Bournemouth Pier

Why we need to learn to love someone else’s worm

Do you think we live in a very ‘me’ centred world, where the focus is upon the ‘I’ in so much of what we say and do?

With so much attention given to being fitter, stronger, better looking, more prosperous etc etc, it’s easy for us to be that way.

But how does the ‘me’ & ‘I’ culture translate into the way we market our businesses? Are we more concerned with getting attention than giving attention?

The ‘me’ culture is perhaps most visible when businesses try to market themselves through social media.

Sometimes social media is called social networking, but true networking is often well off the agenda. Social ‘broadcasting’ is perhaps a better description.

Face to face or in your face?

Imagine a face-to-face business networking meeting where someone comes in and all they do is talk about themselves or their products and services all of the time. Rather than drawing interest and positively influencing the behaviour of the potential customers they court, their ‘in your face’ approach will very quickly turn them away.

The same can happen online. Through social media we see a world of opportunities where our marketing messages have the potential to reach far and wide with little cost or effort. But all we create is noise. No one wants to listen because we are not listening. No one wants to engage in conversation with us because we are not engaging.

It’s a bit like strawberries and worms – they don’t go together, but worms and fish do.

Fish prefer worms

Born in 1888, Dale Carnegie was the son of a poor farmer with few prospects to be successful. But Carnegie made a way for himself first through sales and then through teaching about public speaking, later leading to him becoming an author.

One of the central ideas Carnegie taught and which proved successful for him is that it is possible to positively influence other people’s behaviour towards you by changing your behaviour towards them. By following this principle online in social media and paying attention to the conversation of others ahead of our own, we can positively influence the attention we receive from others towards us.

In his best selling book of 1936, “How to win friends and influence people”, Carnegie wrote:

“I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish.”

So, yes, fish prefer worms. What is it your customers prefer? What will the focus of your next conversation be? Don’t let it be you.

We need to learn to love someone else’s worm.