company couldn’t give them away. The Volkswagen Phaeton was introduced in November 2003. Since then, only 3,354 units have been sold in the United States.

Laura: Perception won out.

Steve: But what if it was the best product on the market? The absolute slickest-sweetest-superior and most reliable? Like a Mercedes. Loaded with high-tech features, bells and whistles that would awe a NASA astronaut? Wouldn’t that make a difference? Save the day?

Al: That’s your left-brain coming out. Management believes that nothing matters except the product. Building a better product is the objective of most chief executives. Wrong. Now let’s talk about “reliability.” Where do you think Mercedes Benz finished in an “Automotive Brand Reliability” survey by Consumer Reports … out of the Top 35 Brand names?

Steve: 1st or 2nd?

36TH OUT OF TOP 35!

Laura: Meredes ranked 36th in the 2007 Consumer Reports “Predicted Reliability” customer survey. Right-brainers know you don’t win with a better product. You win with a better brand.

GOING DEEP AND WIDE

Steve: What if they would have had a deep and wide product line? Be all things to all people? Wouldn’t that have turned the tide in their favor?

Al: That’s logical. Sounds like common sense.

Steve: Absolutely. (I knew I was on to something big now)

Al: Left-brain management types always favor a full line. Common sense suggests that a full line of products and services allows you to sell more than if you had a narrow line. Completely wrong. That’s why it’s so hard to win these battles. Common sense is a tough opponent.

Laura: Right-brain marketing favors a narrow line. Selling is the second step in a marketing program. The first step is building a brand in the mind. Building a brand with a full line can be difficult because you don’t stand for anything. And if you don’t stand for anything …

Steve: But if you stand for all things? You’ll surely sell something. I mean it’s just common sense.

Al: Management counts on common sense. Management approaches every situation in a sane, sensible way. Their emphasis is always on the product and the execution. Like I said … very hard to win a battle because common sense and logic … are so logical.

Laura: Marketing counts on marketing sense. The more experience a marketing person has, the more he or she realizes that common sense is usually wrong. Often the illogical, uncommon sense “marketing idea” produces the best results.

Steve: So how do you think this played out  when planning for the new high-end Volkswagon  Phaeton?

Al: A bunch of people sat down with reams of reports, data, facts, looked at the hard market realities they faced and came up with the logical idea of a $100,000 plus V0lkswagen. Then they had to justify it. Make it make sense. A $100,000 plus Volkswagen. Can you imagine? Why … that’d be like bringing back the Edsel and selling it at WALMART as a high-end luxury car.

DAWS MOMENT (indicates a Deep, Awkward Silence)

Laura: A right-brain marketing type would have never thought it was a good idea. In the automobile field what matters is the brand. Not the product. Perception dictates reality.

Steve: What’s a right-brainer supposed to do when dealing with left-brain management?

Al: Speak their language. Facts, figures, market share analysis. Present their intuitive ideas to a logical thinker logically, in their language.

Laura: Right-brainers have to sell their visual ideas to left-brain management types in verbal terms. Talk about product benefits and features instead of “positioning” the brand in the mind.

Steve: Thank you so much for your time. But … I have to admit something. I’ve been disingenuously disingenuous. I’ve asked most of these questions because I’ve started a new company – and we’re rolling out a new car model.  I wanted to test the concept with you. Both from the left-brain and right-brain approach.

ANOTHER DAWS MOMENT

So … I went through the whole EDESLZILLA concept.

A BLACK HOLE DAWS MOMENT

Steve: So what do you think of my Edselzilla? It rocks? Too much left-brain? Right brain? Or …

HOW DEEP CAN A DAWS MOMENT GET?

I  don’t know if the reader knows it or not but Al & Laura would be considered right-brain creative types. So they did what any right-brain creative type would do. Presented their answer in a visual.

THE  END

About Al Ries & Laura Ries

Al & Laura been have been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age, Business Week, USA Today, Marketing News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Brandweek and countless other domestic and international magazines and newspapers. Laura is a frequent media commentator appearing on Fox News, CNN, CNBC, Fox Business, ABC News, CBS, PBS and Bloomberg.

Al and Laura are branding gurus known for delivering business insights with wit, wisdom and worldliness. They are sought after speakers around the world including the U.S. India, China, Europe and South America. So far they have worked in 60 countries and counting.

Al is Chairman and Laura is President of Ries & Ries, the marketing strategy firm they founded in 1994. Together they work with clients like Microsoft, Ford, Disney, Merck, Frito-Lay and Unilever.

Keep up with Laura on her Ries’ Pieces Blog

CONTACT:
Laura@ries.com
Website: Http://www.ries.com
Videos: www.RiesReport.com

The Business Writer’s Life: How a Masterpiece Gets Turned into a Disasterpiece

The Business Writer’s Life: How a Masterpiece Gets Turned into a Disasterpiece

By Steve Kayser

I spoke to a group of business writers once (and there’s a reason it was only once).  Not from a matter of knowing the technical craft of writing (I’m horrible at that stuff – that’s why God made editors), but the art of writing with and writing for others.

WRITERS ARE WHACKOS

Why me? I’ve written with and/or interviewed hundreds of people. I find it fascinating, enjoyable, and fun. It helps expand your mind and mindset. The person that asked me to speak knew that. And,  he thought I was a whacko – which helped. He thought all writers were whackos (he was a C-Level executive).

WRITING IS A TOUGH JOB

This group of business writers I was going to speak to were fed up. Their morale was lower than a snake’s belly. They loved writing, and being writers. But their job was sucking the life, and the creative spirit. out of them.

Rarely, if ever, did their work see the light of day, get used or published. Why? Because of endless edits and input from everyone at their company. This had the effect of corporate gobbledygook-deizing the writing to the point that the words had less than zero meaning.

Writing was a tough enough job without everybody and their brother telling them how to do it. They were even embarrassed to tell anyone they were involved as the writer when their work actually got published.

THE DISASTERPIECE ROADMAP

So, knowing that background, I provided a them a quick, empathetic and realistic road-map (below) on how a writing masterpiece gets turned into a “disasterpiece.”  And yes, writing is and always will be a tough job, but a different perspective might help make their job easier.

HEY! IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY

The writers fell out of their chairs laughing (it wasn’t supposed to be funny – just realistic).

The person that asked me to speak hasn’t spoken to me since. He was right. I am a whacko.

A BUSINESS WRITER’S LIFE

You start writing your masterpiece.

Full of hope, spirit, good thoughts, better words … inspired.

PAinting Your Masterpiece

It’s going to be simple.

Simple in a great kind of way.

Easy to understand.

Concise.

Clear.

Clean.

Lotta white space.

Easy on the eyes.

Easier on the vocabulary.

Pure.

Fun.

Like a Newborn.

Newborn writer

Then …

Writers CLock

Feedback.

More “feedback.”

Edits.

Edits on steroids – mixed with powerful laxatives.

Then additions. More additions.

Then deletions of the first additions.

Delays.

Multiple approvals.

From engineers, salespeople, marketers, and even the Bob the heating and air conditioning guy, who just happened to stop by (and he really had the best feedback).  But then …

More delays.

And detailed explanations of the edited, deleted, revised edited additions.

Detailed explanations that rival the complexity of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.

Finally, eventually, somehow, your newborn ends up looking like…

Writing by compromise

And you writing masterpiece?

Do I even need to tell you guys?

It’s turned into a very well-known, recognizable…

Contributed Writing

DISASTERPIECE.

So … yes.

A writers job can be tough.

I guess.

But sometimes, if you think about it, really think about it …

… It might just depend on your perspective of writing as a job.

target-practice perspective

Yes.

Perspective.

Depends on your perspective of what a tough job might be.

elephant_dung_catching

It’s all about perspective

Now … get back to work and turn that disasterpiece back into your masterpiece

###

Baby pic courtesy of  Blingee.

Target practice image courtesy of myspaceantics.