Taking a 360 degree look

20070225snow3 8+ inches of snow fell on us over night.  Hundreds of churches and other organizations cancelled their Sunday events.  Reporters told us to stay off the roads.  Almost 200,000 were/are without power.

But what does the snow mean?

It would be easy to only see it from my own perspective.  Using that single lens focus we discussed in an earlier post.  But what happens when you actually take the time to walk around an issue, thought, product, client and take a 360 degree view?

For me, the snow is beautiful.  Having grown up in Minnesota, I love the snap of cold, the crispness of the snow and the serenity in the blanket of white.

For my dad, who’s flying here from Sarasota today, it’s a reminder of why he left the Midwest and no doubt will be a source of much grumbling over the next few days.

For the neighborhood kids, it’s an imagination overloaded play land filled with an ice fort’s construction materials, bombs to be lobbed, and snow people to be  birthed.

20070225snow2 For my friend Steve, whose daughter was at a weekend church retreat deep in the woods and about an hour away, it brought worry about how to retrieve her safely.  (We took my 4-wheel drive…all is well!)

For my daughter, it was a close but no cigar.  24 hours later and we’d have had a snow day.

For Mark the guy who runs a snow removal company, it was cha-ching and relief after a very slow season.

For the families without power, it was a potential crisis.  No heat brings frozen pipes, no way to keep the family warm, and a huge hassle.

A relatively simple thing.  A snow storm.  And yet to each different audience, its importance and meaning was very different.

As you approach a marketing project — how often do you "place the item in the center of the table" and walk around it, describing it from different perspectives.  We know people buy based on emotional responses.  This snow storm brought a sense of calm/serenity, disgust, frustration, glee, disappointment, worry, relief, and panic.

Wow…those emotional truths are tools for a marketer.  With a better understanding of people’s reactions to an event, product or service — you can talk to them in a way that will resonate with those emotional realities. 

But only if you take the time to understand them.

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4 comments on “Taking a 360 degree look

  1. Drew – I’ll refrain from my perspective on the snow up here in Minneapolis. Your readers don’t want to listen to me rant. 🙂

    Great post though and another great real life example and the relation to marketing. One of the major challenges I face as a marketer is making sure to take into consideration other people’s viewpoints on how they perceive the company and products. It can truly change your messaging.

  2. Patrick,

    I heard you guys got about 15″. True?

    I can remember digging out the mailbox on my way to the bus stop eveyr morning. Ah, gotta love MN winters!

    So, how do you make sure you hear all the other perspectives in your work? Research? Something more informal?


  3. Mark True says:


    I’m going to drop in an give an answer to your question to Patrick. During our discernment process, we keep our nose open for anything that stinks. While we listen to the group charged with discerning the brand – usually a few leaders or top managers – we put our employee and customer hats on to see if what we’re hearing rings true. If – to mix metaphors – something starts to smell, we figure out the best way to test the assumptions. Often, that means more interviews, usually with employees because clients rarely seed a need to pay for customer research.

    During one-on-one employee interviews for a small bank, we discovered a huge leadership issue that, ultimately, kept us from moving forward with marketing communications. Whatever we say, it just wouldn’t have worked until the leadership issue was fixed. In another case, the employee interviews uncovered some huge upside potential that allowed the principals to get out of every sales opportunity and to spread the load among the other technical people; they were folded into the sales process and the brand rang truer than ever before.

    It’s not real formal or predictable, but taking the time to look at different perspectives, as you note, often uncovers a completely different picture.


  4. Mark,

    I think sometimes the power is in asking the questions as much as it is in the answers.

    It always surprises me how seldom companies survey, formally or not, their own employees and customers.

    It’s like free advice every day. And advice from an insider who actually knows the truth.


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