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Monday, November 12, 2007

Marketing, sales and relationships

This image of a Wells Fargo bank branch in San Francisco is from an article: First National Bank of Cappuccino? The Experience Economy Gathers Steam in The authors suggest that by creating an experience environment, you can engage your clients. Maybe. So far, I'm finding the metaphor stretching a bit much, so I've decided to stretch my own metaphors with the following posting.

I'm reading The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business is a Stage, by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. Although I'm finding much useful material in the first part of the book, its thesis is somewhat disturbing to me. While the authors are talking of the dramatic stage as in "experience", I see the theatre as an enjoyable, artificial, and temporary place of entertainment. In other words, acting and drama are certainly important parts of our lives, but they are, by their very nature, fake. I shudder to think of businesses operating on those principals (excluding the entertainment industry, of course).

But if we take the thesis of the book that non-business elements of life can serve as useful metaphors for commercial activities, then we may find some useful insights. And here, I think of the relationship between sales, marketing, and dating/marriage.

In dating:
  • It helps to know who you really want to go out with;
  • Sometimes the direct, in-the-face approach works (it depends on the person) but usually a softer, more natural and round-about approach, the "dating dance", is more effective.
  • You often achieve the greatest success without really trying; it happens naturally -- in fact, too much effort is a turn-off;
  • Persistence and perseverance can work, if you are not a pest and relax. (I know this works first hand -- after dating Vivian three times, she said "lets be friends". I accepted. Thirteen years later we married.)
  • Once you are in a healthy long-term relationship/marriage, it takes much less effort than dating to maintain it, but you still have to work at it. (We are celebrating our 14th anniversary on Wednesday.)
  • Consider the parallels to sales, marketing and business relationships, and you will see meaningful similarities. One approach doesn't work for all circumstances, but it seems that letting go and relaxing, creating as natural an environment as possible, produces the best results in most circumstances.
As well, as in life, some of us find this stuff comes naturally, and others (like me) have to work hard to learn it.

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