It is ok to start from zero if your intentions and what you want to achieve co-ordinates with what you do.
Lets look at accepting that a side project to your business is perfectly fine from nought.
Businesses look for traction of some sort, or anything that is measurable. Whether that is proving that mass audience equates to credibility (see last weeks article that looked at chasing followers) or just businesses continually paying to reach strangers, in the blind hope that people will take notice.
When taking on board a new initiative, it becomes a challenge before anything commences, when the supposed reward is within someone else’s space. Or as Ewen McGregor says in T2 (Trainspotting 2) and his modern day ‘choose life’ monologue (you can watch below), “Choose Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and a thousand others ways to spew your bile across people you’ve never met. Choose updating your profile, tell the world what you had for breakfast and hope that someone, somewhere cares.”
It is a pressured place to start from zero, as it is very public. The zero followers, the few views, the limited shares, the idea that starts from nothing. However, if the intentions are true and there is a way that leads onto longer term commitment, then things start to take a different slant.
Embrace The Slow Build
There is always the pressure to show that something has worked from the very outset, otherwise it is considered a failure.
Patience and connectivity with what you do, can work, when others make that association. Building slowly becomes a continuous process centred on persistence and consistency. As an example, one of the most successful TV series of all-time, Baywatch was initially cancelled after one season. The first series had very poor ratings and things didn’t get any better when the studio was shutdown. However, the show was revived (it ran from 1989 to 1999) and valued at $1 billion.
When it comes to the slow build but the ability to create an audience is what brand agency, Bare Collective, are looking to achieve. Starting from zero is ok, if your goal is to build an audience who want to participate and not just a way to cut corners to sell something in the shortest possible time. When the long term focus part of the strategy, starting from zero is ok.
What Bare Collective have started to do, is introduce walks around the local area (here in Dorset) at the end of each month. Whilst this initiative is by no means something new, Netwalking represents taking a company who are taking control of a space and owning it. In their case it happens to be bringing people together to walk.
I went on one at the end of August and was a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Friday afternoon, where I discovered a part of the local area that I never knew existed. 11 of us, walked and we talked.
Jo Cruikshank, the founder, is also someone I went to school with, so I wanted to find out a bit more about why they are doing it. Jo commented, “We decided to set up Netwalking because frankly all of us at Bare aren’t the best at normal networking – yet we like people and getting out into nature, going on adventures. Jon (one of the Bare team) came up with the idea of inviting people to come to the things we do alone anyway as a team.”
Whilst it sounds a nice idea to get out and about, surely there was something that they wanted to get out of it? Jo continued, “We want a few things: a network of likeminded people who we share common beliefs and values with – our thinking is, the right tribe of ours will come for a stroll as opposed to attend something that’s a bit awkward and business time at a crappy hotel on the West Cliff. We want to get people out into nature, because we know when you spend more time with the elements you as a person become more likely to want to play a bigger, more meaningful game in the world and that’s what we want too.”
Then we started to look at the deeper meaning where all this connects to a long-term investment within a space that is theirs, “I see this as something to nurture a community. The same with our ‘walkshops’ and ‘walkrooms’. Instead of work shops and board rooms – let’s help others see and experience all of the many benefits of working together outside. We’d like this to lead to more people who just have to work with us in some way and enjoy the whole experience.”
As a creative person, Jo believes that, “Not knowing and zero is where real creativity emerges.”
This is all about inviting participation and sharing, that is so far removed from the relentless pursuit of ‘I.’ By this I mean taking centre stage about what you did and what you think, rather than bringing others around your campfire to create a sense of togetherness and closeness with the ability to knit a closer community, where people take a shared sense of ownership.
So, what about you?
There is greater reward to move away from the campaign approach and nurture an audience.
If you are looking to build something that you can call yours, it all comes from taking the initiative, not thinking that one good idea executed means that it will connect with others. An audience develops when they can see a connection. This is something some brands have missed in 2017 when it comes to messages of unrest (namely Pepsi) and also tolerance (the Heineken ‘Worlds Apart’ campaign)
Can an initiative you want to progress come back to the values that you have? When people look around, can they recognise the things that are associated with yourself? In Bare Collective’s case it represents creativity, unity and shared values.
Here are some things to think about and why starting from zero is ok, when it comes back to having depth.
One blast may not be enough. A step into the ring, only to come out after one round may not be enough. By this I mean that people may have good intention, but there is no long term commitment or path that shows proof. For instance, during 2016 a You Are The Media community member asked if I would like to participate in a sales seminar they were going to hold in a hotel. I agreed to support. The seminar was cancelled as there were not enough people. This was because, there was nothing present that explained the reason why the seminar was happening and showing evidence that supported their belief system. With no means of discovering more in the build up, there was no chance of a message striking a chord. No blog, no information, no landing pages, nothing with a clear angle that was different. I genuinely felt sorry, but in the cut and thrust world, you can’t put one initiative out there and expect people to want to join in.
Discover ways to link things back together. Netwalking comes back to creating healthy companies and the people that work within them, for instance this could link to training days, where the proof is getting people to get up and meet other people. It encourages being social, could it also encourage being healthy? Can you move away from the ‘I’ to the ‘we’ – is there a way to bring people together around a common goal or pain point? There has to be ways that links everything together. If there is an admittance from my side at the moment, is that the Marketing Homebrew does not link back to the whole ‘You Are The Media’ angle of attack. Whilst the content matches, the overall jigsaw puzzle is not as clear as it can be.
Look at stronger measurement metrics than just popularity. Can this be feedback from an event, that then leads to others recommending and the ability to build a community who believe in the same thing. I mentioned last week that we are quick to look for the self gratification in numbers. Whilst measurement may ultimately be more customers, there have to be ways where tangibility comes back to the growth of an initiative. In the case of Netwalking, you are reading about it here (I went for a walk, I wrote about it) and highlights how finding the momentum with an idea can grow into something that others are happy to support. This is so much more valuable than a social media like.
Understand the time and resources required. The success for any initiative is not by how much money you can throw at something, but whether you are prepared to accept the few who come onboard and look to nurture those people, with a goal to builder a larger audience over time who will support and have a shared sense of ownership. This is what I am finding with the You Are The Media Lunch Club. What started as quite a large commitment at the beginning, in terms of planning and asking people to come has began to find a flow. Over time I have been able to plan better and when it comes to a shared responsibility, others are sharing their perspectives and inviting others to come.
Lets Round Up
Chris Miles, Senior Lecturer in Marketing and Communications from Bournemouth University, highlighted in the marketers mess up everything they touch article from June that, “Marketing communication is going to come down to the same basic idea – build engaging stories that illustrate the value of your brand to consumers.”
When you can wrap these stories into participation, it puts you in place that you no others can touch you as you have the initiative that goes against sameness.
Starting from zero is absolutely fine when there is a longer term goal to resonate with an audience that provides even more opportunity for them to lean in more. When you promote a sense of collectivism, not individualistic gratification, you can build trust and action from others.