Imagine you’ve just arrived in a tiny new village. You are there —you’ve decided— to make a change. You want to make things better.
So, after setting up your house, yard, and unpacking, you set out to meet the locals. At first, you don’t know how to go about it. But then you notice that, whether they like each other or not, or are having fun that particular night, they all meet in the little local park to chat. When there is something to celebrate, someone brings in a cake. If someone’s sick, they all tend to look worried. Sometimes, some post-meetings don’t include everyone. But that’s the way things work.
One day, after pumping yourself up, you decide to approach them with your big plan. It does not go well.
You get there, excited enough, announcing your new plan out loud for those in the back to be able to listen. You have all the best intentions, have prepared for ages, and are sure that your project will do so, so much good for this town. All your new neighbours stare at you, in confusion. You stare back at them, waiting for them to ask you for some follow-up on your plan, wanting to get on board.
No one does. All that happens is that after a while, they go back to their business and you stand there, awkwardly, before sliding out.
Your marketing approach should be just like an individual’s approach.
Tactfulness is all about harmony.
In real life, you wouldn’t just jump in front a bunch of strangers hoping they’d get up from their seats and start doing exactly what you want. However, in marketing, we tend to do precisely this.
The village metaphor is a great way to look at how you should aim to plan and execute your marketing. Instead of just showing up, waving your ideas in front of people, you’d be better off by telling a nuanced story that touches on the following points:
- Who are you, and how you got there. Why you think you know something potentially useful for your audience, and how you came to learn it. This is known as your story of self.
- How you are similar to them. What values or interests you share, where do you stand together, and how you’ve come to meet. This is the story of us.
- What do you have to gain in the present moment, and what direction you can move towards. What are the current conditions that make it ideal for joining forces? This is known as the story of now.
Note that, as you tell your story, in no point you’re asking or suggesting others to follow you. You’re just asking them to lend you their ears as we all walk a common path to make things better.
We often get lost in focusing on our benefit, especially when we have something to gain from convincing others. However, establishing ourselves as allies first and service providers second creates a double benefit for everyone involved:
- You gain a reputation and valuable insights about what it is that those that you are looking to serve really want and need.
- Others gain your unique insight and experience, plus they get to help you become the best version of yourself.
When it comes to leadership, as well as business, don’t rush to obtain a benefit. Create a positive environment for growth and creativity, and opportunities will naturally sprout around you.