Soul Business Blog 3 – Soul searching

DSC_6136Soul Business is an ethos to inspire and enable people, business and organisations to communicate better by connecting deeper.

If you’re reading these Soul Business blogs in order you’ll know that Soul Business Rule 1 is about prioritising core messaging – big, strong bold connectors that convey what your business or organisation is truly about – and that Rule 2 is to make sure trust is your No 1 priority that also runs through the heart of your communications.

These value-driven characteristics should resonate with your audience. We’ll come onto them later because the aim is to win buy-in among our varied audiences (and there will be many of them – it isn’t just customers who are ‘king’).

Soul Business Rule No. 3 is about us – not for vanity but practicality. It’s time to do some soul searching.

Most people and organisations that fail to communicate effectively lack clarity – not just in external messaging but also in their own minds.

Too often they opt for the safety of the pack, adopting the same spiel as everyone else – in the process failing to distinguish themselves and small wonder, that’s how people view them. There’s no character, not compelling message and, crucially, no story. They fail to flag up their true purpose.

This was most recently evident in the 2016 US Presidential and 2017 British General Elections.

Writ-large, the actual winner of the US election Donald Trump (‘Make America Great Again’ – MAGA) and figurative winner of the GB election, Jeremy Corbyn (‘For the many, not the few’), had clear messages for defined audiences. Both were political outsiders who, crucially, knew what they stood for and had a story to tell.

Weak opponents helped. Hilary Clinton in the US and Theresa May in the UK ran uninspiring campaigns that promised ‘More of the same’ (MOTS). They failed to heed the wider warning that has become increasingly evident the world over that MOTS and the era of painfully predictable professional politicians and their dull soundbites is no longer enough.

By nurture we’re a storytelling species. We learn to communicate through storytelling from when we are babies with nursery rhymes and bedtime stories all the way through to adulthood.

We’re suckers for a good story to exemplify a point we seek to make. It makes life real – and the best real-life stories, well, you just couldn’t make them up.

Doubt this theory? Bet I can change your mind in seconds….

Did you hear the one about the charity founder who started a trust to help children with low esteem because the final straw of being work-place bullied was ordering the wrong type of loo rolls?

Or the owner of a hotel bookings agency who’d been made redundant twice in three years and just wanted to give people great holiday experiences and memories?

Or the life coach who wanted to make the most of their own difficult first-hand experience to support LGBT people cope with potential lifestyle and financial arrangements later in life?

These true stories emanating from one simple question posed at one of our media training days to experienced business people who’d never thought about communicating their true purpose before. 

Stripped down to the fundamentals, in 30 seconds flat each of them revealed the true purpose behind their business – and offered a great marketing message to get ‘out there’.

Why? Because we can all buy in to people’s passion for what they do. We trust them to do it well if we know they are driven by a fundamental purpose and values that matter.  

Now, that’s easy to spot in others. But what about ourselves?

Here are a couple of questions to pose yourself:

Who are you? And…

Why are you in business?

I want you to rationalise your raison d’etre – to define your true purpose.

In truth, there are two answers here – one private, the other public.

Your private purpose is the stuff we (the public) don’t need to know but it may be a personal motivation. This could be to buy a car, dream home, luxury holiday, to retire, whatever – or maybe even something as simple as earning a baseline income to make your efforts worthwhile. These are understandable, wholly justified, aspirations you don’t need share or communicate publicly. They’re not our interest.

The other is public – and this can really count.

I don’t mean your job title, role or business name – or even the specifics of what you do. I mean what is your true purpose? What are you really in the business of… and what makes you special, different or unique? Is there a back story to why you’re doing what you’re doing? (think of those examples cited above – each was personal and motivational).

Asking yourself what you’re really in the business of is important. Here are some examples:

No one wants an MOT or garage repair – they want to drive safely on the open road

No one wants a financial adviser – they want sound investment advice and peace of mind

No one wants a drill – they want a hole in a wall so they can mount a picture.

Get my point? This is more than summoning up a glib elevator pitch – it is about defining the true service or product you offer.

Add your own story to this and you’re on your way to promoting your business powerfully.

And here’s the good bit. Once you have your purpose defined and that vision and mission clear in your mind you can set about inspiring and enthusing people to buy into the values that stimulate you, that are part of who you are and why you are doing what you’re doing.

Why – because you’ve resolved it and have it clear in your mind. You’ve rationalised it.

And now you’re ready to take your message out to the wider world…         

Chris Green is an award-winning author and broadcaster – and managing partner of Chris Green Media – which inspires organisations to communicate better by connecting deeper.