How often do you do the Lumbergh?

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If you’ve never seen the movie Office Space (which I recommend heartily), you missed the character of Bill Lumbergh, played by Gary Cole:

Office Space TPS Reports

For all of his many, many, many faults, the Lumbergh character does something vital that you need to incorporate if you want to be a successful marketer: he gets out from behind his desk and wanders around the office.

As marketers, especially in today’s digital marketing environment in which you can accomplish everything your job requires from your laptop or iPad, it’s all too easy to lose touch with colleagues, coworkers, and customers. We can and do stay safely in our cubicles or behind our desks, looking at analytics reports, checking PPC ad performance, and avoiding other human beings. However, it’s a massive hindrance to our ability to market effectively because we don’t know what’s going on in the real world.

This year is being promoted as the year of Big Data. The gaping flaw in the entirety of Big Data is that no amount of accumulated transactional and analytical data is ever going to tell you why someone did something. You’ll know what happened down to the nanosecond, but uncovering the motivations of why someone did something requires you to ask them and get a human response.

Do the Lumbergh. Walk around your company and listen. Hear what people are saying on the phone to customers, to clients, to coworkers. Wander into different departments. Say hi to the developers, wander through customer service, talk to your account managers, visit the sales team. Go to conferences and trade shows and listen carefully. Participate in discussions, but focus on what challenges people are facing rather than just hawking your own stuff. Even if you’re a remote employee or a virtual employee, you can still Lumbergh – ask to sit behind the customer inbox for a day or man the chat room on your website or answer the phones.

Listen to people as they share what’s important to them. That’s the single best way to get new material for your marketing efforts (especially for content marketing).

The coffee mug and TPS reports are optional.

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3 responses to “How often do you do the Lumbergh?”

  1. I can’t believe that people haven’t seen Office Space. Isn’t that some sort of crime in the corporate world?

    You are completely right. Many people fail to remember that you have to put yourself in the mindset of the person who you trying to reach. For example, how do they search, what are they searching for, how do they word it etc.

    Great work Chris. How often do you do the Lumbergh at SHIFT Comm?

  2. Clearly, I didn’t get the memo 😉

  3. Love that movie. Have so many non-corporate friends who don’t get how the work world is still like that, still “9 t0 5” minus the Dolly Parton on the soundtrack, even still a little GGGR. (And I’ve got an idea for a blog post, so thanks.)

    Can’t say I care for Lumberg’s style – too much micromanaging for me, not to mention he doesn’t really seem to listen to others – but I get what you’re saying. We can’t wall ourselves in, shouldn’t hide behind our computers or we risk shutting the doors on ideas, getting some real work done. And yeah, wouldn’t it be great if every upper level manager/director had to do their turn on the front lines?! Ooh.. another idea. FWIW.

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