Monday, July 16, 2018

To Lead or To Manage, That is the Question?

I would like to re-introduce John Baldoni to my blog. I met John on Twitter in 2009, and over the last nine years, I've gained incredible insights as a result of his Twitter feed, blog posts, e-newsletters, videos, and books. A review of one of his books appeared on my blog back in 2014, and you can read the review by clicking here. Recently, John and I had a conversation about leadership, and highlights follow below his bio.

John Baldoni is an internationally-recognized leadership educator and executive coach, and speaks throughout North America and Europe. He’s the author of more than a dozen books, including MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership, Lead with Purpose, Lead Your Boss, and The Leader’s Pocket Guide; and his 13 books have been translated into 10 languages. John writes regularly for and produces a video coaching series for SmartBrief. Visit and connect on Twitter @JohnBaldoni.

QUESTION: What are the key differences between the roles of management and leadership?
JOHN BALDONI: Check out the image for a useful visual explanation.

QUESTION: What is the most memorable thing you learned from a boss, and how has that lesson shaped your career?
JOHN BALDONI: The job is not finished until we do a debrief. This is the principle behind the After Action Review which our military has been practicing since the time of the Civil War. In fact, there is a library of sorts at the U.S. Army War College that is a collection of “lessons learned.” During a review, you will learn what you did right, what you did wrong, and what you can do better the next time.

QUESTION: One of my bosses told me that I should “lower my expectations” of the employees I supervised. How would you have responded to that directive?
JOHN BALDONI: Get a new boss. You get what you put into your leadership. Consider what you are working with. Focus on creating conditions for people to succeed. Set expectations. Provide resources and support. Challenge and coach. Those who respond will succeed; those who do not may not be right for your team.

QUESTION: How can leaders maintain a digital footprint (i.e., use social media) while simultaneously setting a positive example?
JOHN BALDONI: Technology is neutral. As the novelist Phillip K. Dick reminds us, it’s what people do with technology that can be nefarious. Visit your people face to face. Make them feel that you are interested in them. How? Listen, listen, listen. Some of the finest senior leaders I know visit people where they work, even when it means traveling. Know the kaizen principle of “gemba” — where the work is done.

Nothing makes an executive look smaller than using social media to air grievances, particularly ad hominem attacks. Not only do they make the executive look petty and weak, they tarnish the reputation of the organization from which they work. Be smart. Don’t use social media to gripe. Use it to converse.

QUESTION: What is your favorite leadership quote?
JOHN BALDONI: Here’s one from Abraham Lincoln: 

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live in it so that his place will be proud of him.”

My gratitude and appreciation to John for re-appearing on my Blog and sharing his timeless leadership insights!

Image Credit: John Baldoni.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Learn How to Transform Difficult Customers into Brand Advocates

Seven years ago, I met Marilyn Suttle on Twitter and was intrigued by the title of her book, “Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan." After I read the book, I shared a review here on my Blog, and here's the link. I also included my favorite story from the book in a recent post entitled, "Want Your Brand to Soar Above the Competition? Learn from Five Amazing Brand Experiences?," and here's the link. Based on Marilyn's amazing insights, I've invited her to participate in a Q&A, and highlights follow her bio below.

Marilyn Suttle is an international customer service speaker and best-selling author based in Metro Detroit. She works with leaders and teams that want to attract and retain customers, inspire employee engagement, and create strong connected relationships. For 20 years, she has trained thousands on relationship-strengthening communication and success strategies. Her clients have won industry awards, raised customer satisfaction levels, and achieved lasting results in reducing stress and experiencing greater success and self-fulfillment.

Marilyn’s advice has been featured on TV news and in print/online media including U.S. News and World Report, Psychology Today, and Inc. Magazine. She co-authored the book, “Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan,” which is currently in print in both English and Chinese. Her latest book is in a category of one, “Color Their World,” which is the first customer service activity book that is also an adult coloring book – and it has become a bestseller in the United States, Canada and Germany. You can find Marilyn on Twitter @MarilynSuttle, at her website (, and on LinkedIn (  

QUESTION: What appeals to you about Customer Experience Marketing (CEM)?
MARILYN SUTTLE: What appeals to me most about CEM is the focus on what customers want most – to be truly served, not sold to. I’m happy to see brands taking this relationship strengthening approach. Simply put, CEM is the practice of engaging customers with responsive interactions that earn long-term brand loyalty. Even though it takes a strong effort to design processes that track and respond to customers’ preferences and expectations, when done well, it results in vocal advocates. Forrester’s Customer Experience (CX) Index reports that while 73% of companies consider it a priority to improve the customer experience, only 1% deliver an excellent customer experience. When you put the customer experience at the forefront of your marketing decisions, you stand out among the crowd and differentiate yourself.

QUESTION: How do you measure customer experience success?
MARILYN SUTTLE: It takes a big picture view to get it right. Case in point, after having an amazing customer experience at a retail store, I jumped at the chance to give positive feedback by calling the phone number at the bottom of my receipt. The survey (designed to thoroughly capture my customer experience) was excruciating. After eight long minutes of misery, my enthusiasm toward the brand soured. Bottom line: Don’t turn your customer experience measurement tool into a torture device.

So, what measurements work well? The answer is…it depends.

There’s the well-known Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), which is a simple “were you satisfied?” type of question.

Then there are productivity metrics, like Average Speed of Answer and Average Handling Time.

The Customer Effort Score (CES), for example, “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?” is another type of metric that identifies areas where improvements can be made.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is yet another well-known measurement is used to determine the percentage of customers who would recommend your company to their family and friends, based on a question like this, “On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend us?”

A common problem with metrics is that, when you make adjustments to accommodate one score, it can have unintended consequences on others. For example, a success in shortening the length of a call can cause oversights and leave customers highly dissatisfied.    

A useful measure of customer experience is to track customer support needs per year. That includes support needs with self-service, chat, Interactive Voice Response, email, etc. Document a customer’s typical experience to identify pain points and moments of truth. Then, draw on your employees to find ways to improve processes.

Bottom line, choose your measurement approach with care to ensure that the ones you pick don’t have a damaging effect on your other key performance indicators.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite story about a bad customer experience turnaround?
MARILYN SUTTLE: This story comes from an interview I conducted with PRS Guitars, a manufacturer of high-end instruments that are played by rock stars, coveted by collectors, and enjoyed by enthusiasts around the world. It was featured in “Who’s Your Gladys?” a best-selling customer service book I co-authored a few years back.

An irate customer called Shawn Nuthall, the manager of customer service at Paul Reed Smith Guitars. The customer had purchased a PRS guitar from an online dealer, and when he pulled it out of the shipping box, he discovered a six-inch scratch on the case. The angry customer was sure that the scratch was caused by the long staples that were used to seal the packaging. The online dealer would not take responsibility for the damage, insisting that the case was in perfect condition when it was shipped out.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Shawn, took the most immediate approach to resolving his customer’s issue. He said, ‘‘What’s your address? I’ll send you out a new case.’’ Relieved, the customer asked, “What do you want me to do with the damaged case?’’ Shawn replied, ‘‘Maybe you can pay it forward and help out a kid who needs a case. If not, consider it a backup, and when you go to your next gig, take the beat-up case.’’

The customer was shocked. Has asked, ‘‘That’s it? You’re just going to send me a case?’’ Shawn didn’t see a reason to put his customer to any further trouble. ‘‘He had a problem, and I took care of it. If I have a problem with a product, I want to call the company and have it handled quickly. It doesn’t serve me to give people the runaround. If someone calls with a problem and I can make that problem go away painlessly, why wouldn’t I? I don’t understand the philosophy of companies that expect you to make 10 different phone calls and talk to 20 different people.’’ Shawn’s approach turned his angry customer into a fan, and soon afterward, Paul Reed Smith himself received a glowing letter about this guitarist’s extreme satisfaction with Shawn and with PRS.

QUESTION: What two brands stand out as examples of good customer experience marketing, and why?
MARILYN SUTTLE: While a whole book can be written on the topic, I’ll share a successful feature from two companies that excel at CEM.
Amazon does an amazing job of creating positive customer experiences through Amazon Prime. Once a customer becomes a member, they tend to return regularly and try new offerings. Amazon gives a free 30-day membership to try out Prime – long enough to get the customer (myself included) hooked on free two-day delivery, streaming movies, and other perks. The “frequently bought together” feature and the Amazon Wish List feature make it easy for customers to enjoy community involvement and ease of finding desired gifts for family and friends. This is just a snapshot of how they make the customer experience even more valued.

This e-commerce company sells home goods. It attracts customers with tech-savvy visual marketing designed in a way that aids customers in finding what they want and discovering what then didn’t even know they wanted. Images of fully-decorated rooms help viewers discover their style preferences. When a customer clicks or taps on the little tags connected to furniture and accessories in a photo, for example, rugs, lamps, or chairs, it automatically brings up the price, details, and reviews of the item. This one feature goes a long way in creating a satisfying customer experience.

QUESTION: Do you think every business should have a Customer Experience Officer (CXO)? Why or why not, and what should the person’s background be?
MARILYN SUTTLE: Companies committed to growth benefit by having a Customer Experience Officer to drive higher levels of customer satisfaction and improve bottom line impact. It’s an integral role for maintaining customer-focused alignment through every decision. They are the catalyst for internal collaboration cross-company to maintain a corporate culture of excellence.

The background requirements for a CXO role vary greatly. Try this: Do a LinkedIn search by filling in the title field with “Customer Experience Officer” and start reading. You’ll find that no two professionals seem to have the same list of experiences. What they do have in common, though, is strong leadership skills, and the charisma and credibility needed to enroll key leaders throughout the company in prioritizing and collaborating on customer experience.

My gratitude and appreciation to Marilyn for appearing on my Blog and for sharing her insights about the very important specialty known as customer experience marketing and its alignment with creating brand advocates.

Image Credit: Marilyn Suttle.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Tips to Develop Your Leadership Legacy

I introduced my network to Doug Dickerson, a leadership expert, trainer, and author back in 2010 when I shared a review of his book, Leaders Without Borders: 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders. Here's the link for a quick recap ( 

Doug has more than 30 years of experience in various leadership positions, and he strives to inspire others to become better equipped as leaders. You can find Doug on Twitter @DougDickersonSC, on his Blog ( and on his author page on Amazon (

Doug and I recently spoke about leadership priorities and legacies, and how technology has changed leadership. Highlights of our conversation follow below.

QUESTION: You appeared on my Blog back in 2010, and here’s one memorable line I shared from your book, “If you are going to leave a strong legacy as a leader, people must be your priority.” How can new leaders learn the importance of this priority?
DOUG DICKERSON: The legacy you leave as a leader is not something you hear too many people talking about. This is so mostly because we are only thinking about today. How much time do we really devote to thinking about the kind of legacy we will leave as a leader?

That aside, if we are going to leave a strong legacy as a leader, you will need to do a few things. First, begin to think about it. Be intentional. A simple rule of leadership says that "success calls for a successor," and so a leader must be thinking about his or her line of succession if that is in play. Secondly, a strong legacy will always involve others. When you make people a priority by serving them, listening to them, empowering and adding value to them, you are well on your way to leaving a legacy worth emulating.

QUESTION: What have you learned from leaders you’ve encountered in your career?
DOUG DICKERSON: I've had many good and bad leaders to learn from. I've served along leaders who were demoralizing and along side those who inspired and encouraged me greatly. What I've learned is how to process and incorporate the good things, and let go of the bad. I learned that whether the examples of leadership in my career were positive or negative, I had to develop my own path and decide for myself what kind of leader I wanted to be. I had good and bad examples as well as really good examples to draw from. You can learn from both.

QUESTION: How is technology changing leadership?
DOUG DICKERSON: Technology has drastically changed leadership. We have more leadership material at our disposal now than ever before. This is encouraging on many levels and the opportunities for one's growth and development are limitless. Technology can open up a whole new world to aspiring leaders and that can be good, but at the end of the day, I still prefer holding a book and turning the pages.

QUESTION: One of Walt Disney’s leadership tips was, “Never stop asking questions.” What are your three timeless leadership tips?
DOUG DICKERSON: Here are my three:

1. It's not about you.
2. You don't need a title to be a leader.
3. Sometimes you just defy the critics and ignore the "experts" and just do what is in your heart.
QUESTION: Lastly, one of my favorite quotes you recently shared on Twitter was: “If your vision is not known internally, then it will be of no value to anyone externally. If your team is clueless, then so are your customers.” Can you elaborate a bit?
DOUG DICKERSON: This is simple in concept, but not always easy in practice. The bottom line is that you have to constantly put the vision before your people. If your people do not know the vision, their "why" and what their role is in the big picture of things, then they will not perform at levels you desire. The best advocates for any business are the people who work there, and if they are clueless as to the mission and vision, then that will come across to the customer. If the people in the organization have no "buy-in," why would you expect the customer to? By contrast, if the employee is excited about what he or she does, then it will show in the excellence of his or her attitude - and that is contagious.


My gratitude and appreciation to Doug for re-appearing on my Blog and sharing his timeless leadership insights!

Image Credit:

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sharing Secrets about Customer Experience Marketing

When one is active in social media, one can build an amazing and inspiring network. Several years ago, due to a passion for customer experience marketing, I met Annette Franz on Twitter and soon after for lunch since we both call Southern California home. Annette has shared useful quotes on my blog, and since too many businesses lack an understanding about walking a mile in their customers’ shoes, I decided to invite Annette to appear on my blog to share some advice. Highlights from our Q&A follow below Annette’s introductory bio.

Annette Franz is founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in laying the groundwork required to establish a customer experience (CX) strategy that will drive culture transformation efforts. She has 25 years of experience in the CX space and has been recognized as one of “The 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter” by Business Insider and by several other organizations as a top influencer in Customer Experience. She is an active CXPA member, as a CX Expert and CX Mentor; she also serves as an executive officer on the association’s Board of Directors. You can find Annette online at her website at, on Twitter @AnnetteFranz, and on LinkedIn at

QUESTION: What appeals to you about customer experience marketing?
ANNETTE FRANZ: Any time any part of an organization puts the customer at the center of what it’s doing, it’s a win-win – and, obviously, that is very appealing to me as a customer experience consultant.

Customer experience is the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with an organization over the life of the relationship with the brand; it also includes the feelings, perceptions, and emotions elicited by those interactions. Marketing is one of the touchpoints that a customer has with an organization; the interactions with marketing are typically in the form of messaging, branding, communication, etc.

Customer experience marketing is all about putting the customer at the center of marketing efforts and shifting the focus from trying to sell to actually engaging with customers in a timely, personalized, and relevant manner – with an intended outcome of retaining customers through a better experience.

QUESTION: How do you explain the difference between brand advocates and brand ambassadors?
ANNETTE FRANZ: To me, the biggest difference between the two is that a brand ambassador is hired by the company and is usually paid, while a brand advocate is a customer who voluntarily promotes the brand and influences others because he’s had a great experience – and wants others to know about it and to join the brand community. I think the other difference is that brand advocates are the real deal; they are customers who use a brand’s products and services and are loyal customers. You don’t necessarily know that this is the case with brand ambassadors. I’ve seen ambassador solicitation campaigns that are quite random, i.e., the individual who receives an invitation has never used the product.

QUESTION: How can brand advocates and brand ambassadors each create a positive brand experience?
ANNETTE FRANZ: The best way that both can help to create a positive experience is through providing feedback to the company about its products and services. This might come in the form of providing direct feedback based on their own experience and usage, bringing to the company what they hear from others who’ve used the brand’s products or services, participating in journey mapping workshops and other co-creation exercises, and more.

QUESTION: How do you define a customer journey map, and how do you convince companies to create one?
ANNETTE FRANZ: A journey map is a visual story-capturing/storytelling exercise during which you paint the picture of the customer experience for a specific interaction by walking in the customers’ shoes to capture their steps, needs, and perceptions of the interaction.

Journey mapping is a creative process that allows you to understand – and then redesign – the customer experience. The output is not just a “pretty picture;” once the map is developed, it is meant to be a catalyst for change.

Quite honestly, the best way to convince companies to journey map – other than sharing real-life examples – is to explain to them that there is no other tool to really help them understand the end-to-end customer experience. I always say that you can’t transform something you don’t understand. Journey maps help you understand; they make it very clear where things are going well and where they are not.

Fortunately, it takes a lot less convincing today than it did five years ago. People understand what a great tool it is. But the real key, as with any other information you have about your customers and their experiences, is to use what you learn to make things better. So think of journey maps not just as a tool but, more importantly, as a process.

QUESTION: How do you measure customer experience success?
ANNETTE FRANZ: You can’t measure customer experience success until you talk about goals and desired outcomes of individual customer experience improvement initiatives. You will also need to identify what success looks like for all stakeholders including employees, customers, and the business. Then you can measure it.

Examples of business success metrics include: cost savings, retention (employee and customer), revenue/recurring revenue, profitability, customer lifetime value, share of wallet, and first call resolution.

Examples of customer success metrics include net promoter score, customer satisfaction, customer effort score, repeat purchases, ease of doing business, transaction accuracy, first call resolution, expectations met, speed of resolution, and quality of resolution.

Examples of employee success metrics include: employee engagement, employee satisfaction, employee happiness, retention, promotion rates, learning and development metrics, and eNPS.

My gratitude and appreciation to Annette for appearing on my Blog and for sharing her insights about the very important specialty known as customer experience marketing.

Image Credit: Industry Week.

Monday, June 11, 2018

At IHOb, It’s Now All About the Burgers!

By now, everyone has heard that the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) has changed its name and will be known as the International House of Burgers (IHOb). If you’re a big fan of the pancake house, don’t worry, because the 60-year-old brand’s president has been quoted as saying that the name change is only temporary.

Last week, thanks to an effective social media marketing campaign – so effective that all brands can only dream about such social media success – IHOP shared news that it would make a big announcement about its name on June 11, 2018. The announcement was that the brand name’s P would become a B. With that hint, fans and customers immediately started to share their suggestions on social media platforms.

Here were some of the proposed new names:
•    International House of Breakfast
•    International House of Brunch
•    International House of Bacon
•    International House of Bourbon
•    International House of Berries
•    International House of Biscuits
•    International House of Buttermilk
•    International House of Brownies
•    International House of Bananas – suggested by Chiquita Banana
•    International House of Burgers

To celebrate summer, the new name of International House of Burgers makes good sense. Thanks to the name change, IHOb has offered to be the place to be for burgers if you don’t grill your own. In fact, there are seven new ultimate steakburgers to try – instead of pancakes.

"We are definitely going to be IHOP," Darren Rebelez, President of IHOP, told CNNMoney, "But we want to convey that we are taking our burgers as seriously as our pancakes." According to CNNMoney, "An IHOP in Hollywood, California, is getting new IHOb signs, and some others might get the treatment. The new IHOb Twitter account even retweeted photos and video of a construction crew putting up the new sign in LA. But Rebelez said the vast majority of the nearly 1,800 other locations will still go by IHOP."

The social media campaign was simple. The announcement was made that a single letter was being changed in the brand’s abbreviated name, IHOP. This was a brilliant marketing campaign because the buzz was planted in social media. On Twitter, there were several clever tweets and responses to fan tweets. And on Facebook, there were similar posts and responses. The mainstream media also picked up the news and discussed it. When was the last time the mainstream media talked about brand marketing or brand equity?

The only thing I would have done differently was to launch a teaser during the Super Bowl. Can you imagine the buzz that would have been generated? No one would have paid any attention to the football game, rather, everyone would have been talking about this name change. IHOP could have been the next Super Bowl Oreo. Of course, Super Bowl ads are expensive, and perhaps, the cost was too high for IHOP.

Or, the extent of media coverage over the last week was so large that IHOb didn’t need to advertise during the Super Bowl to get people talking.

Image Credits: IHOP/IHOb.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

#LeadershipTips If You Don’t Have a Fancy Title

It’s a fact that if one is active in social media, one can build an amazing and inspiring network. Recently, I “met” Terri Klass through my activity on Instagram and Twitter because we share an interest in exceptional leadership, and I invited her to appear on my Blog.

Terri is a leadership training consultant, coach, and speaker who partners with organizations to create cultures of empowerment and to develop future leadership. She believes that, regardless of position or title, everyone can be a leader. She delivers highly successful leadership workshops and is a speaker and author of articles about leadership and working with different generations in the workplace. Terri has a weekly Blog about leadership, where she shares challenges that leaders face daily. She is also the co-author of the book, “Energize Your Leadership.” Find Terri on Twitter @TerriKlass, on her website at, and on Facebook (TerriKlassConsulting), and LinkedIn (in/TerriKlass). Highlights of our conversation follow below.

QUESTION: What are three traits necessary for a good leader, and why?
TERRI KLASS: Here are my three traits for a good leader.

Whether we are a leader on a large global team or a leader in a small organization, our ability to be trusted will impact our performance and relationships. There’s no way around it. If we can’t be trusted, we will never be able to reach our potential and become influential. A great place to build trustworthiness is by:
•    Following through on what you say you will do.
•    Taking interest in each member.
•    Being honest in a respectful way.
•    Making yourself approachable.
•    Owning our missteps and mistakes.

As long as leaders are willing to consider new perspectives, they will continue to grow and evolve. Always thinking one is right is a sabotaging mantra. We need to allow our curiosity to drive our conversations. It may be difficult for some of us to include different perspectives or even weigh suggestions that seem far-fetched, but impactful leaders welcome lively discussions and an exchange of divergent opinions.

Leaders recognize that they can’t accomplish great things without the help of others, and that means being appreciative, giving credit to others, and showing kindness. To continue to grow our leadership, we need to continually build vibrant and meaningful relationships. Not only do we need to delve more deeply into our team members’ interests, but we must also help make connections for others. By building networks for the leaders throughout our organizations, we are also cultivating our own leadership.

TWEET THIS: Not only do we need to delve more deeply into our team members’ interests, but we must also help make connections for others. –@TerriKlass #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding

QUESTION: How do you recommend employees who are forced to work in silos by their leadership teams overcome the silos and work together?
TERRI KLASS: To be a high performing team, it is essential for leaders to not only develop strong bonds within their teams but also cultivate connections with other teams. My philosophy on leadership is that we don’t need a title or a position to lead. We can lead from wherever we are. That means employees who feel they are working in silos have the ability to reach out to other departments and cultivate relationships on other teams. Employees can set up coffees or lunches with members of other teams to learn about one another. They also owe it to their team to stay open and flexible when working with different teams to create the best end product.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite leadership book and why?
TERRI KLASS: I have so many favorite leadership books, but one author that I love is Patrick Lencioni. His brilliant book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” has been a guidebook for a great deal of my training and coaching. I believe in these five critical elements to create high performing teams and leaders.

QUESTION: How can a President/CEO become an organization’s number one brand ambassador?
TERRI KLASS: To be a brand ambassador, CEO’s need to first believe in their organization’s vision and core values. They must be clear on the benefits of their products and services and how they make a difference in their customers’ lives. Then they have to empower their employees to see the bigger picture of their contributions. Employees need to see how their individual jobs contribute to the success of an organization. Employees can also be an organization’s greatest ambassadors so it is critical for a CEO to energize and excite their organization through positive storytelling about customer satisfaction.

TWEET THIS: Employees need to see how their individual jobs contribute to the success of an organization. –@TerriKlass #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding

QUESTION: Lastly, one of my favorite quotes about leadership is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): “Leadership is a gift, not a position. It doesn’t require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to trust and be trusted – and block and tackle for others.” What does this quote mean to you?
TERRI KLASS: As I previously shared, trustworthiness is critical to a leader’s success and influence. In fact, the foundation of any relationship is trust, and without it, leaders cannot lead. Anyone can be a leader who takes action, holds himself or herself accountable, is trustworthy, and puts others first. We are not born leaders. Each of us can lead from wherever we are if that is our mission. To be impactful, we must remember that leadership is about developing trusting relationships and helping others reach their north star.

My gratitude and appreciation to Terri for appearing on my Blog and sharing her leadership insights, and thanks, of course, to Instagram and Twitter for the introductions!

Image Credit: Terri Klass.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Are Prequels Necessary for #BrandStorytelling?

There is something unique to television called binge watching. Despite the amount of time to binge watch (which can be ten hours or more, depending on the series you binge watch), there is an important take-away from the attraction of binge watching for all marketers: FANS LIKE STORYTELLING.

According to the BBC, "Collins English Dictionary chose binge watch as its 2015 Word of the Year. Meaning to watch a large number of television programs (especially all the shows from one series) in succession, it reflects a marked change in viewing habits, due to subscription services like Netflix.”

According to Wikipedia, “Storytelling describes the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment…Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters, and narrative point of view.”

And, according to Harvey Deutschendorf (Twitter: @Theeiguy) in Fast Company, “To be effective, the audience must be able to relate to the story. Talking about an experience on a yacht would not be a good way for the CEO of an organization to connect with front line workers. This would likely have the opposite effect and distance the audience from him or her. Telling a heart-felt story about going fishing with a family member or a grandchild would be much more effective as this would be something many in the audience could identify with.”

TWEET THIS: To be effective, the audience must be able to relate to the story. ~@Theeiguy #brandstorytelling #brandtip

So, how do you tell your brand’s story? Consider the cultural phenomenon of Star Wars. George Lucas began the movie franchise with episodes four, five, and six. He then told the stories of episodes one, two, and three – which are an example of a “prequel,” a story, or in this case, movies, containing events that came before those of an existing work.

Consider the Walt Disney Company. Everyone knows how the company started, and to quote Walt, "It all started with a mouse." But what if there were more to the story?

Consider the television series Homeland on Showtime, which just concluded its seventh season. While there are rumors that the eighth season may be the show’s final season, I recently discovered two books that serve as prequels to the show. While the series has changed dramatically from the first three seasons, these two works of fiction offer some undisclosed background for the initial season.

TWEET THIS: When telling your brand’s story, did you start at the beginning or somewhere else in your brand’s lifecycle? ~@DebbieLaskeyMBA #brandstorytelling #brandtip

In what order have you told your brand’s story? Did you start at the beginning and strategically provide all the essential plot points and characters so that fans and customers can follow along? Or did you start somewhere in the middle of your brand’s lifecycle based on product or service successes or leadership successes? Either way, have you been completely clear so that your stakeholders can follow along every step of the story?

After I read the two Homeland books, I began to wonder about the value of prequels for all brands. Would a prequel be valuable for your brand? What if you created a prequel in the form of an e-book? Whatever you decide, storytelling may be a way for your brand to stand apart from the competition.

Click to read: “Three Branding Lessons from Binge Watching”

Click to read: “The Simple Science to Good Storytelling”

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey's library.