Authors Posts by Mark

Mark

468 POSTS 8 COMMENTS
Author of The Content Revolution. My focus is to encourage businesses to adopt an owned media mindset to build leads, visitors and sales. Companies can now have total control of the spaces that they have ownership of. It's time to make a stand and create content that makes a deeper connection with your audience.

0 44

Long Term Marketing

To see any form of reward, there has to be lock-in for the long term.

Short term is well and truly here. It is in abundance everywhere you look. I mentioned in a June article (on the need to action a community, not just build it), the mass of quick wins that are baying for our attention on Facebook to Instagram.

From Facebook ads telling me to write a book in a week to generate new business, to achieving 1,000 subscribers per day, we have the channels for churn but no long-term association. Even LinkedIn have jumped on Facebook to ask us to spend money with them. However, you don’t blame them when Google and Facebook control 20% of all media adspend worldwide (according to Zenith’s Top Thirty Global Media Owners).

 

Long Term Marketing

A short-term outlook where the goal is predominantly scale only undermines a longer-term strategy, ultimately being seen as the source.

 

The Short Term Is Well And Truly Here

A report by the IPA, Les Binet and Peter Field (Campaign June 15th), highlighted the increase in the number of short-term campaigns since the global financial crisis a decade ago. The metrics were based on company profit, market share, loyalty, price sensitivity and penetration.

 

long term marketing

Since 2012, the biggest drop has been within market share and penetration. These findings coincided with a rise in the number of short-term campaigns (regarded as less than six months).

We have all been taken under the wing of quick projects that do not necessarily align with what a business does or believes in. Take for instance, the Pepsi ad from February. What about a different world where instead of a weak advert on social unrest, they took a longer-term stance to highlight social change or supporting deprived communities.

 

Immediacy Over Consistency

We have all been duped into the diversion of immediate numbers. Many businesses measure the wrong metric, where there is the ongoing pursuit of volume and reaching weekly/monthly quotas in order to buy more time.

Measurement should not be about how much content is created, but the value derived from it. Someone who is subscribed and continually engaged helps build an audience that leads to better action. We have to stop thinking that more random people visiting our spaces is a sign of success, but to create an asset that is called an audience. Not the continual chase for leads and emotionless participation (personified by every single response to this paid Instagram ad, below).


long term marketing


 

Shorter Tenures

This has led to a world where the tables are turning from a 90-minute game of football and heading straight for the penalty shoot-out. A recent report by research company, Enders Analysis, highlighted the shorter tenure between brands and agencies. The average partnership fell from 86 months in 1984 to 30 months in 2013. Shorter-term arrangements are now prominent, or you can say that brands are taking control and agencies are just becoming the executioners of brand campaigns.

We all have to take some responsibility. The need to deliver short term wins for clients by showing people what they want to see (five minutes on Google Analytics can make any picture look buoyant). The constant chase for new platforms and channels to make everyone’s life easier and to take some form of differentiation brownie points. To promising quantity and volume rather than something more sustainable, have all helped to turn the conveyor belt to maximum speed so more just gets thrown out there.

 

What About You?

In the world of business, your whole objective is not about driving short-term results.

The solution has to be centred not on how much you can withdraw, but how many deposits you can continually make that supports your relevance within the marketplace you operate. The balance between long term and short term can work together.

As an example, when it comes to the short-term activity from my side these are the social posts, blog articles and the Thursday, You Are The Media weekly email. The longer-term connection is how this not only supports customer/subscriber growth, but how everything ties together for how the You Are The Media project manifests in 2018. The longer-term activity is supported by the short-term presence.

When all the short-term activity builds up, it helps formulate the full circuit that equates to the long run. Imagine your goal is building one giant Scalextric set, where everything links together. It is the long run that has resonance when all the smaller parts add up and all have meaning and character. This is how you get to a point when people choose you over others and when adding up, it all makes sense. It is the long-term view that is supported by the short-term commitment.

A business cannot bet on black and treat their communication as the John Lewis Christmas advert. This becomes a very risky strategy. This is where a business focuses everything on one activity, but is not supported by anything else within the media ecosystem or what the longer-term goal is intended to provide ie. stability of client base, growth of subscribers, a community of people who trust and ready to tell others about you.

Here are some questions to ask yourself, to recognise if you are ready for the long term or happy to tow the line and fall-in with everyone else with the short-termist approach.


Are You Using A Channel Just Because You Can?

Probably the most cost effective channel is email. This is why businesses abuse it by sending out soulless messages in the hope that someone else is going to think, ‘I better get in touch with them quick, that photo of the reception area with the logo behind the desk, is the kind of reception I want to be a part of!’ The only way to maintain long-term success is to engage and be engaging with others.

 

Are You Happy To Just Consume Or Is There The Spark To Create?

Reading and liking LinkedIn posts is one thing, but why be an empty participant when you can take the initiative and make an impact based on what you believe in and how your company can make an impact/assist other people. The channels available, enable you to have a voice and build an audience within it.

 

Is The World In Which You Present To Others Cold And Automated Or Open & Welcoming?

The ongoing conversations that help build community are centred from what you believe in and the marketplace you participate within. Alternatively, something is put out there from a timed action and when someone wants to pick up, the response is empty ie. the automatic email when someone subscribes. You have to create a resonance in someone else that says something about your life.

 

Do You See Others As Connections Or Transactions?

Success is measured on the meaningful interactions you have with other people. This has not changed since man figured out how to make a fire. If you can create, you have more of an ability to connect. When you look at other people as transactions this is when you put everyone in the same basket and address with the same tone, but have that sense of achievement when the mail merge print out puts someone’s first name (‘Dear Karen’ in Helvetica) as the stamp of personalisation.

 

Can You Be Bothered To Participate?

The more you engage and participate, the more your audience will want to come on board too. I have got to know people a lot better off the back of the Marketing Homebrew podcast, through to the You Are The Media Lunch Club. I like it when someone comes over and we have a beer on the office roof. Whether this is about building trust quicker, by making the opportunity to converse easier, when you are ready to get involved, week in, week out, this helps build the longer term track.

 

Do Facebook Points Mean A Lot To You?

Are you more comfortable being liked by strangers or having something to say that resonates with people who matter? The last time I looked, Facebook points did not acquaint to anything. You can’t become sidetracked within a virtual popularity game, rather than try to build a direct relationship with people who have subscribed. Having real interactions with people, can’t be about bumping up numbers, it is about creating and publishing content that makes you worthy of following, liking and retweeting.


 

Lets Round Up With A Quick Analogy

To make an impact is to commit to the long haul. It is like a wave breaking on a beach. If you add momentum it can make an impact when it reaches the shore, or it can be pretty lack lustre and fade out with a whimper as it touches the sand.

When you lock yourself down for the long term, you can radiate outwards like the wave to a wider surface area. Whilst it takes time to build from a few miles out, when you make an impact, you can repeat and the process becomes easier.

Understanding the role you serve to a marketplace, the values you hold closely, building your message and growing your audience take time, but it can deliver significant value over the long term. It is just a case of putting in the work.

0 69

audience building

When you resonate with an audience, this provides the opportunity to lean in even more.

When you reach out, participation is key and you get people to action. It all comes down to finding the right group of people to help propel you. In the words of senior lecturer in marketing and communications (from Bournemouth University), Chris Miles, “Marketing communication is going to come down to the same basic idea – build engaging stories that illustrate the value of your brand to consumers.”

 

Audience Building Mandem

This is exactly what we saw in last weeks General Election. Labour targeted a younger demographic with a message centred on the hope of a decent future. According to YouGov, 63% of 18 to 29 year olds voted Labour (compared to 22% voting Conservative). Just a quick point to mention, this article has no political bias, but to show how this relates to what we are looking to achieve with our businesses.

What this highlights is the ability to centre a relevant message to a targeted audience, intended to resonate. Labour shown that they cared about young people and their circumstances. The notable highlights were the end of tuition fees and a house-building programme with the intention for more people to find a way onto the property ladder. Lets also not forget the Grime4Corbyn campaign group for grime stars to encourage their audience to vote for Labour.

 

So, How Does This Link To You?

When you promote a sense of collectivism, not individualistic gratification, you can build trust and action from others.

The whole link to your business is that you have the opportunity to help others build better businesses based on the foundations of what you do and how you express yourself to help others create a concierge type service. For instance, this could be a gym instructor helping others have 75% more energy at the end of the week, rather than the focus on simply training packages with 25% off the first month.

When you have the ability to recognise the role you play within the day/week of your audience and have a clear idea who they are, things start to look simpler.

audience buildingAlternatively, things can start to look messy. Marks & Spencer launched last month (May), their ‘Spend It Well’ campaign. Food and clothing now appear in the same landscape. Whilst we have one side that is stable and looking healthy (the food side is doing well), the other is becoming unstable (clothing). Marks & Spencer recently announced a 60% decrease in pre tax profits. It related to a decline in clothing sales and the cost of opening 68 new food stores.

This is a prime example of a company that thinks that it can have every slice of the pie and mean nothing, rather than leaning into a target audience ie. the over 55’s. What is wrong with a clothing brand that shows this age group a level of understanding that represents their spirit, soul and drive? In 2019, there will also be 290 people of pensionable age per 1,000 people of working age – this number will increase to 370 in 2039.

You can’t look to change everyone, but you can focus on those who are willing to adapt, based on your ability to be continually relevant.

 

Taking Things On Board Your Side

What is the approach that you can take onboard and minimise wastage by thinking that everyone is your audience?

Here are some audience building, mixtape tracks that all relate to finding your audience and then leaning into them.


Can you define your target audience?

The simple thing is this, rather than thinking we are still part of an age where we can broadcast with the widest brush to as many people who are willing to see us and then turn the other way. You have to recognise, who you want to change? This then allows you to focus your skills. For instance, if you want to be recognised as a better writer, you have to continually practice the art of writing. Whether it’s your own blog or somewhere such as Medium, you have to find a way to nurture your talents to the audience you are looking to target.

 

Can you carve and nurture a voice?

When people start to recognise your tone of voice, this is something that no one else can take away. It is how people attach themselves to you and why more people will subscribe when you have a defined tone. Alternatively, you can fit into the same box with everyone else and have no defining character or style. Change happens when you continue to develop. This is why I am 100% onboard the Marketing Homebrew podcast and recognise that to become better, you have to continually work at it, so over time, people become comfortable. When you have a defined voice that is aligned to what you do you can become the trusted source within your industry. This is something that we’ll look at in the June You Are The Media Lunch Club, you can read more here (why not come along too).

 

What role will you provide for others?

You need to understand your audience better to build a longer-term relationship. You can’t have a sense of warm achievement knowing that Google Analytics patted you on the back as the numbers were higher than last month. You can’t say thanks to email numbers, you can’t get to ask numbers by their first name. You have to earn the attention and space of other people, not demand it by throwing money at the problem by borrowing audience from someone else. Your role can’t just be centred on selling, but to provide reassurance, guidance and be seen as providing Yoda type wisdom for others to think about and to take on board.

 

What is going to make someone action ie. subscribe, interact and buy?

This is not about grabbing someone’s attention in a net and then locking it in a cupboard, people are going to action when you have earnt their trust. For a deeper look at this read the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer. To earn the trust of others, is not about winning an award or thanking everyone on LinkedIn for having 2,000 connections but being a lot simpler. It is about matching your claims against your audience’s expectations. Being responsible for others, helps you build a perception in the minds of others.

 

Once people are onboard, can you focus on them?

When you start building your audience, you begin to see a profile of the type of person. For instance, the majority of subscribers to the You Are The Media Thursday email are small business owners. The content created (hopefully) puts them firmly in the picture and highlight what is happening in the world today and the ability to create, curate and distribute to an owned audience. This helps with the flow as you have a picture of the type of person you are addressing and for you to have a greater ability to share what is relevant to everyone within your community.

 

How can you streamline?

During March, I highlighted the importance of creating content that aligns with what you do. Taking a wholly altruistic angle will not work. An approach with a big heart, but no strategy, will not create a positive outcome. It is tempting to spend time within a fresh new channel, but it becomes easy to get carried away if the intentions do not relate back to your business (I guess this is the ‘why’ element). I have wasted many hours/weeks doing things that just did not relate back to my business. Creating and communicating more, just means that you can, it doesn’t mean that it will lead to anything or develop your thinking. There has to be an emphasis on value and thought, not ‘the best times to post on Twitter.’

 

Can you always make it easy to get in touch and respond quickly?

If someone has come forward ie. subscribed, at least make the courtesy to engage. The ‘thanks for your email, we will get back to you’ auto response, is as cold as getting someone else to represent you at a networking event. When someone subscribes, I have made the habit of at least sending a ‘thanks’ email and to ask their path to the subscribe button, what they do and what they look for (you never know where inspiration for new articles can come from).

Can you promise to come from a place of simplicity, brevity and a clear message?

If you are looking to connect on a deeper level with your audience, when you have a clear voice, it becomes easier to express, analyse and communicate. This means you are not looking over your shoulder, but looking face to face (or screen to screen) with someone else. The way people connect, is with someone who has their back, has a shared ethos and a persona that they can relate to. The objective is to be consistent with a message, in order to build.


Lets Round Up

Everything starts and ends with your audience. You have the ability to build a network whereby the content you create is what people want to engage with. You don’t need to be swayed thinking that you should be putting all your eggs in the Facebook basket, they own the audience, not you.

What is becoming increasingly transparent are those who can target a message to a defined audience, can persuade and keep the relationship ongoing, as long as there is trust and you and your business are relatable. It just happens that the ability to bring others to your side of the fence is a lot more accessible than it was. What was once recognised as businesses building audience by broadcasting, now has more resonance when we interact, not just transact.

0 93

build a community

A strong connection with a nurtured community can activate others.

The reason to build a community is to have closer ties with others. When it comes to asking, it becomes easier as there is a continuous trade in value.

When you take a responsibility and lead, things do happen. You have to build a community, to action a community.

I have looked at a number of articles that look at the role of building communities (for instance, have a read of why it’s better to feed your community, rather than thinking you have continually grow it). A large proportion of The Content Revolution looks at the role of building a community. This article looks at the evidence that is out there where there has to be a strong connection and affiliation to cause an action.

 

The Alternative

What is the alternative? The alternative is the get rich quick, short cut to success and ‘ways to’ game the system posts that are awash on your timeline everyday. The past 48 hours I have seen ads telling me to write a book to make more customers, build 1,000 subscribers everyday and Elite PPC (whatever that is). Everything is centred from a place of take, selfishness and short-termism.

Build A Community

 

A Vested Interest In A Community, Creates Action

When there is shared mindfulness, it leads to shared responsibility.

This is something that regional press title Manchester Evening News (MEN) did after the Manchester Arena attack in May. MEN set up the We Stand Together Fund with the anticipated hope to raise £250,000. The fund has so far resulted in over £6m (it achieved £1m in the first 24 hours). The money is to be distributed to the families of those killed and injured in the terrorist attack.

The reason I am highlighting this is that it represents an initiative started by an organisation (MEN) that has a continually vested interest within a community. This led to an action that produced a return above and beyond their initial expectations.

Whilst brands are allocating budgets away from regional press and into the safety net of social media channels that don’t have any affiliation within communities, something holds true. A regional newspaper has far stronger links within a community, rather than thinking that the answer is to always target a demographic group via Facebook. The value of community is when there is a real sense of shared empathy.

Keeping the regional newspaper focus still intact, I spoke to Business Editor from the Bournemouth Daily Echo, Darren Slade on the role of having a vested interest in the local business community.

build a community
Bournemouth Daily Echo.
Darren Slade.

Darren explained, “Regional newspapers have been around a long time – 117 years in the case of the Echo – so everybody locally knows them.”

“You also see our billboards outside newsagents many times on any journey around town. But our strength is not just that brand recognition – it is that we have been making connections in that community for all that time, whether it is taking pictures at schools or running amateur football and cricket results. Our target demographic has basically been everybody in that community.”

“In our area we have got a strong start-up scene and a big creative and digital sector, as well as very well-known brands (such as Sunseeker, Lush, Farrow & Ball etc). I have been keen to form connections in those areas, and we launched three regular platforms to that end: Monday Start-Up, Wednesday Boss and Friday Digital.”

“The people we write about often take a photo of the printed paper and share that on social media, which suggests to me that being written about in print still carries some value in the community.”

 

How Does All This Relate To You?

This is relevant for your business. You can foster a community where there is a connection and not just continually deciding to throw money at a social channel to hopefully get strangers to buy.

The whole reason to build is to create an incentive to action. In an article from March, I highlighted that you cannot just have an altruistic angle to just inform. What you create has to align with what you do, in order for others to interact and help you pay your bills. An approach with a big heart, but no strategy will not create a positive outcome; click here to have a read.

A way to look at leading a community is inviting others to your barbeque where your business is the food. It may start off with good intention and the vision of everyone coming round and enjoying themselves and mixing with others. However, if you have a couple of chicken wings and a few burgers and not enough to go round, then people will leave, before you have got the Dark & Stormies out. A meagre contribution means no community growth.

 

Actioning Others – Another Example

To build a community, you need a vested interest, to action others.

This is what Flavourly are doing. The Scottish based, mail order craft ale impresarios take this very seriously. The people who buy craft ales, naturally do it because of the craft that went into it. The Flavourly audience want to discover, taste, champion and buy independence.

build an audience

 

The Flavourly magazine that accompanies each box highlights the beers that are distributed to their community each month. This shines the spotlight on the brewers who are responsible for what people are drinking within articles in the magazine. This helps create a much richer experience when a brand takes a deep-rooted interest within its industry and the people who play a role within it and what customers are drinking. It makes things more personal, when the beers you are drinking have presence on a page you are reading.

The way that Flavourly are getting their community to action is by recognising that their audience love the art of discovery, so they cater for this and do it consistently. Whether this is sampling for a local audience or regular magazine, Flavourly are enabling others to participate.

You have to continually provide for your network, so when the time is right to ask, people do not feel uncomfortable. The best way for you to grow your audience and to build a community is to make yourself a valuable participant within the communities that exist. Whether this is a regional newspaper or a business that has decided to take on the approach of a media outlet by delivering communication to a targeted audience on a consistent basis, when you have a vested interest, it encourages action.

 

Some Points To Take On Board Your Side

Some things to think about:

  • taking a stoic stance you can build stronger connections.

 

  • if a hidden agenda starts poking through (it’s all about you, not them), people will see it when something is forced.

 

 

  • know the people who are coming on board your community ie. happy to leave their email. Ask them why they subscribed, how they found out about you, what they do?

 

  • conversations and contributions (in someone else’s space) can see a return when you are continuous.

 

  • bring your natural voice so that people see your business as part of the fabric for what they want to be part of.

 

  • the whole objective is to amplify relationships, not one off transactions

 

  • why keep things in closed groups and think that the mastermind group or the networking group that allows one person from a p profession has to be seen as a privilege? Closed groups will always remain smaller. If the group is open, a community has a better chance to grow.

 

Lets Round Up

When it comes to actioning and mobilising others, when they can see that you take on board a clear role of authority and ownership, this surpasses any thoughts of thinking that asking people to take your word for it, but cannot show proof, is the route to growing a community.

The businesses that will take advantage of the opportunities available are those who are sharing, finding, collaborating and contributing within different spaces. It is time to build, to then ask people to action.

0 161

marketers mess things up

When you add one thing on top of the other, the fundamentals start to get blurry. Marketing doesn’t have to be that complicated.

In the fight for eyeballs, Facebook points and everyone’s’ attention, are people starting to lose the basics? Are we just looking at a way to differentiate what we do by giving a name to hang something onto? Or, are barriers to entry absolute zero that we can claim anything we want to be?

Marketers have a drive to make the world seem more complex than it is. From influencer marketing, account based marketing, content marketing, outbound/inbound marketing, social media marketing, we have all added different nuances for what is creating something that people are willing to share with others and to make them buy.

 

Credit Where It’s Due

I am giving full credit to Geraint Holliman who was the May guest for the You Are The Media Lunch Club. The topic was centred on storytelling, but how people mess things up. It becomes a word that businesses take for granted. They shoehorn, by any means necessary, a narrative that comes back to self centred appreciation, rather than an articulate and interesting narrative that is centred on what a company believes in.

marketers mess things upI asked Geraint, “do marketers ruin everything?” he replied, “We marketers have picked it up, shaken it, abused it and ruined it and moved on to the next big thing before we’ve truly worked out what it was we had in the first place.”

“Why is that? There are probably too many reasons but let me give you just two: a lack of accepted definitions and zero barriers to entry.”

“Unlike virtually every other profession we have NO ACCEPTED definitions. Try asking five marketing colleagues to define ‘brand.’  If we can’t even agree a common definition of, possibly, THE most valuable marketing asset that we have then it’s no wonder everyone laughs at us.”

“Secondly, since we’re always seeking to justify our positions and be relevant we are like magpies constantly picking up the latest shiny bauble in an attempt to deflect attention away from our struggles with accountability.”

“And so, because we don’t have the confidence or the standards, the barriers to entry to the Marketing ‘profession’ are so low virtually any numpty can call themselves a ‘Marketer’. If you want to be a Lawyer, Accountant or Surveyor then be prepared for five or more years of studying on top of your day job – and only THEN can you start at the bottom of the ladder. But you want to be a marketer? Come right on in, even if you are drooling and can’t tie your own shoe laces.”

“It’s no wonder we ruin everything.”

 

Marketers Mess Things Up

Lets just strip everything right back, before we pick up on an approach, let me define what I believe the role of marketing meant yesterday as well as what it means tomorrow.

Marketing effectively makes and creates a market for your products and services. In order to do this, you build an audience who are interested. Once they are interested and trust you, then they are ready to commit for you to monetise (in multiple ways). We all have the ability to build audiences who are prepared to buy. That to me is what marketing represents.

It is down to you to maintain, build, or break that relationship. The asset starts and ends with the audience that you build and how frequently you reach out to them. No, being part of #dorset(or any other county)hour does not count.

A lot comes down to believing that we can find the shortest routes possible for the quickest return. Want to build trust quicker within a target audience, throw money at the problem and get someone to sing your praises as a walking 48 sheet poster and slap a big dollop of ‘influencer marketing’ diatribe over it, where the paste is still sticky.

 

The Attention Game

Building attention, used to come in the shape of allocating budget within a specific medium for a specific amount of time. Today, the focus is on trust and the ability to build stronger relationships via the audience you can have a direct relationship with.

From chatting to Faris Yakob in a Talking Content Marketing interview he highlighted where the new form of attention lies. “Brands like to see massive spikes, not slow and steady builds over years, but that’s often where the value lies in an audience first approach, especially in business to business communication, where becoming a trusted resource takes significant time and investment, but may pay back with huge contracts in years to come.”

But still, marketers make things confusing. Rather than looking at the value to be garnered from building a dialogue, we have believed that interruption based marketing will win. More of it (frequency), more of the time (repetition), has been an approach that we still see today from within our timelines to what we see in the world around us.

See, marketers mess things up.

 

The Academic Perspective

I spent some time with Chris Miles, Senior Lecturer in Marketing and Communications from Bournemouth University. Whilst we see new definitions and industry specialisms, things have always been the same. Marketers are just making things looks a lot more complex.

Chris commented, “So many of the shiny new marketing toys that we have seen sweeping the profession over the last twenty years are in fact just re-hashes of old theories and tactics.”

“Both viral marketing and influencer marketing are just instantiations of the work of Katz and Lazarsfeld in the 1950s on what they called the two-step flow model of communication which looked at how influencers in the workplace and in social spaces functioned as opinion formers for the larger communities around them. That work became a central influence on the overhaul of US electioneering strategy in the 1960s as the importance of grassroots organisers and influencers became harnessed by the parties.”

“Similarly, the idea of brand service as the core site of value creation, is something that has been a part of marketing thinking since the start of the twentieth century (most notably seen in the work of Arthur Sheldon who ran an incredibly successful correspondence school for marketers and sales people). Basically, if you can think of a bright idea from contemporary marketing you can be sure that it has been done before and usually a lot more simply.”

“One of the ways that we make these ideas seem revolutionary or unique is by making them more complicated than their originals – a complicated tool or strategy appears impressive, we think there must have been a lot of thought put into that! Wrap everything up in some nice impactful metaphors and Bob’s your shiny new marketing tool!”

 

Changing Roles

It is acknowledged that the marketing dynamic has changed, in the words of KFC’s global CMO, ‘marketing has fundamentally changed from marketing to publishing, and the pace and turnaround is so much faster.”

In a recent survey by UK based market intelligence firm Creativebrief, 50 agency CEOs and 50 brand CMOs were questioned about the changing role of agencies. 68% of agency respondents and 72% of brands believe that ‘agency structures, processes and pace of delivery’ are not developing at the same pace as a brand’s needs.

One thing that is consistent today is speed and access to a marketplace. It is time to slow things down and recognise the goals of a company and the pain points and issues of the audience. The answer is not putting something out there faster than ever, without having an understanding for what a company believes in and the responsibility it has.

See, marketers mess things up.

Marketers confuse by thinking that they know it all and put themselves on a higher pedestal, because they can. If someone can add ‘social media expert’ on their LinkedIn profile, who is going to stop them? There is an art in doing, rather than just telling others how to behave.

If there is a way to show, rather than constantly dictate a way to behave, at least have a way to demonstrate how the world works, what’s broken and the ways to fix it. In the words of Seth Godin, ‘innovation is often the act of taking something that worked over there and using it over here.’

 

Message To Motivate Action (Getting To The Positive End)

My Marketing Homebrew podcast companion, Ian Rhodes, highlights where the bottleneck is, but also where the opportunity lies for marketers who grasp control.

Ian said, “Let me kick off with a quote. ‘You’ll make something *new* when you’re new. You’ll make something *also* when your mind is filled with other people’s ideas’. Think about that for a second (or two). It was shared by Jason Fried a few weeks ago and it summed up far better how I felt about this particular subject than I could myself.”

“The practice of marketing has become so contrived with other people’s ideas (101 ways to build a kick-ass business just like Steve Jobs did) that we’re adding layer upon layer of message that simply does not resonate with those that it’s written for. Our paying customers. It makes us barely recognisable in a field where our competitors, alongside us, pursue this erroneous holy grail of ‘the best practice’.”

“Do stuff that feels right. You’ll know when it’s right because you’ll have this sense of ‘this is right’. It takes time. It takes hard work. It takes a lot of editing and testing. But you get there. Eventually. That hard work pays off. The fundamentals of marketing are pretty simple. Messages that motivate action. The practice of marketing should be too. Writing and distributing those messages to your people.”

 

Lets Round Up

The reason marketers mess things up, is that the tools in front of us are in abundance and the ability to curate and distribute can be done at a speed we didn’t have a generation ago. What this means is that it becomes easier to lose sight of our audience and their hopes, dreams, frustrations and fist bumps, when we chase a channel and a tactic.

We don’t have to become fixated by the latest tool to use or platform to reside within, what is important are the relationships we can build within the marketplaces we create and the revenue driven from it.

Whilst marketers mess things up, I’ll let Chris Miles have the final word, “No matter what theory you have, no matter what metaphor you’re riffing around, marketing communication is going to come down to the same basic idea – build engaging stories that illustrate the value of your brand to consumers.”

Things don’t have to be complicated when you know your audience and take care of the relationships that can drive revenue. It is better to be an audience builder rather than someone who turns everything else into stone.

0 129

When you start to discover a routine, you have a better chance of building an audience who will stick by you.

Lets put the ‘create great content’ mantra to one side (whatever that means). If you can’t find a way to nurture your own rituals, then you have less chance of grabbing an opportunity to carve a space where you can grow from.

When you start introducing rituals into your week and month, you formulate practices you probably were not familiar with before. Imagine in your garden you have a huge block of stone, every week you chip away with the intention for it to be shaped into something that someone else can see what it is.

To build your audience, you need to have a straightforward strategy in place. This is to have the ability to come back to a place time and time again, that doesn’t waiver from the beliefs that align with what you do. If you can do this constantly even when you don’t feel like, or less inspired as you was the previous week, you have a ritual in place.

The Oxford dictionary defines ritual as ‘(of an action) arising from convention or habit.’ Basically, you programme yourself to do something, consistently.

Whilst virtually every company is putting out more content and recognising that there is more than a one-dimensional press release and corporate brochure, it highlights the opportunity that we all have. A shift to finding continuous action enables you to become a better writer, presenter, storyteller and at the same time enable your business to have a constant presence within a marketplace.

For myself and many other businesses, the ability to continuously create and publish, that comes back to a core belief (mine is ownership), has been the fulcrum for change. For every business that has participated in the You Are The Media Lunch Club project, change started to happen when a constant action is introduced.

 

How My Week Looks…Every Week

From my side, I recognise that sacrifices have to be made. Let me share my week with you.

I write better on an evening when I am not switched into someone else’s day. Every Monday evening (even Bank Holidays), happens to be my time to focus and write. The aim is one deeper thinking article per week that is usually between 1,300 and 1,600 words. I blanket the time out and if that means no TV for an evening, my only excuse is if AFC Bournemouth is playing. I tend to finish the article off the following day (Tuesday). As a rough guide, I probably spend four hours a week on writing. An additional hour per week is spent adding links on social and also syndicating the article within LinkedIn and Medium.

On a Wednesday evening is when Ian Rhodes and myself record the Marketing Homebrew podcast. Ian looks after the final edit to publish the audio, whilst I write the show notes each week. We have already discussed the topic before we record and a bit of wider reading around the topic. As a guide, we focus around two hours per week on the podcast.

I send my weekly You Are The Media email every Thursday morning. The main article is the weekly topic (that you are reading here). Rather cut and pasting, I write an edited version of the article (this is so I can double check for any mistakes and basically sub editing). I use Canva for the imagery and the email also contains two other articles. One is a link to another article from the web on a related theme and the third will be an event that is coming soon. The You Are The Media email takes around two hours each week.

Every week, I allocate a total of approximately eight hours away from customers and on my own content marketing commitments. Six years ago, I didn’t have these hours to commit to every week. I reckon if I hadn’t, I would have been a lonely soul finding his moments to jump into places in a pretty nomadic professional existence.

The thing is, I don’t find any of it a chore, it becomes what I do. It has enabled the monthly You Are The Media Lunch Club to build momentum, for a year and the introduction of the You Are The Media Strategy Day.

 

Finding Your New Rituals

So, how is this relevant to your business? When it comes to building your audience, finding new rituals are key.

This goes beyond using social media as a stream of consciousness; this is about creating something that is the main meal with extra onion rings on the side. In order to find your rituals, here are 16 points that I believe.


  • You read, you write/record, you publish. You read, you write/record, you publish. Habits happen when you start repeating a process. It also allows flexibility to work anywhere, on demand. By reading, helps you tune into your industry and keeps you centred within your industry. It provides perspective and encourages creativity. No one got inspired watching Take Me Out.

 

  • Keep ideas somewhere, but always at hand. I have never kept to an editorial calendar and a two-month list of topics. However, what I do is lean into what is happening in the big wide world and what I encounter each week and use Evernote to write ideas down. Contrasted to this, for clients we have a calendar of ideas and each month we reach in to make sure they are still relevant.

 

  • You know the common theme for every piece you publish. When putting my writing, podcasting and emails into a big pot, it should all boil up to encouraging people to take ownership and also help them to be better marketers. The topics don’t deviate into areas that I have little knowledge about or areas that can’t potentially build fruition ie. VR (read this article on being able to align what you sell with what you communicate).

 

  • Turn everything else off. One of the biggest ways to lose concentration is to be distracted from email or with the TV in the background. Even before we start recording the podcast, we turn everything off. When it comes to writing, you have to let your ideas control your fingers, rather than something knock you off kilter.

 

  • You work within a framework that you stick to. Before your week starts, you need to know what is lined up ahead. It becomes an issue when the intention to write/record each week all becomes crammed at the very end of the week. By putting unnecessary pressure, means that creativity is stifled. Plus, if you have an audience who become part of your rhythm ie. they know what day you send an email, they become aware of your frequency and know when you will be part of their day.

 

  • Accept that you don’t know the answers, but you remain relentlessly curious. If you approach everything as the oracle, then you have no freedom to explore and to accept that it is better finding out from the scribbles, mistakes and doing things, rather than portraying to everyone that you get everything right, first time.

 

  • Bring others in with you. By simply asking others for their interaction, helps shape something where other people have a role to play. From the Talking Content Marketing series to bringing in examples of businesses in weekly articles and the people who read and participate each month, helps to widen your scope and encourage a pool of interaction (and they even act as editors). It also helps when someone else offers a viewpoint that you have not considered.

 

  • You do not have to be perfect. The longer you hold onto something, the further you move from keeping the momentum going. Whilst I don’t believe that you should create anything and just press publish for the sake of it because it fills a quota, there has to be a minimal point of entry. By this, I mean: does the piece sit comfortably with everything else you produce? is there a mix of experience/fact/opinion?; does it provide a role to make someone else think/smile/question?

 

  • Don’t get worried by what others think. People connect with something they see as real. If you start to get a bit anxious about whether you should publish, then you should publish. If this is work that you feel happy to be associated with, then you stand more of a chance of it resonating with someone else.

 

  • Have a sense of urgency. If you work to a timeline that is defined at the beginning of the week, then you have action points that you need to achieve. For instance, I need to have my weekly article finished by the time I start putting together the weekly email on a Wednesday. If you start to slow down and take your foot off, you lose that element of pressure.

 

  • Embrace on-demand, do it anywhere. You don’t just have to be in the zone and have one place to create. When you have the ability to write, anywhere, all you need is a device to write with. I have found that different environments help support creativity. From the coffee shop, to the beach and to the park, if you are ready to jump in, be prepared to jump in anywhere.

 

  • Recognise the ability to create your own growing library. When you look longer term rather than the work that is directly in front of you, you have the ability to create your own library resource within your own platform (your website). As well as helping with SEO, you also provide a sense of longevity for new people who are visiting and picking up the thread for what you share. It also becomes a device to see your own progress. It allows you to explore further elements that you have touched upon or help you formulate your thinking from the seed of an idea that may have only been briefly introduced somewhere else.

 

  • Put any thoughts of press release type work in the bin. You cannot write where a product becomes the central focus, it becomes one-dimensional and an easy tunnel to go down. This is what we have all been doing for decades. You have to switch from the thing that you sell, to the value that you provide. If you can find a rhythm doing this, it becomes bizarre when you see other people banging the same drum/business win/award/noble effort/motivational quote.

 

  • Recognise no one has heard your opinion (even if it’s been well covered everywhere else). Whilst much has been said before, the moment to feel uneasy is when you recognise you have literally cut and pasted someone else’s work. When it contains no element of personal reflection, lesson learnt or way that you see the world, then it just becomes a wasteful and empty exercise. By having a defined voice allows you to become comfortable with the views you have and the people that you deliver it to.

 

  • Find a formula, then repeat. If you find a way that structures your week/month and you can become disciplined with it, then stick to it. I have highlighted in another in 2017, that I was doing work that just did not align with others. I informed, but it did not connect to my business. Once you find a formula that works, if you try to shoe horn in more priorities, the efforts start to become diluted.

 

  • Be tuned into the world around you. You have to be aware of what is going on around you and how this relates to your marketplace. By paying attention from reading, discussing, sharing and just being tuned in, helps you build topics for the future. All you need is a way to write down and not lose the ideas and thought process.

 

Lets Round Up

Finding rituals is all about starting something and then sharing with others, but you acknowledge that you will probably never finish. It is about accomplishing and then having the routine to pick back up again, without wanting to throw the towel in.

It comes down the ability to build an audience who recognise the effort and value that they take from being persistent. If you stop, someone else is ready to take the baton. If you keep going, you’ll always be ahead of someone else. Where would you rather be? Finding rituals and sticking to them, helps others to recognise that you are here for the long haul.

0 155

content connection

If you are going to make an impact, at least be consistent with it.

2017 has been a great year, so far, for brands to resolve social problems in the shape of two to four minute ads, but have absolutely no depth to them. One question to ask from brands who have been causing a stir this year is, ‘are they playing the long game?’

 

What’s Has Come Crashing Down In The Past Month Or So

April was the watershed month. It all came together in the shape of a balloon filled with water and thrown at a wall, rather than letting it rise higher into the sky.

The beginning of the month was the famous Pepsi advert that highlighted the role of social unrest and we ended the month with Heineken becoming a brand that shared common ground over polar viewpoints.

If you haven’t seen it, ‘world’s apart’ explores finding the similarity between people who are divided by beliefs from sexism to climate change. This is part of Heineken’s ‘Open Your World’ campaign, intended to search and discover the things that unite, rather than divide us.

This week has seen the discomfort of the latest McDonald’s advert that looked at death (it was pulled on Tuesday 16th May). The advert focuses on a boy and his mother talking about his dead father. Charity campaigners have highlighted that this, “exploits childhood bereavement.’

To many, this angle points to exploitation for the gain of a brand. However, if McDonalds are making a longer-term commitment to a painful social issue and working with groups and networks and a role of responsibility then we start to look at the message differently. The response from McDonalds was, “We wanted to highlight the role McDonalds has played in our customer’s everyday lives – both in good and difficult times.” A pretty empty piece of PR spin.

 

The One Word That Bonds What Happened

The word that bonds McDonalds, Pepsi and Heineken is, ‘campaigns.’

Long-term consistency is when people recognise that Pepsi have been highlighting generational social unrest for years (they still can do it). It is when people recognise that Heineken has been making a stand for tolerance for more than the run up to an award (it can still happen). It is when McDonalds take a role to tackle bereavement and people being open with each other (they still can). When people recognise that this is what a company does, alongside selling drinks and food, then the whole world becomes more believable.

The Pepsi, Heineken and McDonalds examples were not about standing for something meaningful, but making their products the stars of the show. There was no conflict (apart from commentary after the horse had bolted) between society and brand values, they were just ads.

To get to a point of association where brands create value and not just highlight the role their products play, takes real commitment. Does this mean that we are now going to see more businesses playing the ‘sell more products/but we have a soul’ card? Do we really care what a business believes in, as long as we have access and ticks a box that fits a need?

Should the whole approach be to find a way to connect on an emotional level, but shift more product?

What about you? The work that you share is it just to put more stuff out there that will hopefully be the magnet that attracts people to your side to buy, or is it to connect?

 

What Does This Mean For You?

There is nothing wrong with being upfront about selling products and services. That is what we are here to do, so we can get sunburnt in a place we haven’t been to before. However, you need to represent a business that does have a meaning where you can deliver value, alongside convincing people to buy. This way, when people decide to buy, you are top of mind.

It comes back to this question, is the work, articles, posts, videos, downloads, visuals, stories that you share with the world a vending machine of content or is it there to create higher impact?

Does it invite people to connect, share your stance and a clear alignment with what you do? In a previous article from April (on something to say, not something to sell), I highlighted the need to move away from social channels as just a method of direct selling but a point of difference based on viewpoint. One of your biggest challenges today is to bring someone from the newsfeed, to your place of creation and curation. However, that is where the reward truly is.

When something scales, it is because you do something that is worthwhile. It is not because you found your moment to publish and promote. We all like a stat that is like a bucket becoming full to the brim. Here is a Contently article that puts everything to a zombie apocalypse scale where in just one minute, 400 new videos are shared, 4.1m other people are liking Facebook posts. The only way to cut through is to connect and recognise whom your audience is. You connect when you have something to say that someone else associates with. Have a read of last weeks article that looks at finding your allies.

This whole angle of doing something worthwhile that aligns with your product or service, is something that Colgate are currently standing beside with their Every Drop Counts initiative.

This started with an ad from last years Superbowl.

The one word that they are well and truly standing for is conservation. It is more about a way to encourage behavioural change, rather than selling toothpaste.

Alongside swimmer, Michael Phelps they are asking us all if we will pledge to save water, by turning off our taps when we brush our teeth. This represents a company delivering value, not convincing people to purchase. This approach of inspiring change, has also led a hand to creativity. They have started writing messages on hotel mirrors.

A hotel in Moscow shows hidden messages in bathrooms when mirrors start to steam-up. This means that it will be targeting people who are already using too much water. This sign on the mirror becomes a, ‘wasting water detector.’ The #SaveWaterMirror has been a successful project to date, with the hotel reducing water waste by 15% and via social media has reached 48 million people.

It is all about locking down for the long term based on the meaning you curate for others.

So, what does a Colgate saving water initiative have anything to do with you? It all comes down to aligning a belief with what you do (as a business) that can make an impact. In the case of a toothpaste brand it is water conservation.

This doesn’t mean that you have to find some political, social or ethical cause to attach yourself to, but a way that can complement what you do outside of what you sell, that can make a positive impact.

As a small business example, this is what Michael Grubb has done from Michael Grubb Studio (he is the June 29th, You Are The Media Lunch Club guest). He recognised the amount of wastage within his industry (he owns a lighting design consultancy) and set up an initiative in 2014 to do something about it. He created the Re:Lit project as a way to minimise the wastage of lighting products that normally end up in landfill, but to use for community projects throughout the UK. The issues his company now has is that it has grown to such a scale that it needs more support (click here to have a read of their plight).

Some things to think about when it comes to content being a mechanism to connect, rather than filling space:


  • whatever industry you represent, you can have a responsibility that other people haven’t recognised and where you can own the dialogue

 

  • you can connect with others far better when you have something to say, not just something to push

 

  • if there is an area that you believe in, you can become a trusted advisor

 

  • you can create high impact owned media experiences that can add value to your audience

 

  • if something is worthwhile it scales (whilst Colgate obviously had budget, the whole initiative is around conservation and being creative with it)

 

  • companies still throw themselves into creation without necessarily an understanding of who they are looking to connect with

 

  • communication can be seen as far more important than putting all the effort in content creation

 

  • to say more, you have to have something to say

 

  • doing work that matters, feels much better than doing something the way it has always been done (interruption, disruption and repetition)

 

  • resonance outweighs trying to convince. In the words of Bernadette Jiwa in a Talking Content Marketing interview, “the only way to differentiate ourselves from transactional brands that sells commodities at the cheapest price is to create meaning.”

Lets Round Up

Can you be more than a one-time thing? To do this you need to be ready for long-term consistency.

The reason this matters is you can have a presence at every stage of the audience’s journey. When you do this, you enhance your business/brand. It is better to be prominent with a point of view, than just product promotion. When you educate and have an active role to play, helps position you as more than a company that is selling products and services.

No one ever wanted to be seen as a vending machine that just put stuff out there and turned its back. When you can connect and make an impact with the long haul in mind, it puts you in a place where others haven’t even considered.

If you can find a way to differentiate from the heard and create a compelling idea and be consistently surprising from a core place, no one can come near you.

 

0 160

allies are out there

When there is an active audience centred on building relationships, this is stronger than finding a stranger to put your content in front of other strangers.

This article is focused on finding those people who can amplify your content. This is about reaching out, not throwing money at others. Lets look at finding your allies.

It has been seen as a popular route over the past couple of years that for others to see your content, influencer marketing is playing a role that so many define as success, the ability for reach.

To read articles specifically that look at the role of the (micro) influencer, then I suggest Chris Lee. You can read a Talking Content Marketing interview or an article from City AM during March.

On one side you can look at grouping your allies to become a core network outside of your own business, or you can look at finding a network of materialistic and lifeless souls who are happy to take your money.

 

The Party Of Parties

The latter is exemplified by last months Fyre Festival fiasco. If you are not aware this was a festival in the Bahamas that fitted perfectly within the world of celebrity worship.

Guests would be flown and be part of a luxury festival with tickets up to $250,000. The festival was cancelled on the first day. The event was promoted by influencers of all shapes and sizes, from social to reality TV. However, it worked as it clearly drew people to buy tickets but who were left stranded on a remote island.

It was a massive slop bucket of greed where no consideration for a target market took precedence. It was all for the Fyre Festival (the brand) aim of association and being part of someone else’s reach. There was no respect for the community that Fyre wanted to serve and naturally build.

In a recent article from Edelman and their assessment of the festival, “The key here is that the brand must deliver, or else the influencers will look ridiculous and become very sceptical for future partnerships of a similar kind.”

By the way, if you want to have a look at the Fyre Festival pitch deck to investors, this goes beyond parody; click here to have a look.

 

Bringing It Back To You

So, how does this extravagant, failed festival in the Bahamas have to do with B2B marketing? Finding influencers to compliment your business all comes down to the responsibility you have for your audience and discovering the people who are happy to share and believe in what you do.

You can’t find people and treat them as an advert with legs ie. a person you don’t know well but you are happy to pay them to promote. However, if your feet are firmly rooted in the economics of advertising, then your messages will just be a one directional route of all the things that you probably are not.

Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 09.20.45

As I have pointed out during January, trust has hit a pretty low point.

The Edelman Trust Barometer, particularly within the UK, has seen a sharp decline. In order to become trusted, we need to be associated with others who are credible and provide a reason for people to trust. As Robert Cialdini highlighted in Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion, “A well-known principle of human behaviour says that when we ask someone to do us a favour we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”

I am a huge believer that if you can build a relationship with someone that isn’t wrapped in an agenda but they can associate a real purpose you believe in, this is where others can extend your message.

 

Bringing Others In As Part Of Your Influencer Programme

The You Are The Media | Strategy Day had a tick of approval by the local paper (Bournemouth Daily Echo) a week after the event (Friday 5th May). If the event can still be shared after the occasion, then can only be a good thing. I now have a reference from the paper that validates the purpose of the event to others. It was online as well as in print. I consider the Bournemouth Daily Echo as part of my influencer outreach programme.

find your allies

This started from building a relationship with Darren Slade, business editor, whom I first met in 2015 (you can read an article from 2015 on How To Work With Journalists). From the early conversations, everything has been consistent with Darren recognising the owned media/content marketing approach that I believe in. Everything shared is always from a point of value, rather than a place of promotion. I consider Darren as an ally, where we have a relationship built on trust.

The default approach is not to spend to be granted entrance (be seen in the newspaper), but to figure out a way to encourage interaction (that makes it easier to be featured in the paper).

If you are looking to find those people who can support your cause and align themselves, I now see a framework to have in place. Your allies are out there; it is a case of refining and building.

Here are some rules I now stand by, when it comes to those of influence supporting your cause.


  • You cannot think that reach is just from your shore, you need to find islands that can help connect back to yours.

 

  • Genuine relationships have to be built, not short-lived peripheral acquaintances.

 

  • You have to make an impression over an impression ie. you have to be seen as valid, rather than a the one trick pony centred on wanting to be seen by many.

 

  • By being seen in someone else’s space it has to trigger an action. For instance, I want people from my local area to want to come to the next Strategy Day, at the end of August. It has to resonate with the audience you are targeting.

 

  • If I wanted reach I would have paid Facebook/Linked a healthy amount each month, what I want is strength of connection. Coming back to you, how can you make the right people inquisitive and come to you (on your space) and trigger actions to subscribe, email and buy.

 

  • The focus has to be a long-term relationship/partnership (dare I say ‘friendship?’) and not a means to an end ie. sending a press release on email, standing back and get agitated that no one got back to you. For instance, I like to think I can share with Darren topics and a thought process that is of use to his audience who read the business pages of the local newspaper.

 

  • To make anything work with someone you have to work together. For instance, prior to the article being published I sent Darren a photo of one of the guests during the day (Trevor Young) as well as the main points that I took from the day. This is in a completely different space than a thinly veiled association where one is for monetary gain, the other is for reach.

 

  • Mutual beneficial opportunities can become the currency of success. For instance, I asked Darren, from The Echo, if he wanted to pop in and see how the day was looking and perhaps be a part of a conversation with one of our guests. That was the value exchange, someone of note to come and listen to.

Should You Start Thinking A Bit More About This?

There are people out there who serve the communities that you might have an interest in. Why not take advantage of this?

In an article that looked at the main points I took from Content Marketing World 2016, I highlighted that, “You could write the deepest, most thoughtful argument filled with data, evidence and opinion but if there isn’t anyone to help with distribution apart from a search engine, it is a pretty lonely ride.”

Whether this is someone who writes or records regularly, these are people who have an audience that can complement yours. This is not about people with followers of hundreds of thousands, but those who are active within the communities that they represent. There are creative people that have built communities around people who participate and listen. For instance, Crimson Guitars are influential within the guitar space so Absolute Music worked with them to share more detail on microphones. Ben Crowe (Crimson Guitars owner) is recognised as someone who can influence a potential sale of microphones for Absolute Music.

Participation with others is built on trust. When money exchanges hands it achieves a short-term goal ie. when the money stops, someone else stops his or her enthusiasm. Plus it does look a bit obvious when someone else is being paid, when they blast onto the scene raving and then suddenly stop.

If you are looking at fostering real advocates to share your message, you need to stop assuming that you will naturally find an audience that are waiting for you on Facebook.

 

Lets Round Up

You have to find a way to make an impact on someone else (they associate with what you say), the way you communicate (your consistency of message) and be able to persuade (they want to work with you and share their side).

Reach does not equate too much, if someone else sees a short-term benefit. However, when someone else can amplify your message to an active audience, it can create a long-term association that leads to better experiences for everyone involved.

When you take a responsibility to find people who can amplify your content, it is centred on consistency of your approach, where you have an obligation to the audience you serve.

0 183

your voice

Your voice is how you convince people, rather than telling everyone you are different.

A clear voice is how you let people know what you stand for. It has to be consistent.

It is now time to do something worth talking about.

If standing for something is your mantra, your voice is how you communicate this to others with emotion and becoming memorable to someone else.

This was a key finding from last weeks You Are The Media | Strategy Day (which I will re-run in August). Whilst businesses need something they believe in to help build consistency, audience and alignment with what they do, they also need something that connects them to someone else. This is where developing a voice takes centre stage.

find your nicheFrom chatting to Margaret Magnarelli, Managing Editor and Head of Content, at Monster.com, their philosophy is to bring humanity to the whole job search process.

For example they wouldn’t take a lonely walk down the path of writing about redundancy but highlight every path that relates to the candidate journey.

Trevor Young, from Zoetic, joined us from Australia and introduced a framework built around V.I.T.A.L (visibility, influence, trust, advocacy and leadership). Again, it all stems from having a belief, sharing it and building an audience from a central place that you have control to build authority. In Trevor’s words those companies who leverage, “will be those that are in the best position to thrive in tomorrow’s increasingly complex, noisy and ever-changing world.” You can read a bit more about these five pillars from Trevor, if you click here.

During the Strategy Day, there was a common ground for everyone to adopt, embrace and action. People to recognise they need to have something to say that relates back to something they believe in. Once this is unlocked, then a whole new landscape takes shape (we all spent time on recognising how the voice can take shape). This is the ability to build an audience and create better customers. In the words of author Neil Gaiman, “The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.”

 

How Voice Is Going To Dominate In The Next Month Or So

The importance of voice is going to start to ramp up a gear in the UK election as we prepare for polling day on 8th June.

The conservatives are looking at areas of stability, the economy and the Brexit plan. Labour have an eye on equality and childcare. The Liberal Democrats have anti-Brexit fixed and housing benefits. UKIP have their sights on exclusion in any form, shape and colour. Whilst, I would never take a walk down a political slant the point I am trying to make is that having a strong voice, enables people to know what side of the road you are on.

When someone has a clear message that has a real purpose, their voice has to be consistent. As I highlighted in the first article after Brexit, “If you don’t understand your audience, you will never have the ability to influence and take the lead.”

With the short political campaign that we are now about to step into, having a concise and clear voice that is matter of fact and to the point is more important than ever.

 

Being More Than An Opinion

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.

We are now immersed in a world where someone saying, “I believe…’ is a regarded as a trading currency of trust. An empty voice that is not backed up, just adds to the confusion, when people and businesses are looking to create a false sense of attention, but who do we believe anymore? To rely on a constant tirade of opinion is like walking the tightrope, to deliver the facts and experience provides the safety net.

To create a voice that is immersed in what you believe in and stand for, has to be supported by real life experiences and the facts. What you create becomes specific to you and how a distinct voice is created. A fact is used to illustrate a point and is then brought to life via an experience to validate an argument (click here to have a read of an example for what I mean).

 

Being Rubbish

The voice that you create reminds me of the public speaking contests I entered when I was at college with a group of friends. They were very bad.

I can remember they were topics that I had no interest in, which were ‘should schools wear a uniform?’ and ‘should all students be made to do volunteer work?’ If you don’t believe in something, you might as well copy it from somewhere else and hand it to be marked on a sheet of paper. I can remember I rehearsed trying to get the points that needed to be made with force but all I was doing was reading something parrot fashion. Whilst I shouted and probably punched the air and waved my arms about, my voice was just a tiny squeak that had no meaning. At the end I just sounded like everyone else, just louder. Lets just say that that extra curriculum college activity was very short lived.

The point I am trying to make is that when you believe in something, you don’t need a piece of paper as a prompt, you learn to communicate with conviction and mean what you say. If you sound like every other business and deliver what you think others should hear/read/watch (hello 75% of LinkedIn posts), all you become is the Ed Sheeran copycat act on Britain’s Got Talent.

 

Getting Your Voice Into Shape

We need to pay attention to the voice that we share and communicate. If your world revolves around a conveyor belt of retweets, sharing and liking, then the ability to carve a clear voice becomes a greater challenge than originally anticipated.

Here are some pointers to carve a clear voice that you have ownership of that lets people know your purpose.


  • to the point. If you can use less than 140 characters, that’s better than thinking you have to use the full quota. If you can discover and interpret a different story to the rest of your marketplace that gets straight to the heart of the matter (and always a starting point), you can redefine a category.

 

  • stay clear of using adjectives. An adjective describes what you do. It comes back to the product/service magnet that always pulls people back to beating their chests where what they do is seen as the point of differentiation. These are part and parcel of your week when looking at what someone else says about themselves ie. we are ambitious/creative/courageous/adaptable/fun/edgy. An alternative is to recognise the value that you provide not the product you represent ie. change, community, enterprise, togetherness.

 

  • find your side and then stick to it. It just becomes confusing when you chop and change from one tact to the other. If you are a personal trainer and you started the year with a focus on mental well being, why end the year dedicated to pure muscle building? You have to find the smallest eye of the needle with the longest thread. By this I mean the fewest words (I believe in one word) that describe your overall viewpoint. It is difficult to start with, but when you understand the value you provide for others, why waiver into places that people don’t recognise your strengths. Your voice can help others.

 

  • just because it’s trending doesn’t mean you have to jump on the gravy train. From seeing the roof explode with #pepsi last month, to more of #brexit this year, just because something is topical, doesn’t mean it has to resonate with you and your business. When the moment comes that fits your approach and can complement your voice, then you have a right to make a connection even more viable.

 

  • clichés and other ‘aren’t I/we noble’ efforts. No one ever carved a clear voice that resonated with others, that centred on telling others about how they are winning customers or striving to become the next David Brent on LinkedIn (see below).

your voice

  • the strive for a cause, that you can explore, but recognise that you might never make the top of the mountain. Over time you become confident with the role that you provide to your audience, in terms of providing insight. In a recent interview with BuzzSumo founder, Steve Rayson on Mark Schaefer’s {grow}, “You need to produce regular content that is helpful to your audience. However, to produce unique and valuable content you need to be an expert or very knowledgeable. Otherwise it is difficult for you to add value.”

Lets Round Up

When it comes to having a voice, everything is centred on communicating the intentions of what you believe in and how that aligns to what you do. This allows others to match that voice with an approach.

Over time people recognise the value you bring to a marketplace and you build your story through the ideas, themes and experiences you curate and communicate. Do this consistently, this is how you differentiate your business.

Do something worth talking about. You have the insight, knowledge and experiences that others can benefit from and need. You have outlets to spread from that you didn’t have before and privileged to have. Time to put it out there.