Intent is everything

We can treat people as foolish or we can treat them as valuable.

I’m reminded daily of how brands view us, their customers and fans. All of us can sniff out intent from miles away.

And that intent is everything.

It determines how we shape our campaigns. It determines how we view our audience. It determines every response, every tagline, every headline and every action.

Many years ago, I read about how the New York Times conducts its annual employee evaluations, a dreaded affair at many companies big and small. One manager summed up the Times’ philosophy on sizing up staff members: You either set people up to fail or set them up to win.

That is so eloquent. They knew that intent not only determined outcome but was also obvious from the start.

In working with our online audience, we must set people up to succeed. That means:

  • Good information, not clickbait teasers.
  • Clarity, not obfuscation.
  • Guidance, not sales pitch.
  • Responsive, not indifferent.
  • Helpful, not pushy.
  • Attentive, not dismissive.
  • Kind, not cold.
  • Patient, not petulant.
  • Customer oriented, not company oriented.

If our intent is to increase sales, we’ll unload a few more widgets.

If our intent is to make people happy, we’ll earn their loyalty.

Let’s be clear in our intent: to set people up to win.

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About Wade Kwon

Wade Kwon is conference director for Y'all Connect. See his full bio.

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