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How To Upskill A Marketplace

When you take things back to a grassroots level, training the competition isn’t such a bad thing.

We all live in our secular worlds, where the only way that the competition can see something from your side is when you shout loudly about something that made you look good.

This article is about the awareness of others can feed your business.

You see it around you. Companies put on events and then a big sign at the end that excludes others. Why have agencies attending when all you want is the good people to see you, touch you and you look at them and say, ‘you’re with us now.’ All that agencies represent (in any form) are the scourge of Fagan like characters looking to take someone from the crowd without you ever realising.

This is what happens though. Companies put on events and they exclude others.


It makes sense, why have a marketing company come to your event (if it is marketing related) when you think they are going to take away the best bits and pass it off as themselves, or even worse, chat to someone and turn them into a client.

Look at things another way. There is no such thing as competition. There is nothing wrong with upskilling a marketplace. Stop thinking that you want to keep the competition in the dark. The competition provides reassurance, so why not bring them along for the ride too?


How I Used To Approach Things

I used to believe that I had to target a specific type of company that was aware of content marketing and an owned media approach. The companies that thought that broadcasting a message was limited to roundabout advertising and some banner ads on an industry related directory, were the types of companies to leave well alone.

When it came to the audience I wanted to build, I segmented my world like this:

Segment 1 EMERGING – 100% happy with sharing product based messages, no measurement, the dialogue is one way

Segment 2 DEVELOPING – know what you represent but not sure how to portray this, a bit of dabbling in email/writing, but no video or audio

Segment 3 PROGRESSING – look at the needs of the audience, have an understanding what to share, consistency of viewpoint, deliver a message

Segment 4 EXTENDED – have a clear idea of your role within the marketplace, what message to create and how to distribute, own the spaces where you publish

Segment 5 SELF EVOLVING – a defined on and offline personality, other companies align themselves with you, others position themselves alongside you


Over time, I now realise that it was wrong to exclude people and try to get everyone to a three or four. Segment 1 and 2 are people/businesses who may have been comfortable to an approach they have stuck to, but something in them is curious to perhaps look a bit wider, but need an element of convincing but no way near ready to buy.

The way I now approach things is to bring people together and look to create a way where people can learn together and aim to bring them to the progressing stage. Whether another marketing related company or completely different industry, there is a place for everyone. There is enough of us to go round.

When you flip the coin and take on the responsibility to bring an awareness and an approach that you believe in, that has your stamp to it, having the competition look on, does not matter. The reason is because this is your work and your voice that becomes relevant to an audience, where the message is consistent across various touch points. More simply, you own the narrative, it was created by you.

Even if someone else tries to pick it up and run, it does not necessarily mean they have put the grounding and effort in. All you are doing is giving someone else enough rope.


Shutting Down The Myths

Lets put some myths to bed when it comes to creating content, the competition, who should be privy to what you create (online and offline) and where the return lies:

MYTH 1 – keep what you know to yourself, so you can sell from it.

Why bottle everything up? There are plenty of companies that are awash with the same words as everyone else such as ‘customer excellence,’ ‘award-winning, ‘bespoke’ and ‘creative team.’ Where’s the heart?

MYTH 2 – the content you put out there (whether a live event or written), sales is the only objective.

You can’t live your life as a sales funnel. There is so much more to putting your work out there. Is it to build trust with others? Is it a way of defining your voice? Is it a way to action people to sign up for a regular piece of work? Is it a way to build a dialogue with others.

MYTH 3 – you put something on (an event, a webinar), the results will follow

It takes time to build trust and authority. Just because an occasion says ‘no agencies’ does not mean that any meaningful dialogue will be built with anyone else. Consistency and meaning with the message is where the return is planted.

MYTH 4 – sharing knowledge is effectively giving the competition a means to take your idea

Stop thinking of everyone as the competition and look at the world as a network where you are connected to everyone else.


Putting Money Where The Mouth Is

Rather than holding the competition off and looking at them with disdain, what is the answer? Look at a way for everyone to work collectively.

Sharing an idea you genuinely believe in and care about is a cooperative way to change the shape of the marketplace around you.

Changing the way an industry thinks is not about excluding others, but encouraging others to participate with you. That way when it is time to reach out, people will know where to come. The winners are those who care enough.

When you pull together companies that are receptive to your message, both competition and potential leads, you build an inclusive and ongoing ecosystem cemented in relevance.

This is what I am doing. In June and July, the You Are The Media Project is going to head out on the road. There will be two half-day workshops where the focus is on the main topics from the You Are The Media Conference, as well as everything that You Are The Media stands for. This means the objective to build a loyal audience via the content that you distribute from the places that you own.

It asks the questions: how do you take responsibility for your own development in a world of huge change? How do you stay up to date (particularly when it comes to ownership)? How can you continue to add value to others?

It is a live way of bringing the blog to life and explaining what a company needs to embrace and look at today with a content-driven approach. This is also very generously being supported by Dorset Growth Hub who are funding these events (and have a very wide network within the county), so you can learn for free. Richard Burn and the team at Dorset Growth Hub, do a great job.

Richard Burn, Digital Manager for Growth Hub, highlighted the ability to partner up on learning initiatives. Richard said, “Dorset has a hugely diverse and thriving business community. I can’t begin to tell you how inspired I am every day when we come across great little businesses (let’s not forget 95% plus of Dorset is made up of micro businesses) creating, servicing and positively impacting not just their locality but globally.”

“The diversity of Dorset is precisely why it is so important for us to partner up with other initiatives such as You Are the Media. Understanding a community and servicing their needs is what we all should be doing more of. The You Are The Media Summer Tour, we can make it intimate “in the round” or full on crowd surf at volume 11… either way, we’ll do it to suit the needs of the businesses who come on tour!”

“I am stoked about going on tour with #YATM… I am a failed drummer, so my next step is a #YATMRoadie!”

The workshops are open to all companies who operate within Dorset. There is no barrier up that says ’no dogs and no marketing agencies.’ The reason is that there has to be a way to bring people together that share similar values and you can create a culture, rather than holding people at arm’s length.

There are many people/companies that are part of the You Are The Media community that work within marketing related fields. There are a number of companies that come to the You Are The Media Lunch Clubs. In traditional eyes, these would be seen as the competition. On the opposite side, I look at this as a way to connect with others by any means necessary. You have to give someone something worth talking about and to encourage them to look at the world from a different perspective.

Lets Conclude

When you close the doors on others, how can you be recognised as taking the lead? In the words of Matt Desmier, “it basically says “we’re not that confident so we don’t want our competition in the room.”

It is good to take a position to lead and provide a framework for others to navigate and to make their own judgement.

No one wants to stick on first base whilst everyone else is managing to hit home runs. If you can bring everyone in on the message and approach, it helps to create longevity. That is miles better than a one-off where you have a sign on the Eventbrite door that says ‘no.’




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