Another Great Giveaway!

Dale CarnegieDale Carnegie died more than 50 years ago, but the ideas he popularized about achieving personal success by influencing others have more resonance today than ever. I found myself revisiting some of his lessons when I was contacted by Dale Carnegie Training regarding their new application for the iPhone and iPod touch. This little 99-cent bundle of wisdom, called Secrets of Success, will invigorate and focus you by reminding you of such core principles as:

  • Don’t criticize, condemn or complain;
  • Give honest, sincere appreciation;
  • Arouse in the other person an eager want;
  • Become genuinely interested in other people;
  • Smile;
  • Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

There are many more rules to live by in this handy app, which summarizes the teachings that have compelled more than 8 million people to complete Dale Carnegie Training. These principles are more important today than ever, because success is increasingly a function of our ability to be honest, generous and supportive of others.

I’ve been given a sweet incentive to help promote awareness of the application: I’m giving away 10 copies of Carnegie’s landmark book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, the global best-seller that has sold more than 15 million copies.

The rules are the same as for the entrepreneur trading card promotion I offered last week (I still have a few of those cards left, by the way): You must be a marketer or business owner and must fill out my survey on multiplatform social media practices. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and the results will be used in a research report on best practices in multiplatform deployment. Participants will also get an early copy of the results.

When you complete the survey, please note your address in the last field and specify whether you prefer to receive the trading cards or the book. I’ll give until my supply runs out.

As Dale Carnegie would say: “Throw down a challenge.” Only this survey shouldn’t tax your mind or your time too much.

Innovation in Anonymity

From Innovations, a website published by Ziff-Davis Enterprise from mid-2006 to mid-2009. Reprinted by permission.

I recently had two MRI scans on my back. Magnetic resonance imaging is a wonderful technology that enables doctors to see inside the body with depth and precision that conventional x-rays can’t match.

But MRIs are also mysterious and even frightening procedures for patients. A person is drawn inside a small cylinder and subjected to a series of loud noises for as much as 45 minutes. The attending radiologist told me that about 80% of patients experience some kind of claustrophobic stress, forcing technicians to frequently paused the procedure to calm them down.

I should have known about all this because my MRI provider’s website features a wonderful interactive experience that describes the benefits of MRI in a collage of high-resolution images and video tutorials. It also has a multimedia tour of the MRI experience that even includes samples of the odd sounds patients hear. This information would have been immensely useful to me if I’d known it existed, but I didn’t learn of the feature until weeks after the procedures, when I stumbled upon it in the context of a different discussion.

In fact, at no time during my interactions with people at the MRI center did anyone inform me that this resource existed. It wasn’t listed on the company’s letterhead or the preparatory documents sent to patients. A software project that had no doubt cost the company thousands of dollars was barely even referenced on the provider’s homepage.

Failure to Promote

This situation is all too common in businesses. Technology innovators dream up clever new ways to serve their customers and then don’t tell anyone about it. Customer service reps and automated voice response systems routinely refer visitors to generic homepages with meaningless statements like, “more information is available on our website.” But who has the time to go and find it?

Somewhere inside these companies a disconnect has occurred between the technologists and the people who interact with customers. Businesses assume it’s okay to hire service reps who haven’t a shred of technical expertise because those skills aren’t required to interact with the public. IT people are taught to do their jobs and then go home. Cooperating with others to promote the tools they build isn’t part of the job description.

But it should be. Today’s customers are too busy to spend time searching for resources they don’t know exist. The people who commission customer-facing projects may move on to other jobs or companies, leaving their creations without a sponsor.

IT people need to step up to the plate and promote the fruits of their labors because no one else is going to do it. Here are some steps my MRI provider could have taken:

If you are a as if it is a Promote the resource in printed documents – Health-care providers produce lots of paper, yet none of the informational documents I received even mentioned the website experience.

Post signs — A poster in the lobby or window could have alerted me to the existence of this great application.

Train customer service personnel — In my multiple phone calls with the clerical staff, no one recommended that I even visit the website.

Set up a lobby demo — PCs are cheap; why not make it easy for customers in the waiting room to learn what the company has offer?

This adds up to an opportunity missed for some innovative IT person whose creativity and hard work won’t receive the recognition it deserves. Don’t let your good work go to waste because you forgot to tell anyone about it.