Compelling Isn’t Just Interesting

I’ve seen it often in my years in marketing, this perception that certain industries are not tailor-made for interesting or compelling, sexy or otherwise.

Accompanying this is a natural resistance to change, a tendency toward rigid and impersonal business models that extends from bottom line to growth strategy.

This process results in being closed off and inward focused, sometimes paranoid. There is a cultural element that perpetuates this resistance to opening the blast doors a bit and letting in some light.

Some of its the traditional methods that permeate the food chain, from sourcing to production, advertising to consumption. Certainly in some industries, tradition is ingrained by both necessity and a slow adoption curve.

I spent some time in the industrial and manufacturing space, which is a fantastic example of industry that is in some ways still relatively timeless.

It’s not uncommon to find distributors and manufacturers still communicating orders via hand-written line cards, or engineers sourcing specifications on products using relatively archaic and inefficient methods.

But what’s interesting is when organizations of this nature start to loosen up and accept the possibilities of what technology – beyond just the manufacturing line – can do for their business.

In these instances, it’s not necessarily about convincing a CMO to tweet their manufacturing processes or product specs to the hills.

It’s about creating efficiencies in how the different aspects of the business talk to each other. If a procurement agent for an engineering firm approaches a distributor of metal pressing components, how do you as business better facilitate this exchange?

Better yet, how do you better understand the dynamics of a procurement agent’s sourcing habits so that you can adapt and get them the information they need quicker and more effectively?

Which is to say, by better understanding your customers, how can you better serve them?

This is the crux of what it truly means to be compelling in an era where design innovation and a slew of other factors are increasingly changing how businesses interact with customers.

I (and the rest of the Proof team) would be the first to stand up and declare that part of being compelling is a commitment to doing work that matters.

But how “matters” is defined is ultimately subjective.

Which is exactly why I’m also a big believer that the idea of being compelling is far too often tied to being interesting, when in reality it’s more often an equation of going above and beyond to produce what is most valuable to those you serve.

My challenge to brands looking for long-term sustainability is three fold:

  1. Lose the assumption that you can’t be compelling just because the nature of the business isn’t sexy.
  2. Define your compelling in terms that matter to the customer, not to the promotional campaign. Compelling can also be useful, accessible, efficient, etc.
  3. Set the expectation for you and your team to execute on compelling. Refine the process, implement new ones, build a component that evolves a relatively stagnant or mediocre product into something truly useful. Build good to great, don’t just believe in it.

The truth?

Any business, industry, and CFO/CEO/CMO can be or lead compelling from vision status to a tangible part of how you run your business.

The question is whether you’re willing to do the work required to build compelling into the foundation and own it from this point forward, or if you’re simply resigned to push compelling into the corners of the closet to collect dust out of fear and insecurity.

You decide.

(photo credit)

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