SM: Hi I’m Simon Mainwaring, and today I have the pleasure of sitting here with Guy Kawasaki, who’s tenth book, Enchantment, was a real revelation to me because what he did was to personalize and explain how brands need to humanize themselves in new ways in order to become an enchanting brand. Guy, thanks for being here. What I want to talk about specifically is that a lot of the C-suite and marketing executives are facing a challenge: how do they humanize themselves, how do they make themselves more available and how do they make themselves into enchanting brands? Where do they begin?
GK: The three pillars of enchanting brands are likability, trustworthiness and quality. I’ll give you three companies that any brand can aspire to. You want the likability of Virgin or Richard Branson. First time I met him he asked if I flew Virgin. I said ‘No, I fly United.’ He got on his knees and started polishing my shoes with his jacket. That’s likability. For trustworthiness, think of Zappos. Millions of women trust Zappos enough to buy shoes sight unseen. Think about that. That’s real trust. Then for the quality product, that’s Apple. Great products whether it’s Macintosh, iPod, iPad or anything. So if you question or are hesitant to think of making your company enchanting, just look at those companies. Wouldn’t you want to be the Zappos, Apple or Virgin of your segment?
SM: Absolutely. And what I think a lot of C-suite executives may not realize is that the benefits are often unseen. For example, it makes a big difference to employee engagement: how much they like to work at that company and how effective they will be as word-of-mouth advertisers. What are some of the benefits you see with an enchanting brand with their employees?
GK: I think the key to enchanting an employee is that you show them that, by working for your organization, you acquire what Daniel Pink describes as MAP, which is mastery (go to a company, master new skills), autonomy (working independently with no one breathing down your neck), and purpose (working towards a higher purpose than simply making a buck). So when you have an enchanted employee, that employee radiates that kind of delight to the customer. It’s very hard to imagine an angry employee creating good customer relations. Next time you fly, ask yourself, is this employee enchanted with the airline they work with.
SM: This necessarily implies, both for leadership and for employees, a requirement that they be more available and more human with their customers, which implies a lack of control. This can be very scary for the corporate animal. How would you say a brand can handle this shift, and how would they moderate that relationship in real time?
GK: It takes a leap of faith, particularly for a publicly traded company that is worried about saying anything about earnings or new products. Most companies have probably taken that leap with social media. Once you start down the path of Twitter and Facebook, you’re already giving up or—depending on how you look at it—losing control. The first step is to embrace social media. I can’t tell you that every CEO will have good Facebook or Twitter updates, but it’s the sentiment. You want to be likable and trustworthy and, maybe not the CEO, but the brand has to stand for that.
SM: And the cost for being disingenuous about this or using it as a marketing ploy would be what?
GK: I don‘t think it will last very long. It may last only until the next downturn where you decide that social media was a fad and you can’t prove any ROI, so you throw it out. Of course, that’s truly burning a bridge. People need to stop thinking of social media as an experiment, or something that you do besides the other marketing. I think it’s core to marketing at this point. An analogy would be that, in the ‘70s, Tom Peters wrote a book called In Search of Excellence. I think he changed many people’s expectations for what a company should be, from strictly surviving to becoming excellent. What I would like to do with my book Enchantment is change people’s expectations of personal or customer relationships, to go from engagement to enchantment. That’s the next level.
SM: It’s such an important, qualitative difference. Perhaps one of the things that I found most inspiring about the book was the alignment of brands with their higher purpose. You see the Wal-Mart Sustainability Index, Starbucks Shared Planet, Nike Green Xchange, Proctor and Gamble Click for Water, and so on. Even with these leadership examples, companies still struggle to get their head around why they need to authentically bring their core values to life. What do you see in the future for brands, and how do they use this?
GK: I think this is one of the least expensive ways to foster enchantment, trustworthiness and likability. I’m not advocating that you create an enchantment campaign. I’m not saying this is the only way to succeed. I’m saying it’s one way to succeed, and it’s one of the most pleasant ways to succeed. It takes less energy to be enchanting. To be disenchanting or arrogant or mean takes way more energy. You have to remember who you screwed, how you screwed them, why you screwed them. Too much energy.
SM: In a sense, technology is teaching us to be human again. We’re empathizing with each other. Brands are becoming more human. If you were to give one piece of advice to a leader who wants to take advantage of the social business marketplace, turn around their company, inspire their community to go to work for them, what would you say it would be?
GK: The starting point is to look at the Facebook fan pages and Twitter streams of companies like Virgin America, Starbucks and Ford to see that these are large, publicly traded companies, and yet they can engage and enchant. If those companies can do it, any company can do it.
SM: Well, thank you for your time, Guy. Your book, Enchantment, is so inspiring to me because it really articulates the qualitative difference that we need to see from brands now so that they can take advantage of the social business marketplace.
Can you name some other enchanting brands? Who is the most enchanting for you?