There’s much emphasis these days on content marketing, social media, and the importance of building relationships in business. We universally recognize that people buy from people they ‘know, like, and trust.’ We are concerned about branding. The lingo of marketing is all about speaking to the individual’s pain points, figuring out how to curry favor by analyzing detailed composites described as ‘buyer personae.’
As of the past ten years or so, successful marketing is based in conversation, give-and-take, and interaction with your buyers. The one-way messaging of the previous 100-or-so years of advertising no longer produces. Consumers rule, now, in unprecedented ways.
This is the result of many different factors coalescing, of course. Chief causes for the ascendancy of the consumer are the exploding population, general economic well being (at least in the first world), and technological innovations like the internet.
I believe that there are, as well, some inner, psychological and sociological reasons for this shift in marketing from one-way to two-way messaging. My thought is that the systems we find most productive for selling our work today are the same systems that we can most successfully use to structure our organizations, build healthy communities and strong families, fortify our economy, and create peace.
It’s all about communications.
In the previous, industrially-based economy, communications were most efficient if one-way. The hierarchy of industrial systems works best if everyone just shuts up and obeys. In that world, ‘communications’ means instructions or orders.
Things have changed as the digital universe reveals its endless webs. Messages that travel in just one direction and then stop are considered duds. Communication is no longer one-way: instead, true communication interacts, comments, likes, links, and otherwise is as actively engaged as possible.
How does communication impact other aspects of your business? If your communications are always dialogues, two-way at least, then the old structures for organizations and policies and protocols begin to follow suit.
- Instead of hierarchies, we begin to form teams.
- Instead of secrecy and suspicion, we foster organizational transparency.
- Instead of focus groups and billboards, we find ways to dialogue with customers as individual people.
We’re not generally in the habit of thinking of our business in terms of communications. You sell athletic wear or cut hair or insure fares, what’s that got to do with communications?
A small space of contemplation will convince you of my point. You don’t sell anything unless
- it’s something that communicates to a need or desire of a market, and
- you can communicate to others that you have it to sell.
So try it out. Usually, you say, “I’m a real estate broker.” What if you say instead, “I’m a communicator.” Does this make your work easier, or more organized?
Or, if you usually say, “I’m a virtual assistant,” what if you substitute, “I’m a communicator.” Does this identity increase your patience with clients, or help you design your website?
No matter what your business, this exercise is relevant. Awareness of the centrality of communications is bringing about our evolution. When we organize around communications, when we define our plans and operations in those terms, there’s a refreshing clarification and a reassuring new sense of purpose.