Wednesday, February 2, 2011

@RevRunWisdom Inspires Thoughts on Marketing and Positioning

Okay - before I write anything and before any of you ask, there is no secret agreement that I have with @RevRunWisdom to feature his tweets in blog posts.  It just happens that yet again and for some reason I was in front of the screen, a tweet from him flew by and I happened to be paying attention.

Question? Are you problem conscious or solution oriented? #becreative

I had a visceral (good) reaction to this tweet mainly for the second half of it.  I really gravitated towards "solution oriented" and I quickly copied the tweet for this blog post.  I had ideas of "positive thinking!" "hard work pays off!" "get out of your own way!" and other similar motivational themes.  And, truly, they're not bad themes.  Pretty good, actually.

When I started to write today, I found that while I still had the same love for the tweet, I started to (over)analyze it a bit and found that I didn't care for the very subtle judgment against "problem conscious" embedded therein.  In this context, being "problem conscious" is looking at the glass as half empty, obstructionist, malcontents, unimaginative, etc.

And here is where we have a conversation about perception and positioning.  Because, depending on your filter and your values, problem conscious and solution oriented may be the same or opposite.  It's up to us to be as clear as possible when delivering a message and have sharp filters to process the multiple ways a message can be processed by others before we actually deliver that message.

Earlier in my career, I was very good at identifying opportunity but could also see the wrinkle in the landscape.  When framing the opportunity, I always started with the wrinkle and then ended with the upside despite the wrinkle.  By doing so, I (unintentionally) developed a reputation for being negative or what @RevRunWisdom would call problem conscious.  

After a relatively long feedback session about my negativity, I replied that it was about getting caught up in positioning and perception.  I said that we all ended at the same place when sizing a business opportunity regardless if I started positive and ended negative or vice versa and couldn't we just focus on the outcome because my job was to deliver profitable customers and that's what I was doing?

Wrong answer in terms of professional advancement (that's another post) but also generally.  And here's why: though my comment was essentially correct in terms of arriving at the same outcome, the fact remains that positioning matters.  How you present things matter.  How you capture the essence in words or imagery matters.  How you make a connection with your customers or prospects matter.  Because that connection is borne of establishing your brand/product/service as something to be trusted and valued over the competition.  

Trust and value are hard to earn and very easily lost.  Being a marketer means accepting responsibility as the brand/product/service voice and tone.  And that voice and tone are built upon understanding of the tangible and intangible attributes of said brand/product/service.  Hard to get right, very easy to get wrong and, thanks to social media, wildly disastrous if you do get it wrong.  

Back to @RevRunWisdom's tweet...  by judging "problem conscious" he was actually being "problem conscious" in his desire to make us "solution oriented" etc.  He started with a negative on the path to the positive which on balance is a little confusing.  It's a good lesson generally on how sometimes we can get in our own way in communicating to others.

And so, it's super important to be crystal clear and direct in what we say, how we say it and to whom we direct what we say.  If we deliver a series of messages on a series of platform, the core and essence of each message must be identical.  The takeaway must be consistent.  Even the smallest 140 character tweet can be rife with meaning.  Not to be melodramatic but every letter actually does count.


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

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