We have never lived in a more interesting time to become more valuable to others.
The increase in start-ups within the UK (according to Start-Up Britain 2013 introduced over 500,000 new businesses to the commercial landscape), means that there are a whole host of other businesses that can enter the marketplace and copy what you do. The primary reason (I think) is because it has never been cheaper and more accessible to be in business.
However, the one thing that another business cannot copy is how you communicate with the world by telling a better story and becoming recognised for it.
Becoming Relevant To Others
We all now have the ability to create content and be continually present, rather than being a cog that other people rely on (hence the year on year increase for new business start-ups). By being committed encourages our relevance to others and the goal to be recognised as a valuable resource. You’re only one click away from a host of people who have made themselves valuable to others (otherwise I wouldn’t have asked for them to contribute) in the Talking Content Marketing project.
We are now living in a world of abundance where as businesses and marketers we have the ability to change our mindsets from advertising and interruption to becoming more successful by creating more direct human relationships. If other people understand our point of view and we are committed to it on a regular basis then we shape our own positioning via the tools that we now have (and encouraged via our blogs and the social web). From asking a number participants in the ‘Talking Content’ project whose newsletter would they not unsubscribe from, the clear winner is Chris Brogan. In the words of DJ Waldow, ‘I sometimes feel as if he’s talking directly to me.’
The beauty is we can now shape our message and our standpoint to a growing audience of people who are ready to come back to hear more. I too am a big fan of Chris Brogan’s Sunday email, it always arrive before 10am, I know it’s coming and during the morning I make time to read. He has planted his seed in my subconscious that Sunday morning is to check the in-box and read what he has to say about how we develop our businesses and ourselves. The beauty is that each time he sends the newsletter it is free, the biggest commitment is Chris’ time to shape what he has to say. If he wants to use it as a platform to promote a product, I say go for it, he’s earnt my attention (and I have bought one of his courses). The main thing to take is that the Chris Brogan email, arrives in my inbox every Sunday morning, without fail.
That BIG Word Called Perseverance
The only thing that is stopping you growing an audience, become indispensible to others and to create a profitable outcome, is the shortage of perseverance. Many businesses start with the best intentions and then for whatever reason (they run out of ideas, focus takes them to another place and the reliance on a campaign mindset that has been forever drummed in us) the momentum eventually grinds to a halt. To become recognised by others takes perseverance and is the biggest endurance race you will ever enter. It has nothing to do with reading a blog post that tells you the top 10 ways to grow an audience of passionate subscribers, the crux of everything is to be constant with an overriding message (to make people’s lives and businesses better, easier, cheaper, smarter, enlightened).
You can read how ever many lists there are to build an audience, but the one thing we need to learn to become better at is the drive to be constant. This could be from writing, to video, to audio, but with accessibility and affordability of technology, the biggest challenge (and opportunity) we face is to transform what we want to say into a communication method we feel comfortable with and transmit to an audience that connects and empathises.
Question & Look At From A Different Angle
The only way that we are going to change and become more useful as businesses is to get into the habit of looking at the world around us and to continually challenge ourselves.
By challenging ourselves is to look at things slightly differently from everyone else and understand that while everyone else may be looking at generic topics and targeting those with a pulse when the whole process should be about selecting niche markets (here’s some goodies within my industry such as ‘seven ways why direct mail is important’ ‘how to write a press release,’ ‘ten ways to use guerrilla marketing’), we need to delve deeper into what resonates with us and to get into the habit of looking at things that we think are broken and to continually ask questions about our approach and the way that the world and our industries are changing. This doesn’t become a discipline that we have to slog over and struggle to build momentum, but to create a habit.
To have the ability to write about a topic or industry that you have interest in, shouldn’t become a burden, it should be something that encourages an inquisitive nature and the appreciation of a platform ie. a blog, to document and share. I find that the best sources for the articles that I write are to keep my eyes open to the world around me. There are things that I see that annoy me, there are things that inspire me and there are things that have their moment in time. If what is out there has the ability to strike a chord with you, IT WILL FIND YOU.
Now Back To Chris Brogan
Coming back to Chris Brogan, he has created a whole chapter on falling in love with not knowing in his latest book ‘The Freaks Shall Inherit The Earth’ (by the way also looking forward to reading ‘Think Like A Freak’ from Freakonomics authors Stephen J.Dubner and Steven D.Levitt and their angle). Chris explains that we need to learn to be okay with the unknown and learn how to appreciate what comes next. If we can get in the habit of asking questions and taking a step back to look at the world and then have the ability to share with others, takes a completely different stance to a ‘how to blog like a rock star’ article.
To make yourself essential to others has got nothing to do with building followers and +1s, but to have an opinion that you stick by, provide a view of the world around you and the commercial landscape that you are part of and become known for it.
Rather than this article paying homage to Chris Brogan, I’ll leave you with the last sentence in his ‘Fall In Love In Love With Not Knowing’ chapter, he says, “I am learning about how to serve the people I support, and we all benefit when we concentrate on this.” A good enough reason for us all to work to and strive for.
Image: thanks to Nick Royer for the Iron Man image