Home > Rick Carter - enova > Are you herding cattle or cats? -enova

Are you herding cattle or cats? -enova

I recently came a across a blog by Chad Levitt who likened the changing approach to marketing and sales esp in B2B to herding cats when we are used to herding cattle. Chad Levitt is the author of the New Sales Economy blog that focuses on how sales 2.0, social, and inbound marketing can be used as a sales strategy for the Web 2.0 world.

As Chad says “The first thing about herding cats is….. “don’t let anybody tell you it’s easy!”

If you’ve ever tried to herd a cat you know it’s damn hard. And anyone can herd cattle — they are slow, stodgy, and like to be told what to do. Cats are nimble, quick, and verrrrry hard to corner – so are our customers today. The parallel is that the majority of sales and marketing organizations are still trying to herd cattle, when the marketplace has changed to herding cats.”

I certainly think herding cats makes a very good analogy for the B2B marketplace today.

A key ingredient in herding cats is to supply the food they are seeking and this comes in the form of useful information… blogs, videos etc.

For some time I have been concerned that the people at the fuzzy end of business (PR, Marcomm) believe they should control Social Media because it is about Communication.  But given they are the masters (along with Advertising ) of one way communication why should they.

Traditionally in business the best listeners and builders of dialogue are in Sales and Customer Service. While Marketing defines the what and who of sales it is the seller and the service that pick up the How …  so who better equipped to understand what the market really expects of a business.

And then there are the internal “cats” how can they be harnessed to support the marketing efforts. Well that’s where HR comes in to develop and define policies on the internal and external use of Social Media.

So right now we have ”cats” everywhere looking for “food” from business a very few are producing the right “food” as they are leaving the “food” production to the wrong people. PR/Marcomm tradionally sow the crops and hope for a good season or two….   While it is Sales and Service who are responsible for the harvesting and bear the brunt when a bad seson comes along or PR/Marcomm has decided to sow the wrong crop.

Rick Carter – enova


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  1. June 16, 2010 at 1:20 am

    I think this is an important concept to consider for companies trying to attract new customers. Too often companies try to decide what and how customers want to be approached and what they want to buy, not the other way around. This is where the true value of marketing comes in, if it is done correctly then you can turn your cats into cows.

    The only way to do this is to ensure that you tailor your message to your target audience. If you do this correctly then it will be a case of herding cattle once more.

  2. Graham
    June 20, 2010 at 3:01 am

    In my world there are no cats or cattle, just sheeple and us. Sheeple for the uninitiated are defined as persons who voluntarily acquiesce to a perceived authority or suggestion without sufficient research to understand fully the ramifications involved in that decision, and thus undermine their own human individuality or in other cases give up certain rights. The implication of sheeple is that as a collective, people believe or do whatever they are told, especially if told so by a perceived authority figure such as a friend, peer or advertising device believed to be trustworthy, without critically thinking about it or doing adequate research to be sure that it is an accurate representation of the real world around them. Our use of the term sheeple is designed to deprecate the great unwashed so I see no difference between sheeple and cattle.

    Sheeple made my job a lot easier and today as the Internet discusses the failures and successes of various politicians, these same sheeple are shepherded to a convincing plateau of pseudo knowledge about politics without actually knowing anything. Thus when Facbook and Twitter came along, the sheeple followed their friends, because it was the ‘in thing’ to do. Yes there are people who use the applications for reasonable purposes, such as staying in touch whilst overseas, organising groups such as The Dead Reds, however, that was always achieved previously by sending letters and post cards, something that today does not provide instant gratification. How long did it take the politicians to follow the sheeple trail? The NSW twitter debate was an epic failure as James Hutchinson posted on 16th June.

    Moreover, use of these programs appears to be degrading the ability of youth to conduct face-to-face relationships, and it certainly has impacted on our every day vocabulary. It encourages short cuts, laziness and impersonal contact, yet more importantly it encourages people that the mundane aspects of their lives which six billion of us share are exciting to other people and we just have to share them. That isn’t staying in touch, it isn’t sharing. It’s being self-centred. Industry today is suffering from this problem through failures of inter-personal relationships in the work place and may also be responsible to some degree for the joys of cyber bullying.

    From my lowly branch in life there is a need to cocoon one’s self from the mishmash of personal information that pervades the Net lest it clog the very pores of one’s life. On a very real level, the exploitation of these programs as a means of marketing and advertising serves to demonstrate the sheeple approach in contrast to old style conventional marketing and advertising. Both disciplines do need to move into the new age and make use of modern technology but of the 3 million account holders in Australia, how many are old enough to be influenced by marketing or advertising? I’d strongly suggest that Wilbur’s figure of 40% plus under the age of 12, is reasonably accurate.

    There are very successful social networking groups that rely in substance on face-to-face congregations but are organsied globally on these programs because it reaches the intended audience for no cost. But as marketing and advertising are wont to say, costs are involved. Moving these programs to a user pays system is merely an entrepreneur doing exactly the same thing as marketing and advertising, exploiting the sheeple. Like the rising cost of tobacco, the sheeple will cry they won’t pay the price, but come the crunch you will hear the cash registers kerching a mile away.

    Perhaps a better phrase than social networking is social disintergration.

    • June 20, 2010 at 5:32 am

      Thanks Graham,
      Love your thoughts 🙂

      I think with anything new it’s like having a “shiny new toy”. people get excited, have fun, use it etc etc and then its left to go dusty in the corner, forgotten.

      social networking has matured over the past few years to a certain degree and we are now starting to get a grasp of what we can do with it but there’s a long way to go. and certainly a lot of learnings… it has however integrated into our day to day life even now and so i do believe it will continue to flourish. perhaps not exactly as it is today though.

      there is a lot of benefit in global conversations and i feel that with the use of twitter, facebook and now foursquare type applications a far greater awareness of attitudes, lifestyles and opinions is making us all have a bigger think – and a bigger reaction to what we would have say even 10 years ago.

      the BP crisis is a classic example of the level of noise a collective community voice can now make about a corporate stuff up. whilst i dont admire the circumstances (at all) – i have admired BP ‘s handling of media and responses (even if I dont like the responses ahahaa BUT…).

      when you hear that a crisis communication campaign includes the purchase of a top position on google to ensure the worlds population gets the right information delivered to them at the right time, then that is corporate communications doing its job well. it is a good strategy.

      without social media we would not have been able to achieve this.

      so, whilst i agree we have a lot of work to do to make the online/offline balance like we have had to learn in the 80’s and 90’s about the work/life balance, i think we are at least starting to steer in the right direction.


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