Recognize Me?

I had spent a good part of my life trying to find the secret. I’d searched and searched.

Then one day, when I least expected it, she turned to me and said the most insightful and profound thing I had ever heard.

You just got to decide for yourself.

You got the Saint Louie Blues, the Chicago Blues, the Gin House Blues, the My Baby Done Left Me Blues. They all the same song, aint they? With the same three chords?

And you done heard em about a dozen-hundred times from a dozen-hundred people.

So what makes folks want to hear from you?

You got to put somethin’ else in it.

The Blues ain’t about people knowin’ you. It’s about you knowin’ people.

You can’t transform your organization from the inside out.

You can’t transform your organization without a deep understanding of your tribe.

You can’t tweak your way to success. You can’t incrementally reshuffle your offering and expect to change the status quo. Or expect people to know who you really are.

That’s because the people who you’re trying to influence don’t connect with what you do or how you do it.

They connect with why you do it. And most importantly, why you do it for them.

It’s in their eyes

People connect with brands that, in one way or another, reflect themselves back to them.

This resonating bundle of values, purpose and intangibles are united by a promise and a story. And each one is based on delivering the things your tribe values most when they make decisions.

In other words, the tribe seeks solutions to their problems. Or a better way of doing things. Or a chance to make a difference. Or a way to change their world. A way that reflects who they are or who they want to be.

You’ll notice that none of those things revolve around you and your organization.

And if you think they do you will never find the idea that can define you and help you find the tribe that will build a movement.

So stop the organizational belching, already

Resist the inflated self-image and self-importance of the organization. It only exists inside the minds that are inside your hallowed halls.

We must forgive our egomaniacal brothers and sisters. They are just following the age-old, self-centered alpha instincts that are woven deep in our brains. As deep as our irrational need to watch Norm Abram on This Old House

But you, you have a higher calling.  Tribes everywhere are counting on you to be vigilant against the evil seed of inside-out thinking. Organizational self-importance must be avoided like a blond at the Bates Motel.

The reason is simple. In this day and age, when ordinary people now control information, communications and the decision process, their point of view is the only one that counts.

Start with what they see

You can take advantage of this power shift in control. Base your organization’s brand on the way your tribe sees themselves and the world.

I guarantee you that’s not the same as the way your organization, your Chairman, and most of your marketing people see the world.

So if you want to start a movement instead of a campaign, begin with your tribe’s overarching purpose and perspective. And make it the foundation of every step of the movement’s development and execution.

Help, don’t hype. Make experiences, not messages

To do that, concentrate on the things they’re most involved in. The things they’re interested in getting involved in. The things they’re discussing and sharing:

    • Themselves
    • Their problems
    • Their challenges and frustrations
    • Their perceptions of how the world works
    • The things they’re passionate about.
    • The things they value most when they make decisions
    • The things they value that they don’t think they can get anywhere else
    • The stories they tell
    • The things they’d like to do but can’t do
    • The things they’d like to do better
    • The things they’d like to do easier
    • How they can be better members of the tribe
    • What other members of the tribe are doing
    • What other members of the tribe think and recommend
    • What other members of the tribe think of them

Because like the Blues

If you want to start a movement out there in this cluttered, connected world, you got to put somethin’ else in it.

Because getting recognized out there ain’t about people knowin’ you.

It’s all about you knowin’ people.

But that’s just my opinion. What’s your take?