Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Focus is Good for You

People have always used used metaphors to help them understand their world. As we became and industrial society we used to speak of the universe as running like a fine watch. Today, considering the influence of computers it’s no surprise that we speak of our mental capacity in terms of bandwidth. It turns out that neuroscientists have determined how fast our brains process information and it’s a finite amount in terms of bytes processed per second. That number is not the focus here, but the fact that it exists.

There is another similarity between our brains and computers. Just as when we switch from one program to another on our computers our brain must power down one form of application and then “boot” another application to perform disparate tasks.

Now, granted, for most of us this may happen faster than our awareness. None the less, that does not mean the process is not happening. Hence, when we multi-task (a misnomer in itself as we are simply performing series of sequential tasks) our brain must shut down and reboot between each unrelated task.

Research has shown that long term this behavior deteriorates the brain. So, let me encourage you to take or should I say, retake control of yourself. Instead of attempting to perform multiple tasks “simultaneously” give your complete attention to each task at hand. Contrary to popular belief, you’ll get more done and your brain will perform better, longer.

After all in the knowledge economy our brains are our only truly competitive advantage.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Want My SM

President Obama’s use of social media (SM) in the campaign and now in his administration is getting a lot of attention. Everywhere I turn people are talking about SM. It reminds me of years ago when people were screaming “I want my MTV.” It appears SM is the next big thing. It is IT. I hear everything from SM is worthless to it’s priceless. I hear people asking “Why would I want to Tweet, Facebook, or get LinkedIn?” Other people claim their spouses are “addicted”. Still others preach the gospel that SM is the new communication Holy Grail. After all, look how successfully President Obama uses SM. The margin between Senator, now President Obama and Senator McCain mirrored the gap between the numbers of people registered on their respective SM sites.

May I encourage you to step back for a moment and recognize that SM is simply a collection of tools? In that sense it’s no different than print, broadcast and other online media. It has different characteristics and features, but in the end it’s simply a collection of new communication tools.

What set the Obama campaign apart from the McCain campaign wasn’t how they used these new tools, but why. It was about what they were trying to accomplish. Historically, market communicators tell people a message about their product. In the case of the election, Senators Obama and McCain were the products. Traditionally, it’s standard operating procedure to develop a series of talking points and to educate the sales/campaign staff to be able to consistently tell those points to everyone.

The Obama campaign did this. It also, asked people what was important to them. Then the campaign took action to address those issues locally. One of the most important responsibilities of leaders is to tighten communication between their followers. Senator Obama used SM not only to talk to his followers, but also to listen to them and then the campaign used SM to organize his followers to take action. His new media team made it easier for people to create the change they wanted.

I think SM has great potential for initiating and strengthening relationships with prospects and customers alike. So, let me encourage you to open a Facebook or a LinkedIn account. Play around for awhile, lurk, and watch how people are using these new “toys”. Once you’ve experienced them you’ll start to think of ways to use these tools strategically. It will take patience, but remember it took time to learn how to effectively use radio and TV to achieve marketing results.

Look for me on Facebook and LinkedIn and thanks for reading this blog.