The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

105. From Cornflakes to Customer Experience, It’s All About Brand w/ Susan Meier


It’s not just a box of cornflakes. It reflects something about you as a parent far beyond ingredients, taste, and health benefits. 


How does your breakfast cereal make you feel about yourself?


In this episode, I interview Susan Meier, Founder and Principal at Susan Meier Studio, about creativity and brand strategy:


Susan & I discuss:


- The relationship between brand and customer experience


- What people are really afraid of about creativity


- The pervasive contempt of design as a waste of time


- The Venn diagram of customer research and customer needs


Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:




- Patagonia


- Doximity


- Tony Petito, Singapore Repertory Theatre (& the email)


Subscribe, listen, and rate/review the Customer Experience Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or Google Podcasts, and find more episodes on our blog.

Much like in our relationships with other humans, a lot of it is about how that other party makes you feel about yourself or how you are able to see yourself via that other and say party. The single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Learn how sales, marketing and customer success experts create internal alignment, achieved desired outcomes and exceed customer expectations in a personal and human way. This is the customer experience podcast. Here's your host, Ethan Butte. Creativity, strategy and productivity to deliver remarkable experiences for our customers. Creativity, strategy and productivity should have a much closer relationship and a more seamless relationship with one another. Today's guest brings a Creator's mindset to the craft of strategy. Over the past decade she's helped all kinds of clients like PepsiCo and Samsung with strategy, messaging and design through her own studio. Prior to starting her studio, she built a career in business consulting in brand strategy within an agency setting. She's a sculpture artist who did a double major in art history and Italian literature at Dartmouth, who had a residency at the school of Visual Arts in New York and who earned an MBA from Harvard business school. So she embodies the balance of creativity and strategy for greater productivity and impact. Susan Meyer, welcome to the customer experience podcast. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, I'm really excited about this conversation. I love your state admission and we'll get into that probably halfway through the conversation, or so I see. This is a conversation in two parts, but before we kind of get into either of those parts, I like to start where I start with everyone, which is customer experience. When I say customer experience to Susan, what does that mean? You know, I think the customer experience is very much about the relationship that you're building with your customer. In fact, I often define the brand as the actual relationship and the experience is an important part of that. And that experience can be on many platforms in many formats, but it's that feeling that you have when you're connecting to the brand, the product, to the people that are involved, and I think that's the most important thing about your company and your brand is that relationship that you're building. I love a lot of the language that you use there. In you covered a lot of really important ground. You started with relationship, which is our number one core value at bombomb and it in traditionally, of course, we think about it with the people, which you did mention, but you anchored it in the feeling that we get by the interactions with product, people and other touch points. So what is just one step deeper there when you say relationship, because you led with it, like what is relationship? Kind of conjure for you, like what is that word? Chore Voice? How did you make it so I do. I think it's really interesting how it goes beyond what we traditionally as humans, think of as relationships between person and person. and think what really drew me into branding, actually coming out of pure strategy background, was seeing how people had these really intimate personal relationships with brands where they didn't have connections with people. You know, it wasn't a retail situation. It was cornflakes, right, or it was it was a product where they had never met any of the people that worked for that company personally, interacted with any of those people. They had an actual relationship with that product. That made them feel a certain way, that made that loyal to that product, that made them, you know, when social media became more vibrant, that made them want to engage with that product and I remember thinking in the early days of facebook how poetic it was that people were friending brands on facebook and I thought that was such a nice metaphor for that relationship that people have between themselves and their products, before you even get to the people and the customer service or the retail environment. I love it. What are would in your experience? What are some of the key drivers of that feeling? Obviously it's a positive feeling generally. It could go in a variety of directions. It could be I feel cared for, I feel like they entertain me, I feel necessary, dologic, it could be a variety of feelings. But what do you think drives that? You know, I think, much like in our relationships with other humans, a lot of it is about how that other party makes you feel about yourself or how you were able to see yourself via that other and say party, because this applies to your best friend or your partner and also your box of corn flakes, strangely enough, but it's how that thing makes you feel about yourself. And I guess I start with corn flakes because I did a lot of early in my career to a lot of food consumer goods work and worked quite a bit with cereal and, you know, I think...'s an easy example to wrap your mind around where you know, if you're marketing serial part of what you're marketing is what's in the box, and that's important. You know the the ingredients and the health benefits and the taste, but really what you're marketing in a lot of cases to the mom who's going to serve it is the way that she's going to feel about herself. So she's going to feel like, you know, a good mom. And what does that mean to her? And that probably means different things for different segments, which then choose different cereals. Right, you want to be the mom that brings joy and fun to the breakfast table. You want to be the mom that feels like you're giving your child the very best, most most healthful organic food, you know. So it's a really convenient way of thinking about it when you use a simple example like that. Yeah, I love it. That's really well done and I think we're going to get deeper into it. It's interesting. I did I did a short self episode on this podcast where I was trying to capture the essence for the purpose of a presentation I was giving of all the feedback I've received when I ask people this question of you know, define customer experience essentially, and I boiled it down to it's how it's about how you make people feel and how you make them feel about themselves, how you make them feel about you, your logo, your people, your product, et Cetera. It's it's all this feeling basis. So where I want to go from that, because you've wrapped some of that in brand type language. Let's talk about brand versus customer experience, brand experience versus customer experience. I've had a couple different schools of thought in these conversations. One of them is that they're synonymous brand experiences, customer experiences brand experience, and the other conversation has been essentially brand is the promise we're making to our customers and when reality hits in, the rubber meets the road, that is the customer experiences the fulfillment of or the meeting of or the exceeding of or the failure of the brand promise. I guess talk about brand. What is brand mean and what do you think it's relationship is to customer experience? Yeah, he framed up a couple of interesting thoughts there for me because I think my initial reactions. For me it's all of a piece, it's all one thing. We can use different terms for it, but really it's all one hole of stick thing and it's an experience. We can call it brand, call it service, whatever, but I think that's a really interesting notion that there. And I use the word promise a lot when I talk about branding with my clients because I do think that a brand is a promise and the the notion that the experience then that you have is the delivery of that promise and you need to uphold that promise is an interesting one. So if you're thinking about it more branding from a more of a marketing perspective, right that you know, if I've I and my team are writing the brand story and those are messages. They're going to go up on the website or on the packaging or on social media. Those are promises, but we have to deliver on those promises and that becomes the experience. That's actually really nice way of thinking about it. Cool and I I hate going down these roads that I tend to do it. It's like it is a little bit of his semantics at some level. We're making promises over the phone or through website chat or in our marketing copy. We're making all these promises and we need to honor them if we're going to build trust with people, generate positive word of mouth, generate repeat purchasing, etcetera, etc. So it's some level it's it gets a little bit semantic. So I hate going down that road, but it's also how I operate. So here we are. So you've consulted all kinds of companies and feel free to address the range of it in kind of as I t this up for you. What do you wish more people? You know, typically the people listening to this show are operators inside businesses. We primarily speak to marketing, sales and customer success, kind of across the customer life cycle, across the revenue with there. What do you wish more of? The more of those people knew or understood about brand or the brand strategy in general, like when you're starting new with a client who's who maybe came by referral. They didn't do a ton of homework. They're just like you need to talk to my friend Susan, and they come a little bit cold, like what are some of the notions that you really need to kind of Suss out and or knock down early on? Well, you know, the first one that came to mind is that intention is actually really important and that's not something that you typically find in a marketing one hundred and one text bug. It's really all about like, you know, how can you execute perfectly, or as close to perfectly, on this promise? But in fact consumers are very or customers. Humans are very forgiving and and the authenticity and Januine intension of the folks that are delivering this brand promise is actually meaningful to them, even when they don't get it perfectly right. And so I think of an example and and you ask about the range of work that I do.

I mentioned cereal and early in my career that I did a lot of food marketing, food branding, and in the last ten years or so, since starting my own company, I have somehow organically moved into health and wellness than actually done a lot of work in those specifically healthcare space, and if he's the end, that's a complicated space, as a complicated space to deliver on your promise. And in particular I worked with recently with a payer like a health insurance company, which you know, are notoriously sometimes have contentious relationships with their audiences. And what was heartening and interesting for me, as and definitely for them to find is that when they were able to deliver, even a new universe where they had a lot of disgruntlement among the folks they were serving, when their customer service team was able to deliver moments of what I call moments of delight. We interviewed a bunch of physicians to ask about what their experience was with this insurance provider and others, and we heard the usual grumbling about different things, but then we heard these stories of but there was this one time where this amazing service agent helped me speed through this approval when I had this patient who needed surgery the next day and I was so appreciative. Or even you know, these guys denied my claim. They made a mistake and it was such a pain and then I called them. They were apologetic, they fixed it right away and I came away having a good experience and I thought that was such a powerful learning you know, even in a worst case scenario where people are frustrated, they don't have as much brand love as you would like that to have and they maybe even had an explicitly bad experience, you can still deliver by being well intentioned, by being honest, you know, taking responsibility for if it's a mistake, and come out with a delighted customer and then a really positive experience, and so I think that's something that people don't often think about going into a branding project or thinking about brand strategy. Yeah, I really like that. I certainly a negative experience gives us an opportunity to do a dramatic recovery. The worst cases that people are completely indifferent and they don't feel anything at all, and or that they may be harbor some of these negative feelings and they don't engage you directly and give you a chance to overcome it. That's why it's so important to look at some like the softer signals of, you know, dissatisfied people. You got to something there and I'm just curious what your take is is someone who has been in brand and brand strategy for years. Is something I've observed in part through these conversations on the show, is that so many good qualities of a delivered experience and of a company and of a brand is our qualities of just a good person, the kind of person you like to have in your life, someone who shows up, someone who pays attention, someone who does a nice job listening, someone who's there and maybe pick you up when you're feeling a little bit down, someone's there to maybe give you a little bit of a kick when you need a kick to get moving. You know there are human qualities in this, which I guess ties me back to where we were when you defied customer or experience. But what do you think about human humanity human qualities? Is this increasing? Is is something people want more of, or is it something that companies are waking up to, or is this not even a thing at all in your perspective? Yeah, it's funny. I actually written a lot about this notion of brands as friends, as I was saying before, sparked early on by the notion of friending a brand, which at that time felt a bit strange and and beautiful, and of course now that's become very common. But taking that metaphor further to say exactly as you have said, what that relationship means and what you expect as a customer of a brand and what you can and should deliver as a brand to your customers are very much the same. Same rules apply of what you would want to do with your best friend or with your husband or wife right it. You know you want to be consistent, you want to be trustworthy, you want to occasionally deliver some delight or excitement, you want to show up with quality and also be kind and compassionate, and those things mean different things in different contexts and across different products, but I think those are, you kind of universal principles and thinking about that brand and an anthropomorphized way actually is really helpful to take it out, especially when it's a product that you know. I work a lot nowadays in a bet be space and I think it's especially helpful for business to business folks to think about it in this way, because it's very easy to think that you're one step removed from you know, if you have a consumer good, it's easier to think about that human, compassionate relationship about the serials and the MOMS. If you're selling, you know, operational optimization software, it's a little harder. But to I always remind my...

...clients the person there is a decisionmaker on the other end of that sales deal who's a human being who has aspirations and emotions and wants a connection in a relationship, just like the mom buying cereal. And even though they're buying something on behalf of their organization and even though that thing that they're buying, yes, they're looking for technical spects and it may not seem as emotional it actually is, you know that person cares about their job, they care about how they're viewed in their organization, they care about their purpose and their role at work, and so tapping into those things can be extremely powerful for a Bob Organization who may not think that way already. Really, really well said. It reminds me of a great phrase that was in an episode here. He continued to refer to the show, but it is described as you irrational buying forces this idea that, if you can allow me to feel whatever, we want to feel connected, appreciated, understood, cared for, secure, whatever. That some of the some of the rationality just falls away and I'm going to go with you for that feeling. Let's get really practical for a minute. Folks that are listening, they're like, okay, this is really good, I like this language. This makes me think about my work and some of the things I like about it and what I try to do in my day to day but give me, give me, this will be a two layer one. Give me something practical that someone who wants to kind of revisit their brand or brand strategy, what's something they could do today or this week to kind of think about it differently or initiate a review or something like that. So one place that often recommend people to start is with self reflection exercise, because I think that we're, you know, typically trained in strategy, are in business in general to take that approach of let's look at our competitors, let's look at our contacts, regulatory whatever it is in our context that's going on, and then look at our capabilities. And these things are all important. But kind of going back to that notion of it being about relationships and authenticity, it's important to spend can be really enlightening and, if nothing else, is quite fun to go back and just spend a couple of hours doing an exercise where you look at like what are our core values as a company or team or an individual or whatever size organization you are, and what does that imply for what our brand hillers are going to be? And you can use different words for grand pillars, but you know, what are those three to five things that we want to say about ourselves? Like we believe we always, we will never those kinds of things. And you know, a lot of organizations have those things. It sounds like you have or identified those things in your organization, but not all of them do, and and those that do, it's really easy, especially in a larger organization, for those two like floats so high up that their platitudes, and so to do that exercise from time to time to revisit both, you know, what is our own perception or what our own beliefs and values, and then what are the kind of key elements of the brand as we see them? Words, pictures, whatever those things might be. And I have a little workbook that I provide people with, you know, collaging, poetry, kind of exercise to help them do that, which is again makes it a little bit fun. But after, you know, a few hours of doing that self reflection, you can then go and compare it to that traditional strategy work that you're doing, like how does our commit messaging or our positioning compared to the others? What can we deliver on better? You know, where can we leverage our capabilities with an overlay of that stuff which will help you get to that emotional connection and also, you know, anchor, you make sure that you're not doing something that is at odds with your, you know, your desired culture and your beliefs. Really good. I it's so difficult to take time, to make time to to do that because it doesn't feel like I'm producing any kind of a piece of work or a deliverable or an outcome. But it's so important to do because it underpins all the decisions that were making day to day at pretty much every level of the organization. Let's go one layer higher there. I said this was a two part or so if someone was to engage you or undertake it on their own or whatever. Just sketch out at a very, very high level, what did the next several weeks or several months look like? If someone is to undertake a very thorough review and or restructuring of brand strategy, like one of the big building black pieces. Like what's a process look like? Yeah, so probably the step I just describe as probably step to step one is get everybody, all the stakeholders involved, either in a room or in a series of interviews, depending on the culture of the organization, but somehow hear the voices that are involved internally and...

...capture, you know, where everybody is coming from and what their visions are. And sometimes they're aligned. It's always an illuminating exercise. Sometimes they're misaligned and then it's an extraordinarily important exercise. But you're getting everybody on the same page and capturing all of that amazing resident knowledge. And sometimes it's knowledge, sometimes it's just believes. Then doing that sort of self reflective piece. And then I think the other critical portion is going out and talking to your customers. And organizations of different sizes have different budgets for that. To be sure. You know, if you're a large billion dollar company, you can do this then a in an amazing thorough and fancy way, but you also don't have to. You can do this as a, you know, single shingle organization with a quick survey monkey or a couple of well placed phone calls to important customer emails, you know, but just the act of asking for feedback. It doesn't have to be more complicated than when you ask for testimonials for your website, which is right, no big deal, but getting that three hundred and sixty view of what are we doing? Well, what do you think? Why did you hire us or why did you buy our product, and what do you like about it? What don't you like about it? You know, what do you think of the other people who are doing the same thing that? I mean, how do you think I'm different? Because how I think I'm different might not be the same as how they think I'm different, even if I know them, I mean have had this experience with my own business, even if I've been working with them for a year, I can't read their mind. I might feel that they're pretty happy with the relationship, but I can articulate necessarily why they're happy or what makes them continue to work with me or recommend me. So that experience is a critical and it's one that, you know, sometimes people are try to skip either because they've done some you know, we did a big quantitative survey last year, so I think we know what's going on. Or, you know, we don't have the budget of the time for that. And and I really encourage people to do in a a really more qualitative way, even if it's very small. To have those the words of your customer, their actual words, which is different from a quantitative survey in your ears, is extraordinarily powerful and I don't think I've ever done customer research where I didn't learn something that was a surprise to the client and that helps them move their brand positioning or their innovation strategy forward. So good. I completely agree. It's you know, it's one of the reasons I still like NPS. A lot of people and it's easy to criticize it. But there is the number. But you know, some share, and typically a pretty good share of people who give you the number use very specific language to justify it. And it's so interesting because a seven isn't to seven, isn't too seven. It could be a seven that could have shot a little bit of ten and used read the language and their word choice and like that blend. And just wanted to reinforce that. I completely agree that there's no substitute for the language people use and in a lot of cases the punctuation that they use. You know, sometimes people will all cap something in particular, for good or for bad, and there's just so much color and nuance in in that feedback that is certainly missed when you go numbers only. You really teat up my kind of my last question in this zone of the conversation around Brandon brand strategy, which is I'm of the mind that the customer owns the brand. I'm of the mind that the customer gets to define customer experience and what it is. It's the customers reality is the reality and all we can do is try to understand that experience and influence that experience, in those perceptions and those feelings so that we can move them kind of where we want them to go. It kind of brings up this other tension. I'm going to fold to other pieces in and give it back to you for whatever comes to mind. Their first customer research, which you already did a nice job addressing, but feel free to double back on that. So we need to we need to talk to them, listen to them, give them means of feeding it back, because I think it's theirs to define, right and then the other layer is you have this tension between who we are, or who we think we are, who we want to be, our own aspirations for ourselves, some of these pillars, and we always and we never and we believe. And then there's also the customer and who they want to be, how they want to feel about themselves, and or our idealized customer and who we want to attract, and there's kind of this gap between them. So I guess what I'm talking around here, and feel free to tie this all up in a nice bow, because I'm sure someone listening is going like, okay, what are we doing here? It's this tension between I think, and tell me if you agree or not, that the customer gets to define the brand. So we need to understand where they are perceptually, and then there's also this gap between who we want to be and who the customer needs or wants us to be and thinks we are. And we need to do that research so that we can create some activity and, ideally, some outcomes that move our brand perception and our customer experience where we want it to go. Yeah, I think whether there's so much in...

...there that you just said that I relate to and want to respond to. So I'll just start with there's two levels of your deliverable from that customer insight work, and one is surely a more of a functional like what do they need from what we're you know, like give us some feedback on the actual widget that were selling and, you know, how can we make it better and different? But the most important part from a really long standing brand perspective is that emotional layer and really understanding who they are, what they need, who they would like to be. And you know we often do like a just so day in the life work, walk through, experience, walk through, not even to do with the product to start. So I think those are some layers that are important in terms of getting and that's why not all researchers created equal. Another thing that you've brought to mind is, yes, there are these two pieces and I think of it as a ven diagram, although really I think two of the circles are the most important, the ones that you're talking that we're talking about. It's kind of who we are, who they are, and if there's really a gap between those two things, the implication to me there is that we haven't to find our audience, clearly enough. Yes, there's also probably potential for innovation, but it shouldn't feel like a gap, it should feel like an overlap and not everything you do is going to do it for everyone out there. So part of it is improving understanding them better so we can improve how we serve them. But part of it is also defining your audience. You don't, you don't have to and you can't be everything to everyone. So figuring out what it is, who are those people for whom you are really relevant and useful and appealing, and then working to find them and to serve them and to delight them. You know, those are slightly different activities. So I think that's that's a big part of the game. And then the other circle, by the way, and my imaginary ban diagram, is the kind of how we're different piece, thinking about what makes you. What's your Unicorn Horn, you know, like what it? What is it that you bring to this party? That's that's no one else does. I love it. And do you feel like that Unicorn Horn can be perceptual and attitudinal and based in feeling? I think it can be. Yeah, I mean I think. Listen, we live in a saturated world. You know, you buy a pen or a phone or an apple and there's a million choices for those things or piece of software. What do you name it? So yes, I think almost it has to be partly defined by that. On the other hand, I think that, you know, actual quality craftsmanship is still important and there is still room for brand new, novel breakthrough ideas, and those things aren't to be discounted. I don't think we're just selling beliefs and ideas, but I think that the combination is very powerful. So I have a quality product and I have a set of beliefs and actions that resonate with those folks who are interested in my quality product. That's a real home run. Good love it. Let's shift a little bit and get to a mission of yours, which is to kind of erase the border between creativity and strategy. Speak to that a little bit, like what's your motivation here? Obviously you have a you have a passion around this. What's your motivation here? Why does the border exist and you know, what are some ways that you're seeing to be effective to erase that border? So I you know, I think why I feel that it's a passion and you know, even to the level of calling it a mission is because I've seen it, both individually and organizationally, be something that really holds people back. So as individuals, over the course of my life I have seen, certainly career, I have seen way too many people who are either kind of under flourishing in their role or frustrated or maybe even just have shut themselves down and to find themselves in a certain way like I'll never be that or I'm done have create a bone in my body. And yet of course they do, and I think that, you know, people have of the opportunity to leverage all the different sides of themselves and what creativity looks like in each of us can be very, very different. But I can't imagine saying that anyone is not creative. They may not be able to paint, that's fine, but but that could that creativity is what makes us human and so I think and it is also makes us really happy. So when I hear people say they're not creative, it makes me want to go know you are, let's talk about it. So that's the individual perspective and then from an organizational perspective, which is, you know, where my professional work lies, I see it all the time and organizations that you know, I've worked...

...with, the organizations that very much to find themselves as creative and those who very much to find themselves as analytical, and both of them tend to have a sort of look down through the nose at the other and I think they're missing something. You know, I think they could really, in each case, benefit from you know, that that creative that music or media or advertising agency, where, you know, the creative side is on the pedestal and everybody else as well, they're just a number pusher. Well, you know, you might actually learn something from thinking about it from the outside in and, you know, bringing those two people into the same room with the same level of respect. And likewise, you go to the you know, strategy consulting firm or the manufacturing plants or the Software Engineering Division, and you know, they go, oh well, we don't make any splads with pictures here. You know, pictures are for dummies. You know what, actually, sometimes pictures really help convey information and it might be worthwhile to include some illustrations in the work that you're doing, just as one example. So I think that, you know, those two things playing together and I think this is really the foundation of the whole notion of design thinking and all of its and to offspring. But the two sides that creative in a little side playing together can really be a situation where one plus one equals more than two, and so I you know, that's part of what I preach. It also happens to just be how I work because it's how I'm wired, so I sort of have to work that way. But I do think that it's I've seen it be really helpful and organizations that I've worked with where they're able to unlock a different side of themselves to great benefit. Yeah, it reminded me of so many different kind of these aren't polarities, but you know, you can draw them as distinct and separate and sometimes far away from each other, and yet all the best solutions come from a both and typically a both and perspective, and that we really do need. We do need them to work together and I love the you opened up on somewhere I actually wanted to go, which is, you know, something we hear a lot. Are we are goal is to help people be facetoface more often in their day to day communication through simple personal videos, and what we wind up seeing with a lot of people just getting started, is that's not for me. I'm not a video person in and in it, just like your message is like with there's creativity. All of us is like, no, this is not about hosting, you know, a super popular Youtube Channel. This is just about you being you, to be more personal and human. What do you do like when you find that a person or an organization is a little bit scared of being creative? I think there's an element of finding your voice which I think a lot of people struggle with, is to like, you know, because they're not used to exercising it. What do you think? First of all, did I use an appropriate word for some of the experiences you've had? Feared? Do you find that people fear approaching the creative or starting to even self identify as partly creative? There's a fear around how they'll be perceived and there's a fear around eroding productivity, and I use the word productivity verrier early on and this conversation, and I think that's a big one, that people have this idea that creativity is the enemy of productivity, or like they're two different sides of the coin and we know which of course, couldn't be further from the truth. I mean, I think in the example of your video products, the whole idea is not to waste time making a cute video. The whole ideas that you're doing something creative which vastly increases your engagement, which is super productive, and so, you know, I think so. Your question was, how do I break through that barrier? You know, a lot of it is in the process. So there's not like a primer on you know, here I'm going to teach you these things and then you're going to be a believer. It's the tools I SPEC I intentionally use tools that are, you know, get people off their screens, get people using their hands, using pens, paper, pencils, and yes, this is a little bit more challenging in our current online world. But okay, we're on a screen, but I'm still not letting you use software instead of post it notes. You're going to sit in front of a white wall and we're going to do the same exercise the same way that we did when we were in a room together. Because, guess what, using a pencil and tearing paper, tearing pictures from a piece of paper and putting a piece of tape on it activates a different part of your brain. I mean there is actually research on that. Then simply moving your mouth and, do you know, a laying stuff out on your powerpoint right. So that is a very big part of what I do. When it's a particularly I've had a few clients who, you know, the person who engages me also has to be sort of bought...

...into this or it doesn't work. But when I have particularly clients who might be particularly resistant and the person who's hired me, or the people who've hired me know that and explicitly want me to work on that, will even go one step further where we'll do things like walking exercise. You know, you have to go outside for twenty minutes and think on this problem in your bare feet, you know, depending on the context, or you know, will do an abstract collage which has nothing to do with what you're working on except give me the feeling that you want to see this team have in one year. Or, you know, what emotion do you want your customer to have? And you know, you do this with some bits of paper, some bits of wood, and the people who resist this really hate it in the beginning. But but in the end they've actually loosened up and rewired. And then when we bring in, by the way, we've actually done more than just play with bits of paper. We've actually done all the analysis about all your competitors, and here all the charts and slides and good stuff that you know with. There's financial and there's you know, we illuminated your differentiators and done all the stuff that you want to see from traditional strategy analysis. But now you're thinking with a different part of your brain. Now let's talk about what you're positioning is going to be, and then they start to see how it all fits together. So many interesting ideas through. The first one that struck me is just how obvious it is. And you just describing part of this process of unlocking, or I'm thinking pattern interrupt a little bit, you know, like let's break from our normal automated processes, the intellectual processes, and in the contrast, is a movement to the physical, to the tangible, to the real, as opposed to guess. Real is not the antithesis of digital. What's digital is also real, but you know, it's that it's that's very tangible and specifically to activate a different part of the brain is so interesting and I think about so much of the work that certainly the types of listeners to a show like this are engaged in is is very mouse based, in very screen based. I think it's so interesting and I can imagine the resistance that you get to that process from some people. Go Heat to get back to definitionally again. But you know, I'm thinking so many of us approach our work so strategically. I've been in on creative teams before and I totally was on the receiving end of that perception of like, oh, those are the creatives, they just hang out all day and then't really do anything. And of course we're like, you know, scrambling frantically to get all the work done and to do it the right way and to make sure that it's effective and all of that. We're doing a lot of blended creative and strategic work. But I mean strategies pretty straightforward. I think it's, you know, figure out the right questions, define the problem well, get the relevant information, kick it around, manipulate it, try couple stress tests on the working theory and, you know, run some numbers against it and collect some customer feedback, fill it out color it creativity. When I think about creativity, I think about two characteristics in particular, novel and useful, that there's something new about whatever is being produced and that it is also useful for folks who are maybe still a little bit scared of creativity and being creative and identifying themselves as creative or sending other people off out of creative mission for fear of lack of output or outcome or productivity. How do you think about creativity like when you use that word, especially among a set of likely resistors? How do you talk about it or walk it down, like? What is it? What is creativity mean practically? Well, I love that you used my secret weapon right there, which is the standard definition of creativity being novel and useful, and I think when you break it down into those two bits, you immediately just spell the conversation around frivolous and irrelevant and a waste of time. Because if what you're saying by creativity, which is again the standard definition of creativity and academia, it has to be brand new. What everybody wants brand new, right, like everybody wants innovation. We all know it's hard. So okay, novel. On board with novel and then useful. Okay, well, useful as good, useful as productive. Useful means I'm going to use it. It's not going to be wasted or last. So that's a great start to framing up a conversation about creativity. And you know, and I think also the word innovation helps people, because even those who might misconstrue creativity know that they're, you know, going to be rewarded for being innovative at work. So I think that also, that also helped. You know, and I think also another way to frame it up or talk about it that makes it relevant is, I think everybody knows that we're in a world where we've got a lot of pipeline for content and so we need a lot of good content and that content is creative. You can, you know, strategists is not going to you can make all those frameworks and... all those numbers and tell you where to put your content, but you're notice, is what we need, but someone needs to make something new and make it used. That yeah, love it. Is there anything that we haven't covered here that you really think is important, based on where we have gone today, that you wish more people understood? Or maybe a big question or an elephant in the room? Is there anything that? Is there anything that we haven't tackled here that you just really like to share based on where we've been? Well, you kind of tackled a lot of the big elephants in the room and myths that I'd like to talk about one thing that you asked me informally before we started. This was a brand that I really admired and I kept thinking about that brand. That immediately popped into my mind as it came up so often in the context of what we were talking about. So it must have been a good brand to pick. So I was thinking about Patagonian. I thought well, maybe there's other breads I admire. So maybe that's not the one I'm going to talk about, but I think it's worth mentioning that. You know, it tooks so many of the boxes that we were talking about thus far in terms of, you know, they really deliver a quality product. It's not just, you know, social manifesto, but it's also a social manifest Jo and it's also not just a social manifesto for the sake of having one. It's, you know, really walk the walk on what you're doing and you see this tremendous. It's such a great brand example, as you see, this tremendous brand loyalty because of that deeply authentic mission. It is not jumping on the bandwagon. Yeah, it's kind of change, or you know, it's they were doing that way before other people were talking about it. Every single person in the organization is a line to it. It's their DNA. Their products express it and, by the way, their products are well constructed, have good style, have good functionality, their services outstanding. So I just think that's a it tapped on so many of the things that we talked about today. I love it. I love that you went there. I've not mentioned it on this show, but I have on several others as a guest. People often ask about like source material, things that inspire you in let my people go surfing. Specifically, the philosophy section of that book by Evan Chownard, founder founder of a Patagonia, is just outstanding and you can see from this book, which I believe was written years ago, and of course it calls back to the entire company history, you can see in the way they go to market today the foundations that were laid decades ago. It's so good. I love you shared that. If you are listening to this conversation station even enjoyed it so far. I've got two more that I know you're going to enjoy. Way Back on episode twelve with David Bryer, who is also a formally trained artist, he is also a brand strategist, and we talked about branding as the art of differentiation. We spend a lot of time on I guess that was your third circle, Susan, was was differentiation. And then on episode twenty three with Paula Hayes, whose founder, president and CEO of Hugh No are, she talked about showing up authentically to honor your brand promise and we did a nice drive by on brand as promise. We talked about it a couple different ways and so, if you want to go deeper, they're from a woman who found it a really cool company, Paula Hayes, on episode twenty three. Before I let you go, Susan, and this has been so fun. It's been a joy. I enjoys very much. Good. I would love to give you two opportunities to pat a couple people are brands on the back here. First, the chance to think or mention someone who's had a positive impact on your life or your career. And then, if you've got another one besides Patagonia, feel free to give a shout out or mention to a brand or a company that you respect for the way they deliver an experience for you as a customer. Yeah, so there's also many people that I could mentioned to answer your first question, but the one that POPs first to mind happens to be and I read a monthly newsletter for my people and it just so happened I sat down to write my newsletter without the intention of writing about this particular person, and suddenly the entire news letter became about it, that I was writing on the top of a possibility and how there are certain people who see possibility where others don't or where others might see failure or others might see difficulty, and so I started talking about this person who had been his name is Tony Potito and he was one of my first bosses and he has such a great impact on my life. He Ran, he had been a management consultant and he had trained in theater. He had an MFA and directing from Goodman. Then he went to Asia with Booze Allen, and so you can already tell from my description that he and I were kindred spirits, but he was about twenty years older than I was. I worked round when I was like twenty three years old and he taught me. He was very patient with me because I was young and dumb and didn't know anything about leading an organization. And it was an amazing job because I had just come out of...

...working for the Boston Consulting Group and a very strategy classic job. Learned a ton, but this was a lying jobs at general manager of a Pan Asian theater, which is basically Singapore, and he really took me under his waying, taught me this intersection of creative and analytical that I definitely didn't understand yet, although I kind of had both pieces but didn't understand how they played together. And most of all, was a person that really saw possibility where others saw none, which is something I greatly admire. So yeah, so I've just been writing about him. So you talked to mind. Awesome. Do you have another brander company that you really appreciate? Oh, there's so many I don't know where to start. I've been can I get a shout out to one of my clients. Actually happened. That has happened before and it's right working with them for many years and actually one of the clients who has been my clients since before this company. But I've just been really impressed with what doximity has been doing, you know, particularly in the last six months. So I don't know if you're familiar with them, but they're the short way of saying it is that they're linkedin for doctors. That's really their history. They started as this registry for work. Doctors who typically don't go on places like went and could put their information. But really what they grew into is a very powerful marketing vehicle for Pharma where and also a really powerful tool for physicians where they could learn relevant news and information. And then they also had how. It had always had this set of tools where you could, in a hip a secure way, communicate share information about patients with other doctors and, as you can imagine, the world of tell a how kind of exploded in the last six months and it's just been really exciting for me. I so I worked with them on and off for the last several years and it's so exciting when you see a client kind of like grow up and coming into this really exciting place where they, you know, always had and since I started working with them, they were already on an exponential growth trajectory. But they took it from a place of like yeah, we can help farmer marketers communicate with positions to this whole other place where they're really saving lives with this powerful tool that doctors are using to communicate with each other. And they turn on a dime, ramped that up so quickly and that's been really exciting to see. And I think they also really benefited from the notion of seeing their customer not just as this be to be, you know, person who's buying media time, but really thinking about them as human beings who genuinely cared about being innovative, genuinely cared about helping physicians help patients, and we're able to, you know, I think, grow successfully because of it. So good a great button on a great conversation. As I said, Susan, has been a joy. If people want to follow up on this, and if they're listening at this moment of the conversation, I'm sure that they do. Where would you send people to connect with you? Or learn more about you or the work that you do. So my website is Susan Myer Studio. My name is spelled empty the IEER. Sometimes names spelling can get tricky, so if it's easier, you can go to electrify your workcom and it'll all take you there. Awesome. I will drop both of those links for folks who are listening. We always add video clips. We do a short write up and I'll add links to to some of the things that we drove by here in the conversation at Bombombcom podcast. Thank you so much for listening and Susan, thank you against so much for sharing your time and your insights with us even thank you so much. This is great clear communication, Human Connection, higher conversion. These are just some of the benefits of adding video to the messages you're sending every day. It's easy to do with just a little guidance. So pick up the official book. Rehumanize Your Business. How personal videos accelerate sales and improve customer experience. Learn more in order today at Bombombcom Book. That's bomb bombcom book. Thanks for listening to the customer experience podcast. Remember the single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Continue Learning the latest strategies and tactics by subscribing right now in your favorite podcast player, or visit Bombombcom podcast.

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