Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Nobody Has Time For Your Nonsense

I’ve heard a lot of excuses for bad communication in my life. (Branding, communication, public relations, marketing….call it what you want, it all comes down to the same thing.)

The bottom line is this. If you’re paying another human being, or a group of human beings, to make words and pictures and moving digital things on your behalf — to make you look good — then it does not behoove you to dismiss the expertise of those very people. 

Because the people out there, you know, the great unwashed masses, they don’t care about your excuses or why you couldn’t get past yourself to do the right thing.

And when it comes to communication, that thing is always to express the totality of the organization. 

The good, the bad, and the ugly, from the fun and fluffy ribbon-cuttings to the boring, incomprehensible financial disclosures.

So if you are saying any of the following things to your communicators, either expressly or implicitly, you might want to reconsider the utility to your organization (e.g., is it worth it). 

Because the bottom line is — nobody wants to hear it.

Category I. Denial (a.k.a. “Nothing To See Here, Let’s Move On”)
  • “Historically we’ve never done things that way.”
  • “Communication doesn’t deal with policy or legal matters. ”
  • “We don’t need social media in our news clips. Nobody reads Twitter and Facebook.”
  • “Don’t you think you’re being a bit melodramatic?”
  • “Why do we have to talk about this if nobody asked?”
Category II. Stall For Time 
  • “Why don’t you ask X for permission and tell me what they say?”
  • “Our partners have to agree to that first.”
  • “Above my pay grade.”
  • “I don’t know who’s in charge of making that decision.”
  • “Would never get past the lawyers.”
Category III. Blame Lack of Resources
  • “Can’t afford it.”
  • “Don’t have time.”
  • “We already have a strategy.”
Category IV: Invoke Superiority
  • “I’m the expert. I don’t need you to tell me how to communicate.”
  • “Our stakeholders have their own way of thinking about things.”
  • “Why on earth would we ever say bad things about ourselves?”
  • “That’s not what communication is.”
  • “That’s an oversimplification.”
Category V: Attack The Communicator
  • “You have no business writing up that kind of concept and submitting it.”
  • “You do realize this is the government, right?”
  • “You do realize we’re a private company, right? Why do I want to promote the ideas of other people?”
  • “Why don’t you work on your Microsoft Word skills first?”
Posted on July 25, 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author’s own. This blog is hereby released into the public domain. Public domain photo by annca via Pixabay.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Nothing Is Exempt

When you represent an organization, you represent everything: You cannot pick and choose. 

To better understand this, see below:
1. Every organization is a brand.
2. Every brand communicates overtly and covertly.
3. Customers pick up on all forms of communication.
4. Customers form perceptions based primarily on the stuff you DON'T OR WON'T SAY.
5. Knowing this, it is vital to empower your communicators to represent you in all aspects - responding to public concerns that you did not know about, did not anticipate, do not like, and that frankly may even seem insane.

By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. This is a personal account unrelated to and not sponsored by the author's employer or any other entity. The author shares this content for reuse under the Creative Commons 3.0 License. For more information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Why Didn't They Say Anything?

I decided a long time ago not to feel anything.

Because feeling meant pain.

It meant that I would get my heart ripped out of me.

For a long time, I guess, my strategy worked.

As my mom used to say, when she was angry at me -

"You are cold as ice."

But her words, sharp and incisive, went past me. Life was challenging for me, it was hard to deal with other people and we had a lot of drama at home.

I simply could not risk going there.

All of that is water under the bridge now, thank God.

To the point where now, I easily cry.

I cry at TV commercials!

What made it safe for me to feel again?

The gift of people, experiences and material support that He has placed in my path.

But along the way I've learned that most people bear their suffering in total and complete silence.

Unlike babies, who cry, they stoically bear the burden.

Until one day it's a heart attack, or cancer, or even death by train.

Often they simply walk out the door with nothing but the clothes on their back.

And when it happens, people say, "I don't understand what happened to her (or him). Was it their diet? Was it stress?"

The silence in the room becomes deafening.

People who work in employee engagement know that the problem happens well before anybody takes the time and effort to complain.

It's a principle of life: Nobody sticks their neck out.

If you really want to know what's going on, proactively take the pulse of your relationships, personal and work.

Ask your people to talk.


By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. The author hereby releases this work into the public domain. Photo by Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay (Public Domain).

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Successful Product? Don't Forget To Give It A Brand

FOXBusiness calls it "The $500,000,000 Trend Spinning the Toy Industry Upside Down."

I call it a boring and pointless waste of time.

Either way I'm betting you can't name a single brand in the category.

As a trend watcher, here are three products I believe will go mainstream by 2020. (Of course, the extent to which this happens will depend on the laws, regulations and policies surrounding implementation):
  • Marijuana - for medicinal or recreational purposes 
  • Sex robots - as a substitute for human companionship and as a therapeutic aid for trauma victims, those with phobias, etc. 
  • Bitcoin - as a replacement for paper currency, gold or silver 
As a marketer I'm not here to debate the worthiness of these products or to suggest I know anything about their functionality. I don't.

But I can smell a trend like a hound dog. And in that capacity I point out to you three markets with immediate appeal to wide swaths of the population, which are in my opinion at the tipping point.

Here's the thing, though: Can you name a brand of any of the above?

Probably not.

I definitely can't.

Just like I can't name any particular brand of fidget spinner.

A long time ago when I was a brand consultant full-time, I remember that clients always wanted to rush their products and services to market.

For them, the concept of building a trusted brand was just too ambitious. Too expensive. Not worth the time and effort. They wanted revenue. Revenue, now.

Of course there is some merit to adopting this position.

If you aren't making money selling stuff, you don't have money to invest in building a trusted brand.

At the same time, if you spend all your time focusing on selling, selling, selling, you risk becoming just another junk commodity purveyor.

It's like trying to become a successful Amazon seller.

One way to go about it is to sell the hottest stuff at the lowest price, and offer great service to boot. That gets you lots of 5-star reviews, sure.

The problem is, the minute somebody else with good reviews beats your price by even a fraction, the market will head directly to your competitor.

It's logical: economics.

But what if you took the time and made the effort to build a trusted brand on Amazon?
  • What if you had a good, distinct name, logo, and value proposition? 
  • What if you built your reputation slowly, steadily through word of mouth? Social media marketing? 
  • What if you participated in events sponsored by your local school, place of worship, and other worthy nonprofits? 
  • What if you donated 10% of your profits to charity? 

If you had such a storefront, and I knew about it, I would pay an extra percentage on my purchase. Just to support you.

The bottom line is this: Any product or service has potential to be a brand.

And any product or service can be used nefariously or in a positive manner.

The challenge for you, if you are a business owner, is to:
  1. Follow the trends to understand where the markets are headed. 
  2. Invest when products and services catering to those markets are almost, but not quite ripe. 
  3. Build a brand not around the specific product, but around the concept of life-enhancing value it provides. 
  4. Run your business ethically in a proactive way. Give back. And for God's sake, don't be a sleaze. 
  5. Apply the brand liberally yet strategically to not just one, but a suite of products and services. 
At the end of the day, I always tell people, brand-building isn't rocket science.

It simply requires objectivity and practice.

And if you use your branding skills to do good things for the world, the good karma you generate is another positive investment.

That alone can yield incalculable dividends.


By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. The author hereby releases this post into the public domain. Public domain photo by ivabalk via Pixabay.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Jewish Perspective on Deceptive Advertising

From the Talmud:
Deceptive Quality/Advertising Puffery: Misleading one's customers into thinking that the quality of the item they purchased is much better than it really is would be geneivat da'at. This case is similar to the Talmudic case (Babylonian Talmud, Chullin 94a) involving selling shoes made from the hide of a dead animal and misrepresenting them as coming from the hide of a slaughtered animal. Deceptive advertising would be one way of dishonestly raising customers' expectations regarding the quality of products. Selling products with misleading nutritional information, e.g., selling nutrition supplements as weight-loss, wrinkle-elimination, or memory-improvement aids when there is no evidence that they have any such beneficial effect, would also fall under the prohibition of geneivat da'at.
Read more at: http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/geneivatdaat.html

By Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author's own. This is a personal account unrelated to and not sponsored by the author's employer or any other entity. The author shares this content for reuse under the Creative Commons 3.0 License. For more information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/.

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