Saturday, October 29, 2011

From the People Who Brought You the Wall Street Collapse

From his grave, the late novelist Joseph Heller must be giving direct marketing advice to JP Morgan Chase.

Today my wife and I received a letter from Deb Walden, Chase's executive vice president of cardmember experience.

The letter opens with good news: "Currently, our records indicate that you are not being mailed any offers from Chase."  Thank God for small favors.

It then informs us that, in order to continue enjoying this privilege, we must respond.  If we fail to respond, Chase will begin mailing us offers.

The list of offers comprises things like insurance, investments, credit cards, home equity loans and annuities.

Deb even includes a deadline (December 15) and warns us that, by failing to respond by the deadline, "you may begin to receive offers in the mail about these products and services."

May receive?

So let me get this straight, Deb.

Unless your customer opts out, he will automatically receive direct mail offers from Chase after December 15.  That is, unless Chase opts not to send those offers.

So, to be clear, we must opt out or Chase will send us direct mail offers.  That is, unless Chase opts out, in which case it will not send us those offers.  Or it may send us some, but not all, offers.

Deb concludes her letter with a waiver.  (Deb can't help herself; she's a banker, after all.)

"Responding to this letter will ensure that the mailing options you select will remain in effect for five years after we receive your request.  After five years, or if you move to a new residence, you'll need to renew all of your mailing options."

Well, Deb, you've succeeded in one thing at least.  

You've erased any temptation we might have had to move in the next five years.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tom Edison, Asshole

The strong reviews of the new "exclusive" biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson have spurred me to buy a copy.

In reading themas well as the hundreds of other tributes and op-eds that have appeared since Jobs' recent demiseI'm struck by the countless times he's been called an "asshole."

Jobs applied the label to himself, so maybe there's cause.

But I'm troubled by the fact that so many people are willing to go "on the record" this way.

Did critics of Thomas Edison so readily toss around the same harsh language in his day?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fabula Interruptus

Okay, I admit it.

I'm helplessly hooked on The Walking Dead.

If there's one storytelling technique the series' producers have mastered, it's the cliffhanger.

Why are cliffhangers so seductive?

The Zeigarnik Effect.

Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik in the late 1920s discovered that people are twice as likely to remember something that's been interrupted.

So if you want to seduce people with your storytelling, leave a few untied ends.

Your audience will naturally rememberand crave—more.

And if you really want your audience to pay close attention to your message, there are four other things you should do.

To be continued...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Are You a Challenger?

I've been following with interest a series of blog posts by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, authors of the forthcoming book The Challenger Sale.

They make a compelling case in favor of a "type" of salesperson they call the "Challenger."

The Challenger is a "teacher," a naturally studious individual who likes to question the status quo.

"Challengers use their deep understanding of their customers' business to push their thinking and take control of the sales conversation," they write. "They're not afraid to share even potentially controversial views and are assertive—with both their customers and bosses."

Dixon and Adamson contrast the Challenger to the "Relationship Builder," who labors to create strong personal ties to customers and "resolve tensions in the commercial relationship."

Measured by results, Challengers are 13 times more effective than their relationship-loving counterparts.

The bottom line: Challengers, si; Relationship Builders, no.

"There's only one way to be a star," Dixon and Adamson write.  You gotta be a Challenger.

"Challengers win by pushing customers to think differently, using insight to create constructive tension in the sale. Relationship Builders, on the other hand, focus on relieving tension by giving in to the customer's every demand."

Their argument makes sense to me.

What doesn't is the shrillness of most readers' comments.

If the backlash Dixon and Adamson receive is representative, then, clearly, most salespeople like to please. They don't like to challenge.

How about you?
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