How Customer Pictures Can Improve Your A-Game

Design an environment that makes you perform well.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #457

I love being an individual! It means I can think my own thoughts, and I have free will, and everything’s hunky dory. Do you think your own thoughts? Do you have free will? You just thought “Yes, of course I do.” I knew you were going to think that.

And if I knew you were going to think that, and you did think it, do you really have free will? (You just thought “of course I do.”)

Have you ever wondered why movie theaters show trailers of popcorn once the movie starts, even though it’s too late for you to buy a popcorn? Because they’re establishing a link in your mind between movies and popcorn. And next time you walk into a theater, you’ll be more likely to buy popcorn. You have been assimilated! 

“No I haven’t!” you’re thinking as you munch your popcorn. “I just like popcorn! I only eat it at movie theaters because, er, I don’t have recipe.” I knew you were going to think that. And if I knew you were going to think that, well, do we really need to review the free will discussion? No? Good.

See popcorn at movie, go to movie, buy popcorn. That’s called brainwashing, and it works. It works so well that we have an entire industry devoted to it that has mind control down to a fine art. We call it “advertising.” 

Visible customers rock

In his book Pre-suasion, psychologist Robert Cialdini tells of a consulting firm that worked in a glass-walled conference room at a client site. They did superb work. When they worked elsewhere, however, their work quality suffered.

It turned out that just seeing their clients in their peripheral vision kept the consultants mindful of who they were working for. Just having their clients in their field of vision kept the consultants on track.

The consultants figured they’d use this technique with their next client. But when they tried to knock down the conference room walls to install glass windows, their new client got a little testy. So they had to come up with a new solution.

They took pictures of the client employees, blow them up into cardboard cutouts, and put those pictures around the confined, airless, windowless conference room. And guess what? It worked! They did great work for the new client. 

My interpretation is that maybe the client’s employees just had the personality of cardboard cutouts, so the brain found either equally inspiring. But apparently that wasn’t it at all. The correct interpretation is that just being reminded of the real people they were working for was enough to unconsciously influence the team to do work with those clients in mind.

Design your own environment

If the consulting firm can design an environment, so can we! Let’s reconstruct our environment so we really produce the work that our customers need (be they external customers or internal). 

Think who uses your work. If you stock supermarket shelves, it’s the shoppers. If you write sales reports for marketers to use, it’s the marketers. If you’re a writer, it’s your audience.

Now get pictures of those people. Real live pictures. And put them around. You don’t have to look at them consciously. Just keep them in your environment. And you’ll begin, unconsciously, to orient what you do around them. 

You'll begin, unconsciously, to orient around them!

You can do this for your whole job, for single projects, or for tasks. Giving a team presentation? Put yourself where you can see your team members as you create your presentation. Or have pictures of them in your office. Do use pictures of them that were taken around the office, maybe for the office holiday party. Don’t use pictures of their backyard pool party you took with high-altitude drone. People might mistake your motivational techniques for something a bit more … stalkerish. Either way, having your audience in your field of vision will tell your unconscious mind to craft a presentation that’s going to be perfect for them.

Be my cardboard cutout

Now I have an extra-special request for you. You may think a podcaster’s life is all champagne and multi-floor suites at Caesar’s Palace, just full of adoring fans throwing flowers. No. I work in my basement. Alone. There’s no champagne. I’m alone. There is a glass of soda water, and instead of flowers, I have a wilted bouquet I took as a souvenir from a friend’s wedding. Nine years ago.

Of course you know what’s missing from this picture: you!! I have no idea what my fans look like. But Cialdini’s technique works as well for me as it will for you. So let’s change that! I would love to have an office with pictures of you so as I write and record episodes, it’s with you as my subliminal influence! 

If you’d like to be part of my workday, please send me a picture of you! Send it to hi@getitdoneguy.com, along with a note giving me a sense of who you are, so when I’m in a creative mode, I’m creating for you.

This is Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. I run programs to help people have extraordinary careers. If you want to know more, visit http://SteverRobbins.com . 

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!

About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.