Archive for the ‘Brand Promise’ Category
I love ya. I gotta go.
You’ve started to entertain the notion that keeping identity with your tribe makes less sense than ever before. And you wonder at your own sanity because the facts before you do not match the story your tribe keeps telling:
- Maybe your tribe believes one person in your office has nothing good to say, but you think otherwise.
- Maybe your tribe is willing to look the other way as the elected official—whom the tribe helped elect—continues to lie, goes against the sacred center of your tribe’s beliefs and behaves increasingly erratically.
- Maybe your tribe shuts down alternate readings of your sacred text because those readings don’t suit the current ideological goals of the people calling the shots.
For these and any number of other reasons, it may be time to leave your tribe. But how? It’s tricky, because most of your friends and your family friends and friends of your friends are in the tribe. Maybe you spend all your time with these people. Maybe you live with these people. But here are three starting points:
- Check in with soul-friends. You know people who are like-minded and are driven less by ideology and more by relationship and caring. Find these folks and build trust with them. Spend time with them and share your concerns. Ask questions together and see if a new story emerges.
- Read and talk widely. Get different opinions from diverse people. Look for ways to read books that challenge the orthodoxy. The good news about challenge is that what is true remains while what is false slips away. But reading is best when you share points of interest with others—especially with those soul-friends. Look for opportunities to step outside your tribe: the person at work or in class who is clearly coming from a different perspective. Who knows where friendship and insight might come from? Actively seek others with questions, remember that you are not alone with your questions.
- Have Faith and Take Courage. Hold your core your beliefs firmly and ask questions of the periphery. This is the time-honored way of artists, writers, thinkers, activists and leaders. See where the questions lead—this is the way of sanity and art. Turning a blind eye to inconsistencies and discontinuities leads to a very bad place, a place where reality differs from tribal knowledge.
There is a way forward and you will find it.
Good luck and God-speed.
Image: Kirk Livingston
2 Reasons You Should Watch This:
Certainly someone was selling something in there.
Leadership is an emotional action story
Most of my clients see themselves as thought-leaders. These clients really are leaders in their industries: their scientists and engineers labor to create new ways of approaching old markets even as they open new markets. A think-piece is an outward-facing story of their leadership in the light of a market problem or need.
Some clients assume their brochures and web copy can be repurposed into a think-piece. One of my tasks is to help them understand that a think-piece takes a position on a problem, spins out a story that shows the problem resolved in an emotionally satisfying way. That is typically a larger frame of reference than their current brochure or web copy.
Other clients want to say something without revealing anything. They worry about competition in their tight market. But they don’t realize how a generous spirit is another kind of selling (especially in this sharing economy), and giving something-not-everything away is a mark of true leadership. But it’s just too big a task (they say) and it will “only distract our scientists and engineers.”
Sharp clients understand that thought-leadership presents a story that is immediately recognizable, universally understood (by their target audience) and easy to digest. They also understand that the best stories carry a useful thought with an emotional element.
My favorite thought-pieces typically have these three elements:
- Story: A story is threaded together with real people doing real things. There is emotion in a story—just like life—and real people talk in human rather than PR speak. Real people with real problems that unlock real emotion both before and after the solution appears.
- Visual: There’s no question that words simply take too long for most of us. We still read, of course, but our short attention spans move us toward images and video. Some say visual is the primary way social media will present in coming years. We can put that visual bias to work today with words that paint pictures. That has always been the novelist’s forte: creating scenes. That ability must find a home in today’s think-pieces. Gone are the days when an interested audience member might happily read your brochure. Now you have to catch them when they are not looking or thinking about your product or industry. This is not an easy task, but the more visual the better. Visual also has the advantage of being immediately understood.
- Speak Human: Every discipline has its own secret words. Every industry uses lingo and code words to show they know their stuff as well as out of sheer laziness. It’s just easier to say the same things as everyone else. Plus it’s a badge of the tribe, so why wouldn’t you? But insider language is inherently toxic for anyone outside. It’s a buzz kill for an outsider looking in. Speaking human means words cleansed of jargon, words that can shine through a clear story.
The best think-pieces don’t appear to be think-pieces at all. They can be read so effortlessly that we take every step with the author to the intended conclusion. And we find ourselves happy to be there, taking action with the hero.
Image credit: Kirk Livingston
Cyber Grand Prix at Cannes
Despite the lottery being a complete waste of money and attention, this is a fetching commercial.
But how about that soundtrack? Wow.
On the Mindfulness of Listening
Listening is such a simple thing. How hard can it be?
But we all know that listening is harder than it appears, because listening means we have to shut up. And good listening means not just shutting up but also not using someone’s moments of speech as a time to plan counter-arguments.
Real listening happens nine hours into a car trip, after you’ve exhausted the common topics and celebrity gossip and a silence settles. For miles. Which can feel weird. And then you pass a broken down Quonset hut and your spouse/friend/acquaintance/ride share starts in on early memory of a fire at her parent’s farm, and how all the kids huddled in blankets watching the barn in flame and hearing the gas tanks in the tractors explode one after the other and how the firemen pumped water from a pond into a little pool they created and then onto the barn. And how the whole thing left her feeling sad and, well, bereft.
It had been a kind of turning point, she says, now that she thinks about it. And then she collects memories of what was different with her family after that and how it was different. She has very specific points.
And you have not said a word. Because the fire story had and entirely engulfed you as well. You were there—as she told her story—shivering on the side and hearing the pop of gas tanks.
Most listening is not that dramatic. But sometimes it is.
We’re talking about how to listen in our social media marketing class. How to listen to the audiences and communities we want to interact with. We want to hear the concerns and the jargon and the voices and the rhythm of those voices.
It occurs to me that we listen in stages. Or perhaps we hear—or comprehend—in stages. When new to a community, we hear the words and perhaps can make out only the broad outlines of the bigger story. The more we listen, the more we hear specificities and nuance The more we listen, the more stories we hear the emotion and motivations that bind a community together.
Good listening means sitting with and through the stages so that we burrow into understanding the people of the community. Our best friends are often great listeners because they sat through the bursts of story that followed silences.
Most of us have little time for listening.
Dumb sketch: Kirk Livingston