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The Reward From Living On The Fringes


Anyone can copy what you do, no one can duplicate what you stand for and the meaning you create for someone else.

It is one thing to create content, it is another to enable people to congregate.

Many businesses just don’t resonate with others on a continual basis. This is why a content approach crashes and burns for a number of businesses. It’s time to move to the fringes.


Moving To The Outskirts

It is better to work from the edges, rather than creating for the masses in the hope of acceptance but ending up just fitting in.

Let me explain. What does it mean to create content and build a community away from the mainstream?

This is a question that seems to be going round my head at the moment. If you can build an audience that is true and willing to connect, this sits in an alternative space compared to what Tom Webster recently stated of ‘blogging for leads, not relationships.’

This is the opportunity we find ourselves today. We can build a voice that is meaningful and authentic with the intention to seek the truth to share on a consistent basis.

Those companies that are making change are documenting a belief, not an agenda. This is how relationships are formed and developed.


The Proof From Others All Leads To The Voice Created

I have highlighted in previous articles the role of ‘enterprise’ from Conker Spirit, this idea of ‘interaction’ from Urban Guild, even to the role of ‘no-compromise’ from Jimmy’s Iced Coffee. These are brands where there are plenty of alternatives out there but as Chris Brogan stated in a recent article, you need to have a distinct voice and get it our there. Chris highlights that we need to ‘1) share YOUR vision of how you help others change the world. 2) Change the WORLD by helping others in some way with your voice.’

The voice is something that no one can take away from you. It works when you seek to challenge the status quo within a marketplace.


Altering Behaviour

From the small business to the well-documented brand circus, those that make the biggest difference are those that alter behaviour. What was Blockbuster became Netflix, what was dominated by Tesco and Sainsburys became interrupted by Aldi and Lidl.

Even the world of recruitment is accepting that it fits in with the masses where everyone looks and behaves the same. In a recent article in Campaign, “we are all probably guilty of hiring in our own mould – not challenging ourselves or our headhunters enough.”


Moving Away Encourages You To Behave Differently

The size of a company is not important anymore. It is the behaviour from within a business with a role to provide value to others. It is the things that the competition do not necessarily pick up on.

You can create content and over time, monetise from it. The secret is to be the media and build over time. There is nothing stopping you anymore. The ability to create content then gives you the ability to connect.

The fringes can be much more inspirational, it helps us understand the mainstream and the central place of our marketplace.

This is something that has happened with Conker Spirit. The blog articles from Rupert Holloway are focused on the pursuit of enterprise, innovation and independence and creating a business model with no prior experience of the spirit industry, but that’s ok, in Rupert’s words’ that’s the spirit’. The work has recebtly been recognised by Cambridge University, where the students are tomorrow’s entrepreneurs so there is a degree of association with what the brand stands for, rather than just how the product tastes. Conker Spirit is now being poured by Cambridge University at an up coming event.


The 1,000 True Fans Philosophy

This is about creating for people who will connect and an audience that can relate to what you believe in. I am a huge believer of Kevin Kelly’s seminal ‘1,000 True Fans’ article, probably the most important article created for those looking on the aspect of building an audience.

I highlight this in The Content Revolution. Kelly states that if you can build 1,000 customers and find that space within your landscape (it may be in the far off distance), that is relevant to them where they consume information, then you effectively never have to do any more marketing. Rather than highlight that we need to connect with everyone, a realistic and manageable number needs to be a business’ ultimate goal. It relates to the idea that we need to change what we are doing and focus on the people who really matter.


Are You Living On The Fringes Or Have The Same Car As The Neighbours?

From customers to brands I showcase, I am seeing uniformity in differentiation.

This is what I am looking to highlight in my monthly You Are The Media Lunch Club. I will invite those who are taking themselves out of a comfort zone and share how they do it.

This starts with Oli Perron from Lunchd (on Thursday 26th May) explaining his journey in vlogging and using a phone to produce a large amount of video content. He’ll share how it works and how to do it.

My whole intention is to showcase businesses that live outside the mainstream by communicating with zero barriers to entry.

Businesses who are showing momentum (recognition, relevance and return) are the ones who are making a difference. There is a pattern. Let me share with you:


  • Traditional Media Models Are Destabilised

Unless absolutely necessary, paying for media exposure is not a priority, it is an option. Marketing philanthropy goes beyond quick wins of buying ad space but looking to connect in different areas, from collaboration (listen to show 86 where Ian Rhodes and myself cover this topic on The Marketing Homebrew) to encouraging a subscriber base (not one list has been purchased to target).


  • Looking At The Deeper Issues For An Audience

When it comes to product information and relentless Q&A, there is only so far you can go until the steam becomes a weak puff. Consistency comes from recognising a role to play for others and keeping the momentum. For instance, the Once Upon A Time project originally looked at inviting brands from a local level to share how they have built an audience. The brands that are invited now have a common theme where there is a consistent narrative. The last event was centred on ‘relevance.’


  • Making A Return Is Important, But It Goes Beyond Money

We all have a responsibility to pay the bills and enjoy what life presents to us. To become more fulfilling on a continual basis, as Chris Brogan mentioned earlier in this article to, “Change the WORLD by helping others in some way with your voice” provides clarity in providing a role for others. This becomes far more believable than a thinly veiled attempt to care, but having no connection to what you stand for.


  • Not Being Afraid To Speak Up With An Alternative View

If a company provides product x, businesses now have a responsibility to prove the value they provide beyond selling products or services to a marketplace or society. Fear comes from not being accepted or feedback that you are not worthwhile in your efforts. It comes back to being at school and the red pen through the English homework with a 4/10 followed by a see me. This is what stops us trying new things is the fear of what others will say.


  • Do Things Others Are Not

From Jimmy’s Iced Coffee rap (now at over 1 million You Tube views) to Farrow & Ball moving away from the website to a separate blog that takes ownership of colour, the ability to do something you haven’t done before, shows guts. For instance, I am now seeing more efforts to replicate the Once Upon A Time format by companies inviting other companies to share their story (notably brands who have taken part in Once Upon A Time). I say ‘go for it,’ it works and is a great way for people to connect with a person not necessarily a logo. This encourages Matt Desmier and myself to raise our game.


  • The Ability To Action

The ability to produce and deliver can be achieved whenever and wherever. With platforms such as WordPress, design packages such as Canva and the trusty email, technology is basically free. This provides the impetus to make decisions, quickly and distribute. Part of me looks back with nostalgia at the weeks it took for a double page spread to come to fruition for a brand as something from the dark ages today.


  • Become Uncomfortable

You will never be in a space to talk confidently unless you are prepared to look at being rubbish squarely in the face. It’s about being bad over a longer period that you are comfortable with. Whether this is creating industry related forums, to just looking at a lens and talking for a video series, you have to tackle that thing in your head that is telling you to ‘stop now’ and then invite him to your next birthday party.


Lets Round Up

When you live on the edges you take an outside view looking in.

The rules that once applied of paying to hire attention are now ruled by earning attention. It is about putting the manual to one side that acceptance is by being seen by many people, when really it is about stopping working so hard to fit in, but to create an environment that people want to be part of.

I like what Mark Crib (owner of Urban Guild) says, “Let’s hug!  Life is all about how we make people feel.  Our customers, our team, our suppliers, our friends, and our neighbours – everyone we come into contact with needs to feel hugged, physically or metaphorically.  If every point of contact with us makes you feel better, we’ll make the world better.”

“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Everything comes down to the relationships that we can curate. We are coming to a place where the communities we create is the progression from the content we create, curate and deliver. This is where we are all heading if we are going to make a success.


Want to know about living on the fringes and taking control of the spaces that are yours? Come and join the You Are The Media Lunch Club, every last Thursday of the month.

On 26th May, Oli from Lunchd shows how to create an ongoing video diary that is everything about authenticy and creating a narrative.

Your lunch, new friends, old friends….lets do it.

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