Gorgeous example

I love what Warby Parker is doing.

They disrupted an industry by introducing fashionable eyeglasses online – met their first year's sales goals in the first 3 weeks of operation.

For every pair you buy, they give a pair to someone living in poverty who needs glasses (there are 1 billion such people) – and guess what? They care about fashion too. In fact, the company was founded on the insight that even people living on $4/day or less will choose to ‘stay blind rather than wear something unfashionable on their face'. Watch these short INC videos – they're well worth your time.

Sure, they have a social mission, but they understand that their core promise is fashion – delivered sustainably for all their Stakeholders. They understand their ecosystem.

And it gets better. They understand the drivers of value: they know their leading indicators are culture and people. They hire based on personality and fit; one of their 6 questions in job interviews was, ”What was the last costume you wore?” They populate Customer Service with smart native speakers, and empower them to take care of customers as they see fit. They believed the cost of that would offset by greatly reduced marketing costs – and they were right.

Marketing? They believe in making people feel connected: they published a new kind of ‘annual report' showing what they did the prior year in terms of customer responses and engagement. Immediately they had their highest sales ever – in January, right after Christmas – higher than the days following their appearances on CBS news or the NY Times.

Think you're Stakeholder Centric? These folks set a new standard.

Marketing is dead; long live business

A must-read review of the top 3 marketing books of 2011 provides a quick way to get up to date on the real challenges every business faces in the mission-critical game of staying connected to customers.  It goes way beyond marketing.

Simon Mainwaring
We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)

David A. Aaker
Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant
(Jossey-Bass, 2011)

Gary Vaynerchuk
The Thank You Economy
(Harper Business, 2011)

“At first glance, the three best business books of 2011 on marketing seem to go in very different directions. However, they do share one trait: They pay only lip service to marketing. A couple of decades ago that might have disqualified them from consideration, but these days, a surprising number of marketing books aren’t all that high on marketing…

“The real action is in the much tougher arena of rethinking the companies that sell the brands. So, in We First: How Brands and Consumers Use Social Media to Build a Better World, brand consultant Simon Mainwaring ponders the role of the corporation in addressing the world’s ills, tackling such topics as charitable giving, environmentalism, and sustainability. In Brand Relevance: Making Competitors Irrelevant, David A. Aaker, professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, looks at how companies can build brands that aren’t just new and improved, but unequaled. And in The Thank You Economy, wine-selling social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk advocates that marketers build a culture in which “good intent” is paramount. In each case, the authors emphasize that making these things happen requires fundamental shifts in corporate culture, not just marketing window dressing.

“Yes, marketing is no longer about simple brand repositioning, but about corporate reinvention”

The clarion call may appear idealistic, but it’s eminently practical: specifically, what it takes to survive.  This review cuts to the chase. Take a deep breath, sharpen your red pencil, bring in your best thinkers, and be ready to rethink your strategy and culture.  The three best marketing books of 2011 demand no less than being a responsible citizen, an inventor of new games, and operating with impeccable manners.

“Only the companies that can figure out how to mind their manners in a very old-fashioned way — and do it authentically — are going to have a prayer of competing.”   -  The Thank You Economy

I couldn’t agree more.

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Are You Fit to Thrive in Any Economy?