If you are a business owner, a marketer, a concerned individual or all of the above it probably occurred to you that “community” is a buzz word that is generally misunderstood depending on where you stand.
Building a community is hard work. And, like any endeavor, without clear goals the chances of success are slim to none.
When defining a goal there are usually more questions than answers. What can easily be missed is in this process is the underlying intent behind the action.
Are you honest with yourself about why you want to build a community? Is it for money? Is it to satisfy your ego? Is it altruistic? Is it to amass power?
It can be all or none of the above.
Beyond understanding the building blocks needed to create a community (barrier to entry, influence, shared emotional values etc), it is important to be clear about your underlying motivation as well. Clarity of purpose (intent) and motivation will guide your every move going forward. Success will require following a predetermined road map along with enough gas in the tank to get you there. Intent and motivation provides the fuel needed to make the journey.
It’s a funny thing about human beings: we all perceive information differently and to a large degree will spin information so that it falls in line with existing beliefs (confirmation bias).
In “Blink” Malcolm Gladwell talks about our innate ability to determine truth from fiction based upon facial muscles, instinct, context etc. No longer is “do as I say, not as I do” a valid strategy. This falseness will be apparent to everyone. Like “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, let’s hope you are not the last to know.
Building a sustainable community requires being clear about your intent and motivation. The quickest way to discover that is to look inward with honesty. Your audience/community will then be able to determine if the value you offer warrants their attention. If they choose to participate it will because they perceive that membership is of higher value than the real or implied “barrier to entry”.
How often do you buy something you want vs. something you need? Do you have the disposable income to buy a product or music on a whim, listen to it once, or, in some cases, never listen to it? Buy a coat, dress, pants or shirt and wear it infrequently? Prior to the 2008 economic crash the answer was most likely much different than today.
Our cultural values and buying habits are shifting. More value is being placed on access rather than ownership, or the concept of collaborative consumption. What’s mine is yours to share.
This is a wave that cannot be ignored. The question we all face is: “how do we adapt?”
With the demise of traditional sales channels we have all had to rethink how to sell our goods and services. I wonder how we can all be GREAT at one thing while we attempt to expand our skill sets to include marketing, promotion, sales, etc. I don’t know about you, but there are not enough hours in the day to be the best musician I can be.
What is the answer? Well, if I knew that I’d be on my private jet…flitting about the world on a whim.
I do know this. To stand out from the crowd requires dedication to excellence and the discipline to work hard enough to achieve it. (check out Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”).
I am about 2/3 of the way through reading “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. The common theme is Jobs’ obsession with brilliant products. When Jobs came back to run Apple he immediately scrapped 70% of the Apple product line. His view was: “focus on 4 products and make them great”. They were: 1 pro laptop, 1 pro desktop, 1 consumer laptop and 1 consumer desktop. Focusing on making great product enabled Apple to create exceptional value for it’s customer.
Rising above the noise of the Social Web.
We should all, musicians and non-musicians alike, strive for greatness rather than trying to appease everyone (confusing everyone in the process). “Great” will always have value. There will always be a desire for great. Who cares about mediocracy?
The silver lining may well come from the notion of “collaborative consumption”. As we continue to find more efficient means to live our lives I would like to optimistically think that discretionary spending will increase for products and services the consumer considers to be not only “great” but of “great value”.
Art is not going away. It has survived since the beginning of recorded history. Economic and political cycles come and go. Art adapts to these challenges and survives…in large part because of the human need for expression.
Take a lesson from Steve Jobs: focus on creating “Great product”.
“If you sit there long enough…it will get done”- words of my mentor that still rings in my head after all these years.
This was in the 70’s…fresh out of school.
As a young guy I wanted to light up the world and do everything. But, I was having difficulty focusing on the task at hand. My mind would wander as I sat in front of empty score pages…more often than not because I had no clue as to how to start, scared to death I would do something stupid and/or worse, embarass him.
Billy could sense my indecision as we would work together and would look over to me and at times be kind but as often frustrated with my lack of productivity. Deadlines don’t wait for the inexperienced. And in this business, if you miss a deadline you might as well pack up your things and go.
So the answer was to sit in the chair and, over time, train myself to focus. In the process I ended up becoming more disciplined about my work habits but at the beginning it was abject fear that kept me in that chair 12, 16, sometimes 20 hours a day.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers” he makes a pretty good case. In his words “the exceptional put in at least 20,000 hours of dedicated work into their craft”. The examples of this range from Bill Gates to Charlie Parker.
I have no idea how many hours I spent. I will say this: after about 5-6 years of concentrated effort the lightbulb went on and all of a sudden the world seemed different. I no longer had to struggle each time I put pen to paper…gone was the constant examination of all possible solutions to a musical problem. Yes, there have been times when I’ve struggled, we all do, the difference was I knew how to get to the end of the assignment.
So the thing to remember is that if you truly want to stand out and be exceptional, at anything, there is no shortcut. You have just have to sit there long enough….