Is The Devil We Know Defining Our Message?

When it comes to communication that is critical to the future, it’s easy to let the negatives we know (and probably understand very well) completely determine the framework of an important message.

Case in point — when discussing dating with my teenage daughter, it’s difficult for me not to speak completely out of personal experience, framing the message in the context of the “devil” I know – ”I know exactly what boys are up to because I was one!” Few would dispute that my perspective is rooted in fact; there is no shortage of data points to support the message. But the problem (apart from the fact that my target audience has no interest in hearing this message) is that this one-dimensional message does little to help my daughter develop a perspective that helps her move into the future.

What does this have to do with our communication as leaders? Simply this: without exception, when communication is couched and “toned” only by data points of the past — or for that matter, the present — it will lack dimension, skew perspective, and seed a faulty response.

Absent a perspective that allows for (and prompts) vision, the communication of leaders runs the risk of doing little more than contributing to the current noise of the marketplace. If the data is less than stellar (consider recent communication concerning the U.S. economic strains), the chances are great that the devils we know have far too much influence on the message — even when the message is future-looking.

Consider this: had the framework for Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or poetic Second Inaugural referenced only the reality of the moment, his speeches would simply have decried the nation’s condition, and mourned those yet to die. Instead, Lincoln used the past only to raise a new vision.

Had Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the throng speaking only out of experience, the “I have a dream” refrain would never have passed his lips.

And in the wake of the USSR having won the race to orbit the earth, JFK dared to stir the US with an unthinkable vision — to put a man on the moon.

What Lincoln, King and Kennedy did was seed a vision. Some might suggest that known data points and vision represent opposite perspectives — that the former is grounded in fact and the latter is right-side-of-the-brain creativity at its best . . . spin at worst. Yet, modern history’s pivotal moments are often marked by the communication of a leader who, unprepared for the past to define the future, was able to articulate a new view of the horizon.

Pivotal moments — whether in commerce, social enterprise or political endeavors – come when leaders understand that most of us are ready to be done with the devils we have known. We simply need someone to help us with the vision of what might be.

Have a Vision? Lead on.

Top Guns: Best of Best in Social Media Policy, Guidelines

We’ve been helping our corporate clients with social media or online social network strategies, uses and policies of late and as I have been reading through the volume of information, I thought I’d post and share the “best of the best” that I’ve found thus far (I would say Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Clint Eastwood if we had to equate these corporate studs to cinema action heros). Jumping into social media if you are a business is intimidating and risky to say the least.

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Want a Marketing Edge? Write to Be Read

The chief purpose in communication is to be read. Whether it’s emails, texts, tweets, blog posts, letters, memos, or proposals—we want people to read what we’ve written. Good writing is clear, readable, and audience appropriate. It attracts the reader to the message. On several occasions, I have read a book review in the Wall Street Journal and within the hour left my house and bought the book—Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss was one of them. That’s effective book review writing.

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Social Differences in Management vs Leadership

Is there a difference between being a leader and being a manager? The answer to this question is – yes- indeed there is clearly a difference. A friend of mine once said, “you show me someone who can get a group of unpaid volunteers to work together and accomplish something great- there you will find a leader.” Let’s take a closer look at both management and leadership.

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Will The Business People Please Stand Up?

I don’t care about social media gurus or experts or mavens or whatever. That whole thing is going to settle itself out eventually, when the good work starts getting more concrete, and the people actually doing the work continue demonstrating and illustrating their learnings and results.


What concerns me far more than some nerd slinging his Facebook skillz around the fishbowl is the fact that in so many disciplines – social media included – we’ve got legions of people out there that are missing fundamental business acumen.

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4 Reasons For Brands to Tweet ~ @TrendTracker

Newest member of The Social CMO group is Glen Gilmore the @TrendTracker and he shares with us 4 Reasons For Brands to Tweet.

1. Twitter is knocking out the competition.

While Twitter is still more than a bit confounding to those not tweeting, its exponential growth is knocking out the competition in the world of messaging. What was previously viewed as a fad for the techie fringe, is now the darling to daytime talk shows, sports figures, newscasters, and nearly anyone hoping to have their message heard.

More importantly, moms and dads are tweeting, teachers are tweeting, and a whole lot of other mainstream people are in the process of signing up to enter the conversation.

The question of “What are you are you having for lunch?” has been replaced by, “Where are you going for lunch?” “What specials are they offering the Twitterverse?” Ditto for computers, shoes, vacations, and much, much more.

2. Twitter creates the opportunity for brands to find and connect with new customers.

A great example of this is United Airline’s (@UnitedAirlines) Twitter campaign offering special incentives to the first 10,000 twitterers who follow their account. @TrendTracker was one twitterer who took the bait. The result? To participate in the special offer, one had to have or open a frequent flyer account with United….And @TrendTracker did just that then. So Twitter can not only provide a forum for creating new connections to potential new customers, but it can even create the buzz to make it happen.

Want another example? Visit one of the many Dell computer Twitter accounts, such as @DellHomeOffers, to discover how they sold $3 million of additional wares thanks to their Twitter presence.

3. Twitter creates a critical listening post and damage-response base that brands ignore at their own peril.

You live and learn. Without belaboring it, one of the most glaring examples of the dangers of ignoring the Twitterverse was the failure of Domino’s Pizza to quickly pick up on and respond to the buzz in the Twitterverse of a terrible brand attack by a couple despicable, now former, employees. Domino’s ultimately succeeded in putting out the firestorm, but it would have had a better response if it had been listening to the social media buzz and sharing a home within the social media community. It is now doing both and doing both well. (Visit @dpzinfo)

4. Twitter is a community that shares.

Twitter is a community that shares — just about everything and at lightening speeds. This can be good or bad: good if you’re listening, have established credibility, and earned a tribe; bad if you are ignorning what is being said, have no presence and no tribe that will share your message when you need it most.

Brands that understand Twitter, get to be treated like an equal member of the community: they’ll get important tips, they’ll get to share their own message (yes, even when it’s commercial in nature!), and they’ll develop relationships that someone, somewhere will be able to quantify as an important return on the investment of listening and sharing in this incredible forum.

And if they listen and share in somewhat equal portions, there is no doubt that they will discover that their brand has gotten just a little bit better than the one they brought to the conversation….

For more thoughts on Social Media, follow @TrendTracker on Twitter.

Lighting the social media fire @TheSocialCMO

When I was a boyscout I learned how to best set and build a fire. First you needed the right place, then some kindling, small wood and finally to lay on the logs. Then comes the most important element required to bring a roaring fire to life and that is when you strike the match or scratch out a spark.

Over the last several weeks we have been learning to build a new kind of fire by combining people, ideas, technology and community to build something called The Social CMO. This upstart social media fire began with the construction and linking of two simple WordPress blogs in combination with the @TheSocialCMO Twitter account.

The kindling for this fire was collected imperceptibly through participation in a growing network of likeminded tweeters, great people like Amy @HowellMarketing, @TedRubin, @KentHuffman and @EricFletcher to begin with. And of course every team needs some cheerleaders and one of our most fervent from the start has been Cheryl Burgess @ckburgess!

Shortly thereafter we were joined by @SamDecker, Ryan @sauerscomm, @AnneDGallaher and of course the one and only @b2bspecialist Chris Herbert!

The small glow already emanating from this modest group led us to believe that something more was happening here but clearly some really large logs were now needed. However, it turned out that not elongated chunks of wood, but social media and community pros @Ambercadabra, @TreyPennington and @TrendTracker Glen Gilmore were all that was required to fuel the spontaneous combustion that is now taking place.

It took man thousands of years to fully understand and harness the power of fire to form tools and sharpen weapons, melt sand into glass and launch ourselves into space. But there seems little doubt this new fire will have the strength to not only improve us all as individuals, but also to create and deliver grand new discoveries through this collective entity The Social CMO.


Tough Love: We Have Work To Do

I say “we”, because I include myself in what I’m about to say.


Yesterday, I posted that what we really need is more people with solid business skills. And Justin commented, rightly so, that many of the people shouting AMEN might just be part of the problem. He’s not wrong.

It’s not likely that each of you reading this post have all of your business skills down pat, even as you agree with me about the need for them. I know I certainly don’t. But I’m working on it.

For example, financial operations is something I know at a basic budget management and profit-and-loss level, but I don’t always understand financial management strategy and revenue modeling. So I’m learning from people that do, so I can be less ignorant in that regard, and more useful to my business and projects. That’s just one thing on my list.

Go back to the second to last point on yesterday’s rundown:

People who can admit what they don’t know, and seek knowledge or help.

That means you, too. US.

Each of you undoubtedly has a solid set of things you do well. Meg Fowler is an outstanding writer and wordsmith. Bill Sledzik is an experienced educator. Kellye Crane is a solid PR professional.

But each of us could do with a gut check about the things we need to improve. And we can help hold each other accountable.

I’m thrilled beyond measure that you guys come here and comment and like what I write. It makes me feel good to know you’re out there, and that you want to spend time to connect with me. I love that people shared yesterday’s post on Twitter and Facebook and said how much they agree with the premise. But here’s the thing.

Don’t you dare come here and say “great post” or “Amen”, write a few words of endorsement, and walk away. That’s lip service, and I’m challenging you to something better than that. Something bigger.

Don’t comment here that you agree with me. Don’t tell me this post was awesome. I’m here to change the way things are done, and that means mobilizing people to action, not talk.

What I need is for you to know what you don’t know. Have the stones to face it down. Think about and communicate what will help you be a better business person, and then do something about it. Share it here if putting it out publicly motivates you. If it doesn’t, leave here and go do whatever compels you to move. I would much rather your silence than your inaction. Please.

If you share this post, please do it because you’re encouraging others to get real, too. My having a voice out here does very little good if all I can ever get people to do is read, tap out a few words, think briefly, and go back to doing things as they always have. There’s work to be done, is there not?

Are you with me?

It’s NOT about the money!

What is the goal of business? As one classically trained in American business, I can confidently quote to you the textbook answer:

The goal of business is to increase shareholder wealth.

While one might think “shareholder wealth” would be open to interpretation, I’ll put your mind at rest by letting you know the almost universal understanding of the term is MONEY.

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