What could be more valuable than having other people tell your story?
Over the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic shift in how people gather information. We have gone from a time when people gathered most of their information from TV, radio and newspapers, all controlled by large companies, to a time when the vast majority of information comes from other people, talking about their opinions, experiences or what they have heard from others. It is the time of social media and the book, or should I say blog post, on how to be effective in marketing your business is being rewritten. Marketing has always been about getting your message out to people. But now, when people get so many messages from so many sources, developing your business is about being distinguished as the company people want to do business with. People already receive a constant flow of information about products and services of the type that interest them. Something new has come to the foreground. The question now is equally about from who people want to buy and with whom they want to do business.
People do business with people they like and respect. And though this has always been a reasonable statement, it is different now. The buying public has come to understand that part of how we impact the world in which we live is by “voting with our wallets.” We invest in the success of businesses we admire. There is a huge conscious buying public that wants to do business with people who are committed to a world that works for everyone. There is a surge in recognition of craftsmanship, environmental awareness, social justice and philanthropy in business. As such, it is now possible to promote and develop one’s business based on these values. And there are two different ways to do this.
The first method is the old way, one that will hide a multitude of sins. One can spend money to tell a story that is either accurate or not. One can buy advertising space, create big campaigns, pay for clicks and eyeballs and tell a story that one wants people to hear. For some companies and some of the consumer public, this will work. And this is an unfortunate but reasonably reliable premise.
The alternative is new—not entirely as the idea has been around—but its power is dramatically amplified in this day, when everyone has a voice. Get your public to tell your story. Communicate your story, the one about your commitment to peace, in all its forms, (craftsmanship, environmental awareness, social justice, etc.). Tell it in a way that is compelling and people will begin to tell it for you. Let people know that you only use fair trade cacao in your chocolate and not only will they tell others about this, they will begin to ask if the others do the same. Tell them that your product will last so long and serve you so well that your grandchildren will likely want it and people will tell your story and they will ask about how long other products will last. Speak of how your company runs on bio fuels or has reduced its footprint and not only will people tell your story to all the people they think might be interested, they will do so for years to come. They will also create a demand in the market for other products and services from companies that build on such values.
To start this process, leaders need to look hard at what are the core values of their organization. Then look at where they are living up to those values and where they are not. Identify your own flaws and put in place a strategy to move past them and now you are free to tell a story about an evolving business with a commitment. Make your story interesting, and make sure you tell it. See how people are reacting to what you have to say and design your communications, not what you say, but how you say it, to respond to what you learn from your customers/clients. Before long, being a values-driven company will be very good for business.
Get in touch at: http://alsleadership.com/contact
Douglas Hoffman is principal of ALS Consulting, www.ALSLeadership.com. ALS is a small firm with a global impact. Its members are experienced consultants, entrepreneurs and researchers who work with business leaders to stimulate value based growth and prosperity.
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A New Model of Leadership – an article by our founder, Dr. Allan Scherr and Dr. Michael Jensen on leadership and performance
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The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander