Where are you looking?
When innovations appear, it can be hard to see their potential benefits … especially if you are looking in the wrong place!
That seems to be the case in this superbly simple story, told to me by Aren Grimshaw when we met up last week.
A guide can help
Aren is one of those rare people who is able to keep his eye on the strategic ball while involved with the activity of enabling businesses to make substantial advances. That is the long description, the short description is: he cuts straight to the chase!
Recently, he was helping some people to understand the potential uses of social media. They are a market research firm with a traditional (read: “non-social”) attitude to marketing communication, and he was showing them examples of uses of LinkedIn and other social platforms on his laptop connected to a projector.
Something to look at
These people were clearly sceptical and not seeing how this would work for them. However, they were soon to meet a potential client who wanted help in communicating with a particular target market segment; so one of them set him a challenge: “can you demonstrate to me how LinkedIn can help us with this specific opportunity?!”
What were they thinking?
We can only imagine what they were thinking and what they were expecting from this new fad called social media. Perhaps their focus was on accessing information about large numbers of people and categorising them based on target markets. If so, while that might be feasible, it would certainly take some effort to do using LinkedIn. But let’s hear what happened next.
Shining a light
“Well”, Aren asked, “who will you be meeting at this new client?” They told him a name and he looked up this person on LinkedIn, showing her profile on the screen. Straightaway one of them noticed: “Oh, I went to school with her! Look, we were at the same college at the same time! Wow, that is going to be really helpful. Thank you very much, I’m convinced!!”. This was nothing to do with target markets or responses rates or anything complicated. It was not even addressing the issue that they expected.
From their perspective, it was completely “out of the left field”. It was simply about social relationships with real people.
Benefits = advantages – disadvantages
We are accustomed to people delaying adoption of innovations until they are convinced that there are real benefits, but this is usually due to concerns about lurking disadvantages which they have not yet seen. In this case, they were not even seeing the advantages and this is likely to be because they didn’t know where to look.
The advantages of social communication are many and various, and the clue is in the name.