There’s quite a few bad words used in business and marketing. Words which quantify, extract and segment. They dehumanise business. I’d like to see them removed from our vernacular. Here’s two examples worth sharing.
Target & Consumer. I prefer Audience and People and here’s why:
A Target is something we aim for, shoot at, maybe even kill. An Audience is something we try to impress. An audience gives us a chance to prove our worth, they invest their time in us and we must respect it by trying to over deliver to their expectations. In the hope that, they throw flowers on the stage, cheer and ask for an encore. But we enter the stage knowing we may get rotten tomatoes thrown at us, if that’s what we deserve. The onus is on us.
A Consumer is someone who buys stuff. Their primary purpose is to devour whatever we provide. They are faceless, nameless and irrelevant. We want as many of them as possible to fulfill our financial needs. A Person however, is someone we know. A person has emotions, ambitions and meaning in their life. They have opinions which we must value, and a life which we need to enhance. A person is someone we hope to relate to on a human level. A consumer is machine like and undervalued.
The best startups and brands, know that they need to perform for their audience. They know that audiences are made up of people.
Lately I’ve been making a few decisions which are economically irrational. Making decisions which are, on the face of it, financially inept.
For example, I starting to feel a sense of loyalty to my chief technology officer for rentoid.com
He’s not the cheapest and he’s not the best. Probably somewhere in the middle for both. I could probably get someone cheaper with similar skills, or better for the same price. But I don’t. In fact I tell him that I’m loyal to him. A large part of why I want to succeed so that he can succeed also, to share it with him. Even though he has not risked the capital, or the time that I have on the project.
Why would I act this way. Well I like working with him. He’s a nice guy, and sometimes that’s enough.
I guess you could call me an Economic Irrrationalist. And it just feels right.
Humans are compelled to count. We count everything. Days, weeks, months, years, birthdays, money in the bank, salary levels, years of experience. It’s part of the human condition, maybe it helped us evolve to a civilised existence .
As startup entrepreneurs we need to let our people count something. Whether it’s the savings they made or they friends they have, there needs to be a way for them to keep track. So our people know they have made progress. Commerce is an anthropological game of football. So we must keep score. But it must go beyond the corporate scoreboard of profit, share price, turnover, number of employees… it has to be an audience focused score. Like followers on twitter. It has to be about them, not us, it’s how humans roll.
No doubt your new start up will face issues. Many of them will be people related. Some will be things simply not getting done or not working once you press the on switch. If issues arise and remain unresolved within 24 hours you will start to suffer Compound Damage. This is particularly the case with suppliers and staff. All things in life compound, it is just natures way. Consider this with all problems and general stuff ups.
If you ignore them they will go away, along with your business.
Something I put on twitter referring to any business I ever run, including rentoid.com – which is certainly worth sharing with my startup blog readers:
Face to face chat with single perosn who can make decision
Live internet video chat (skype / ustream et al)
Internet chat (IM style)
(Pic by Christian Gates)
So is this for Customers, Suppliers, Investors or Media?
All of them – they are all people.