Why I Do What I Do (and what it means for you)
I want to improve the wellbeing of individuals and society by increasing opportunities for meaningful work.
This is my WHY – and fundamental to my practice. My WHY means two things to me:
First of all – Increasing opportunities by helping companies to become more effective, more competitive and more able to grow, thereby expanding their employee base
Secondly – Increasing opportunities for meaningful work through helping to instill meaning, purpose and value into existing jobs with skillful communications – no more meaningless, undervalued tasks devoid of relationship to the company, community or colleagues that they serve.
Unemployment damages individuals and, through them, society. This is unacceptable.
And I also find it unacceptable that some jobs become devoid of meaning when there is a growing body of research demonstrating that meaning is what helps employees to stay in their jobs longer, perform better, but, most importantly, be happier. (Purpose also fulfils a similar function)
I feel a sense of personal agency is being able to create change. I’ve been working solidly for 17 years, and everything seems to be leading to this.
But, more than that, I feel a sense of personal urgency in making something happen.
We can not afford the health and happiness of individuals and communities to be held back by a lack of opportunity and, when there is opportunity, a lack of meaning.
If ever there was a time to do something about it, that time is now.
So my WHY is to improve the wellbeing of individuals and society by helping you to grow your business, and to ensure that all of your colleagues are able to see how their contributions have meaning and purpose within the framework you’ve set out.
I know it’s bold. I know it’s ambitious. But i believe that we can do it.
Shall we begin with a conversation?
Let me introduce my HOW
I believe that the language of marketing needs to change and my practice is founded on the dual elements of context and participation.
CONTEXT is the ecosystem that a business or social cause exists within. It includes the business’ branding, positioning and offer; an understanding of their customers’ (current and future) lives as well as the broader society surrounding them.
Creating a compelling context helps your messages be received as you intended, and starts to motivate the recipients to take action – becoming active participants instead of passive consumers.
- Brand communications exploration – how do your current systems of communication support the brand’s overall strategy and goals? How well does the relationship between expressions of the brand (including meaning, voice, value and purpose) correlate with how the brand is currently perceived?
- Communications product assessment – do your current communications products and efforts effectively represent the brand? How they are received by the intended audiences, and how could they work harder for you?
- Internal communications research – what is your internal culture and how do your teams relate to your brand? Are your efforts to communicate internally effective? Are there opportunities to create a culture of enthusiastic people who come to work for more than just the paycheck?
- Growth strategy investigation – what opportunities are there to create growth by improving current practices? Where will future scale come from (and how will you position your brand to get it)?
- Brand repair and crisis communications – intervening in a crisis to contain it, repair any damage and provide a clear way to grow from it through clear, confident and collaborative communications.
PARTICIPATION is a mindset shift: transforming passive consumers into people who actively want to be a part of the compelling context you are describing to them.
This may mean influencing purchasing decisions, creating changes in behaviours or helping people falling in love with what you do to become a ‘brand ambassador’ who champions your message above all others.
Enabling this participation requires an in-depth understanding of the contexts, behaviours, beliefs and practices of real people, and how you fit with them.
- Participant context research – how well do you know your current participants and why does your product or service actually interests them? What lives do they lead and what role do you play?
- Behaviour change – what are the the current attitudes and behaviours within your participants and how do you want these to change in the future? What opportunities exist to change their behaviours, either in one big move or in little steps? And why should they be interested in making a change anyway?
- Communicate for action – what is the meaning and value of each communication you prepare – and does it focus on creating action?
- Communicate for community – what are the opportunities to help your participants develop their own connections and form communities of common interest where your brand is a trusted partner, not a simple provider?
We also need to consider how the language we use works for, or against, us. Much of modern marketing language is militaristic – ‘engage’, ‘target’, ‘campaign’.
What if we shifted the language – instead of consumers (implying those who devour a resource), what if we had participants? Instead of ‘engaging’ a participant, what if we ‘involved’ them? Should we be talking to ‘audiences’ when an audience is essentially a seated, passive receiver of messages? Do we run ‘campaigns’ or ‘programmes’?
What changes could we create by rethinking some of the basic terminology to reflect the increasingly fluid nature of our relationships with those who derive some benefit from our products or services?
I won’t pretend to have the answers right now – but through my work and through this practice, I hope to get closer to some of them.
Let me introduce my ME
I am not just my work.
I’m a blogger over at www.interacter.co.uk and www.contagioustruth.com (both unfolding experiments in different things). I’m also a podcaster having co-founded www.DocsFactor.com and www.HelloYouPodcast.com.