Next year is going to be the best ever for your business. But only if you enhance your company’s usage of the following three words: knowledge, reassurance and conversations.
The tendency is to hoard knowledge is a seductive one. It makes us harder to replace, enables greater leverage, increases promotability and gives us a competitive advantage. But a lot of the time, in those moments when we operate from a scarcity mentality, we act selfish with our knowledge. We avoid telling people what we know for fear of losing power. And then everybody loses. Like pushing a rock up hill with one eye over our shoulder, it’s not especially productive, it doesn’t contribute to the greater good and it rarely proves to be a worthwhile investment of time and effort. But thanks to the connective beauty of the Web—via blogs, social media, discussion boards, forums and other digital platforms—we’ve found a way to reverse the trajectory. With the click of button, we send the snowball down the hill, hoping it will grow a little bit more with each revolution, growing a little bit stronger with each person’s individual contribution. Knowledge might be power, but sharing that knowledge with others is priceless.
When privacy is at stake, reassurance is priceless. I once gave a workshop to a document destruction company. Their specialty was paper shredding and hardware demolition, mainly for large financial institutions. Stockbroking firms paid them big bucks to destroy old client records, annual reports and other sensitive materials. Naturally, prospective clients were skeptical. Outside of the standard disclosure agreements, and outside of whatever trust was established between the firm and the destruction company, there was really no way to guarantee that their information could be fully protected. So I asked the president how he handled the issue of client privacy. And said that most players in his industry struggled with it. To the point that it became a barrier to growth. “But at our company, it’s easy,” he said, “Most of my employees can’t read.” Wait. What? That’s right. The majority of his warehouse staff was blind, mentally retarded or cognitively impaired. They didn’t steal the information because they couldn’t read it. That’s reassurance. And don’t forget, this document destruction company staffed dozens of permanent and temporary workers each year, most of whom could never get a job anywhere else because of their preexisting conditions. That’s reassurance too. I wonder what your company does to deliver it.
Our priorities are way out of wack. The assumption is that we need to make something better, sell something cheaper or ship something faster. No, what we need is to have smarter conversations. We might change the interaction model, by being unreasonably accessible where the rest of the world is hard to reach. That’s a smarter conversation. We might build our listening platform, by turning social media into a hearing aid while the rest of the world uses it as a sales tool. That’s a smarter conversation. We might position ourselves as teachers who solve expensive problems while the rest of the world is selfish with their knowledge. That’s a smarter conversation. We might create acts that make emotional connections while the rest of the world is bothering and interrupting people with advertisement. That’s a smarter conversation. Point being, customers already have everything they need. Except us. In the flesh. Ready to listen to them. Why don’t we sell that?
Next year truly can be the best year ever, as long as you implement these three words.