Growth from Stoking the Human Spirit
We live in a world where that which can be envisioned is often realized. And, that which is unthinkable, often occurs. It is a time of unimaginable invention and disruption, where profit and growth (the imperatives of all corporations) must now be driven by new revenue and human performance rather than cost cutting. Companies must do more than innovate and sell in order to grow, because new dynamics are at work in a world where people feel under siege from unexpected directions and beleaguered. New growth will come from expressing the business strategy in ways that motivate people – a significant challenge given the de-motivating effects of modern reality.
Companies are increasing investments across transactional digital channels that aim to sell and don’t build brand or relationship equity. Marketing’s role is being reduced to an algorithmic play connected to business KPI’s, and the human connection to brands and companies is weakening. This is occurring during a highly emotional and unstable time in our world when choice is anything but 100% rational, and people are longing for trust and connection. Companies are not seeing the risk underneath the change or considering how a change in the human spirit and life experience will influence everything.
The greatest economic value no longer lies with hard assets, but with those assets that provide a company with resiliency, the power to imagine, shape human consciousness and move people to action.
Building the Human Ecosystem
To prosper within unimaginable uncertainty and consumer anxiety, companies need to build a strong, resilient connection with the people that matter most – the company’s human ecosystem. This may be the single most important factor driving success. Companies need to create a new kind of social currency across their human ecosystem that forms a shared destiny for all that is authentic and compelling. For this, companies need to speak in the language of the human heart, mind and soul which is ideas. This is new territory. Companies traditionally speak with products, pricing, distribution, customer service and marketing and not very often with ideas.
If customers are to buy, employees to perform, investors to invest and anyone is to choose to act in ways that support company growth, companies must invest in building new human energy and spark self-empowered actions by celebrating what makes us human.
To explore at a high level, try this thought experiment. Imagine your company was producing and sharing ideas that were expressions of the business strategy and which deeply motivated and enchanted people. Let’s say, these ownable ideas consistently created really good feelings as they connected with people at every turn, and people became conditioned to smile or positively dream when connecting with your company. This effort would result in producing positive human energy, which may be the most valuable asset of the day. Over time, this effort would build a strong human bond that transcended day-to-day reality. Imagine the resiliency of owning this energy and how it could power your company through unpredictable, irrational times.
An Idea Portfolio at Work: Kenny Chesney
To illustrate this idea and bring it down to the practical, let me reference something outside of traditional business. Plus, I am a country music fan. Consider the mega branding done by the enterprise of music superstar Kenny Chesney. Clearly, the enterprise could just focus on the constant publishing of hit songs (30 #1 Billboard singles) and sold-out concerts and call it a day. But, it has gone much further. Chesney also hosts the No Shoes Radio show (the name gets you there plus there is lots of pirate insignia) on SiriusXM. One program on his show is called Bars at the End of the World where he takes you to awesome bars, continuing the fantasy of the No Shoes way of life. Kenny also manufactures the Blue Chair Bay Premium Rum product line (Born on the Beach) which, again, is part of the fantasy world. These are just three touchpoints, and each has an idea behind it. Anyone can easily imagine and feel the provocative world created, a world where everyone is invited and participates. Note, the world was created for the fans, not for the performer. The conceptual framework is enchanting and born entirely from the imaginations of people seeking to further delight consumers and build new revenues. All of these elements seamlessly fold into Chesney concert tours, website and branded lifestyle in true singularity. Together, they bring a lot of joy to a lot of people who also spend a lot of money.
Building a Moat, Opening Growth
As we charge further into the unknown, how people feel will make and break companies and often defy rationality. If a company invests in enchanting and delighting people to build a strong human bond, it will produce the commitment, community, loyalty and accelerated adoption of new branded products to drive new growth, and also reduce risk. When companies translate business strategy into meaningful ideas that travel across venues from a corporate building to a CEO’s speech to a sales call, they build a moat around the business and a limitless foundation for new growth.