reason 55

Reason is a monthly missive from the partners of Essex Two, a vertically integrated communication consultancy. We invite our readers to think in new ways about their business, their customers and the opportunities for meaningful communication between them. Joseph and Nancy Essex

“I Love You, Man”  Like bookends without books, two old Russians were sitting back-to-back, straddling a stone bench. They were not kept warm by the oil drum fire just a few feet away. What protected them from the cold Russian winter was their life-long friendship and most of the contents of a bottle of Starka, a Polish vodka that looks like rusty water.

Mikhail spoke through his frozen mustache. “Osip, I love you.” He said this almost every time they found themselves warm inside and cold outside, but this evening something was different.

Osip stood up causing Mikhail to fall backward in to the snow. “What’s wrong?” Mikhail pleaded.

“Wrong! You ask what’s wrong. You love me? You say you love me?” Osip questioned, anger and sarcasm in his voice.

“Yes, I love you.” protested Mikhail. But before Mikhail’s words could grow cold in the air Osip shot back. “How can you love me if you don’t know what hurts me?"

“How can I know what gives you pain?” Mikhail pleaded.

Pleading in return Osip said “If you really loved me you would know because you would share my pain."

An ass out of you and me  At one time or another most relationships are confronted with these same questions and assumptions. Do we really know what we think we know about the people and institutions we love?

Do we buy presents that our loved ones want, or what we would want for them? As parents, do we continue to see our offspring as children far beyond their childhood days? When does our kid brother become a contemporary?

To truly understand and fully appreciate a person or an institution it is essential we acknowledge that things change and that what was may no longer be the same. By ignoring these questions and assertions we could be making choices and decisions with inaccurate information. Like giving directions to your home using a landmark that was torn down years ago, the traveller is lost and we can’t figure out why.

Knowing the knowable  The long-term success of any endeavor requires understanding in the sense of knowing, and understanding in the sense of compassion. While businesses rarely use the word love, they depend on the corporate equivalent — loyalty. And loyalty at every level is generated by shared experiences where effort is demonstrated and acknowledged to sustain the relationship.

Doing the right thing for the right reason recognizes that the criteria for sustaining customer loyalty will change over time. By listening to what customers need as well as what they want and adjusting the messages and methods of delivery, customer loyalty can be maintained even in a crowded and changing marketplace.

Structuring every point of contact between your brand and your customers to engage rather than attempt to control experiences will work like the Pony Express from the old West. While the horse and the rider change, the mail will always be delivered.

At Essex Two, we help deliver your mail no matter how many horses and riders are needed. Visit the Essex Two website for case studies that demonstrate our ability to stimulate the success of our clients.

Worth your time:  Things Change is a 1988 film directed by David Mamet and written by Mamet and Shel Silverstein. At the film’s core is the complex interdependence of the Chicago Mob, family conflicts, hierarchical politics and murder — it’s a comedy. The central characters experience challenges to who they are vs. who they think they are. Individuality, loyalty, responsibility, and obligation along with empathy and compassion are served up with the speed and accuracy of a table tennis match in China, with style and muscle memory. Catch the DVD.

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