Suddenly Marketing

Brand Messaging | Content Strategy | Writing

Tag: relationships

The (magical) power of delight

An unexpected gift from Mother Nature – a heart in the mud. Delightful.

Yesterday was a gift of a day.

Despite being only a week away from Thanksgiving, the temperature soared to sixty-five degrees under nearly cloudless, bright blue skies. The unseasonably beautiful weather lifted spirits, dissolved the Monday Blues, and incited several spontaneous acts of truancy.

The day was truly delightful.


Delightful (n): great pleasure; joy … [Middle English delit, from Old French, a pleasure, from delitier, to please, charm …]1


Delightful is not a word we use very often. It seems, perhaps, slightly antiquated for our times – a little too naive, a little too simple.

Such a shame.

To me, delight is more than just pleasure or even joy. Delight embodies a more complex feeling that is layered with the sense of having been given a gift (as in when we say, “Delighted to meet you”) and a sense of surprise – of happily coming upon some unexpected goodness, beauty, or kindness.


So, to be delighted is to be gently jolted out of your everyday existence by someone or something presenting you with an unexpected gift.


As I strolled down the sunny side of the street on my way to the deli, I thought about things that bring delight: receiving a smile from a stranger, watching a dog’s exuberant play, or hearing a favorite song. I remembered the way an unexpected note from a friend (written by hand and sent via old-fashioned snail mail) warmed my heart with its unanticipated arrival and generosity of time and emotion.

The things that bring delight are usually small and simple. They are unasked for treasures that brighten our day and restore our faith in the virtue of humanity. They are the unassuming tokens, words, and experiences that pull us, for a moment, outside the daily grind and into a new, more positive perspective.


Delight opens us up.


Without requiring vulnerability or confession, delight invites us to be in a space where good things happen. It invites us to see the best in people and situations. It reminds us that, as savvy and cynical as we might be sometimes, we never really lost our capacity for joy and wonder.

Delight can come from many quarters, but it rarely turns up in a business context. When it does, it is so unexpected and feels so much like a gift that its presence creates a dramatic shift in how customers perceive your brand and your brand’s value. It can transform your relationship and open up new opportunities to interact on an entirely different level.

So, I’m wondering, is delight a part of your brand? 




1 The American Heritage Dictionary of The English Language, Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000


The Other Side of Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk

Listen to this post:



How badly do you have to want something before you’ll ask for help?

Does asking for help make you feel like you’ve failed?

What if you could see your asking for help as a kind of giving?

As I write this, Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk, The Art of Asking is creeping up on a million views. She only had twelve minutes, but she covered a lot of emotional territory and, in an uncharacteristically gentle fashion, drove her point home.

As I listened for the second time, I started wondering about the other side of the give-and-take equation. Having less than a quarter of an hour at her disposal, Palmer obviously had to keep her topic tight; but there is a whole other side to the art of asking that didn’t get much air-time: the art of giving.

Palmer is experienced at asking. Whether it’s a piano to practice on, a couch to crash on, or money to support her record-setting Kickstarter campaign, Palmer asks her fans for things all the time. And they respond – willingly, happily, enthusiastically. It’s a testament to the relevance of Palmer’s closing question. Instead of focusing on how to make people pay for music, she asks, “How do we let people pay for music?”


That’s quite a shift in perspective.

How do you transform a commercial transaction from being coercive to being a privilege? How do you switch someone’s mindset from “have to” to “want to?”

The piece that Palmer didn’t directly address in her talk is what she gives to her fans. Yes, she asked. Yes, they gave. But, she gave, too – in profound ways over the course of their long relationship. Palmer touched on this lightly when she shared how she questioned the fairness of the exchanges between her and her fans after crashing with a poor family of undocumented Honduran immigrants. The mother took Palmer aside to tell the musician how much her music had helped her eighteen year-old daughter, and to thank her for staying with them

Even the second time watching, I got a lump in my throat.

Palmer gives her fans much more than her music. She gives them connection – to her, to the ideas she embodies, to each other, and to themselves. She gives them the opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves – to be seen, to contribute, to make a difference. She gives them permission and support and community. She gives them courage and compassion.

Palmer is an artist, but she is also a brand. She combines her personal humanity with the Big Ideas and values she stands for to create the message, experience, and community that are Amanda Fucking Palmer. She’s done it so skillfully and so authentically that her fans line up to help her keep doing what she does. People give not just because she asks, but because she gives.


That’s the piece many people miss.

Too many people will watch Palmer’s talk and rush to embrace the art of asking. They will assume wrongly that all they have to do is ask and they shall receive. That isn’t how it works. First, you have to give. You have to give of yourself and your ideas, your time and your energy, your attention and your empathy. Whether you are an artist or a house painter, a software developer or a writer, a dog trainer or a barista, you have to give first

Successful brands are not about coercion. Successful brands are about inclusion. They are about creating something that other people want to be part of. They are about creating a space where other people want to be. They are about being, as Palmer said of artists in days gone by, “connectors and openers.”

Your brand is never about you. It’s bigger than you. It should be. It’s about all the people you touch with your work, all the differences you make for them and the differences they make for you. It’s about giving so that you have the right to ask, and making asking a way of giving.

The point everyone’s missing about Pinterest

Everyone is talking about Pinterest. 

Seems like every blogger I read has written a post on the topic. My Evernote files are bursting with clips that include pundit opinions, technical overviews, marketing tips, how to’s, case studies, best practices, infographics, metrics, statistics, diagrams, roadmaps, seriously long lists of tactics to help you “make the most” of Pinterest, and even a few spoofs. The Pinterest eagle has landed and everyone wants to be the one to tell you how to use it to market your brand.


I know it’s driving massive traffic, but …

There’s no question that Pinterest is racking up some pretty impressive numbers in terms of users, views, clicks, and so forth. It’s also true that some big name brands are finding effective ways to use it, so clearly the site isn’t just a guilty pleasure for the millions of primarily female addicts around the globe. There’s some bite behind Pinterest’s bark in the form of real website visitors that are, presumably, being converted into paying customers on product-based sites.

As the owner of a service-based business, I don’t expect to generate leads from Pinterest. Even if I did post quotes or images that related to my marketing and writing skills, I find it highly unlikely that they would lead to an actual engagement. Branding overhauls, content strategies, and e-books are not exactly impulse buys. But that’s not to say that I don’t believe I’m getting any value out of the platform. (And, no, I’m not just saying that because I don’t want to have to give up pinning pictures of beautiful barn homes, cute animals, and word geek sayings.)


… I just want it to be fun.

Maybe it’s my inner cynic, but I am a little grossed out by the stampede to monetize and “marketize” this platform. I’m a marketer myself, so it might seem out of character for me to be turned off by the sudden influx of crassly promotional pins that have started cluttering my Pinterest feed. At least once a day, I find myself unfollowing specific boards just so I can purge the overtly commercial items from my otherwise all-fun-all-the-time feed. I don’t want Pinterest to become just one more place where people can broadcast their offers. I don’t want it to become integrated with the rest of the social management tools so that people can simultaneously push the same images and comments to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and so on.

I spend time on Pinterest to get away from my usual work routine – to see new things that I don’t see in my typical, work-driven web travels. I spend time on Pinterest to spark my imagination. I go there to collect images that make me smile, inspire me, or perhaps give me a new perspective on an old problem. And I go there to share myself and learn about other people, because …


… once upon a time, social platforms were actually about being social. 

And that’s the piece of the Pinterest puzzle that people are missing. Somehow, by reaching this critical mass of users and clicks and press coverage, the site has been transformed from a fun way to share ideas and dreams into a source of traffic. Most of what I’ve read about “how to use Pinterest” is about how to use it to drive traffic somewhere else – how to use Pinterest as the bait that lands fish on your own website.

Again, as a marketer, I get this. I really do. But, I’m discouraged to think that people are so willing to overlook the smaller, more intimate opportunities that a social network like Pinterest offers.


If a picture is worth a thousand words … 

… then Pinterest is worth one hell of lot of words. As a writer, there’s a part of me that sighs with resignation over the immense popularity of this visually-driven site. As I recently commented on Mark Schaefer’s clever post about the rise of Pinterest, “Perhaps the dolphins really are the more intelligent species and language is just a kind of evolutionary speed bump. Perhaps Pinterest will pave the way for communication sans words. We will simply point and use emoticons to decide whether the person we’re conversing with is friend or foe.”

But, the issue of our declining desire to engage with the written word aside, I do admit that – even for a writer – pictures offer a certain immediacy of understanding that is appealing. You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their Pinterest boards. There are patterns, preferences, even – potentially – subconscious themes. I haven’t analyzed anyone else’s boards, but in looking at my own hoard of pins, I was surprised at how much of myself I had revealed through this visual format, this subtly passive (after all, I’m not creating this content, I’m simply passing it along) method of saying, “This is who I am.”


And that’s what it’s all about. 

I’ve said before that the secret to any social platform or social content success lies in its ability to help people express themselves. It’s never about the platform or the brand or the product or the service. It’s about the individual and giving her a way to say, “This is me.” For all intents and purposes, Pinterest is a digital locker door in a global high school. You took care to decorate your locker in a way that expressed your style and personality and beliefs. And each time you opened your locker, you revealed that visual reflection of your insides for all the world to see. And sometimes, someone would notice something you’d hung up there – a saying or a picture of a band or a piece of your own artwork – and stop to make a comment or ask you a question. In that instant – you were connected by your shared affinity with that image. You learned, with very few words, that you had something in common, shared some small piece of a belief or a vision. Contact was made – human contact.

Those are the types of connections I like making on Pinterest. It’s not that I’d be disappointed if I somehow managed to generate a lot of new traffic to my website, but I’d honestly be more pleased to make some intimate connections with individuals. After all, business is ultimately about relationships and, in my experience, having a few strong relationships is much more effective (and fulfilling) than chasing after a larger number of casual relationships.

What do you say? Should we be embracing the “marketization” of Pinterest, or taking the slower approach with a focus on one-on-one relationship building?

–>  If you’d like more about Pinterest, check out the FOCUS Q&A Panel  moderated by Ann Yastremskiof Marketing Profs and featuring Amanda Maksymiwof OpenView LabsJessica Meher of HubSpot, Olivier Blanchard of BrandBuilder Marketing, and little, old me. It was fun. I used the term “Pinterest Pimp.” 😉


Image  Credit: Ben Watts

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