Coming home from a recent business trip, I was waiting on my flight back to Connecticut and stopped to get some food to take on the plane. My thinking: I’d be travelling through dinner and wouldn’t get home until around 8:30 pm, when it was too late to eat, so why not grab a bite now (Yes, I ate again when I got home).
Eventually I boarded, the plane took off and I was free to pop down my tray table and dig into my pasta salad. Not the best, but a lot more filing than the free peanuts they were handing out.
I finished up my meal and needed to clear my tray table to get some work done. Unfortunately, my salad came in one of those bulky, clear plastic containers. Really bad for the environment and, as I learned, even worse for fitting into the front seat pouch where they keep the magazines and airsickness bags.
I looked around for a stewardess to rid myself of this plastic albatross, but they were all busy. So I kept it balanced precariously on the tray table, along with my laptop. Surely, the stewardess would be by soon to pick up garbage.
And she was, several times. But each time I didn’t notice her until she was several rows by me.
I could have yelled “EXCUSE ME!” to get her attention, but then everyone would look at me wondering “Who is that man with the climate-choking container, and why is he shouting?”
Instead, I honored my Catholic schoolboy training and politely and quietly went back to work, deciding to await the next garbage run.
Only after the 2-hour flight descended into Hartford did I get rid of the trash. But it occurs to me that there are logistics companies who market like I behave in airplanes:
They wimp out at the moment of truth.
Jon Taffer, the guy from the TV show, Bar Rescue, says that marketing is nothing more than creating reactions. In a recent podcast, he said, “Everything...I do has to create a reaction. That's how I get noticed in a crowd. That's how I get people to read what I need them to read. That's how I get attention.”
I didn’t shout because I was afraid of the reaction. The all-eyes-on-me stares.
I talk to lots of logistics businesses who worry that their message is not on exactly target. Who fiddle around with variations of features and benefits. But even the perfect message doesn’t guarantee a reaction. You’ve got to put yourself out there. You’ve got to do or say something provocative, and do it in a way that forces people to react to it or consciously ignore it.
On the plane, I had a great message that was very relevant to my audience of one – “I want to get rid of garbage that you are now in the process of picking up.” I just didn’t have courage enough to create a reaction.
At some point, we need to stop polishing our message and muster the gumption to state forcefully, in a very public way, this is what we believe.
The tactics will vary – op-eds, webinars, events, media tours, advertising – but in the end you should leave no doubt about your point of view.
The only thing in doubt will be the reaction. We just need to be brave enough to accept it, good or bad.