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.)
Running a successful business relies heavily on managing resources and using them wisely. But certain marketing essentials require investments and should be treated as such. In fact, many of them are pre-requisites to profitability.
We often get too close to our business to see it the way others do. We build a virtual bubble around ourselves and lose the perspective needed to make sound strategic decisions.
When you meet new prospects, network or attend industry events, the moment you hand out your business card, your credibility will be on the line. If you’ve taken a long time to build a first-rate reputation, don’t let a second-rate website undo it.
As the year closes, ask yourself how your current challenges and objectives align with your overall vision. Have you lost your way, or are you sticking to your Brand Promise? Is it still meaningful to your customers and prospects? Have you allowed yourself the room to evolve with their needs, or have you boxed yourself in?
While I was enjoying a great pastime, I was also learning about the power of human potential. I discovered how greatness can be achieved through sheer will or by overcoming the challenges of unforeseen circumstances.
If your business is like ours, you don’t have a bottomless marketing budget to build awareness of a name that lacks clarity. We have to be more calculated and deliberate.