- Managing Me
- Big Ideas
- Managing People
Is your company interesting?
No, seriously. Can you say, hand-on-heart, that people are genuinely attracted to your organisation because it is interesting? Not just to customers, but potential employees and partners, or key influencers such as journalists and bloggers?
I’m not talking necessarily about the products you sell or services you offer. You can have deadly boring products but still be an interesting brand.
I mean being interesting in a “Wow, that’s cool” kinda way. Doing interesting and engaging things that make people sit up and take notice (and then talk about you via their online social networks), genuinely capturing people’s attention by creating value over and above your products and services, or demonstrating a usefulness to the broader community in which you operate.
The Free Dictionary defines interesting as “arousing or holding the attention”.
Arousing or holding the attention of people is a massive challenge for companies today. People have enough going on in their lives; they are time-poor and information overloaded. They don’t take notice of your advertising and they’re adept at ignoring your overly-polished nonsensical spin.
Hence being interesting is a key marketing imperative today.
It’s easy to say obviously but much harder to do, especially as ‘being interesting’ has as much to do with culture and attitude as anything. Weaning off the corporate communications diet – a one-way blasting of messages – and replacing it with a philosophy of ‘doing interesting things to attract people to your brand’ will in all probability require a mind-shift.
But it’s a shift you’re going to need to make if you are to flourish and stay relevant in an increasingly hyper-connected marketplace.
So what does “being interesting” look like? Importantly, it’s not about a one-off project, but rather an ongoing series of activities that engage people and get them talking, and then rinsing and repeating.
Being interesting could be as simple as running an online weekly TV show or radio program interviewing experts and debating issues relevant to your industry, or community, or business in general.
It might involve backing a small but very cool social enterprise and helping guide it to success.
Perhaps your company could run an annual benchmark survey relevant to your industry that measures sentiment and behaviour across a certain topic (for example, Sensis has for years produced a quarterly business index that tracks the confidence and behaviour of Australian SMEs).
Maybe you (or your company’s CEO) could jump onto Google+ and hold a ‘Google Hangout’ every now and then, chatting to anyone who’s interested about an industry topic that’s relevant to you and your particular audience.
One idea might be to run an event featuring a panel of speakers that debates a pressing social issue. This could be filmed and uploaded to YouTube for all to see post-event.
Another may be to instigate a weekly chat on Twitter using a hashtag so anyone can swing by and join the conversation.
I’m speaking generally, of course, and what business you’re in will be a factor in what constitutes being ‘interesting’. That said, I know there will be naysayers reading this and shaking their heads: how is all this going to generate leads for our business? How’s it going to sell any products?
As a rule, successful businesses are recipients of sustained positive word of mouth. Having great products, services and responsive customer service today is a given. But what other value do you provide? What other contributions do you make to the people within the community or industry in which you operate? Do you stimulate people’s thinking? Do you provoke thought through action over and above your products and services?
American Express gets it
In the US, American Express understands the ballgame has changed when it comes to marketing.
Underpinning Amex’s commitment to helping businesses do more business is the brand’s OPEN Forum, an online community where entrepreneurs and business owners and managers can “exchange insights, get advice from experts and build connections”.
Not satisfied with building an ongoing content-driven community platform that adds real value to the community it serves, American Express OPEN also runs Small Business Saturday, an initiative designed to drive shoppers to local merchants across the US on a day sandwiched between the two big post-Thanksgiving shopping days in the US: ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’,
Now in its third year, the initiative has more than 200 corporate and advocacy group supporters, has helped thousands of small businesses (here are some success stories) and its dedicated Facebook page has attracted more than 2.8 million ‘likes’.
Hmmmm. Sounds pretty interesting to me.