When your message coincides with what others think, you find a place in their hearts and minds.
This is nothing to do with your why (or telling you about finding your why), but your cause aligning with what someone else thinks and says.
This article is about being in sync with others. By being coordinated leads to becoming part of a group where everyone has a part to play.
You Are Not Whom You Serve
It is fair to say that you are not your audience.
By living close to your products and services means that you become far too attached to them and only you and your mum would buy every iteration of what you do. Just because you love the ingredients of the Marmite jar does not mean that anyone else does.
One of my biggest changes in the past year was recognising that what I was saying wasn’t what people were noting as important. This was prevalent up to autumn 2017. Everything I was sharing had a heavier focus on jargon and around content marketing, perhaps it was becoming too generic? To most people, this meant absolutely nothing.
Hands up and take responsibility. Time to share with you.
Here are some examples:
– The importance of written communication as social currency (yes…it’s here)
– Why you need a content goal (this ticks the ‘generic box’ that’s here)
– We don’t need more content vending machines that say they have a soul (that got heavy, it’s here)
WAIT FOR IT, HOW ABOUT THIS ONE…
– The democratisation of distribution presents an opportunity you’ve never had (wow….that really disappeared up myself it’s here)
See what I mean….it only meant something to those ‘in the know.’ What was missing was a sense of familiarity and dare I say it, being seen as approachable. Looking back whoever wanted to click on an article where the first four words are ‘the democratisation of distribution’? The titles did not match what the audience wanted. People want simplicity.
One of the main things that was missing was a sense of closeness.
A study from the Journal of Consumer Research (JCR) highlights how we acquire content affects how we share.
Their 2016 study, How Content Acquisition Method Affects Word of Mouth (if you want to have a read of the full report click here) was collated through a series of experiments.
Some key points for you from the study:
– When people find content (not sent to by someone else) they associate the content with themselves
– The feeling of finding something helps make a personal connection and a deeper association
– People who feel like they found content will associate that content more with themselves
– People use how interesting content is to determine whether to share the content (or not)
– ANY content can become self-associated by finding it rather than receiving it
– When someone has a high self-esteem they are less likely to process the whole content piece thoroughly
– People are more critical about the quality of an article if it comes to them from an outside source, rather than if they find it themselves
If you can consistently create content that delivers information that is focused on the pain points of an audience, you can acquire attention and encourage further reach. The JCR study, provides proof that you have a real opportunity with an approach built on consistency and a cause to encourage personal attachment.
So, Why Did Things Start To Change?
During the entirety of 2018, there has been a switch of focus from the technicalities and the ingredients in the jar, to a narrative that fits alongside other people.
What I share is predominantly focused on ownership, building a space and an addressable audience, so people will stick around and have a sense of attachment. The work up to this year is still something that I am fond of, perhaps I went too deep in terms of backing up with evidence. This year has been more relaxed and recognising that what I say is in sync with others.
It is important to remember that what you say, may not fit someone else’s thinking. You can find a way to be in-tune.
It is all around you:
– The restaurant that bangs on about locally sourced produce may have a better way to connect when their message is centred on connection and the time with those close to us (from date night, to friends and family, to special occasions).
– The gym brand that goes heavy on losing weight after Christmas and the benefits of a personal trainer could connect better when the message is on finding more energy and drive in a professional and personal capacity.
– The law firm that puts emphasis on the technicalities of law and lives in jargon could distance people. There is a way to connect and put a sense of the everyday world into context. For instance, is a hug in the professional space ok (we saw this from law firm Steele Raymond commenting on the recent Ted Baker, owner Ray Kelvin forced hugging story).
What was once a means of telling others how good you are or use as a means for a quicker sale is changing. A worthier goal is finding a way to utilise the spaces that are available to transmit a message that can help form a closer connection.
From spending some time this week with Sunny Bird (January’s Lunch Club guest) she said something really interesting, “It’s not just about the medium you use, or the message you say, but also the audience you create for.”
Just because we all think we know it all, doesn’t mean that others are going to share that same belief.
What Can You Do?
Connected content is being in sync with others.
The overall result is not about telling others that you know best or mesmerise others with your sage advice, but recognise you can find worth from the community.
How can you go about this?
When you open up a bit more you recognise that what you say works better when it is in tune with someone else. Here is what has worked for me over the past year:
– Be better at documenting and recognising that you don’t have to have the answers. Just because people pay you for solutions, doesn’t mean you have to have the answer to everything. What may start on one path may become more substantial. For instance, the You Are The Media framework became a seven staged framework (you can read more about the audience building framework).
This only works because it has been something I have stuck with and tried to figure out. By making this whole project as participatory as it can, allows a way to reach out to others. Once you have started, you can’t stop, that’s the only way you can get better.
– Talk to people and understand what others are asking. The easiest thing to do is to talk to your audience. This allows you to gauge what others think and say, that way you can address it better. Whilst having the You Are The Media Lunch Club makes it easier as everyone is together in the same room, what if you don’t have a way to bring people to one space?
Before there was the Lunch Club I would answer the questions people asked during meetings that I probably did not do justice when I was in the moment. Probably the best example to share with you is back in 2015 when I was asked from a company if they could make £150,000 from using Twitter? The question completely threw me off guard. I spent time on it and then answered, you can read that here.
– Find ways to test new ideas before you commit and then ask for feedback. 2018 has been a year where weekly article ideas start on a Sunday night as a LinkedIn post (you can see it here). Even the headline for this article came from the audience (thanks Gordon Fong for that). Since August, the You Are The Media Facebook Group has been up and running. This is where people will share their perspective from the Thursday weekly email.
You have to have ways to encourage feedback and make it ongoing. For instance, an email reply after someone has commented on the main points that they took away only highlights that you are present. This is why I have perhaps had more freedom this year when it comes to audience and ownership as the feedback from others and their perspective means that there is something people take away as useful.
– Always be appraising what you have created. This is not about looking at analytics and how SEO worked for a particular word, but if something you created made someone think, took time to comment or just made it easier for them to approach you. The only way you know you are on the right path is if others recognise the worth and value that they take from what you produce.
This could be signing up, this could be subscribing, this could be seeing enough that the decision is right to approach you to work together. This is far more emotive than looking at an analytics page. You always need to be looking back at the breadcrumbs that you laid, that way you can see if people are picking them up to, or just getting bored and heading somewhere else.
Let’s Round Up
This is not just about making something to sell to someone else, but providing others a reason for why they need to trust you in the simplest way possible.
In an age where there is no security, no confidentiality and ripe with aloofness and others knowing best, people want to hang out with others who understand. This is how you become part of a group, this is how you become connected.
If you share a message that is in line with others, you gain attention, this builds connection that in turn leads to audience. We can all go out and find the right people.