Appreciative Marketing

It almost never happens. Rarely, if ever, is everything wrong.

I was asked by a senior executive last week to give my opinion as to why her organization, with all of their financial resources and widespread market awareness, has so far been unable to make the changes that are necessary in order shift the conversation surrounding her company and build greater market relevance. I think she expected me to say that everything was screwed up. That bureaucracy is killing them, their marketing atrocious, and their customer service abysmal.

I didn’t say that.

The reason I didn’t say that was not for fear of offending her. No, the reason I didn’t say that is that it simply isn’t true.

They do a lot of things right. I took the opportunity to point out one particular customer service item that they do very well… better than any of their competitors, in fact. It would be of significant importance to a good many of their customers, if they only knew about it.

Essentially, in the event that a customer suffers a significant business ‘disaster’ (fire, for example) they automatically initiate a special customer service plan that delivers remarkable, personal, caring, and extremely helpful service via a single point of contact to get things operational faster than anyone would ever think possible.

Trouble is, the only way you would know about this is if you had a fire.

By choosing to shine an appreciative light on something they’re already doing right, they would focus the attention of the organization on that which is working. And by focusing on what works, you start doing more stuff that works. This is the foundation of Appreciative Inquiry, and while many would write it off as naïve optimism, it has most always generated real, tangible results for me.

When you feel that everything is screwed up in your marketing efforts, attempts at change can often feel like you’re trying to boil the ocean. Maybe the alternative is to realize that change is happening all the time in our organizations without any grand, formal change management initiatives. By beginning to create small shifts via Appreciative Marketing, your organization might just begin finding, highlighting, and creating more stuff that works.

Previously posted on


You are using an outdated browser. Things may not appear as intended. We recommend updating your browser to the latest version.