In this blog post I’m going to share an extremely important marketing secret about what your clients and customers really want from you.
But enough about you. I recently watched a documentary about a family that was getting their first puppy. In preparation, they began reading about dog behavior and psychology so they could speak “doglish” to their new family member.
It turns out the big issue with dogs is where they are on the dominancy hierarchy. Who do I lead, and who leads me? That’s basically what they’re thinking, pretty much all the time. Just about every dog behavior communicates dominance or submission, and, it turns out, just about every human behavior communicates our dominance or submission to pooch. One of the things the family learned was the importance of learning how to say, “I’m the boss” in doglish to avoid turning their house into a really big doghouse, with the dog as the leader.
What does this have to do with your business?
In a nutshell, business is about identifying and filling needs. So what do your prospects and customers need most of all? These days, everyone is jittery. The world is a pretty scary place. Threats of war, terrorism, economic instability. Cloning. Pedophile priests. It’s a crazy, upside down world.
We long for authentic leadership. For a calm, authoritative parent figure to tell us that everything will be all right. For someone to make sense of the world for us, to explain everything, to tell us our own story with a happy ending.
If you can communicate with your market as a leader, you can restore stability and rationality to people’s lives
You don’t have to be an expert on foreign policy – simply be upbeat and optimistic about your life and your community. About the future.
See, just like dogs, most people don’t want to be leaders. They prefer to be led. A submissive dog feels fine. It’s the uncertainty that’s distressing.
We live in a distressing, uncertain society. Who are our leaders? We don’t believe our elected officials are looking out for our best interests. We don’t trust business leaders (think Enron, Tyco, Martha Stewart, Arthur Andersen, WorldCom, etc.) Religious leaders? Athletes? Anyone? Anyone? Is anyone out there?
How can you be a leader?
First, communicate the values behind your business. Tell the truth. Demonstrate fairness. Sell quality stuff. Admit mistakes and correct them. Pay your suppliers on time. Give refunds without hassle. Respect the environment.
Second, set rules and adhere to them. The customer is not always right. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied or inconvenienced by customers who seek nothing more than an unfair advantage.
Third, articulate a positive vision of the future. Give your customers hope that tomorrow will be better, and paint a clear picture of that tomorrow. Don’t whine or complain about the economy, the government, the weather, or the lottery.
Fourth, have fun at work. Be playful and creative. Be spontaneous and surprising. Remember that we’re all going to die someday. The sun will burn itself out in a few billion years. Your business is not that important. (How’s that for taking my own advice and painting a hopeful picture of the future?)
Fifth, develop yourself. I once saw an interview with a guy who sat cross-legged in an Arab market in Yemen his whole life, carving fine wooden combs for sale in his shop. The interviewer, a westerner, was wondering how the craftman didn’t get bored and go nuts just carving combs his entire life. The craftsman replied that he didn’t think of his job as working on combs – he was working on himself. The better a person he became – the more focused, peaceful, steady -the better his combs would be. And the more he concentrated on carving each piece of wood, the more advanced he became as a person. His work was both a manifestation and a means of developing his soul.
For 2015 , I wish us all the ability to see a future full of hope and prosperity, the confidence to share that vision, and the courage to work to create it.
Or, as I saw on a t-shirt once, “May I actually become the person my dog thinks I am.”