I’m writing this for my Owner Insiders but figured I’d share it with you, as well. The idea is one of those simple-but-potentially-profound ones. I’ll be sharing it with the people at Owner Action Systems LIVE in Portland, Maine on 9.24.16.
Your Message and Your Voice
I believe that when you better understand what you stand for, what you believe in, what you bring to the picnic, and who you seek to help, everything flows better in your business. I’ve come to think about this as a “throughline.” In writing, the throughline is a connecting theme or plot.
For instance, in the movie Suicide Squad, when Batman confronts Deadshot and his daughter in an alleyway, Batman says “Let’s not do this in front of your kid.” The scene immediately forces us to remember that Bruce Wayne lost his parents in an alley in front of his face.
This requires thought and work around two areas. Your message and your voice.
A Living Message
In the 1980s, Dr. Stephen R. Covey did a lot to show the world the corporate concept of a mission statement. He pointed out that we’d all benefit from having a personal mission statement. The idea was to create a phrase or sentence that guided our choices and actions.
A living message is something like that. The idea is that you need to work to sum up your beliefs, your approach, your capabilities, and who you serve into something tight and easy to say but that also guides some of your choices and actions.
Upon looking at that last sentence, it’s a bit startling. There’s a lot packed in there. But if you think about it, it’s completely within reason to think you can create it. Even a marketing slogan can sometimes handle most of this.
The most overused example I immediately thought about was Nike’s “Just Do It.”
But think for a moment. The phrase says “take action.” It says “be brave.” It says “don’t overthink it.” And it calls to a very specific kind of person. It also hints that Nike is committed to equip people to do all that.
Three words. A marketing phrase. But a philosophy.
Joe DeSena’s Spartan Race has the tagline: “You’ll know at the finish line.” This isn’t his life philosophy or anything, but it shows the promise in the message of the race. The goal of the race is to transform the Spartans running it.
A Message Isn’t A Marketing Slogan
I’ve just made the dangerous choice of giving you two marketing messages as examples of a Message for you to consider. Don’t mistake the concept. Your goal is to think through and sum up what you believe, what you do for the world, and who you seek to help with this information.
The work of doing this takes some writing, some thinking, some summing up, maybe some questions asked to trusted advisors and friends. But once you best understand your message, you know the mission that the message puts you on, and you know who you serve, so that’s what matters.
(This is one part of five that we’ll cover in Portland on September 24th.)
A Connecting Voice
The voice is your ability to communicate your message to others, to seek others, to build community around the ideas that your message represents. As I stated in my Nike example, Nike wants the kinds of people who take action. When I communicate my ideas, I’m reaching the kinds of owners who don’t accept “this is how it is” as an excuse. I’m looking for people who own their choices, own their lives, and own their future.
To develop a connecting voice is to work on creating the world you see in your message. We create everything twice: once in our minds/hearts and once in the world. That first part, of writing or speaking or drawing or in other ways expressing the kind of “world” our message evolves around is some of the hardest work you’ll ever do, but it’s also what will win your success ultimately.
I was having lunch at Whole Foods the other day up in Portland, Maine. I found myself looking around at the signage, at the community board, at the multiple ways the company states their intentions so that people shopping there will know that they’re in alignment with at least some of what they see. It was rather well done. They went to a lot of effort to share their voice in a way that reached out to people, said to them, “Hey, we’re one of you! Come join us!”
You can see “bad” marketers trying to replicate this and failing miserably. But people who simply want to serve the people that match the intentions of their message? This is your work. Or some of it. To create the story and bring that throughline of your themes and concepts into the way you speak, the way you sell, the way you serve the people who give you their time and attention.
(We’ll cover this in Portland, too!)
I wanted to start here. There’s much more to cover on these ideas. But let’s start here. I hope they help you think differently about what you’re doing to reach the people you hope to serve as customers and clients.