Be happy

Not the best of days yesterday. Put my back out, and retired to a lie-flat position. Brain racing, body stopped … Aaaargh. To pass the time, I mused on getting my understanding of the purposes of business and branding down to their most basic forms. It led me here:

What if the purpose of business, particularly a service business, is as simple as this: to make people happy. Imagine if that was the metric for your product design, your standards, your customer service, your innovation programme, your culture, your brand, your competitiveness.

And what if the purpose of branding is to let people know how you intend to make them happy.

Here come the objections: most of them variations of ‘we do that already’. No you probably don’t. If you did, you wouldn’t have effective competitors, you wouldn’t struggle to maintain market share, you wouldn’t find yourself locked in a pricing war. Perhaps you think they’re happy or hope they’re happy, or you word your customer satisfaction surveys so that you can tell yourself they’re happy.

Look a little harder. You’ll probably find they’re not.

Now imagine if everything else we normally mull over was inversed. Instead of the KPIs being how we measured success, those operational metrics became an indication of how happy people felt working with us, buying from us, trusting us. In other words, imagine using the numbers to quantify the success of achieving the emotion rather than generating an emotion based on the success of the numbers.

Of course you’d need parameters. Not everyone can be happy all the time. Not everything we do in business is happy. And happy itself is hard to define. Legal would have a field-day. Finance would agree that the whole place had gone to the dogs. But if your goal every day was to make people happy, your organisation might be a little more empathetic, helpful, friendly, engaging, inclusive, tolerant, involved, human, generous, optimistic … which aren’t bad qualities.

Imagine replacing your marketing strategy with a happiness strategy. OK, ignore the term please and focus on the outcomes. That might make your customer service policies a little less myopic and your new business pitch a little less about what you want to say and more about what your customers would enjoy seeing. You’d look for ways to delight, charm and pleasantly surprise in your dealings … again, not bad qualities.

Now quantify how much churn you’d save, productivity you’d gain, commitment you’d garner if your people were happier.

Maybe it is simplistic. But sometimes the barest questions really do come with the greatest cut-through.

Imagine if every marketing manager asked “Would I be happy to see this?” before they signed off the next campaign. Wow. That’s around 90% of most ad breaks gone.


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