Yes, Oprah is still far more powerful than Yahoo. But at the same time, Drudge and Jeff Bezos and Doc Searls are way more influential than their offline cousins. - Seth Godin
Surely everyone's heard about the Pontaic product placement and giveaway on Oprah's season premeire. Everyone's attention seems to be on Pontaic's great marketing prowess. But what about Oprah? Why does Oprah exert such a powerful influence?
Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart are often held up as examples in "personal branding" workshops. What do their brands stand for? You can sit there and brainstorm and scribble all the characteristics and qualities of each and get a very long list as I've witnessed at these events. Or you can greatly simplify it:
Martha says: Be like me. (And a corollary: It's all about me.)
Oprah says: Be like YOU.
What's the common thread between Oprah, Drudge, Jeff Bezos, Doc Searls? They deeply listen to customers. And it's not as much about them as it is about you.
I think the common thread is that every person regardless of what their circumstances is looking to be validated. - Oprah Winfrey (via Paul Allen's blog)
Validation. (It's not about approval - no one's approval matters at the end of the day but our own.) It's soul print to soul print intangible-invisible wisps of dialogue: "yes", or "i hear your song", or "i touch your essence", or "i see your wings", or "i know you."
What drives us in the world is our attempt to move from our loneliness to a place of relationship, connection, and loving. Our soul prints [our essential unique selves] seek to reach out to the prints of other souls - to touch them, and to be touched by them in turn. The more our soul prints connect, the sharper their signatures, and the more sustained and expansive our souls will be. Our soul prints are driven to other soul prints... - Soul Prints, by biblical myth scholar Marc Gafni
I glanced at the book Hidden Messages in Water - suddenly popularized by the word-of-mouth generated by film, What the Bleep Do We Know - the other day and read about this informal study conducted in households throughout Japan.
Three separate bins of rice are kept. Each day in the house, the entire family including the kids on the way in and out the door to school participate in this "experiment." To the first bin, loving words are recited such as "I love you." To the second, nothing is said. And to the third, mean words are said, such as "You ugly fool" or any of their own favorite insults. Over time, the three bins showed markedly different stages of decay.
Which do rice bin do you think rotted right away?
The totally ignored bin suffered much worse than the one that was hurled insults. Whether you believe this experiment or not doesn't matter. What resonated with me was that this rung true. Most of us feel mightily ignored in the marketplace. It's lonely. They've turn their backs. We could literally be jumping up and down waving our arms in the air: Over here! See me! Hear me! Understand me! Connect with my soul print, please...and it'd be to no avail.
I got the October issue of Fast Company in the mail last week. Reading it, I couldn't help wondering if the articles were somehow better, the themes more aligned with what's important to me or perhaps....
Perhaps I just felt validated as a customer. Really Deeply Listened to. I spent over an hour on the phone with Jena McGregor, Fast Company's associate editor, a few weeks back (all this kicked off from BrandAutopsy's discussion about FC).
I have NO IDEA if the magazine is really "objectively" better - I suppose I am totally biased. And that's a good thing (wink to Martha.)