If someone asked you to pull down a house using only rope and accurate placement, could you do it?
By yourself, no. The job is too hard and would take too long even if you could do it.
But wIth over 100 eager participants, bringing down an entire house takes less then 5 seconds.
Pulling down that house was a privilege. My small team of 21 volunteers joined over 100 others, grabbing the rope in our gloved hands and tugging on command, and watching an entire house come crashing down.
It was the culmination of a full day’s work in Moore, Oklahoma, where the cleanup continues long after the May 20th tornado that ripped through the Oklahoma City suburb, killing seven in the nearby Plaza Towers Elementary School and many more in the surrounding community. Together my team and many others worked all day to clear rubble from the neighborhood and place it in mounds suitable for city pick-up in August.
During those five days in Moore, Oklahoma, I never heard anyone on my team take credit for bringing down either of the houses we pulled to the ground. I don’t recall anyone fighting for a particular place of honor inside the shells that someone once called home as we formed work lines to pass debris and separate it from sentimental items that the owners might still want to have.
As we wandered through the tent community in Steelman Estates outside of Shawnee, Oklahoma, that was hit the night before the Moore tornado, the local volunteers who had been there for two months claimed no glory for how they had set up a propane-powered laundromat, dehydration tent to recover from the blistering work, barrel-topped shower, supply tent, or the air conditioners installed in the igloo tents that peppered the sloping terrain.
Instead of reckless ambition and elbow-bruised victims of someone else’s ego, all I saw was community. I saw people working together to make things happen. I saw money come out of pockets and find its way into the hands of tearful and grateful victims who were trying to rebuild without insurance benefits. I watched a man who might otherwise appear on the cover of a self-made-man-magazine lean humbly on his shovel and fight back tears as he witnessed a swarm of volunteers surround him to listen to his story of survival and offer help in the rebuilding process.
The short drive back to Dallas was filled with talk of how much we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time by simply working together and forgetting who got the credit for it. No one stood out as better or worse than the other. We all stood as one – in our accomplishments, in our experiences, and in our excitement at the thought of going back to help again.
Sometimes, in the middle of working to help a business grow, we forget about the real goal (the customer experience) and we focus on only ourselves. That attitude, or let’s be honest – a core value of self-centered greed – results in a less happy us, a less happy customer, and less being done in the end. But when we work together for the customer to have a positive experience, we all win in the end and much more gets done.
Thank you, Oklahoma, for reminding me what is important and how to get things done.
Dear B2B Marketer,
I wanted to tell you why I never read your emails beyond the subject line and first sentence. And why your email probably never makes it to my inbox again. And then, if you can believe it, I’m going to share what it would take to keep me reading.
- You address me by name, but you clearly know nothing about me.
You found my name in a database and cleverly placed it into the body of the email, thinking that calling me by name would get my attention. But the rest of your email is clearly a generic blast.With so many people clamoring for my attention all day long, if it is clear that you don’t know me, I have no reason to know you.
- The first thing you say is “I” or “We”.
“I wanted to see if you were interested…”
“We have qualified candidates…”
“When we first launched…”
“I wanted to see if I could have five minutes of your time….”
It isn’t all about you, as much as you might think it is. It’s about both of us and the potential relationship that might be worthwhile to us. Notice how in “B2B”, both Bs are the same size. That should be apparent in your email.
- You express dismay that I haven’t responded to previous emails/calls.
“I sent you an email last week…”
“I was wondering if you had a chance to review my earlier emails…”
“I’ve left you 3 voicemails and sent 2 emails and tried to tweet you directly.”
The guilt-trip approach doesn’t work.It reminds me of the paper mailings where printed on the envelope were the words “The favor of a reply is requested.”
- You start out “In a world…”
“In today’s economy, IT managers are increasingly…”
“To meet the rising demands of today’s open cloud solutions…”
“Annual performance reviews are the corporate equivalent of a root canal…”
Unless your email is read to me by that cool movie-preview-voiceover guy along with a nice trailer, I’m out.
- You Attempt to Mislead Me in Your Subject Line
“I visited your website today”
“Quick Email before I Call”
“RE: Connecting this Week”
Don’t try and pretend you are already in the middle of a conversation with me when you’re not. You’ve just revealed your deceptive nature to me.
Once your email falls into one of the five categories above, in one smooth motion I slide your email into a bulk email folder. From that point forward, any emails from you bypass my inbox and go straight to the bulk email folder. I’ll probably never see one again.
If you want to get through to me – if you want to stand out head and shoulders above everyone who uses all these tired methods above – try the following…
- Know Thy Prospect
If you want to get my attention, show me that you know me. My public profile is everywhere. And don’t say you can’t get to know me without talking to me first. If you want to initiate a conversation, do your homework. In fact, let me make it easy for you.
Do that and I’m still reading.
- Hit Me Where I Live
If you’ve done #1, it shouldn’t take much work to get to #2. If you know me, then you’ll know if I am really a prospect. And if I am a prospect, you’ll know where my needs and interests are.
Do that and I’m still reading.
- Come Across as a Single, Unique Human Being
The handful of B2B marketing emails that I have responded to are personable. The sender clearly seems to be a unique human being talking to me personally about something of interest.
Subject: Heritage Auctions is Amazing
Hi, Brian. Your auction platform caught my eye – so many unique collectibles and significant objects! If only I had the money to buy that Nobel Prize you guys are selling. I’ll bet you have an army of great software engineers that make everything work together for all your consignors and buyers out there. If you ever have a need to find more people for your team, I can probably help – and I’d love to work with such an interesting company.The combination of knowing me and being personal makes it hard to resist engagement.
I’m still reading.
- Tell Stories
It’s hard to resist a good story – it’s my native language. And I’ll bet it is the native language of the rest of your prospects.
Subject: The Software Launch Disaster that got Michael Promoted
When Michael authorized the launch of a major software upgrade on Monday morning, he didn’t know that decision would change his life. At go-live time, the entire system failed. The rollback process failed. They were down. While the rest of the team frantically tried to isolate the problem, Michael’s phone rang. It was the CEO. He winced, picked up the phone, and heard these words…
Okay, I have to know how this story ends now. How does a launch disaster get you promoted?How does Michael get out of this jam? What did the CEO say?
I’m still reading.
- Be Transparent
Don’t hide behind deceptive gimmicks, freebies, exclamation points, guilt trips, deadlines, and boilerplate. Just be honest, open, and up front about the goal of your email – a goal that works for both of us.
Subject: The Software Launch Disaster that got Michael Promoted
When Michael authorized the launch of a major software upgrade on Monday morning, he didn’t know that decision would change his life. At go-live time, the entire system failed. The rollback process failed. They were down. While the rest of the team frantically tried to isolate the problem, Michael’s phone rang. It was the CEO. He winced, picked up the phone, and heard these words……
…Michael’s escape from the clutches of disaster is what we live for. We aren’t miracle workers, but we understand the software development life cycle – especially in an environment like yours. And all we want to do is help you make your launches smoother.
I’m still reading.
These are just common-sense approaches to improving response rates to B2B marketing emails. Remember, ultimately marketing emails are about two people talking together as human beings. If you sound like one, I just might listen like one.
The core values of your business are the wellspring of every employee action and every customer experience. Not the core values you think you have, but the core values you actually hold. Your customers know what your core values are, even if you don’t. They see them. They experience them. And they tell their friends about them. And if your customers believe in your core values, they will believe in you.
My family and I visited Norfolk, Virginia, a few years ago. We stopped in a Subway Sandwich shop for lunch. After paying for my meal and sitting down, I noticed that we were overcharged. We didn’t get the specials discount advertised in the window. When I explained to the cashier, the store manager appeared and said, “You don’t get the specials price because you didn’t tell me you wanted the specials price. Too late.”
Those were his exact words, and he refused to budge despite my pleas for him to honor his own advertising.
I love Subway, and my experiences there are normally great. In this case, however, the core values of this manager at this Subway were plain…
- I want money.
- I do not believe in truth-in-advertising.
- I do not care about my customer’s experience.
Customer experiences are the direct result of a business’s core values. And customers will, like I did, easily spot those core values. Many company’s have the values of this rogue Subway manager, and sometimes they get away with it for a short season. But the seasons are shorter in this new era.
Let’s walk through a positive experience. My wife pointed out to me that our washing machine wasn’t draining properly. I am all thumbs with all things mechanical, and I dreaded the time and expense of calling a repair service. So I hopped onto Google and entered “Whirlpool Duet Drain.” The first hit was a YouTube video from Murf’s Appliance Repair in Boise, Idaho. The video was quick, to-the-point, and, most importantly, produced so that I could easily understand it and do the job myself in about 15 minutes. After removing coins, debris, and gook from the drain filter according to the video, our washer was like new.
What does this tell me about Murf’s core values? I think I can safely assume the following based on the video alone…
- Murf is not all about money.
The video by its very nature could reduce the number of clients calling in for on-site service. In addition, when I told his receptionist that I wanted to send in $25 for saving me so much time and money, she said, “He’ll call you back just to talk to you but I doubt he’ll accept your money.” He did call. And he did try hard to refuse the money. But he can’t stop me.
- Murf’s advertising is in line with reality.
On his home page he states “Murf’s… is your solution for immediate professional help if you are experiencing problems with your major appliances.” This was my exact experience from thousands of miles away without ever meeting or calling Murf.
- Murf believes in putting in the effort to create great customer experiences.
The video was short, sweet, and to the point. But still took time, effort, and production to create.
Your core values show, even if you don’t think they do. They are an open secret. And your prospects and clients will respond to you based on your core values. People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.
Every single person on the planet knows what they do.
Some know how they do it.
Very few people or organizations know why they do what they do.
People don’t buy what you do – they buy what you believe.
Here are some takeaways…
Adapt the Right Core Values
- Be about the customer and not the money. The customer experience must come first. The money comes because the customer values the experience that you prioritized over and above your own needs.
- Be transparent. Let people see who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
- Have integrity. Own your mistakes and compensate the customer for them. Give away what can be given away, like Murf did and like the Subway manager didn’t. Be honest in your advertising. Be honest in everything you do.
- Do what you say. Don’t bait with promises and hook with disappointment.
- Do what you do well. Don’t cut corners. Hire experts. Pay them fairly.
- Love what you do.
- Be social.
- Be innovative.
- Have a strong follow-through.
- Remember that simplicity always out-performs complexity.
Comunicate the Core Values
You can’t expect your workforce to understand, adapt, and live your core values if you don’t communicate them. Here are just a few ideas…
- HR can communicate them when hiring, on-boarding, and evaluating.
- The board should share them regularly in all of its communications to the staff.
- Company newsletters, videos, and meetings should feature success stories of how core values led to customer acquisition and retention. Keep these customer testimonials close to heart.
- Blogs and social media channels could feature behind-the-scenes people and processes living out core values.
- Post the core values in an easy-to-digest format in physical and digital employee touch points (the mail room, break room, intranet home page, etc.)
- Demonstrate the core values in everything you do, communicating the core values through action.
Align Internal Processes and Customer Touch Points with Core Values
Every process should be aligned under one or more core values. It’s not really a core value if it doesn’t drive what you do.
- Accounts Payable should issue payments on time and accurately as part of the core value of integrity.
- Customer Service departments should assess customer experiences in measurable terms and communicate weaknesses to management so they can improve.
- Software development projects must understand the core values driving a project and should build them with that core value in mind.
- Marketing channels should be designed for transparency, integrity, and positive customer experience.
- IT Departments should transform themselves from siloed and sluggish cost centers to innovative and collaborative champions of customer experience.
The core values of a company are like the heart of an individual. We do what we do for interior, unseen motives. Our actions then reveal the sentiment behind those motives. They reveal our values. Shared values beget long-term relationships. Values that are not shared, regardless of the product or service, break relationships.
Your core values are showing. If something isn’t working, maybe its time to reevaluate from the core outward.