One of my clients asked me for advice about a blog post she’d written today. She’d tested the article on some of her friends, and got the response that it was “a bit political”. She was worried about this, not thinking of herself as a political person.
The article wasn’t party political, or even that controversial. It was strongly argued, but I didn’t think people were likely to disagree with it. She was just standing for something she believes in.
Don’t stand back from standing for what you believe in
I’m constantly encouraging people to make themselves stand out, to create remarkable businesses that people will talk about. Everyone is competing for your customers’ attention so you need to be able to stand out from the crowd.
Standing for something you believe in is part of establishing your brand and getting people to notice you and remember you. If your marketing is weakly worded corporate speak, no one will bother to read it, let alone engage with it and remember it. If you don’t get your clients excited in some way, they’re not going to bother to buy from you.
Why we’re scared to stand up and stand out
Some of this is to do with our psychology, where only the more extreme extroverts are happy to make a song and dance about their beliefs. Some of it is to do with our early childhood conditioning, where many of us were told not to act up or be loud. And of course British people are often quiet about saying good things about ourselves, especially when we compare ourselves to Americans.
But mostly I think we’re used to seeing a lot of marketing pap and we think that this is the right way to do it. We see bland mission statements about “aiming to be the best” or “providing excellent customer service” and think that we too should write in this completely meaningless way.
There’s actually not a lot of high quality marketing material out there to give us good role models. The big companies shy away from controversy because their staff don’t want to risk their comfy jobs and pensions.
You don’t have to be like the big boys
You can be a little more controversial. Obviously you don’t want to be hateful or upset anyone, but if you feel passionately about saving the planet, you should say so. If you work in an environmental business, and you’re proud of the work you’re doing, tell everyone. Boast a little.
But even if you work in a regular business like an accountancy firm, don’t be afraid to say what you really care about. Accountant Danni Craker has made her environmental and ethical views very clear in her marketing, and now has a full client list.
If you’re an animal lover, be clear about this. You’ve got some great material to talk about the dogs you take in from the dogs home, and everyone will love you for it. Which means they’re more likely to buy from you than your competitors.
Changing the world a little bit
Maybe your passion and your business aren’t so much about a big project like reducing carbon emissions or saving dogs. Maybe your way of changing the world is just being the best, nicest, most on-time computer service person in the world. Or you really like coding open source software. You need to talk about these aspects of your work so people understand where you’re coming from – don’t think that people will just guess what you care about unless you clearly stand for something you believe in.
Talk about these things, and even if people don’t share your passion exactly, they will see your enthusiasm, which is a big selling point.
I try to do this with my enthusiasm for business. In part this is political, as I was President at Brighton Chamber, and I genuinely believe that the business (if done with respect and good ethics) can promote peace in the world. Not everyone will agree or care about this, but I’m standing for what I believe in.
That’s part of what makes me get out of bed in the morning, want to learn new things all the time, and be really good at what I do. I’m also really, really interested in how businesses work, and how to do marketing well.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll see just how geeky I can get about this. And my clients appreciate this about me. Someone said today that she had worked with a business coach before but that person seemed to be doing it as a hobby and she wanted someone who really knew their stuff. Which is why she came to me, despite living on the other side of the country.
If this has made you feel that you want to get out there and make more of a song and dance about what you believe in, and be known for something, that’s really good to hear.
And if you’d like some help getting that message out to the world, and making it work for you and bring you new customers, have a think about getting some coaching from your favourite business geek. Here’s how it works.
More thoughts on ethics