Giving Your Business Personality Is Good Business
By Jeffrey Baumgartner
Big data is a big trend in big business today. But big data is also removing the last vestages of humanity from companies that exploit it. That's not good, because companies that have personality do better over the long term than companies that do not, which is precisely why companies like yours need to inject personailty into your brand, products, services, processes and even workspace.
To understand why, let's take a brief look at how big data works.
Big Data Is Everywhere
Businesses are constantly collecting data about customers, non-customers, employees and anyone else they can collect data on. It is collected mostly through internet use (be it on computer, tablet or smartphone) and stored in the cloud where software can sift through the gonzo-bytes of information in order to identify statistical trends. From this wealth of data, software can make assumptions about the kind of person you are demographically and things you might be in the market to buy in the near future. For example, if you are looking at lots of car dealership web sites, you are likely to buy a car soon.
Then big data tries to encourage you to do things the big data owners approve of -- like buy their products.
Here's how it works.
How Big Data Works
You have probably experienced a scenario like this: you shop for a mobile telephone (or something else) on-line, but do not buy one immediately.
The next time you visit your favourite blog or news site or social media, you see a big advertisement for that telephone. You may even see other advertisements associated with the telephone, such as for a telephone case or apps. You might be offered a very attractive price for the telephone.
This is because big data is recording your on-line activities, interpreting them and using the information to sell to you what you are statistically likely to buy soon.
However, big data has a big limitation.
While big data can identify trends in activities and behaviour, it cannot understand why we humans behave as we do. Big data may recognise that you are in the market for a new phone, but it will not know or care why you want a new phone, how you feel about your telephone or that you feel a little creeped out by big data watching you so closely.
Unfortunately, as big business becomes ever more reliant on data analysis to make decisions, business becomes less human as do its products, services, processes and even people.
So, what can business do?
Business can become more human.
Let's Get Human
Consider the telephone that was being advertised on every web page you visited. Everything about it is probably data driven. The design was based on data about market trends, what the competition is doing and available components. The marketing of the telephone is based on data about the relevant demographics. The on-line selling is managed by big data. There is hardly any human element in it at all.
But it does not have to be that way. What if the team in charge of designing and marketing the telephone visualised the telephone not as a data inspired technical gadget, but as having elements of human personality complete with feelings, desires, motivations, dreams and fears?
The teams could then define the basic personal characteristics of the telephone. Perhaps it sexy; perhaps it is friendly; perhaps it is a helpful secretary. Once the telephone has some basic characteristics, its personality can be developed and analysed. A friendly secretary is eager to please its boss, perform efficiently and be helpful. But he also wants to be appreciated for his professionalism. These characteristics can be incorporate into the telephone's design, marketing and selling.
Do you see how such a product could really stand out in the marketplace?
Products With Personality
If the teams succeed in giving the telephone elements of personality that connect with customers, then promotion and selling will be much easier. People will not buy the phone because it is the cheapest or because it advertises more on social media; but because people really like and want to own your telephone.
Wouldn't that be cool?
Of course it would!
Not Just Products with Personality
You can inject a little personality into just about any aspect of business: process, teams, working environment and even your corporate image.
Think about a production line with personality. Really!
How does it feel? How does it feel when there are problems? What are its aspirations and motivations? How does it feel about the people using it? A production line that aspires to work well with your employees is likely to be better than one that hates your employees! I expect your employees would agree too.
Look at your office and working environment not as a mass of human resource data, but a community of human beings with feelings, motivations, hopes and fears. People connect to a community in ways they do not connect to an office. People in communities communicate to each other; everyone knows what is going on -- or knows how to find information about what is going on. People in offices often fail to communicate outside of their work units which causes all kinds of problems.
How might your business feel if your colleagues had a sense of community about the workplace? How might it benefit if information travelled as freely in your offices as it does around a small village?
You can even inject personality into your brand. Southwest Airlines has a personality of friendliness and humour. Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream combines friendliness with passion about nature and a sense of responsibility to the community. Apple is cool and stylish. These companies tend to be more profitable than their competitors, have devoted customers and get a lot of positive attention on social media.
Personality = Caring
In short, injecting personality into your business makes your business a little more human and that means your customers are more likely to care about you, your employees are more likely to care about you and your stakeholders are more likely to care about you. When people care, they support you, they buy from you and they recommend you to friends. They are more tolerant when you make mistakes and more appreciative when you win.
And all of that is surely good for your business, isn't it?
Inject Personality into Your Business
Would you like to inject personality into your business? If so, contact me to arrange a series of workshops to
- Review your brand, products and operations.
- Devise suitable personality elements.
- Draw up an action plan to make things happen.
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