Vulnerability: Essential to Innovation (and Content Marketing)

Over-opinionated people are everywhere. The most frustrating part of their loudly-voiced beliefs can be the unwillingness to listen to a differing idea or worse, plain refusal to explore their own. And don’t we feel stonewalled when these people are leaders, authority figures, politicians, or businesses?

As humans, we’re fallible, which means you can guarantee you’re going to be wrong sometime in your life. (I should have titled this blog How to Win Friends and Influence People). I believe we should examine our presuppositions with a desire to do the most good. It’s awesome that transparency is growing in corporations and individuals, and fortunately I feel like we’re all growing together. Mistakes happen and are usually broadcasted immediately, but they can be turned around just as quickly. Domino’s pizza ran a successful marketing strategy blasting their own slack in quality.

People seem to trust honesty and integrity more than perfection. We can’t make everyone happy and it seems some companies are even willing to knowingly offend some of the population, but most of us acknowledge that companies are run by humans. If a business can’t scrutinize their culture, products, or services and gather a concise why of the business, then unfortunately they might not be strong enough to last and evolve. A company should be clear in its vision and mission so that everything stems from that content – and is also eligible for audit. The integrity follows from doing your best to align your actions with your values. I can have an attitude of football: a football jersey, a helmet, a signed football, even a VIP season pass – but if you put me on the field I doubt anyone is going to love how much I help the team. Our values are the same: we can preach them all we want but if we aren’t actively practicing them, they’re empty.

There’s some discussion that culture is more important than strategy. I absolutely to-my-fighting-death believe that who we are is more important than what we know or who we want to be. As a company or a business, we can’t give people what we don’t have. Customer disengagement takes many forms and usually rears its head when our leaders aren’t living up to their end of the social contract. Example: Politicians and religious leaders are espousing values and laws that aren’t being displayed in their own behavior.

Brené Brown explains that just watching them shame and blame each other is degrading for us, and statistics show we’re disengaging.

Disengagement is most often the result of leaders not living up to the standards they’re preaching, and engagement isn’t built on compliance. But we’re not purposefully trying to get people to disengage, so where are we going wrong? Dehumanizing cultures create disengagement and value gaps between what we’re actually doing, feeling, thinking and our aspirational values. Our values need to align with our actions and without a vision of what values a company has or why it has them, it becomes more difficult to collectively build an authentic bridge. Innovation is not dead; there are just certain cultures that are ideal environments to nurture and protect creativity, and there are cultures that smash the vulnerability of creative thought like a whack-a-mole game.

Mpho Kekana wrote an insightful blog questioning competitive marketing and whether it’s a dull attempt at advertising. Too many of political advertising methods are lazy, shaming and uncreative. Imagine an island isolated from our current society where synergistic communities work differing jobs to support each other. This might sound far-fetched, but isn’t that still our obligation? I love that more businesses are fighting for cleaner environments and empowered communities! Marketing communicates a story of our brands and what values we provide — or it’s just white noise. We need to be real with others in our marketing and content if we expect to have real relationships with consumers.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

Brené Brown

Always, thanks for reading

Ashley

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