Inspiration Is the Root of Commitment

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I’m going to continue another day or two on this idea of commitment. Forgive me if you find it tedious, but it’s a really big, really important topic and I think it will lead somewhere helpful – I started with the Evolution of Commitment and A Convenient Truth.

Getting people to commit to spending money with your firm, and perhaps equally as important commit to returning to spend money, commit to passing your message and telling your story, and commit to referring your products and services, has become more complex in this everything is free, information overload world we find ourselves in.

Today I want to explore another prime driver of commitment – Inspiration. While we will go out of our way for an experience that’s convenient, we will mortgage our assets for an experience that inspires. Inspiration is so thoroughly lacking in most of our daily lives that when we find it, be it in a person, innovation, or organization, we get committed to keeping it.

It would be very easy to cite a company like Apple as a great example of an organization that inspires loyalty and commitment, but that’s just too easy. I’d like to share a couple examples that to me feel more personal in nature.

Seth Godin in quite possibly the most popular marketing blogger and author of the day. His readers are committed to helping him succeed. When Seth mentioned my new book in a blog post about referrals, several hundred people ran out and bought the book. Mind you this was not a review, it was a one sentence mention. I read Seth’s books and I enjoy them. But, and I hope this doesn’t come off wrong, I don’t always implement new strategies and tactics I find in those books. What Seth’s books do, in fact what all of Seth’s 300 word or less blog posts do, is inspire me. I always come away feeling better for having taken the time to visit and that, I believe, is one of the secrets to the success of brand Seth.

Threadless Airstream
Inside the Threadless Office – Image borrowed from Guy Kawasaki

Threadless makes t-shirts, but there’s nothing too inspiring about that. The thing is Threadless makes the coolest t-shirts in the coolest way. The designs, promotion and most likely a great deal of the marketing is done by the customers. The image above taken from inside their Chicago headquarters gives some feel for why the employees are inspired by working in a playground setting. Threadless inspires by taking advantage of the Internet’s two-way nature to involve customers in the process of creating their product. This innovation inspires profits, customers and competitors alike.

37Signals boasts over 5 million users to online services with a ton of competitors. The company’s customers are fanatical in their support because the software does just what it’s suppose to do and little more – that’s an inspiring idea. The company inspires through simple ideas and incredible design. People are drawn to the almost counter intuitive innovation that holds on dearly to simplicity. The organization lives these beliefs and has been profitable from day one.

  • Useful is forever. Bells and whistles wear off, but usefulness never does. We build useful software.
  • Our customers are our investors. They fund our daily operations by paying for our products. We answer to them, not outside investors or the stock market.
  • Clarity is king. Buzzwords, lingo, and sensationalized marketing-speak have no place at 37signals.

If you or organization does nothing that inspires, no simple concept, no incredible design, no earth shattering experience, no commitment to an idea, no story that attracts – how will people commit?



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