Life can be an incredibly circular experience.
Almost twenty-five years ago, I met Steve Chapman. He took me on as a partner and taught me about drawing on creativity in ways I had never imagined to help small businesses have fun with marketing while producing incredible bottom-line results. Steve also introduced me to the Tao.
Memories of this marvelous mentor came flooding back when I discovered Amy Putkonen’s blog in July. In fact, I was so impressed with what she was doing I featured her in a post that talked about the Tao as it relates to marketing.
Amy’s Tao Te Ching Daily is a marvelous mix of small bites of Tao content and Amy’s interpretations. Her delightful approach isn’t scholarly – it’s a personal journey we all can relate to as she offers reflections and experiences.
Personally, I really enjoy getting a daily dose of Tao coming to me via e-mail and chuckle, smile and nod as I read Amy’s take on the text. I thought the readers of this blog might too, so asked Amy to provide a guest post. Here it is:
The Tao of Marketing
By Amy Putkonen
Good leaders don’t press people to be a certain way. When you really lead people, the experience to them is that they lead themselves. It should be this way with marketing too. For a really good leader, it doesn’t make a difference whether people adore you or not. What makes a difference to a good leader is that people are inspired.
Good marketing inspires people
Inspiration is when you get that little chill that makes the hairs on your arms stand up. Inspiration is a great story that makes you want to live bigger. A smart business owner knows that her relevance is expanded when she sets bigger goals. How is she changing lives with her work? Does her work reach beyond the boundaries of products and services? Is her company changing the planet for the better somehow?
Social media is changing the landscape of business
People expect that businesses will connect with them on a personal level. As a marketer, understanding Taoist principles helps you to live more authentically. There is a natural attraction to authenticity. People intuitively connect with what’s real. There is a tremendous amount of junk being pushed out there by businesses these days. In the fight to be heard, companies are overwhelming consumers. Companies often do not recognize how they are coming across to the public in their everyday business activities. The person who understands Taoist leadership principles has a huge advantage.
Sometimes business leaders do not understand the responsibility of their language in everyday life. A good example is the recent discussion that went around the Internet concerning comments by Dan Cathy, CEO and President of Chick-fil-A CEO and President. There was some discussion about whether or not his speaking out about his personal beliefs is a reflection on the company. Of course it is. In the end, the company got a ton of bad press in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Now Cathy is making efforts to smooth over his mistakes by meeting with LGBT leaders to re-establish his credibility with them. All of this could have been prevented if he had recognized that he is a reflection on his company whenever he opens his mouth and behaved accordingly. Unfortunately, he learned this the hard way.
There is a huge responsibility that comes with leadership
As a business leader, what you carry out into the world is magnified. It is so important to recognize this responsibility and use it for good. Use it to inspire people to greatness. As a company, what is your brand? Are you being responsible with your brand? Bad choices go viral. When a company does some good in the world, it goes viral too.
Personal branding is about building a tribe of raving fans and putting your energy into creating value for them.” ~John Morgan, Brand Against the Machine
Chris Guillebeau is an example of someone who has been very successful with this form of leadership. There are a lot of people who have made very successful businesses for themselves by marketing in a way that is authentic and real. People love it! They love the juicy realness. People don’t want the fakey impersonal garbage anymore! People are tired of the garbage and tired of the false pretenses.
Good leadership means being proud of what you offer to the world
The cheapest thing is not the best quality thing. If you are putting out high quality products and services, you are not about being cheap and convenient. You are standing tall. This is what is really going to help countries who have lost a lot financially to get back on their feet. Small businesses are huge.
As Nanette referred to in her article, Traditional branding isn’t smart strategic marketing today, small business owners are the leaders of the economy in the U. S. right now and perhaps in the world. There is great power in that. As leaders of small communities that together make up this country, we have a responsibility to the world. It is so important for business leaders to recognize this and stand from that place of power. It is important for small business owners to team up and work together. Gathering people in your niche or community is what leadership is all about. Leadership is about pulling people together and empowering people to be great.
Leadership and marketing are intricately entwined when it comes to small business. A good leader gets the good deals because she knows everybody in town and everyone respects her and loves her because she is authentic. Today is a new day. What can you do today to make your company great?
Amy Putkonen is currently translating a version of the Tao Te Ching in the feminine voice on her blog at www.taotechingdaily.com.