Saying More With Less. But Simplicity Is Tough
Simplicity is becoming harder to grasp, when it is the crux of everything you do.
We are never at a loss for creating content. There is an endless stream of it and places everywhere to put it. Sometimes we are more connected to the medium, rather than the method. The underlying question is, ‘why are we doing it in the first place?’
This article is about coming back to the importance of having a mission in place, whilst there are distractions to take you down different paths.
Heightening The Simple
In the run up to Christmas we are awash with the simplicity (and beauty) of a message. It is this that allows us to reflect and what it is that becomes our core business. Whether it is Paddington Bear endorsing Marks & Spencer’s ‘Spend It Well,’ the heart of the Christmas dinner with Tesco’s ‘Every Little Helps’ or Boots sharing family bonds and ‘Lets Feel Good,’ the thing that others stand for is always raised at this time of year.
If you approach with the right mindset, this is how you connect. The game isn’t about how much paid media you can spend, but can you create an impact based on the power of your marketing and more importantly, your message?
I am going through my own form of self appraisal at the moment and cutting things right back. It’s an ongoing process, but let me share with you. In this constant journey we are on, we always have to be making changes to get where we want to go.
I know it is a cliched post with a ‘what do you do?’ heading all over it. I don’t have the definitive answer, I have the questions as is something I am focused on at the moment and to share with you. Things are changing this side, but moving into a place of clarity, where I think it was cloudy.
When people asked me what I do, a response was something like this, “I help you understand what you stand for and communicate this on a consistent basis, via the media channels you own.”
Lets be honest, do you know what this actually means?
Whilst the offering is still the same, the message behind it makes very little sense, to those people who don’t know what an owned media approach is.
I am not there yet, but refining to something like this more along the lines of, ‘I help companies build a loyal audience.’ This may change over the coming months, but something I can attach with as sounds a lot simpler, that my four year old daughter could get.
The mistake I have made is now more apparent, so I guess this is confession time. Hands up, I confused what I do with how I do it.
Where are the differences? The first one has more of a focus on a technical element, namely what content marketing is and therefore becomes a bit too inner directed or dare I say it, aloof. To someone who is looking to move their business forward, is the focus on media channels, something they are aware of? Perhaps this doesn’t really connect.
Put simply, one contains all the things you need to do, the other is the goal.
I have taken this one step further by asking a number of friends, ‘do you know what I do?’ Try it, it can either be a wake up call, or the most soul destroying moment of your week.
To some it has been a version of what I thought they would say, to others, it has been straight up honesty. Then again how many people can actually say they know what they actually do in the shape of a sentence?’
Sometimes I wish I could clap my hands three times, a genie comes out of the water bottle and makes business as fun as taking my children to the beach, however bills have to be paid.
What About You
As I mentioned this article is not filled with answers, but that I am still learning and looking to apply.
When it comes to sharing what you do, accuracy is key and the audience is central. By this I mean, ‘build a loyal audience’ is far more tuned into people, than ‘communicate on a consistent basis.’ The first is intended to create meaning for others the second is an outcome.
Serving the needs of an audience is far more important than stating business goals. Once you start delivering on what it is your mission is (in my case helping others build loyalty), then people make that association with what you do and gain the dwindling resource that is trust. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2017, trust is at its lowest point for businesses since 2012, I say this is good, that means we are all on a level playing field.
I think I have veered away from a core purpose, or just pursued with what felt right as there has been an audience that has grown (from the weekly email subscribers to the monthly You Are The Media Lunch Club) and things are starting to change. It is the same for all of us, there are distractions that lure us in all different directions. We just need to get things back on track before things start to look misty in front of us.
We all need to adapt and in this constant state of change based on our own view of the world and the role that we play within it. For instance, two years ago in an article that explained about finding the one word that you stand for (one of the most visited pages on the blog), the word I have carried for two years and stood stoically beside is ownership. The one word system is all about recognising that you are more than generic ‘feeling’ words.
If my mission is centred on helping companies build a loyal customer base, then the one word is loyalty. Whilst I am using my own development as a way to get a point across, I am using it as a way to highlight that you have to go back to identify what you are all about before you build a new extension to your house. The thing that keeps people with you and not steering to a competitor, loyalty has to be our ultimate goal.
Whether a huge brand that has a bottomless production budget, to a one man army looking to serve an audience, communication doesn’t have to be complicated.
Whilst I can see we all add layers, the important elements of authenticity, humility, transparency, empathy and trust, haven’t changed. This is what people connect with.
I now recognise that one of the biggest skills that we need to have is to take something complicated and to explain it in a simple way.
More words do not make something better. When I was at school I struggled with maths. My teacher was a brilliant academic, who clearly loved his profession, but couldn’t translate this passion particularly to me. He could not explain anything in a simple way, so that I could understand. In GCSE maths, I took the lower paper option and got a C.
Opposite the maths teacher, was Mr.Britton, who was a geography teacher (I studied Geography at Leicester University because of him). He always took a complex situation and put it into really simple terms, it made everything understandable. Whether this was a skill in being able to tell a story or just to be concise, this is the heart of what we see around us today.
There are those who are clearly passionate and enthused about their profession, but struggle to explain this to others and only connects with the converted or within the same marketplace and not where a customer base resides. Then there are others who help people make that connection straight away and aware of their audience to make an interpretation.
Your mission cannot revolve around your products or services, it is centred around the people who are looking for a solution and a helping hand to make their life better.
Lets Round Up
It is safe to say that none of this is easy, which is why the simplest things can sometimes be the hardest. Grasping what it is you do and what you stand for is one of the most challenging hurdles to accomplish.
No company is simple. They are made up of a mix of assets and intangibles that help create a perception in someone else’s head. If it is good people will come closer, if it doesn’t mean anything, people will just keep on walking.
One thing remains and that is to have products and services that make sense, are simple and intuitive to other people. If they like it, they will stick around with you. Whilst a goal is to make meaning sound simple, it is the journey that makes things complicated.