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So, your brand is a psychopathic narcissist

So, your brand is a psychopathic narcissist.

After a week at SXSW, Brand Anthropologist Richard Wise has some advice for brands – and marketers – who want to be invited back for dinner.

1. Always go back to the basics

We have to learn how to avoid being, as artist Austin Cleon put it, that new kind of annoying person in social media, the social vampire or the human spammer. It’s not rocket science. It just takes heart. Develop a sincere interest in your fellow participants. Follow their scene. Listen and listen well. Tell a story they care about.

2. Don’t get caught up in the technology; get caught up in people

If you want something to go viral, influence expert Jonah Berger, author of  “Contagious: How Things Spread” recommends asking yourself these six questions:

Have Social Currency – how does your idea or content advance the brand of the sharer?

Look for Triggers – how does your topic connect to everyday experiences we all have and what makes it memorable?

Be Emotional – how do you offer an intense experience, a feeling that incites people to share?

Stay Public – how do you make it technically and psychologically easy to share?

Offer Practical Value – does your content solve a problem?

Tell Stories – people don’t remember abstract concepts; they remember genuine stories. What is yours?

3. Make your data work for you

The estimated number of currently unfilled jobs that have “data scientist” in their description is 150,000. But you don’t have to be an actual data scientist to extract the signal from the noise. A sub-industry of usable data interpretation tools, training and services is rapidly emerging. Check out Decoded, Beautiful Soup, Kimono Labs, and GNIP.

4. Have meetings without PowerPoints

Uber-designer Edward Tufte criticized the way PowerPoint is commonly used: to guide and reassure the presenter rather than to enlighten the audience, and for the way it encourages simplistic thinking. Former MIT Media Lab designer Gabi Schaffzin also warned that we are living in a world of manipulative forms, “chart junk” and infographics. It’s time to be far more aware of the way we organize and share data – how it either advances the ball or keeps us stuck in flat, simplistic thinking.

5. Grow a pair.

John Ellett came to Austin many years ago to head up marketing at fabled Austin start-up Dell Computer. Today he heads up a digital agency called nFusion and wrote the CMO Manifesto and writes for Forbes, where he presides over the Cojones Awards, recognizing the one trait a CMO absolutely must have if they are going to do something great: courage.

Need an example? Try pharmacy brand CVS forgoing $2 billion in annual revenue by removing tobacco products from their shelves. If their brand stands for healthy living, they really had no choice.

Richard Wise is Geometry Global’s Chief Brand Anthropologist. This article is a summary of his complete SXSW report “How to turn psychopathic narcissists into relevant marketers”

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