Speak softly and (make sure it will) stick –

then you will go far.

History buffs out there know how effective President Roosevelt’s foreign policy approach became. “Speak softly and carry a big stick, then you will go far” meant that the US was well prepared for battle, but chose the path of diplomacy and a strategy of ‘hearts & minds;’ resorting to the use of force only once absolutely necessary. This served to turn adversaries into friends and paved the way for years of US global clout.

In communicating with your audience, a well-crafted indication of your full capabilities – rather than an over-the-top showy display – activates their imagination. Turn this activation into a memory and you create affinity. And affinity is gold.

No need to hit them

In managing a team, allowing employees to develop, contribute, and shine individually promotes productivity, which reflects well upon their leadership and the company. In this case, any threat (or stick) remains entirely implicit. Failure, redundancy, replacement are realities for which plenty examples exist in the world. No need to hit them over the head with it.

Rather, promote your team members’ best qualities and reap the rewards. Case in point: Deloitte, a company featured by Forbes for its emphasis on developing rather than recruiting talent, was named the best management consulting team in 2019.  Read more

Put in terms of marketing and advertising a product: An entertainment-based rather than fact-based commercial builds affinity and then loyalty. Applied to a sector in which products have few differentiating characteristics – like shampoo – the imagination is the key to brand loyalty.  This ad from the late 90s illustrated this in selling men and women a shampoo totally devoid of recognizable USPs using only romance and humor. Click here

Today, so much is written about the impact of storytelling as the most effective medium for winning and retaining customers. You know it’s effective when NIKE and Microsoft submit Oscar-worthy drama shorts as Superbowl commercials. Watch on youtube

In a saturated media environment, the heart is our filter. A light touch will rise to the top of the pile, ride the crest of shared social media enthusiasm and lodge itself in the consumer’s hearts and minds.

November 2019