Every Signal Defines You

My colleague today cited a passage by Seth Godin:

Every time you interact with a customer, you’re engaging in marketing. Doesn’t matter if you’re instituting a policy, gaining some data, delivering an invoice… it’s a marketing interaction.

Disregarding his unwillingness to accept comments on his blog — an ironic and blatant customer interaction in the “age of listening and conversation” — Godin is correct.  But he’s also incomplete.

Let’s unpack this idea further: It’s not just direct customer interactions that matter. Every signal directly or indirectly associated with your brand forms what is ultimately your message and experience. That’s why dating singles pay so much attention to how they look, smell, taste, feel and sound. That’s often why singles turn into couples and have everlasting relationships. The aggregate of your signals define you. As my friend Ted McConnell asks: “What is your message, really?”

Entrenched in a progressive startup, my colleagues and I are asking this of ourselves all the time. But this sort of self-scrutiny shouldn’t be limited to startups; it’s equally if not more important for large companies where the stakes often are higher. The paradox is it’s much harder to reverse bad habits or misaligned practices in established companies, especially large and bureaucratic ones. That’s why it’s so critical to apply this test from the very beginning. But it’s hard work either way.

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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