We use these as a compass to make sure we are taking our clients (and our company) in the right direction. Inevitably we slip up and break a commandment and pay the price in sanity, reputation, time and cash.

The 10th Commandment:  BE HUMAN

photo credit: Ars Electronica via photopin cc
photo credit: Ars Electronica via photopin cc

Society is littered with technology. Hell, this itty bitty article is being written in WordPress, sitting inside Google Chrome, which is laying on top of Windows 7, which is loaded on a Sony laptop, which is connected via WiFI to a D-Link 802.11n router, which is cruising through a Comcast modem on a 50Mbps network via a variety of routers and server to  my HostGator shared hosting account that is running Apache on Linux … oh and did I mention I’m running Pandora in the background, charging up my daughters Nexus 7 on my end table, and checked my HTC Evo smartphone running Android and mish-mash  of apps for messages twice in the past 10 minutes.

<pause for breath>

And carry that over to your small biz, and the list gets even longer with a duct-taped together cluster of marketing platforms and tools, in our case Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Tumblr, MailChimp, ManageFlitter, Basecamp, Dropbox, Google Docs, Buffer, HootSuite, Google Analytics, Youtube, etc….

So rewind a few years. One of my better clients asked for some help preparing a campaign to re-launch one of their established laptop repair stores. So I put together a fancy digital marketing proposal and sent it via the latest and greatest sales tool. He immediately calls me and after the first sentence is uttered, I could tell he was trying REALLY hard not to freak out.

“Nate, I don’t need any of this stuff. My customers come here because there computers are *broken* … how are they supposed to get a Facebook Message if their computer won’t even turn on?”

I drove down to the store later that day and helped him with a few customers in their lobby while I was waiting to sit down with him and rescue this project I was inches from losing. And every one of those people wanted the same thing – a human being to solve their digital problem. Eventually, we figured out an intensely human way to kick-off their grand re-opening – a Birthday Smash. I made some cheap arrow signs with posterboard, nuts, bolts and washers and LOTS of packing tape, hired some sign spinners and bought a bunch of Subway Sandwiches. Then we took all of our recycle computers, dollar story safety goggles and gloves, and let event attendees beat the shit out of some computer gear. Here’s a short clip.

Fast forward a few years, and Doug Pray (the Emmy Winning Director of the must-watch doc ART & COPY) interrupted my monthly update rambling conference call about our recent social media successes (make me cringe writing that now) for Wild Mind Film Camp.

“Nate, I don’t care about all this Twitter and Facebook stuff. We just want some wild and amazing filmmakers to come to the camp.” I tried running through my usual, ‘we get the attention with Twitter than convert that conversation into a sale’ bull-shit, and went round and round for a minute.

Then I stopped cold and remembered the laptop repair store  –  he wanted a human not an f-ing computer to help him. “You know what Doug. You’re right … give me a day and we’ll get everyting back on track.”

So, we stopped on a dime and shifted focus on reaching out personally to all of the curious onlookers. We showed up at local events, made some actual <gasp> phone calls, massaged some egos and helped them completely fill their camp in less than a month.

If you are a small biz owner with a bat cave full of ‘toys’, then it is your responsibility to re-purpose those tools to inject humanity back into our overly digital world.  Remember that all of this crazy internet technology was originally designed to help connect humans. All of the likes, follows and friends in the world doesn’t count for shit unless there is a human being willing to truly connect on the other end.

Log off of Facebook for a day and pick-up the phone and call some of your customers. Thank them for a recent order, wish them a happy un-birthday in true mad-hatter style. And if you get the opportunity to visit them in person, take it.

And if I’m wrong, call me on my cell, (206) 271-6575 and say “Nate you were full of shit” … or better yet, if you are in town, stop by our office and let me know in-person how full of shit I am. My oh-so-fragile will likely be bruised, but my existence will be verified:

Nate Wright – CLASSIFICATION: Human.