What Side Are You On?
Having a meaningful cause is a key trait to connect to an audience who will stand by you.
When it comes to an opinion, many brands and businesses are more focused on shouting about what they produce and drive attention to their own agendas ie. our business is better than the next option.
Marketing is not about having a souvenir that shows others ‘like’ you. What matters are not what time you posted or the new company video on YouTube, but what you care about.
Where It Was, Where We Are Heading
What do you care enough to say?
Traditional marketing was the catchy slogan, the scrounge for the made up testimonials section and putting the Twitter stream on the homepage. The way we are all heading is to ask ourselves, ‘what is real that resonates with someone else?’
The fork in the road though for many is why have an opinion when it could potentially divide an audience, jeopardise what people think of the business and equally affect revenue?
What is happening now are brands speaking up. Something we haven’t really seen before on such a scale.
It’s Happening….Right Now!
A case in point was last Sunday’s Superbowl, I’m not into American Football but I’ll get straight to the point. Politics surfaced not product benefits.
Budweiser told the story of their immigrant founder and his pursuit of the American Dream. Audi took a powerful stance on a world of equality. Airbnb kept their message very Airbnb with their clear #weaccept. This highlights the core of whom AirBnB target.
What AirBnB highlight is a continual cause (have a read here of an article that looks at building community behind a cause). It will be interesting to see if Audi can keep the momentum with their stance. Will they genuinely practice what they advocate on a continual basis, or is it just centred on an ad campaign to sell more cars? However, what these ads represented from last weekend is the personification of business.
I saw first hand a couple of months ago, an owner from a well-known brand make his stand.
Lush co-founder, Mark Constantine at a business lunch in Bournemouth, echoed his firm belief to remain in Europe. He stated that the climate in Britain was anti-business. His firm belief for the UK to stay in Europe was not just reserved for a room full of business people in a hotel, but is also on a very public scale.
What this example represents is whilst most business say that they have an ethical approach to what they do, there are now those that are becoming vocal about their beliefs. This takes things further than just having an approach ie. we deliver the highest quality service or we operate in a transparent and open manner.
Gain & Disassociate
A political or societal belief will encourage association, but it will also disassociate others. If you have a split, you massively engage with a portion of your audience and turn off from the rest.
To be heard, acknowledged and trusted, you have to stand for something. It is now about becoming something bigger with more belief and conviction.
Businesses do not have beliefs, people do. What we are seeing played in front of us all is making brands seem like human beings.
Let me highlight this.
Starbucks recently stated (in January) that they will hire 10,000 refugees over five years in response to Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees to the US. Chief Executive, Howard Schultz said that Starbucks, “will neither stand by, not stand silent, as the uncertainty around the new administration’s actions grows with each day passing.” The values that Starbucks have is opposite to what a new administration believe. This is a brand behaving like a person with core values on inclusivity, acceptance and equality.
Even retailers are collectively making their stand. Last week, two major US department stores, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, announced they will no longer stock any of the Ivanka Trump collection within their stores. Dwindling sales or politically stance? Is it a bit too much of a coincidence that the decision was made at a similar time?
It is always a huge risk to speak out, but a very brave one. If a business doesn’t stand for others and has the ability to become a voice that has further reach, what do they stand for?
Race To The Middle Or More Than That?
What about you?
If you don’t put your flag in the ground and have a cause, you just bubble around in the middle. It doesn’t have to be political but one where people can associate a clear message that isn’t just money off promotions and videos to make an owner look good.
As long as you are considered about the issues you support and can do it on a continual basis, today is not the time to sit on the fence.
As James Altucher says in Reinvent Yourself, “Don’t just gossip or talk to say words. Say words that are your reality, that are your pain, that express you.”
Whilst the middle is where many businesses reside and play the same game as everyone else with the same traits to pontificate and self promote, there are others that believe in creating their own cause that people associate with.
Share Interests, Bonds Formed (A Study)
When there are shared interests, this is how relationships are forged.
Scientists from the University of Southampton, Royal Holloway, University of London and the Institute of Zoology at London Zoo found that we align ourselves with others because we have shared interests and not because we like someone else the most.
We change friends throughout our lives but the studies highlighted that cliques group people with common bonds such as politics, music, sport, and the same profession. We gravitate to those that believe what we believe.
Where brands and businesses have a shared interest that goes beyond a meaningless promotional message, this is where bonds are made between brand and person.
Having A Meaningful Cause
A shared belief creates a sense of kinship, even with a brand. For the first time businesses have become personalised to represent more than a brand but representing a person and becoming the value to someone else.
Mark Gracey owns a local digital performance company, Flavourfy, and is currently looking at the current traits of businesses when it comes to web security. I should know my website was hacked at the end of last year and was in a pitiful place with this site becoming corrupted. No ones wants to see a red Google page looking at them in the face.
I asked Mark why he was doing this?
“The decision to run a data security survey was twofold. First, it was about raising awareness in Dorset of the risks to reputation from digital marketing (e.g. website hacking, misuse of social media, etc.) and to address the perception that in Dorset we are just not switched onto cyber-security or data protection.”
“Secondly, it is a great vehicle from a marketing perspective, to help raise my profile as an authority and that my business is more than just another digital strategy consultancy.”
What I see from Mark is that when he has the survey results (click here to have a look and participate), this is information that he has gathered and has ownership to share the behaviour of others and to pinpoint where the solutions can lie. The longer term is to provide value to others and share where we are today, as opposed to the free 30-minute web appraisal as the weak sales foot in the door that was all the rage in 2009.
Lets Round Up
When there is shared interest, this comes from tapping into a place of higher importance.
We are seeing a movement from what people care about (such as Spare Chair Sunday from Bisto where they encouraged families giving a space round the table for the elderly), to core values. The connection with the examples highlighted in this article is that a brand is looking to align itself with someone’s belief system.
If there is association behind the cause you genuinely believe in, it goes beyond interrupting someone to come over to your way of thinking.