Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

13 September 2010

The North Wind and the Sun

Over the last couple of weeks, my wife and I have plowed through 4 seasons to catch up to date with AMC's hit show "Mad Men" about Don Draper the Madison Avenue ad man. It's a wonderfully designed and written show, but what I love the most about it, is that it's about a group of minds spinning what makes people tick to get them to do something. In their case, it's buying Lucky Strike cigarettes and Mountain Dew.

Part of me likes it because for the last 6 years, that's been my day job while helping lead a church at night. I write ads by digging to find the elusive intersection of sales rep appeasement, client understanding, demographic analysis, and creativity. I find out why people are up a tree feeling panicked. I tickle them with emotion and entice them down into the arms of their answer.

Some find this a very dirty manipulative process. But to me... it's an exercise in communication and influence and it has honed some of the giftings God's put in me at the same time. A good product actually does solve problems. It's the marketer's job to get the targeted people headed in the direction they need to go through astute observation and strategic application. It's an incredibly important process that successful people, places and things do with the goal of the masses having no idea they've been led there. And given a meaningful destination... it's powerful.

In yesterday's Mad Men episode, Don is having dinner with a new character who has been brought into the agency to run focus-groups to help pull out and identify emotional responses to products. Having watched her in previous weeks create scenarios that led to real, deeply buried emotions being unearthed, Don asked her for her secret. She quoted one of Aesop's Fables called "The North Wind and the Sun"

The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveler coming down the road, and the Sun said: "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveler to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin." So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveler. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveler wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveler, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.

Kindness effects more than severity.

Don replied, "He did that in ten lines or less". It doesn't take long to say something truthful. But to have it heard, understood, and have it motivate others to act on it... takes thought.

A friend of emailed me a quote from Scott Adams, te creator of Dilbert, that he thought I'd like (and I do) because of our work on the kindness project. He said,

"Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end."

And I think it's darn close to be right. I take issue with the words "no logical end". Because I think that others practical actions, based on an emotional response, and subsequent effectual ripples... IS the logical result of kindness. It's very predictably replicated and should be expected, measured, and strategically analyzed so that the next kindness rock is thrown in the right direction.

In advertising, clients desperately want to tell everyone about what a good business they are. Writers cringe when they are forced into telling people panicking up trees how many years a store has been in business or that they have great customer service or that they are "Nestled in the heart" of some trendy locale.

Someone is up a tree! GET HIM DOWN with what HE needs, not what makes you feel good! Aesop got this. Persuasion is better than force. And persuasion takes investment.

When it comes to sharing Jesus, you have to meet people's felt needs before you can really meet their real needs. And understanding what people really FEEL like they need (whether they do in reality or not) takes thought, strategy, observation, discussion and prayer. SOME might respond to heavy-handed confrontation... but the masses won't even give you the opportunity to be heard. Even if you feel like you have THE ANSWER that is too good not burst through the front door shouting about at the top of your lungs... even if it's THE TRUTH... kindness effects more than severity.

What do you really want to happen? Think about it. If your goal is to hear yourself shout... by all means... shout away. If you goal is transformation, stop, look, listen, think, pray and create.

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