Considering the premiere of the fifth season of Breaking Bad was last night and I’ve been waiting for it for almost a year, it’s a wonder I got any research or work done this past week at all. A little less surprising is that this week’s posts revolve around Breaking Bad and wisdom/lessons from it’s main character: Walter White.
Not only do I applaud the writers of Breaking Bad for creating one of the best shows to ever air on television, but they consistently employ all the techniques we strategists tout day in and day out for creating characters, stories and relatable experiences for clients. There have been many great television characters throughout history that can teach us about business, but very few that truly can get to the heart of how ruthless business can be, especially when that business revolves around people and their many mistakes.
It’s time to take a lesson in Social Business from Mr. Walter White.
3 Social Business Lessons From Walter White
1) Create Something Worth Talking About - One of the first lessons Walter taught his protegé, Jesse Pinkman, is that in order to succeed in business, you have to have a stellar offering. In fact, in one of the very first episodes of the show, Walter says, “We are going to make a good product that does what it is supposed to do, as advertised. No emulsifiers, no baking powder, no bleach, no chili powder.” It’s true that having a good product isn’t a unique requirement for a Social Business, but the truth is that if you’re very good at being social and make very bad products/services, you’re creating avenues for your shitty work to be talked about in public. Step one in business is to simply create something that doesn’t suck, and that’s true for Social Businesses as well.
2) Tell Your Story & Tell It Well - A lot of people would be very mad at Walter if they knew what he was up to, but one of the amazing things about the show is that since we see things from Walter’s perspective, we sympathize with him more than his wife, or son, or, let’s say, the cops would. We’ve heard his story from the beginning and know why he’s making the decisions he’s making. We may not always agree with them, but we understand them; and that makes all the difference. Being a truly Social Business allows you to open the doors and the shades and share your company’s story and the more effective you are at sharing that story, the more your customers will relate to your brand and understand the moves you make (keeping in mind the moves you make are in line with the brand you’ve created). Adopting Social CRM technologies and creating that story to tell, knowing whom you’re telling and keeping a strategy for how it’s told will open up new avenues of trust and interaction for your brand.
3) Live Your Brand’s Life - One of my favorite lines from Breaking Bad comes when Walter is talking to another cancer patient and the new patient is rattling off platitudes people have been telling him like “Forget about having control,” “Cancer is a death sentence,” “This is your focus now,” etc., etc. Walter interrupts him and tells him that he should never give up control on his life. “Live life on your own terms. Every life comes with a death sentence,” Walter tells the man. I just love that. Now, I know that making the change to being a Social Business means you have to give up control of some of your communications (which you never really had control of to begin with, BTW), but that’s not what I’m talking about. Joining the social arena, you get the opportunity to truly own who your business is in the eyes of your consumers. You don’t have to create marketing lines in a bubble and hope they stick. You don’t have to bring in focus groups to ask about your customer service program. You can put forward who you truly are and connect with your customers and have them tell you what they think of your efforts. It’s scary and freeing all at the same time. Like life. No company will last forever, just like no one person will, but you have the opportunity to control how you engage and the legacy you will leave behind. Every life comes with a death sentence, so that’s all the more reason to live for today; well, every company comes with a closing date, so get out there and connect and truly live the life your brand deserves with the people who can sustain that life.
There are still 3 more lessons to come, so be sure to check back in on Thursday to see the rest, but these are some pretty big lessons and might need a few days to sink in anyway. Save this post and email it to some colleagues who might need it. There’s a lot to be learned from a silly little drama about meth, and there’s more to come.
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