by Jeroen Geelhoed
To get straight to the point, this blog is not about marketing. At any rate, not the traditional method of marketing. This is because organizations that create value for all stakeholders generally adopt a different approach to marketing. An approach that is far more effective. Raj Sisodia discovered organizations with a sizable marketing budget have a relatively low level of customer loyalty. On the other hand, he saw a lot of organizations that spend little on marketing have a relatively high level of customer loyalty and connection. Why is that?
Motivation versus inspiration
Why do all these people love these organizations? First of all these companies provide good service and products. They perform well. But it is much more then that: people are inspired by these companies. A major difference exists between inspiring and motivating. Motivating can be defined as stimulating, encouraging and urging people to take a specific action. You use motivation and marketing to try and focus attention on your company, the product or the service. And motivation helps you acquire customers.
But inspiration gives you ambassadors because it involves something entirely different. The original meaning of inspire is ‘to breathe life into’. The goal of inspiration is to bring something to life within other people. Inspiration wants to ensure that people desire something themselves and are enthusiastic about something. It is about kindling something new in the other. With inspiration you try not to focus attention primarily on your company, but rather on an issue, a challenge, a problem or an opportunity that requires a major mobilization of efforts. ‘Inspire Others’ is therefore completely different to motivating and traditional marketing. It is more about creating a movement with customer, employees, shareholders, suppliers and society.
Source: Creating Lasting Value (2014), pp. 194
But how to do that? Inspirational organisations succeed in putting their story across. They inspire others with the source of their passion: their vision. They don’t immediately try to convince people to buy their products or services. Instead, they fire people up with enthusiasm for what they want to realise in the world: their vision. And so you as a potential customer, employee, investor or ordinary member of the public feel invited to join in and make a contribution to this vision. People are willing to spread happiness. In other words, inspiring others is about showing and sharing the value you create.
When you have made progress it is important to show it to the world and to celebrate. They have to see and experience it! And it will inspire others to build a brighter future. There are several ways in showing your success and getting better by it:
- Rankings: participate actively in rankings and benchmarks (e.g. Great Place to Work). This disciplines the organization and the High scores in rankings will give credibility of the success. But it will also provide a sense of pride within the organization.
- Brand your success and track record by commercials, books, films, advertisements and the like. New potential customers will like you and want to connect to your organization. Ricardo Semler has done great work on this. I mean, look at his books Maverick and The Seven-Day Weekend advocating the totally different Semco management style.
- Be open and ask for feedback. Invite the outer world to have a look at your organization, for example by company visits, like Zappos does. Do not be afraid you will be copied. They can copy everything, but not the fundament of your success: the culture. Besides, feedback from the outer world will also provide you with new insights which might inspire you to start a new process of value creation.
- Stand up for your opinion in the outer world to be explicit about your opinion and statements about developments in the world. This is what Whole Foods CEO John Mackey and Paul Polman from Unilever does for example.
Do well by doing good. So share your wealth, your knowledge and your culture with the world and foster connections with people who want to relate to your organization:
- Networks: create an expanding network of followers and connect with them. They will use your knowledge, wisdom and ideas. In the meantime, they will be your ambassadors and your teachers. Their feedback is very helpful.
- Contribute or give back to society, customers and employees. This does not mean another social responsibility program. It means sharing the elements you are most good at. The world needs your core qualities. This is what Rabobank is very good at.
- Co-creation: with the outside world you can create new opportunities together. This will open new ways of collaboration. Interface has done great work on this in co-creating with the Zoological Society.
This way of showing and sharing will not only inspire others, it will also inspire and discipline the organization in order to create even more value for their stakeholders.
Be that as it may, it brings us to an important precondition for putting ‘Inspire others’ into practice. And this precondition is just as simple as it is fundamental: to truly inspire others you have to be inspired yourself. It must be ‘real’ and authentic. This means that a sense of urgency and excitement exists within the organization. This also means there is a vision that is lived and inspires employees and managers in the organization. A vision that people truly support and that has AROMA for all employees. The outside world will know instantaneously whether or not this is real.
Ask yourself how you can inspire others if you are not personally inspired.
The first three comments on this blog will receive a free copy of Creating Lasting Value. Be sure to include an email address where we may contact you -- The Editor.