Lesson #5: Getting Strategic with Hummingbird

Lesson #5: Getting Strategic with Hummingbird

So far we've talked about two of the four perceptual states, Tactical/Serpent and Emotional/Jaguar. Today we're going to explore the third perceptual state, Strategic/Hummingbird.

I always thought that hummingbirds were adorable little birds who just flew around looking pretty, until one day I got the chance to observe several busy hummingbird feeders out the window of a restaurant in Alma, New Brunswick, Canada.

Competitive Hummingbirds

To my amazement, the hummingbirds were battling fiercely for the few coveted spots at each feeder. They swooped, dove, pecked, batted their wings at one another, and generally fought like tigers for their drops of red sugar water.

Since then I've come to see hummingbirds as the ultimate competitors, fierce and nimble and utterly single-minded about getting what they deserve.

Hummingbirds represent strategic thinking also because they undertake an epic migration each year, flying over the ocean for thousands of miles without access to food or drink. Even though you might think that based on their metabolism they wouldn't be able to survive for 10 minutes away from their favorite sources of nourishment, they plan and carry out long-range, even epic journeys based on their incredible navigational abilities.

Hummingbird in the Checkmate Matrix

We move into Strategic/Hummingbird perception when we ask the question, "How can I position myself to become the obvious choice to my ideal customer?" We must now take into account, not only the facts seen by Serpent, not only our customer's emotions as felt by Jaguar, but also our competitor's strengths and weaknesses as well.

When we look at the Checkmate Matrix with Hummingbird eyes, we look for what Ken McCarthy calls "holes and bumps in the road." Holes are missed opportunities that we can exploit: niches that are being underserved, marketing techniques that are being underused, etc. Holes are where we look at the market through the eyes of our Ideal Customer and ask, "What's missing for me here?"

Bumps are things that are wrong; sins of commission. Unpleasant customer service experiences, long wait times, lack of clarity about options, etc. Anywhere our Ideal Customer gets frustrated or confused or hopeless or deflated.

Using Hummingbird to Sell Beer

The classic hummingbird story is told about Claude Hopkins, who about 100 years ago was tasked with turning Schlitz beer into a powerhouse national brand from a small regional concern. He learned everything he could about how beer is brewed, studied the competition, paid attention to what the public was interested in (in this case, not dying from unsafe foods and beverages was a common desire), and came up with the Schlitz "purity" campaign.

Hopkins told the public in detail all the steps Schlitz went through to produce pure, delicious beer. From the artesian wells to the steam-cleaned tanks, Hopkins painted a picture of a company obsessed with quality and purity.

Only trouble was, the Schlitz executives sadly told Hopkins as he presented his campaign to them, that obsession with quality wasn't a differentiator. Every beer in America was made the exact same way. 

Undaunted, Hopkins pointed out that this objection was irrelevant. Since nobody was telling the story, the first company to do so would preempt and thereby "own" the truth. Drayton Bird, legendary direct marketing copywriter (and Camp Checkmate fan – watch the video if you don't believe me;) quotes Rosser Reeves: "The first person to tell the truth preempts the truth – and the truth always sells."

Claude "Hummingbird" Hopkins (that would have made a great nickname, wouldn't it?) applying a strategic perceptual state to find the message that catapulted Schlitz into an unassailable position in the minds of the American beer-drinking public.

So your homework now is to go back to your Checkmate Matrix (if you've lost it or never bothered to download it before but want to now, grab it here) and put on your Hummingbird vision. Combine tactics with emotion to see the whole competitive landscape, and where your strengths or potential strengths can earn you Obvious Choice status in the minds of your Ideal Customers.

Stay tuned next time for the final installment in the minicourse on the four perceptual states, when we tackle EagleVision.

PS Day two morning of Camp Checkmate gets you playing with Hummingbird perception. Working within a small group, you'll be amazed at the opportunities literally staring you in the face that you never noticed before. 

Ready to sign up? http://CampCheckmate.com

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