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April 02, 2005

The power is the story

Go to Tom Peters if you need quick mantras to get out of the week's overload and have those mantras shake few cobwebs in your head over the weekend.

Sample this from his slide where he quotes Rolf Jensen, (author of dream society)

We are in the twilight of a society based on data. As information and intelligence become the domain of computers, society will place more value on the one human ability that cannot be automated: emotion. Imagination, myth, ritual - the language of emotion - will affect everything from our purchasing decisions to how we work with others.  Companies will thrive on the basis of their stories and myths. Companies will need to understand that their products are less important than their stories.

There are lot of concise wisdom in that presentation, all pointing to one thing that story and emotions are the new foundation of successful business. It was always there as an important ingredient but lately this has come out as a key differentiators. It reflects which way competitive differentiators are moving in our  highly homogeneous and commoditized market place.
There have been many case studies on how companies like Starbucks, JetBlue, Flickr, Google, Apple among others command high emotional loyalty. They make us feel good about ourselves and about our choices.

People are suckers for cool stuff. Rational thinking is overrated (Blink did some more damage to the rationalist school of thought) when it comes to the shopping experience.

What lesson an entrepreneur can draw from that.  To begin with focus on the emotional content of your product offering. What feeling does your product invoke in your users and among your employees. What image does it conjure in their mind.

Kevin Laws has an interesting post which expands on this theme. His comment on the growing tyranny of non-monetary cost is right on the money.  Customer's emotional experience is directly matched to his or her psychic cost:

Psychic costs are less well known and more difficult to measure. They are not the $3.99 a minute it costs to get your fortune read over the telephone - that cost is very monetary. No, psychic costs measure the stress of having to think about a transaction.

His recommendation is worth internalizing:

.. the critical importance of reducing non-monetary costs enough that customers actually use the product

Stories, emotions, conceptualizers, psychic cost, blink, thin-slicing, non-monetary etc are all part of the same equation. Technology has to be hidden and only that part should be exposed which says "I care about you".

April 2, 2005 in Random Thoughts | Permalink


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