If you are investing in the long term, you have to create cues for people, so it becomes easier for them to participate and have that sense of belonging.
One way to do that is to expand your product/service portfolio.
Expanding your range of products, that connects everything together, has to come from establishing a clear identity that makes it easy for people to make an association. There comes a point when communicating your message to the world, doesn’t just have to sit within a website.
Connecting Those Dots
In a recent article I looked at the importance of letting others connect the dots.
The article highlighted what film production company Treehouse Digital are doing with a side project that reveals everything that goes into making a film via a series of short videos in the build up to a launch at Halloween (have a look at how they are getting on here).
When you are 100% committed to what you are doing, you have to make sure you colour in the full picture, so people aren’t left to their own assumptions to know what the picture is, or what it is.
In a B2B context, this could be the corporate video that tells an eloquent story about a business, but does not provide a message on the value created for others (which is something that Treehouse Digital are doing at the moment).
Connecting the dots represents bringing everything that you create into one overall image, so people can say, ‘that’s what they are all about!’ When you are ‘all in’ you realise that what you believe in should not just be within the confines of writing, but looking at other opportunities that can make everything else sharper.
To have a wider opportunity to bring others to you, once you have established a channel, there is the ability to explore and make other platforms work. It just makes everything more colourful. If all you have is just a blog, the image could be a bit heavier on just one colour, but when you add splashes of colour via other media channels, that goldfish starts to look like a clownfish.
Additional Streams Of Income
Whilst one medium becomes the glue that binds everything together, there are other ways to create additional income that may even surpass the original intentions.
Lets look at total Star Wars revenue, up to December 2016. The total box office revenue for all Star Wars films (including Rogue One) is over $6 billion. The total Star Wars franchise revenue is over $30 billion (from toys, books and games). The additional Star Wars revenue streams are five times more profitable than the original platform. When Lucasfilm sold to Disney in 2012 for $4 billion, that looks an absolute bargain.
In the words of Ryan Holiday in his latest book, Perennial Seller, ‘if you are trying to make something great, you must do the making.’ In order to build an audience, you have to explore and do the work that allows future opportunities to open up. You can’t sit back and think that having imaginary friends is going to be the route to deeper connectivity and people wanting to buy from you and have an ongoing relationship (see below).
Where I Have Been Going Wrong
When coming back to the dot-to-dot analogy, it makes me realise where I have potentially been going wrong.
This is something that I have to hold my hands up.
Whilst I have been connecting the dots over the past few years, I don’t think the picture inside has been has clear as it should be. From the writing, to the podcast, to the weekly email, to the monthly events, everything comes back to this idea of businesses having the ability to build their own audience, with a long term owned media approach. I can now see that the cues that have been in place for others to follow has not been as clear as it could be.
Having a week off, it provided the time to reflect and made me realise that you can be too focused on going from dot to dot and celebrating the success of getting to the dot (such as the Once Upon A Time project and to some extent the Marketing Homebrew weekly podcast). For instance, if you have just launched a website, there becomes too much of a focus on sharing with everyone how the website looks, rather than progressing how the website grows into a living, breathing entity with a role to inform and entertain.
The problem that arises is that you can forget that the whole point is to create a clear, big picture that people can easily recognise.
However, sometimes you don’t even need to join the dots as the picture for some is that obvious (these are the people who listen to the podcast, know that their in-box at 7am will have an email from me in it and come to the You Are The Media Lunch Club events). This is something that I noticed with my daughter, whilst on holiday last week. I asked her if she knew what the picture was she had just started joining up, she said, ‘a horse,’ and she was right. Some people get it and are able to make that connection a lot easier and how everything comes together.
However, to many other people, the meaningful work you create has to contribute to the bigger picture and for them to make that sense of connection.
This is what I have now decided that provides clarity to everything:
- the whole You Are The Media project (the email, the events, the writing), requires a visual mechanism for people to recognise the connection with everything
- I want to support others in creating a reflective experience so they can take a long term, owned media approach on board. On 24th May 2018, there will be the You Are The Media | Conference (to be located at Shelley Theatre, on the clifftops here in Bournemouth).
The identity. Everything now has a clear visual cue for people to associate with. From the Strategy Days to the weekly email, there is now a sense of union to everything. I want people to feel as though they are part of a club, to learn from and be part of something.
The conference. This will be a day on Thursday May 24th where I will bring together proof of brands who are taking ownership and building their own space and control of their own audience, or those practitioners and leading figures from the world of marketing/content marketing today. Every person who is part of the You Are The Media ‘club’ will receive a discounted rate. As an aside, a huge thanks to Marcus Wincott and the team at Media Lounge, who are helping shape this new look (and the website).
I will announce the speakers in September and for you to book your space. I hope this is something that you can be part of.
What About You?
To do something that people want to be a part of, you have to dig deep for the long term. It does not have to be confined to just one space for eternity, there can come a time when it means learning new skillsets. Not everything has to sit on a WordPress site.
Inertia and the way that things have always been done, will always hold a company back.
In a recent survey published on McKinsey Quarterly (July), the biggest barriers to company success in the digital age is highlighted by a siloed mindset, a fear of taking risks and a weak customer focus.
Behaviour has told businesses to act the way that they have always performed in way to draw people to their products and services in the quickest time possible.
To do work that can build you an audience you need to be brave and take those (calculated risks), open up and bring other people to your space and walk in the shoes of others to help solve real problems. How can you motivate others and take the lead if you can’t relate to the needs of other people, as you have become detached from your own?
In the words of Seth Godin, “The gulf between “risky” and “feels risky” is huge. It turns out that value creation lives in this gap. The things that most people won’t do (because it feels risky) that are in fact not risky at all.”
There are sacrifices to be made. Mine happens to be making two evenings a week more work centred (writing and the weekly email) than watching TV or going out. It all comes from taking action and letting the seed of an idea (that aligns with what you do) form through feedback and graft.
Lets Round Up
When you take the lead and not become enslaved by thinking that just because Facebook was telling you had reached a number of people, as a measurement of empty success, you can direct the future better.
People will align themselves with you if you can share something deeper than the product or service you sell. What you do is assume a role and make it easy for people to interpret.
From a personal perspective, I hope that the simple visual cues help tie everything back to taking on board an owned media approach, centred on a consistent message to a targeted audience. Whether written, audio or in-person, there is a form of visual processing, that is intended to provide something that has meaning and a clear association.
You can’t be too focused on the precision of getting from one dot to the other, the whole point is to create a picture that everyone knows what it is. The great thing is that you are completely in control of it to allow yourself to grow within a land that you continually tend to.
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