Bez_the id group_content marketing

You can have the best intentions to break the mould, it doesn’t mean anything unless you stand for something.

We like to cut short those who trying to make their mark. It is easier to pour scorn on someone than ever before via the social spaces we reside within. It is easier for someone to keep his or her place, rather than look to break away from the way that everyone else behaves in a certain space (take a bow LinkedIn ‘look at me’ messages). Isn’t it better to believe in something and to contribute, rather than thinking you can just turn up to the party and within 30 minutes, you have ingratiated yourself with the majority of the guests?

Others Who Think I’m An Arse

Not that we should just remember all the good things we hear, only a few weeks ago, it was written in plain English that ‘Mark is a pain in the arse’ from someone who unsubscribed from my weekly emails and left a comment (I don’t know if they thought the message would get back to me). It wasn’t very constructive, but at least I knew where I stood (and that is as a pain in the arse).

In a way, I am glad because I know that person wasn’t right for me, but we can’t wait for others to give us attention or acknowledgement. We have to throw ourselves with gusto into what we create and believe that our ideas and perceptions of the world are shaped by the experiences that we have. This is how we stand out.

For every, ‘pain in the arse’ there is a ‘I’m in’ that arrives from somewhere else. The reward is when someone else sees the value in what you are doing. Lesson one is keep on, no matter how others rate you as the equivalent of a one star Amazon review.

Bringing Bez In

We are a nation that enjoys the fall of others. Earlier this month everyone’s favourite bringer of ‘vibes’ Bez from The Happy Monday’s forgot to register a name for his new political party after not being allowed to call it The Reality party (too similar to the pre-existing Realists party). The thought of Bez going into politics to many is absurd, but he believes in something. He could see his home in Salford didn’t have a voice, those from the working classes were ignored, he learnt about fracking and believed that people should be entitled to free public transport. It’s got a heart in local issues and this is why Bez stands for something. His heart is in motivating people to care and to think strongly about a purpose. Isn’t this what we all want to achieve as businesses? Lesson two, we want others to care in our cause.

No one ever set-up a business, so they just fit in. If you sit on the fence you mean nothing to anyone. You are the equivalent of a ‘half and half scarf’ (one team on one side and the opponent on the other), where all you represent is no voice, no heart and no backbone. Rather than support a team and make your mark, you become irrelevant.

Half and half scarf

Taking What Others Have Said

In 2013, my company did the ‘If You Could Go Back’ project and asked local business owners what advice they would give to their younger selves. The final result was an ebook that highlights that we all have a belief system where the reason we set up businesses was to keep going as the future delivers the purpose we set out to achieve. We have to keep at it. Lesson three, persistence is an asset.

There are times when not finding an audience can mean that our voice becomes lost. Google last month halted the consumer sales of Google Glass while it redesigns the product. We’re probably another couple of years away from where wearable technology becomes accepted, but for now Google Glass takes a stage exit. Google had every intention for it to succeed, but I believe they didn’t necessarily target an audience with the right story for others to converge as though there was an Apple logo on the frame. Rather than being the cool kid of school, it didn’t really stand for anything apart from having a ‘build it they will come’ mentality and trying to find a space with a more nerdy audience. Lesson four, to stand for something, you have to build a consistent narrative.

Not Fitting Function

Standing for something has everything to do with perhaps being ridiculed and acknowledgment that you have to be in it for the duration with something that doesn’t quite fit the norm. Matt Desmier and myself and currently exploring this with our Once Upon A Time event. We bring this to our town in Bournemouth every quarter (with the next event on March 19th).

Rather than create a networking event where you sit in a hotel and listen to someone else telling you “the top 35 ways on how to communicate your brand to increase sales in 2015”, we decided to create an interview format on a stage, in an old theatre, so everyone in the audience feels part of a discussion, rather than being dictated to. I can remember being told before the first event, ‘good luck, this will never work, people will get bored listening to other companies stories for half a day.’ Yet again, someone who this isn’t intended for, but I am glad that they acknowledged that this is in a polar opposite direction for what they want. Lesson five, you have to stick with what you believe in and not deviate too far from it.

Rolling Into One Big Lesson

Every lesson that I have mentioned can be summed up into one giant seminar. If you take one thing away from this article, everything that you do has to have meaning to someone rather than hoarding away the experiences you have encountered. It is the experiences that shape who we are and what we do.

No one can come close to replicating what you have learnt. By nearly going out of business in 2011/2012, I’d like to think that rather than sheltering behind the word ‘failure’ and cowering in a corner like Gollum, I dug deep in understanding that responsibility was all mine and identifying what was broken and how it needed to be fixed.

With the knowledge and learning that we obtain, we are then in a position to assist others. With the confidence we gain within our areas of expertise, we can speak with authority to an audience who understand what we believe in and making a connection becomes far easier than sticking to how your industry has behaved for generations.

It is our duty to keep on, get out there, create and do what we need to do to be recognised with the multitude of channels that are at our disposal.


Image at the top of the article courtesy of Sonico