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November 08, 2006

Inspiring Your Audience

Last week, David Armano attempted to identify twelve values important to consumers in technology-related product and service innovation. Considering the complexities of human emotions and desires, the effort to collect such a list was very ambitious, to say the least.


I looked at the list, though -- which was pretty good to begin with -- and because of my own experiences and reflections, I saw one glaring omission: Inspiration.

Because we are egocentric by nature, we generally think higher of our own merits than would be objectively warranted, or else we believe our problems to be greater than others'. This can be summed up in one French author's words, "We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears." Our hopes are that which we believes ourselves capable of -- physically, mentally, and morally. Our fears stem from our insecurities, which -- while it may prevent us from failing in public -- in many cases hold us back from achieving our potential.

We crave the inspiration to overcome them, and we seek it in many forms. Sometimes it's through a book. Other times it's through other types of entertainment, such as movies or other works of art. Even the relationships we cling to can be cause for inspiration. Inspiration to be better than ourselves. Inspiration to become that which we want to become. Inspiration to serve the Master of our lives better -- to be a better person, a better father, mother, husband, or wife.

Armano's diagram covers much of this. People can be inspired -- indeed must be inspired -- to be creative. People can be inspired to improve their health, to stand out through personalization, to increase their capacity for critical thinking, to improve the environment.

While I was contemplating this, I came across a diagram in Peter Morville's excellent book, Ambient Findability, that described the ideal user experience that creates value. Morville claimed that marketing and usability are not mutually exclusive, but that "we should acknowledge the rich, dynamic, interconnected blend of qualities that shape the user experience."


It occurred to me that perhaps I was looking at it wrong. Just as some of the values David describes might fall in one or several of the hexagons of Morville's diagram, inspiration might be an adjacent or overarching theme that describes it all.

As human beings, not all of our motivations are noble -- nor are our attempts as marketers to exploit them, but inspiration is a category of its own that separates responsible from irresponsible marketing, and as such, it deserves to be mentioned.

How have you inspired your market today?

- Cam Beck


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Cam -- This is itself a great little piece of inspiration: "How have you inspired your market today?" Truly a nice filter through which to run your business (and your life, as I think of it!)

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