Cultivating Your Own Harvest By Being More Genuine
When you cultivate the pieces of land that are yours, it becomes easier than throwing seeds everywhere.
The message you project has an advantage over bigger businesses.
The bigger a company becomes, does it become more difficult to be authentic? Staying true to the thing that they originally believed in becomes increasingly difficult as more people, systems and tiers are introduced.
A recent study (June 2016) from the Chartered Institute of Marketing highlighted that 40% of consumers don’t trust brands on social media because they believe that content is paid for which equates to diminishing authenticity.
3,000 UK consumers were surveyed and trust and transparency seem to be the main barriers for consumers buying into a brands ethos. 38% of respondents would walk away from a brand if they discovered that content from a brand was claimed as not being genuine.
This idea of being genuine is something that small businesses can grab hold of in abundance, rather than the forced ‘mateyness’ (is that such a word) from talking to someone at Virgin.
Showing The Proof
Michael Grubb Studio is a lighting design agency based in Bournemouth and champions the approach of doing what they promise.
They believe in building a community where everyone is part of a virtuous circle (not just an ecosytem where projects and transactions are built top down ie. from customer to contractor). Michael Grubb Studio believes that the best projects come from collaboration and continual support.
In the words of Michael Grubb (Creative Director), “We all work at 100 miles an hour. There are times when we need favours or support from fellow members.”
“If something comes up at the last minute and surrounded by people you don’t know or trust you won’t take that risk to ask for help. If you can go to someone you know who supports your approach, you are way ahead of others.”
Bringing People Together
Every June, the studio has a day at the beach where clients, suppliers and those from the lighting industry come down to Bournemouth and everything is organised (and tab picked up by the company). The 2016 summer party was last Friday (10th June).
This is a true example of why a brand is not about the logo, the ‘about us’ page paragraphs and the business card but how you appear to others and interacting within the spaces that are yours. Michael Grubb Studio chooses the beach to bring people together.
Michael says, “When you are on a beach, it is a bit harder to pull out a business card when you are in a pair of flip flops”
What the beach party represents is the ability for a business to act in a way that can be seen by all.
I highlighted in a recent article that to make better connections we need to create a mass of tiny interactions. It is not about chucking whatever sticks in the blind hope of leads, from anywhere (by the way, have a read of this great article from Mark Schaefer that looks at whether a content objective is for leads or relationships click here published on 13th June).
More Beach Activity
Following on from what Michael Grubb Studio is doing and remaining focused on a cause and being able to deliver with authenticity is something that Matt Desmier is also bringing to the beach next in July.
That’s The Way To Do It is a day by Bournemouth Pier on 4th July that looks at what businesses need to take on board today with a focus on innovation and creativity.
The reason I am highlighting this is that it represents what Matt (with his company Think Create Do) is looking to achieve.
Matt creates events that brings people together to piece together this jigsaw that is around us all in terms of acclimatising to a different way of working supported by learning in places off the beaten track. Next month just happens to be a marquee, a few yards from the sea.
Matt says, “We’re so lucky to have such brilliant creative agencies right here on our doorstep, that it always amazes me that so little of the local business community appear to know about them.”
“So I thought it was high time we fixed that. I get excited hearing from these guys and I just know that if we put them in front of others, they’ll get excited too. And if I can have a hand in getting the wider business community excited about this stuff, then I’ll be a very happy boy!”
Matt is cultivating within the space that is his and grounded in reality by pulling people together. Is this something that a larger brand would be able to do? From social postings to activity at events, they are all reflections of who Matt is and the cause he stands for, not a means of advertising.
What both examples represent are interactions with people that are personable, rather than an unpleasant air of fakeness from a business that is looking to find any branch to cling onto in the hope that they look credible and worthy of our attention.
Brands can easily proclaim their abundance to care for others. On the one side Tesco can take to LinkedIn and share their new range of healthy products but at the same time be regarded as the worst supermarket chain that protects manufacturers by not following a code of practice.
Being More Genuine
It is about being bothered and letting other people in on what you want and the change that you want to inspire in others. In the words of Simon Sinek (no I’m not going to state ‘it’s not what you do, it’s why you do it), ‘action speak louder than words. All companies say they care, right? But few actually exercise they care.”
As a company grows, does authenticity become harder to control? Does a company remain at a particular level to maintain an image of authenticity or can you become bigger and still have that grounding of realness?
Michael Grubb states, “As a small business, if someone has an idea that the team buy into, it is easier to say ‘lets make it happen.’ It is real and has a purpose. As a company becomes bigger, it shouldn’t be a forced forum of ideas that are handed down to someone else to implement who didn’t ignite that initial spark. That is where authenticity is lost and where small businesses have an advantage.”
From my experiences of interacting with Michael Grubb Studio and Think Create Do is that they are building a real approach to a cause grounded in bringing people together to the spaces they orchestrate.
Seth Godin puts it well in his article ‘Things Have Gotten A Little Quiet,’ (14th June), he states, “the obligation is on us to make our own magic. To find two sticks and turn them into a game. To organize our own conversations, find our own connections… most of all, to bring generosity and energy to communities that don’t have enough of either one.”
Some things for you to think about:
Don’t say you are, be it
It is easy to highlight your nobility for the £25 you gave to someone else’s charity run, but another to be continually tuned in to having a wider responsibility. It becomes more than a PR exercise, but a way for others to associate. Generosity is more than a financial outlay.
Commit to a clear strategy
Having clarity in an approach that is based on informing and educating audiences (have a look at the Michael Grubb news page) on their terms and in a way that an audience can interpret, understand and take on board (where they can’t find elsewhere) over a continual basis is how businesses stand strong.
Don’t get too comfortable with the online world
I highlighted in a previous article that a 100% pure digital strategy will not work. From taking the opportunity to bring your audience to different spaces, when you have control over the output, it allows other people to see who you really are.
Everything you project is true to what you’re looking to achieve
The That’s The Way To Do It day is a myriad of events that come back to Matt showcasing the evolution of business and the people who are responsible. It is something that he believes in. The thoughts and ideas that he shares come back to what he is looking to achieve to educate others.
Find a rhythm
The assets that are created and distributed all follow a route to say what you need to say, in your own way. I always highlight that no one has reinvented marketing; we just package it up differently. You start, you build, you maintain, you become consistent.
Make it sound like you
If what you are creating starts to sound like everyone else, time to stop and trace back to why you are doing it in the first place. The same old case studies, the same lists and how tos as everyone else just gets lost. People will find out what you are trying to say, even if you are not an accomplished writer.
Lets Round Up
What you project on a consistent basis in the spaces that you cultivate comes down to others understanding who you are, what you believe and what you pursue to be.
The image you project is stronger when you move away from the aesthetics (the creative assets that make up a brand from website to motif) and being more genuine and honest with those you interact with.
Becoming better at being open is by being seen by all.
It is not a case of hiding behind a better world that exists on a screen driven by status and creating an ideal self.
The examples I mention are people who are truly cultivating their own lands, this is the opportunity presented to all of us.