Fundamentals Don’t Change (Details Do)


I saw this making the Twitter circles, and thought Wow. More about why Wow in a minute.

I don’t know who you are.
I don’t know your company.
I don’t know your company’s product.
I don’t know what your company stands for.
I don’t know your company’s customers.
I don’t know your company’s record.
I don’t know your company’s reputation.
Now, what was it you wanted to sell me?

Part of the point of this is pretty obvious — if your target audience can’t answer any of these questions about you, well, you aren’t going to get very far unless they are astoundingly naive and gullible. Let’s take a second look at this.

I know who you are.
I know your company.
I know your company’s product.
I know what your company stands for.
I know your company’s customers.
I know your company’s record.
I know your company’s reputation.
Now, what was it you wanted to sell me?

Very different picture, isn’t it?

Let’s say you’ve done a lot of work to get the word out. You’ve done a good job. You’ve followed up and surveyed your target audience, and they say, yeah, we know these folks, we’ve heard what they’re saying. Answering the questions doesn’t mean your target audience will buy in to your world view or goals, but it means they can make an informed decision and position your communications within the framework of their own goals, resources, ethics, etcetera. That isn’t the end of it, though.

For example, I’m working in libraries and have almost my whole life. We talk a lot about marketing problems with libraries, how people don’t understand us, don’t know what we’re doing, what we’re trying to do. That isn’t the real problem, tho, really. Think about it. If you talk with people about libraries they are likely to say:

I know who you are.
I know your company.
I know your company’s product.
I know what your company stands for.
I know your company’s customers.
I know your company’s record.
I know your company’s reputation.
Now, what was it you wanted to give me?

Right, good. So what’s the problem then? Ah, well, here we get to the crux of the matter. Here is a parable, sort of. In today’s sermon at my church, our local priest talked about when the people of his hometown had little faith in Jesus and he could not perform miracles, because they thought they knew him. He was performing miracles, but the folks at home didn’t know about the miracles, they knew him, his mom, dad, brothers and sisters. They knew his day job, the work he does, his weaknesses and foibles. Miracles were not part of the picture. So they weren’t buying it.

With libraries, IMHO, we have something more like this situation.

I think I know who you are.
I think I know your company.
I think I know your company’s product.
I think I know what your company stands for.
I think I know your company’s customers.
I think I know your company’s record.
I think I know your company’s reputation.
Now, what was it you wanted to give me?

They are probably right about knowing libraries with these part:

I think I know who you are.
I think I know your company.
I think I know what your company stands for.
I think I know your company’s record.
I think I know your company’s reputation.

Libraries have great reputations — passion, commitment, desire to serve, freedom of access, freedom of information, strong ethical foundations. Librarians are GOOD people. Everyone KNOWS that. This part is a little tricky.

Now, what was it you wanted to give me?

We like to give things away, but unfortunately it takes money to give things away. That means we have to first sell folks the idea of giving us money so we can give things away. This gets even trickier when they think we are giving away the same things they are getting for free somewhere else. That’s where we are getting in trouble. These bits might be a little hazy.

I think I know your company’s product.
I think I know your company’s customers.

It isn’t that our audience doesn’t know us, is that they think they DO know us, but what they know about us is fairly accurate in the large view and inaccurate in the details.

Just a little something to think about.

One response to “Fundamentals Don’t Change (Details Do)

  1. Thank you for your thought-provoking and insightful post.

    Like

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