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.)
The bankruptcy courts are full of great ideas that were undermined by ineffective branding and promotion. Build it and they will come? No, they won’t. Not unless you make them really want to. Or, better yet, need to.
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?
Nobody is an expert at everything. Nobody. At one time or another, we all find ourselves forced into situations outside of our comfort zones. That’s why it’s important to rely on the expertise of others to help you make educated decisions and get the job done right.
There’s no reason why you cannot go toe-to-toe with the “big boys.” That’s if you have the determination to up your game and bet on yourself. I’m willing to bet on you.
Spring is a season of renewal and rejuvenation. So, shake off the rust, get out the broom and add some polish to your business. Here are a few things you should consider at least once a year to tidy up your marketing.
If you’re looking to create a new brand identity or enhance your current one, expect to be deeply involved, regularly challenged and perhaps a bit frustrated. It surely won’t happen overnight. But your patience will certainly pay off.