Connection and Direction

Connection and Direction

There are two things people really want when they are coming to you for a product or service: connection and direction.

A traditional salesman often comes across as an intruder that cares only about his sale—and maybe a little bit of you on the side. In the Information Age, we all have access to the same information, but that is often overrated. How many TV shows are on National Geographic or the Discovery Channel that give you information on how to act in the wilds of Africa or the jungles of Indonesia? A camera follows a guide and the guide talks you through how to camp, how to start a fire, and how to make the best of your experience. But when it comes down to actually traveling to those destinations, what do people look for? A real life guide. Someone to tell them once more in person to "Stand still, if there happens to be an encounter with a lion." It's been on TV a million times, but when the real thing happens, we all want real time connection with the guide and his expert direction.

Aveda stores in the US give you fresh brewed tea as you walk through their doors. Then they give direction according to hairstyle and look—whether you buy anything or not. You get the tea (connection), then a few style points from the experts (direction). Why am I in Aveda in the first place? I go to Aveda with my wife, but that's not the point here.

Before you direct, you must connect.

I've directed many TV shows, high impact videos, and broadcasting shoots. No matter how good the presenter is, it's amazing how much they rely on the director's guidance and recommendation. But the best direction is developed before we even get on the shoot. It comes with that first conversation when we connect over a cappuccino and first go over the script.

Connection is big, but so misunderstood. Developing connection with people (clients, partners, suppliers, friends, coworkers) takes a conscious effort. Essentially the customer signs your paycheck—there should be a connection with them! Products are overrated and price is only a factor here. If someone can rely on you for a connection, your relationships will be strengthened and built to last over time. A constant smile, a quick email return, a random gift of appreciation, a surprise in the mail, an acknowledgement of some achievement in their life that they didn't tell you about (that you discovered on your own)—these are all brilliant ways to connect.

Without connection and direction all you have is a strategy of reaction. And when it comes to reaction, the competition is outrageous. Focus on connection and direction and the competition will be reacting to you.


(photo: brian smith)