Wednesday 6 April 2011

Guy Kawasaki

Enchantment: How to influence and persuade

BAFTA, London

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Enchantment: How to Change Hearts, Minds and Actions certainly gave its author a lot to live up to in front of the 250-strong audience at the London Business Forum (LBF). With a title that sets such high expectations, Guy Kawasaki had to practice what he preaches and enchant.

Smiley, funny and full of Silicon Valley insights, the former Apple chief evangelist did just that. Kawasaki engaged the LBF audience with plenty of practical, simple steps to enchanting customers, colleagues, employees and even your boss. Kawasaki is the Dale Carnegie of the social media age; Enchantment updates Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People after seventy-four years of technological advancement.

Kawasaki’s first step in the “Top Ten of Enchantment” is however relevant to both business people of 1937 and 2011. How do you achieve likability? Smile. But it has to be a genuine smile he argued, “Think George Clooney”. Crow’s feet are evidence of a sincere smile, so lay off the Botox and smile with “the eyes and the jaw,” advised Kawasaki. Similarly, simple things like a good handshake and how you decide to dress are all important for first impressions.

In business though, it takes more than just a George Clooney smile to enchant your customers. Like celebrities, Kawasaki told the LBF, “You can be likeable but not trustworthy”. Earning the trust of others often involves trusting them first. Amazon, Zappos and Nordstrom are all companies who put trust in their customers to encourage repeat business, explained Kawasaki. All three companies have lenient return policies and Zappos even pays for the shipping on both sales and returns.

Third on Kawasaki’s “Top Ten of Enchantment” was “Get Ready”. Ensuring a product’s success in the marketplace is all about careful planning, he revealed. Great products follow the “DICEE” rule: they are “Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Empowering and Elegant”. A product will engage consumers if it offers so much more than just a simple service or function. “Great products make you feel more powerful, more creative, more productive,” said Kawasaki.

Essential to this preparatory stage, Kawasaki continued, is a “premortem”. “Let’s pretend we failed,” he suggested, so that the possible causes of failure can be identified and eliminated before the product is launched.

Marketing a product cannot just be about its technical specifications. When a product is launched the company behind it must “tell a story” and use “salient points” that connect with the target market, Kawasaki told the LBF. Using Apple as an example, marketing the iPod on the number of gigabytes it holds is nowhere near as engaging to most people as how many songs it can store and play.

Social media is a very powerful tool at a company’s disposal when launching a product, “[it] is core to the existence of great marketing today,” suggested Kawasaki. No one predicted five years ago, “Twitter will bring down whole governments,” he emphasised. Twitter became successful because it planted “many seeds […] not one oracle made the call on Twitter”. For businesses then, Twitter provides access to millions of people some of whom might just be the ones that see value in your product, spread the word and market it for you.

Kawasaki signed his book for LBF delegates, “Resisting you is futile”. In this statement he intended to prove that everyone can be irresistible and enchanting. However, there are clever techniques, which he revealed in his presentation can help overcome resistance. One of these is “social proof” and Apple demonstrated its power with their white earphones. Standing out from the crowd, the iPod’s earphones targeted would-be iPod users who saw for themselves that it was a product worth having because the proof was all around them.

Enchantment though is about more than just enchanting the customer; it has a personal focus too. Kawasaki offered the LBF advice on how create an enchanting presentation, how to “enchant up” i.e. your boss, and how to “enchant down” i.e. your employees. Enchanting up means dropping everything else when your boss gives you a task, said Kawasaki. One of his top tips was to “prototype fast”, which shows not only is that particular task your priority but it allows you to check that you’re on the right path.

To enchant employees, Kawasaki uses the acronym MAP: Mastery, Autonomy, Purpose. Engaged employees feel that they are able to master new skills, that they have the autonomy to act and make decisions, and that their role has a greater purpose than just making money Kawasaki concluded.

Enchantment is a kind of ethical form of persuasion; it relies on likeability, trustworthiness and dreams to capture the hearts and minds of customers, bosses and employees. Drawing on examples of enchanting companies, such as Apple, Amazon and Zappos, Kawasaki revealed how to bring about a voluntary and enduring change in others; a better, nicer and lasting achievement of an objective – enchantment creates believers and fans in your product or cause.