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Friday, August 07, 2009

Choices and focus

Have you ever experienced days when you felt like celebrating, and crying; when you felt both excitement for the future, and the feeling of (potential) loss; when you reached to the future but connected or were trapped in the past . . .

. . . .all at the same time.

Of course, for most of us, most days are like this; some good things happen, some bad, and we take it in stride with our basic nature and circumstances and move forward. Some days, everything goes well, and others, everything seems to go wrong, and occasionally the intensity of good and bad (either on different or similar circumstances) is truly higher than usual.

Now consider an important additional variable: If you have these variable feelings and experiences from day-to-day, what do you think is going on in the world around you, among your current and potential clients, your colleagues, your competitors, and complete strangers?

Some are in acute crisis, some are smiling with joy, some are just resting, and others are having a mixed bag of experiences and emotions, sometimes conflicting, and of varying intensity. So how can a one-size-fits-all "marketing solution" apply to all of these circumstances?

Social scientists will respond that you can predict and in many cases manipulate human behavior. Give a small gift, for example, and people will reciprocate, often out of proportion to the actual value of your gift. Use the word "because" in your marketing materials, and people will accept your request as credible, even if there is no intrinsic merit. Price something by mistake at twice the level it should be -- and people will say "sure" if the existing relationships are strong enough and the price appears consistent with other offerings.

(This happened earlier this week with one of our newly hired salespeople; we debated whether to simply change the offering to 'justify' the higher price; or let the clients know about the mistake; as it turns out, despite my initial misapprehension about losing revenue, the sales representative did the right thing and let the clients know about the mistake, and they paid the lower price.)

But the reality is that you can't read every situation and predict every mood and experience. So you do the best you can. Sometimes the oft repeated phrase: "Don't sweat the small stuff" is worth remembering. If something is going wrong, of course, we need to look into ourselves to make sure we have not caused the problem, and do what we can to fix it, if we have.

If the problem is external and is causing you distress, ("It's the economy, man") we need to remember that while there are things beyond our control and responsibility, the only thing we can control is how we respond.

Sure, this advice is standard stuff. We are not alone.

Now I need to reconnect with my son, who came down to the family room as I was writing this blog entry, and turned on the television. "This is irritating me," I told him, firmly. He got up, turned off the television, and said: "You have an office where you can work", before heading to his room, slamming the door.

He is right. So am I. It is a minor matter in the world of construction marketing. But that is life. (Why do people enjoy gambling?)

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