I am what they call a “birder.” A birder is different than a bird watcher. The Urban Dictionary defines a birder as,
“A species of bird watcher. Not as fanatical as a twitcher. A birder will find hours of entertainment sitting by a window or in his car watching the behavior and interaction of various species of birds.”
There are two ways to observe birds in the wild. One is to venture into their natural habitat with binoculars in hand, find a spot, keep silent, wait and watch. The other is to draw them into your own territory by offering them food. Most backyard species can be attracted with a good seed mix. Insect-eating birds prefer suet blocks. If you’re not offering a quality blend, you won’t draw in a diverse group.
The first method requires more time, knowledge and patience, while the second can be as casual as a warm evening relaxing on the porch. But, it’s that second method that brings with it far greater responsibility. Once you begin to feed birds, they become dependent on you. They consider your offerings a staple of their diet and expect a fresh supply to be available. Those of us in the colder climates are more hard-pressed to keep that feeder well-stocked during the Winter months. Often, we’re the only source of food for these feathered friends.
But, it seems birds aren’t the only ones who are accustomed to my benevolence. For example, just this morning, we had a fresh layer of snow. As I was refilling the feeder, I turned around and saw no less than 20 deer standing in my yard watching me. They, too, were hungry and impatiently waiting for me to leave, so they can take advantage of my hospitality. Last week, it was a half dozen or so wild turkeys. During the warmer months, my patrons include raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels and more.
It turns out that I’m not only influencing my environment, I’m contributing to the ecosystem.
What are You Doing to Grow Your Circle of Influence?
Your circle of influence should not be confined to your immediate sales prospects. One of the best ways to grow it is by sharing your expertise. That’s what marketing in the 21st Century is all about. Blogging, public speaking, networking, social media, etc. are all ways to contribute to the environment and get people to rely on you as the trusted expert and go-to resource for what you do best.
As your circle of influence grows, it will take root in areas well beyond your customer base. Potential investors, career-seekers, local media… they’ll all know who you are and what you stand for. That’s where you begin to build real Brand Equity and people become more willing to pay a premium for what you offer. The more you give, the more you’ll gain.
So, how are you contributing to the ecosystem?
Remember, you’re not here just to feed the birds.
Don’t forget the deer,
and the wild turkeys,
and the geese,
and the raccoons,
I’ll confess that I tend to draw the line at the squirrels. They’re too damned destructive. Plus, if you get too close, they’ll bite you.
(The photos above are, in fact, visitors to my bird feeder.)
You seem to be great at what you do. You have a terrific product. Your media coverage has been impressive. You’ve been serving the industry for decades. But, what does it mean to your customers? What’s in it for me?
If your brand cannot adapt to change, you could end up burning cycles recovering what you lost instead of spending your time building on what you have. As Ben Franklin once put it, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
As the calendar year winds down, it always a good idea to take a step back to revisit and refresh your marketing. Your business will be better off by doing so. But, don’t go overboard and be too disruptive.
Even if you’ve been able to put a check mark next to that spanking-new website on your marketing to-do list, get out your eraser. Your work has only just begun. A successful website is never once-and-done.
It’s always a good idea to take a step back and be more introspective about your unique qualities and strengths. By looking beyond short-term distractions, we often discover that we still have a place to fit in.
It’s important to look like you belong in your market. But, it’s more important to promote your own uniqueness. Remember, your brand and identity is about differentiation. It’s not about being like the others.