Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Theory of Connectivity

If we look at business as a system of transactional values relating to human interaction, we can also look at the concept of ROI as a manifestation of business thinking that is catalyzed by enlightenment. Naturally, you might ask how this can be summarized in some formulaic way, so let's create a system of values in order to redefine what ROI really means. Just know that I'm taking cues from the likes of Guy Kawasaki, Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff, Ed Keller, Peter Kim, Andy Sernovitz, Al Reis, Alex Bogusky, David Droga, David Ogilvy, Lee Clow and a slew of other thought leaders here, so this theory isn't just coming out of left field. 

First, we must all remember that emotion drives purchase decisions. Underneath that, we look for purpose in just about everything we do, no matter how small the act. So the variables are then:


Now let's create simple equations for these variables:

E + P = A
(emotion plus purpose equals affinity)
P + T = E
(purpose plus truth equals emotion)
U + P = B
(utility plus purpose equals Brand)

We can rightfully assume that brands are people, so if we can deduce that brands also happen to be the businesses we run, then these variables are all reflexive. In other words, one variable can be removed from the equation, but all must exist in the "universe" of a brand in order for it to be successful.

Now let's go a step further. If we can accept that opinions shape the knowledge we develop and ultimately acquire as our own (such as what I am doing here through inspiration from the many people that I admire), then another fascinating thing happens: we have the opportunity to act in the moment. Remember that we are all capable of being enlightened when we think and act in the moment. So...

my business thinking + your business thinking = Enlightenment

If we refer to the variable of E, we can now establish that emotion drives enlightenment, a "sub-variant", if you will. Therefore, purchases are the culmination of emotional reflexivity. So when we are enlightened, we make purchases that we are not only confident about, but those that bring us closer to the relationship we have with a brand. In other words, our relationship with other people.

Think about it. Where does the term "human being" come from? Are you a human being? Moreover, are you being human

If you're suddenly overwhelmed by the concept, you should be. We're not wired to be in the moment. Which is why we're not always enlightened. But we can be, and we have plenty of opportunities to be in our daily lives. Whether we choose to capitalize on those opportunities is a matter of perspective, and I'm using "capitalize" in both senses of the word: to engage and to activate purchase.

So let's go back to practical application. Let's assume that your brand is your business. It's important to note here that this does not necessarily equate to sales. If you sell a product only a few times, you probably don't have a business. But if you allow people to invest in your brand, they'll buy your product without you having to "sell" them anything. And they'll keep buying it. Now that's good business.

We can now make the connection that investing in awareness (through the use of social media, for example) is as important, if not more important, than investing in things like direct response or direct marketing. Some media folks love to talk about how digital advertising, for instance, produces ROI. Not true. Digital advertising, along with carefully selected forms of other marketing or advertising channels, can produce ROI. But so can a guy selling you a household appliance on your doorstep. What increases sales is what you say to your friends after he leaves, regardless of whether that conversation happens on- or offline, or both.

That's ROI.

Social media, then, can be valued at a true Return on "Intent", not so much "Investment". Put it this way: do you buy your friends? If you do, then they're not really your friends anyway. No one wants to be bought and sold. It's called slavery. We're far too evolved for that nonsense.

All we need to do is pay attention to directly at what's in front of us. Sure, it can be a tall task given that we're constantly trying to play chicken across a superhighway of content and experiences...but it can be done. More specifically, people will talk about your brand if you give them a reason to do so. If you inspire them to do so. And they'll buy from you if they can develop informed opinions based on conversations with people they know and trust. The very same people who are your brand. 

Try out the Theory of Connectivity when you find yourself in the moment. Let me know what happens, I'd love to explore the possibilities with you. 

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