Here at LeadFormix we mourn the passing of Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and other books that brought together essential wisdom for improving the quality of human existence. 7 Habits is generally regarded as one of the most influential business books of the 20thcentury; and many of us can remember in the early 1990’s when it was the hottest topic of conversation at the office. In some cases, the book was mandatory reading. Companies sent entire departments to week-long training courses based on the book’s principles.

There are endless numbers of essays, articles and blogs in printed media and on the Internet about why 7 Habits made us (or should make us) better marketers. It’s hard to find anything to disagree with, and regurgitating those viewpoints here isn’t necessary.

We prefer to step back and take a more holistic perspective about the significance of Covey’s work. It’s actually less about business and more about the potential richness of our lives and strengthening the fabric of society. Effective people are generally happier people, who in turn enrich the lives of those around them. Note that the focus is on success, not money or wealth. Often one correlates with the other, but success isn’t always defined by the number of zeros in front of a decimal point.

There is no doubt that Covey’s religious background and his Ph.D. in religious education influenced his world view. He could have stopped after the 6th habit and called it a day. We believe the book would have been no less influential. But his 7th habit (“Sharpen the Saw”) speaks explicitly to self-renewal, nourishment of the soul (relationships and service to others), healthy lifestyles and spirituality. This stuff is not typically found in business school curricula. It paints all seven habits in a different light entirely.

So, why are we discussing this in a blog about marketing?

All of us owe Covey a debt of gratitude, whether we realize it or not. His principles affected an entire generation of people in the business world who took his wisdom to heart and made entire organizations more effective. In the process, those organizations probably became better places to work. You can of course tie specific habits to the day-to-day mechanics of marketing (or specifically marketing automation), but we think the big benefit is something a bit more profound.

At the end of the day marketing is about finding people with needs and providing solutions to them. But if you are buying something more sophisticated than pencils, the relationship with (and trust of) a vendor takes on increasing importance for the purchase decision. Any company that wants to establish and retain long term commitments from customers must build those relationships by practicing Covey’s habits as part of their way of doing business. Today that may seem like repeating common sense, but twenty years ago those principles were not so obvious.

Marketing automation is certainly where the “rubber meets the road” in establishing and maintaining strong customer relationships. A robust marketing automation solution uses technology in new ways to extend a marketer’s reach by allowing him/her to stay linked with prospects, customers, partners and stakeholders. We think about that a lot.

Dr. Covey, thank you for sharing your wisdom with world.