Having significance with others keeps them coming back for more.
Remaining relevant secures your future. If you put all your work in a box and stopped next week, would people miss you?
Being relevant means you have a role to play today and tomorrow within your marketplace and an ongoing place in the hearts and minds of the people who stick with you.
Then again, does time play a factor and we all have a shelf life and we start to fade out where we struggle to keep in touch?
This thing of remaining relevant is something I think a lot about. How can you still have a place that is strong with others when there is increasing competition that is looking for attention, love and commitment?
This article looks at the importance of not sitting still and accepting that what worked a few years ago, may not be true today. Remaining relevant is what gives you a continual place at the table, rather than meandering into insignificance over time.
I write this from a place of my own reflection. I started the writing for You Are The Media in 2013 and for some reason the candle has not burnt out. I still enjoy writing every week, I still love taking this offline and people coming together with the events that circulate the ongoing You Are The Media project.
Being relevant has got nothing to do with innovation. This is not about always being first to market or jumping on a channel before it becomes saturated. This is about still having a place with others where they will connect, buy and enjoy what you create for them, over time, not just for the length of a campaign.
Being relevant means you know the strengths you play to and others know what they are going to receive from you.
What It Takes
Let me share what it takes to still be relevant over time and for people to remain tuned in to what you create.
Accept you are not here to conform or fit in.
If I confirmed to marketplace protocol, I would be sharing industry information you could easily read anywhere else. I’d be talking to you about personas (not community), I’d be sharing the detail about sales funnels (not connectivity), I’d be sharing the importance of automation (not being in the moment). I would fit in a box with everyone else and I’d be fighting to be heard and looking to be optimised with industry key terms. You don’t have to do what others are doing, that just makes you look and sound the same.
No one will ever pick you.
If you spend a lot of time dancing to someone else’s tune and wanting to be selected by others, you’ll only end up disappointed. Responding to calls for speakers from strangers, or podcast requests from people you will never meet, will leave you feeling empty. You have to put yourself at the centre of your own stage and then build around that. Over time as more people join you on that stage, you become comfortable for others to have the spotlight as you are all in this. When people within a community feel they belong and that their contribution matters, they become empowered to act independently. If you’re able to step back and allow that community to collaborate and shape itself you’re cementing the central role you play.
Find familiarity (be easy to understand) but do it differently.
This is something that I have been practicing for the past year or so. This is where you can talk from a relatable place. As Ann Handley says (in her recently Sunday newsletter), “It’s better to be relatable and real than it is to be perfect and polished. Because relatable is approachable in ways that perfect is not.”
When you can talk with simplicity this is one of the most difficult things to do, but it works. This is about being open and sharing something that might be on someone else’s radar, or something they have done. Stories such as when I deleted the email database, or figuring out how people can collaborate with you, demonstrate sharing the truth.
Identify different income streams.
You don’t just have to stick to one thing, all the time. I started with the intention of having a content marketing consultancy, I recognised that this could become limiting when all your dedication is packed into just one thing.
If you want to be relevant you have to find the freedom to explore. Over time, these other avenues can produce a return. By creating content over some time, this has opened up sponsorship, workshops, events, speaking, and an annual conference. All forms of additional income that aren’t confined to one delivery.
Stop following industry gurus.
If you rely on someone else’s word as the truth, how are you going to find your own voice? It’s good to have industry-leading people on your side, but to make an impact on others, there doesn’t need to be two of the same person.
This is about recognising your own voice, being accepted for who you are and acknowledging that there isn’t a thing called best practice that tells you what to do.
Keep your overheads low.
I have built my audience over time by creating and attracting people to me with a mix of consistency and distribution. This has not been given a lift by paying for advertising.
If I had, perhaps the database would be bigger, but I have always preferred the idea of people discovering via recommendation or finding out themselves and then making that decision to subscribe. If you can keep your overheads low, when it works and people come to you, rather than you chasing them, you become less reliant on bursts of budget given to someone else to promote you.
Make things people notice and sit well with them.
When you’ve worked out the types of content that work for you – that resonate with others – you’ll find that people stick with you. In a recent article on the styles of article that have the best chance of striking a chord with others, the more you create, the easier it becomes for you to hit this home run of rhythm, process, content and desired effect.
Ultimately, it’s your reader, viewer or listener who will decide whether they identify with what you’re saying. When they do, they will remain loyal to you. Anything that brings you closer to your audience will keep you relevant for many years.
Keep practicing, find a new rhythm.
For six years I have found a weekly practice. This now becomes part of my business behaviour. I find time to write and I don’t find excuses. Being ‘relentlessly curious’ (a phrased coined by TED curator Chris Anderson) and trying to connect the dots that relate to how people can nurture their own space, build their own audience and stand shoulder to shoulder with their bigger industry counterparts is something that I find fascinating.
The tools are in front of us all, it is how we use them to assist us in our efforts. Trying to figure this out has to be a continuous commitment, plus it keeps you energised. This plays a huge role in remaining relevant.
Make tiny pivots.
To figure out what is right for your audience, you don’t have to go all in and overcommit yourself. By starting small, means over time it can become better. Starting small with You Are The Media Lunch Club, I had a place to refine my presentation skills, I could practice how I talked to others and I could see if there was a demand for it.
This meant that when the You Are The Media Conference was introduced in 2018, there was minimal risk. This is now being introduced in Bristol with the Lunch Clubs from October. Making small investments over time, allows you to be relevant in the longer term.
I know this may sound twee, but having a warm personality can become your competitive advantage. As people are becoming their brands, it has never been more important to make sure how you present yourself online is mirrored offline. Being seen as a useful friend, only encourages others to come alongside you. If you can repeat this over time, you will remain relevant for years to come, as this is who you are.
Find others to challenge you and share with you.
This relates to exchanging ideas and being able to be open to taking onboard what others think. When you can co-ordinate with others, it can provide guidance and input from beyond what you think is best.
When you don’t know the recipe, you have to ask others what ingredients are needed. In a recent article I shared the importance of continual evaluation and asking for feedback. If you are here to solve other people’s problems in a B2B world, it’s also ok to have your own questions and bat it back.
To create good work and a return for what you do, you can’t just sit back and observe what is happening around you without having the means to contribute and distribute yourself.
To secure your future, you have to live in the now, making constant small changes. To remain relevant, you have to continually share and have something to say that people can’t get elsewhere.
As change inevitably happens, being seen as valuable by others stops you from becoming obsolete.
The community you build and the role you play will keep you connected and meaningful well into the future.