Why To Be Nice

I came across a cool book entitled The Power of Nice by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval which argues that it pays to be nice. The authors are executives of Kaplan Thaler Group, a billion dollar advertising agency built on the foundation of kindness.

Authors like Al Ries and Jack Trout have compared marketing to war, where the goal is to kill the competition. This book suggests that you should instead try to help or work together with your competition.

Whether it’s working together with a fierce rival, building social capital by being nice to people you work with, giving back to the community, or giving customers more than you have to, taking the high road is like good ethics. It pays in the long run.

My only critique of the book is that it could have provided more evidence to support the “power of nice” thesis. There may not be that much evidence out there. The return on investment of niceness should definitely be studied more extensively.

Perhaps data will reveal truth to the old adage “it’s better to give than to receive.”

If I Wrote the MBA program…

these would be on the course reading list. (Marketing Focus)

All Marketers are Liars Seth Godin
Blink Malcom Gladwell
Blue Ocean Strategy W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne
The World is Flat Thomas Friedman
Selling the Invisible Harry Beckwith
Winning with People John Maxwell
Leadership Challenge James Kouzes
Never Eat Alone Keith Ferrazzi
Buzz Marketing Mark Hughes
Small is the New Big Seth Godin
Differentiate or Die Al Ries

Write your own MBA reading list and post it here!

Seth Strikes Back

In the highly enjoyable book Small is the New Big, Seth Godin strikes back against corporate America. In today’s world large companies are too conformed, too unauthentic, too uncaring, too conservative, and too used to the status quo, to paraphrase the book. Instead of a typical book format, Seth uses a blog like format, with short discussions of hundreds, if not thousands of his unique insights on people, business, and marketing. I would strongly recommend this book to be put on your books to read list.


My 5 fav pointers
5. Benchmarking encourages us to be average, not remarkable.
4. Working hard is not working long, its about taking risks.
3. All the magazine ads in the world can’t undo an unfriendly desk clerk. Every service employee is your marketing department.
2. You can’t trick people into noticing your ads, people must want to notice.
1. Encourage positive conversations. Be remarkable.

Jack Trout's Survival Guide

Jack Trout is one of the greatest marketing thinkers of our time. Though the title is somewhat threatening, Differentiate or Die, describes the secret stuff that any successful product or service must have.

The low cost strategy doesn’t work because your competition is often willing to out bid you even if they die with you. Improving quality may work, but often the costs to improve outweigh the potential increase in sales. The only magic potion is to differentiate.

Often all it takes is a creative idea to differentiate your product. Look at Chiquita bananas and the little sticker. A Tylenol container can make the Acetaminophen pills twice as valuable to consumers. Tony the Tiger on a box has real value for consumers.

These are all things that add value to a product in an intangible way. The customer receives added value, usually not because of a superior performing product, but because of the intellectual value created in the mind. Marketers create intellectual utility just as engineers create physical utility. By creating value in the minds of customers, marketers are at the heart of effectively differentiating a product from the competitors in the market.

Like Jack Trout talks about in his book, it doesn’t matter if your product is better if people do not perceive it as better. It is the job of the marketer to make sure that people perceive your product in a way that will drive sales for your company. And in most cases it is marketing creativity that is the best source of ammo for your differentiation strategy.

How to Think Without Thinking

I really enjoyed Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcom Gladwell. The book chronicles our brain’s impeccable ability to comprehend a tremendous amount of environmental data in an instant, often without us even knowing it.

Gladwell describes a marriage counselor who could predict whether a couple would be together in 15 years by watching a single conversation and breaking down the body language and other very subtle clues. His predictions have been correct 95% of the time.

Another fascinating case study was a retired vietnam Colonel who during the most expensive war simulation in history was able to take out 20,000 American soldiers before they had a chance to fire a shot. Playing the part of a rouge middle east general, he was able to inflict mass damage to the best army in the world, by relying on quick instinctual decision making.

If you are in marketing you know how important first impressions can be. Blink highlights several marketing implications of rapid cognition.

Top 5 insights from Blink….

5. You can’t test something out of context and believe it to apply in real life (i.e. Pepsi’s blind taste tests when no one drinks soda blindfolded).

4. Subliminal messages can influence our behavior.
People who were subliminally primed with suggestions of old age in a word puzzle, would leave the room considerably slower. People who were told to think of what it would be like to be a professor answered more questions right, than a person who was made to think of soccer hooligans.

3. People can not consciously know what they truly want. (i.e. during speed dating people could not predict the characteristics of someone they would be attracted to.)

2. Sensation transference is a concept that suggests that on the unconscious level we don’t make a distiction between the package and the product. They switched the wine in Christian Brothers and E&J wine bottles, and people preferred the wine in the Christian Brothers’ bottle even when it was actually E&J wine.

1. In medicine there is no correlation between malpractice lawsuits and number of mistakes by a doctor. The doctors that have poor relationships with their patients get sued more often. It shows how important customer service really is!

Aurelius from Atheist Seeker said….

Interesting. I’m aways intriqued by the sorts of things that the human brain can do on the fly.