In my last blog I talked about the artist Sebastian and the explosive passion he is able to transfer from his heart and soul to his brush and canvas. It’s why his work now graces the homes of many celebrities, including Kevin Costner, Sly Stallone and Al Pacino. And I suggested that such “artistry,” imagination and resourcefulness also be utilized by corporations and businesses in creative new ways.
But are today’s big corporate institutions capable of the kind of soul-stirring inventiveness I’m talking about? I believe they can, if they allow the “artists” in their midst to craft boldly benevolent new ways of doing business.
A great example is the program recently introduced by TD Bank of giving selected ATM users at one of its Canadian branches custom-tailored “surprises” when they went to use the machine.
A video of their reactions to this “automatic thinking machine” not only made the network news, but went viral, with more than 3.8 million views in a single week. The campaign, which included handing out $20 bills to customers at other locations, shows how far a bank can go in getting to know its customers – and may even be instrumental in changing the impersonal image of the entire financial industry. (TD Bank , I should point out, has been centering its recent ad campaign around the slogan, “It’s time to bank human again.”)
But the TD Bank promotion is also a perfect illustration of what I meant when I said that “the more passionate people become about their pursuits, the more they will be drawn to those enterprises that reflect their passions.” Because what the bank did was to personalize each of its “surprises” (with the help of branch employees) to match the individual interests, pursuits and dreams of the recipients. Thus, Mike Jobin, “a big baseball fan, got a Blue Jays hat and tee and the chance to throw out the first pitch at one of the team’s games.” Another customer “received airline tickets to Trinidad so she can visit her only daughter, who has been diagnosed with cancer.”
Now, maybe that sounds more like what you’d expect from George Bailey than a major, multinational banking institution, but it’s just the sort of thing I had in mind when I talked about applying artistry, passion, heart and soul to business.
So how, you might be asking yourself, might your company generate that kind of excitement and elation while still focusing on profitability? Last Friday, I decided to give it a try by devoting the entire day to finding that out myself. No strategy sessions, financial considerations or budget constraints, just attempting to develop something to serve the “greater good, to be “on the side of the angels,” or improve the quality of life, as all genuine art should do.
Since my meeting with Sebastian, I’ve asked myself which of all the endeavors in which I am currently engaged had the most passion going for it and making the world a better place to live. And the most probable answer was our re-launching of S&H Green Stamps, which consumers will now be able to redeem for sustainability and health-related products. So taking that a step further, I decided the stamps should also be given to children as a reward for taking actions to improve their own health and that of the planet, as well as for demonstrating good citizenship, and I began planning ways we might facilitate such a program.
What about your business? Have you given any thought to how it can be made to better reflect the passions of your customers? Try it, and I guarantee you’ll eventually come up with an innovation that makes them think of it as more than just a business, but a positive force in their lives. And when you do you’ll create an aura of engaging energy that people will want to be around. You’ll start attracting and meeting a different group of individuals, more vibrant and passionate. And your family — even your dog — will find you a lot more fun to be around.