You become a specialist when you focus on the needs and wants of someone else and the ability to talk thoughtfully about a topic.
You become what you communicate and distribute.
This is what I am seeing from those companies where things are working, where they create and distribute to a targeted audience. They become what they believe in. This makes it easier for others to make an association.
People want to work with people who show an interest and can talk with a flow about the industry they are immersed within.
This is about making what you create, communicate and distribute into a super hero symbol so other people recognise. It is a way for people to associate, so they can do better. Bruce Wayne even said it in Batman Begins:
“People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man I’m flesh and blood. I can be ignored. I can be destroyed. But as a symbol, as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.”
Relationships Before Needs
Whilst we are always told to focus on customers needs, there has to be a stage before that, where a relationship is formed and built. You can’t smash the door down and tell people what they need from the outset. When you interact, ask questions and help shape a viewpoint from the world in which you participate within (that aligns with what you do), this helps stabilise trust.
It works like this:
- find common ground with others
- recognise there are questions to answer, problems to solve, lessons to share
- take the initiative
- document, create and communicate
- others recognise your specialism and voice (this becomes your symbol)
Example Of How It Is Working
Their momentum is from sharing the world of lighting design and the experiences they curate via their monthly Snack Time email. Topics are never centred on a roll call of photos of new projects, but a way of chronicling their journey and how it relates to the world of lighting. This is how the company is finding a defined voice that stands alone.
In an article from May (that looked at your voice) everything that you communicate is intended to sit with what you believe in and what you do. This allows others to match your voice with an approach. It highlighted, “Having a voice that relates to what you stand for, becomes the catalyst to change and persuade others. It is not about someone shouting louder because they have more Twitter followers, but being able to deliver on a consistent viewpoint.”
For instance, related to the world of lighting design, it could be education (the complexities of understanding how lighting works), to relevance (why companies are using lighting as a branding tool) to retrospection (how the company thought it was progressing from 2013 to 2016).
This highlights when a company discovers the role they play within an industry and to emphasise with feeling and spirit, the ability to carve a role within a marketplace. This is intended to stand alone, whilst others become transfixed on showcasing work and not a viewpoint.
Putting It Together In Four Steps
The trend I am seeing from Michael Grubb Studio and others, who are building audience, as well as customer base, follow a simple premise:
- they don’t put one thing out there and then stand back
- the themes twist and turn, but all come back to what the company does
- they distribute to a subscribed audience every month
- they take time to focus on at least one deep thinking article per month
In the words of poet, philosopher and 19th century essayist, Henry David Thoreau, he subscribed to this notion of locking into becoming what you communicate. He said, “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
What About You?
Communicating consistently within a space where you have a right to be part of is how people look to you as a specialist. As Mark Schaefer highlights in his book, Known, it is about, ‘finding a niche that matters and the tenacity to dominate it.’
You become the specialist when someone else recognises that you are in tune with his or her perspective and provide value to his or her day/week, on an ongoing basis.
You recognise the industry that you are part of and every piece of content that is distributed becomes who you are. Here are some points to take on board where the goal is to build an audience who understand the perspective you deliver and the message you provide.
Switch From Telling People What They Need
Can you research your audience and recognise the struggles and issues they have? Is it the need for more time, is it efficiency, is it scale? When you recognise the role to play in someone else’s ecosystem you have more of a right to engage and have that conversation from email to a Twitter DM.
For instance, I ran a survey at the end of last year asking what people wanted to understand more about when it came to the You Are The Media Lunch Club. Over 60% wanted to know about strategy, so the You Are The Media | Strategy Day was implemented, based on what people wanted.
Find A Way To Justify A Continuum
The goal has to be becoming relevant to others so they reside and take note of what you have to say. When people provide the acknowledgement from an email to a ‘can we talk about this particular project’ is when the whole experience changes from just communicating a message to taking the heart and caring into shaping a better interactions with customers and the community you are building.
Be Able To Express
The message that you create, you have to recognise that you are not doing this so you can write specifically for SEO, you are creating for a person who is sitting in front of you, ready to take on board. If they are going to spend a further 30 seconds, you have to lock them in for the first 30 seconds. The perspective that you provide, is here to chip away at the challenges that other people have in front of them.
Questions Posed & Answered Should Always Connect
Whilst there is the pressure and self-consciousness to keep putting content somewhere (Hubspot reckons you should be publishing 11 or more blog posts a month), you have to put the brakes on. For a mindset to work and to click with others, you have to live an approach.
It is not about doing more, but finding an audience who acknowledge your approach. Even if you commit to one solid article per month, whilst that month may look paltry to someone else telling you should be publishing 11 times more a month, but actually says nothing, over time an asset base is continually growing.
Deliver Relevant Insights And Then Amplify
It is widely acknowledged that we are all competing in busier places. This graph highlights the amount of WordPress sites per month and we hit a peak in March 2017 of nearly 88 million posts.
According to research by the Content Marketing Institute and BuzzSumo, content that gets links and shares are more likely to build authority. You become what you distribute with: authoritative content; strong opinion; original research; trending topics that relate to practical advice; authoritative news content.
Take A Breath And Plan
You don’t have to jump in and scramble for a topic that has a very loose tie to what you do, it all starts from having a clear plan of action. From understanding what it is you stand for to recognise the audience you are creating for, this is where the reward is, not in the build of the website. Anyone can create a website and throw content into it, in the hope to be acknowledged and actioned, but is the trust and relationship already in there? To do this you need to make sure everything is backed up via fact, experience and opinion.
Deep Connectedness To Your Area Of Expertise
People are prepared and ready to read deeper thinking content. A recent study (June 2017) by Forbes Insights and the Deloitte Center for Industry Insights, highlighted that senior decision (300 people surveyed) makers prefer longer form content in the shape of feature length article and reports (22%) and business books (21%). When you are prepared to go deep, the stats show that others are prepared to come along with you.
Lets Round Up
You become what you believe in, when you have a thirst to share with others a perspective that puts a stamp on your belief system. A connection is always linked to needs. Vague or shortened conversations never convinced anyone to stick by someone else.
If you can provide expertise within your domain and utilise the channels to produce, the ingredient that puts it all together is your audience. From a deep thinking report to build recognition, to others become quasi producers on social spaces to amplify, everything is centred on what you bring to the table in terms of knowledge and experience. I’ll end where I started with another quote from Batman Begins, “If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely.”
When you recognise the role you play and delving deep into the issues and problems that others face and do it consistently is when you become what you communicate and distribute.