All the World's a Stage - Messaging Lessons from Home County
It was a beautiful, sunny weekend here in London, ON. The perfect kind of weekend to go strolling in a park and maybe listen to a little music. Fortunately, the Home County Music & Art Festival was in full swing and in addition to a whole lot of listening, we were able to do a little learning on the side.
Digital Echidna is a proud sponsor of Home County and we recently launched its new website. On a personal note, I've been involved with the festival for a few years -- and have friends on its board. I volunteer as a shuttle driver and a photographer (Day one here; Day two here) -- just to lay my cards out on the table for transparency's sake.
It was William Shakespeare who said "all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players," in As You Like It. (Later paraphrased by Elvis who sang, "You know someone said that the world's a stage and each of us play a part..."). From a stage, behind a keyboard, or in a retail environment, we're all just trying to make connections with people. So, with that in mind, here are some lessons from Home County that apply to business communications, web marketing, and social media.
Part of the festival is getting to know the personalities behind the performances. It can be a challenge when you're on a stage, separated from the crowd, but those issues parallel what you, as a business, deal with interacting with clients -- you're at least one degree of separation away. But it's vitally important to humanize your interactions wherever it makes sense.
Despite the fact that we, as a society, spend a lot of time staring at screens, we're really searching for connection. Social media is just that -- a tool to connect you to a larger society. We visit websites searching for solutions to problems we have or expecting have certain needs met -- human needs solved by fellow humans.
That's not saying you can't be completely removed. After all, certain industries lend themselves better to detachment. But while a just-the-facts approach can work, adding a human element makes it better.
On stage, you have performers who spend their time playing in spite of the crowd. They may be technically proficient and be appreciated by the audience, but they're not embraced in the same way that a performer who engages with the crowd will be. Sure, you know they've told these same stories over and over, but the ability to make that interaction feel unique and of the moment means that the audience feels connected.
When we feel connected, we feel invested. And that's what you want from your customers -- a sense of belonging and investment.
At the festival, there are multiple stages and it can be hard to stand out. How do you make a passerby choose to sit down? After all, there are dozens of performers, many playing the same style of music. So what sets you apart?
The same goes for business. Chances are your service offerings are not dramatically different from your competition. In a retail environment, you may be selling the same product. So what's the differentiator? How do you stand out?
In the festival environment, there are stages everywhere. So how do you choose? Home County creates themes on its side stage, which helps to differentiate interest levels. Another way is to offer something someone else can't.
A couple of years ago, I was taking photos and heard this powerful voice ring out through the park. It was Irish Mythen whose voice just overwhelmed everything and commanded your attention. This year, I had a couple of similar experiences with both Jenn Marino and Lisa LeBlanc bringing that same type of vocal power to the festivities. Those are the moments where you stop what you're doing, say, "What is that?" and are compelled to find out. That's the type of reaction you want to solicit from your potential customers -- that compelling call to action that demands attention.
Also, I won't lie, my ears perked up when Royal Wood transitioned into a Purple Rain break during their main stage performance
Ultimately, there are many ways to be catchy: service, humour, price, added value options. But, ultimately, all the attention in the world won't matter if you can't live up to the next point.
Be Able to Deliver
Your product, service, or offering is the foundation upon which everything else must be built. What good is an amazing website and an innovative and commanding social media/advertising strategy if all that attention just brings customers back to a product that doesn't meet their needs or is of inferior quality.
If you're going to shout look at me from the stage, make sure you're giving something worthwhile to look at. Style means nothing without substance.
Deliver upon your promises, focus on the customer's needs, and work diligently to meet and exceed expectations. That's how you develop loyal fans.
Oh, and Stay hydrated
That's just good advice not matter what, really. Whether you're walking a park for hours on end, or sitting behind a keyboard, grab a glass of water now and again.