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in the red

Living Naked

We introduce our fourth guest blogger of our monthly series on the 25th of every month, in celebration of our 25th anniversary this year, Tom Searcy, who helps companies in finding business solutions.

Tom Searcy, co-author of  “Whale Hunting: How to Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company”, author of “RFPs Suck!” and founder of Hunt Big Sales, is a sought after business solutions expert for small to mid-sized companies.  Follow Tom’s thought leadership through his blog: www.huntingbigsales.com or access his resources at www.huntbigsales.com.

I remember watching a documentary on nudists when I was of an age that I couldn’t yet buy my own “nudist” magazines at the drugstore…the ones with the brown wrappers…if they even bothered wrapping them. The documentary talked about the “freedom of nudity”, its “natural state” and “the beauty of the human form.” It was confusing as hell to me- because the human form, at least the ones at the colony, were not beautiful. Even at distance and with discreetly placed black-box-blockouts, these were some pretty unattractive people. Their nudity not only put me in a position to look at things I didn’t want too, but it answered questions about people, (surgery scars, stretch marks, the body’s response to gravity over time for example), that I was not asking.

The documentary was about a microscopic sliver of the population who had made a distinct choice. But we are all living naked now. You, me, our companies, our children. We are all naked. And we will be beyond naked very soon- (BTW, I don’t know what “beyond naked” means but I think it involves Flickr™ photos of our last set of x-rays and dental records). Are you ready to live naked?

YouTube™, Flickr™, Digg™, Twitter™, Facebook™, LinkedIn™ and the rest of the usual suspects of the social media revolution are creating a naked world. Every customer experience, every shipped product and online FAQ answer, each touchpoint in the chain of your business is open for scrutiny and discussion. You may be aware of this, which puts you ahead of the huge brands out there being lampooned every day in painful and direct ways. But what is your strategy?

I work with small to mid-sized companies who are trying to grow quickly. One of the things that we work on is their market image. One of the nice things about everyone being naked is that it’s easier to do the necessary research on a prospect company before you see them. But…It works in reverse…(sometimes when I work with companies they forget this part).

Here’s what I tell my small to mid-sized companies:

  • Control – You don’t have it any more, so take a deep breath and stand tall, proud and naked. You can control your integrity and your authenticity. Focus on that. Don’t focus on the buttoning-down of over point of entry and exit to your perceived brand machine. That’s like trying to grab the wind with a sack.
  • It’s Never Fair – Of course attacks are unfair. No one is trying to provide a ‘fair and balanced’ story, as if there ever is one. Don’t waste time trying to make their attacks ‘fair’ by offering your point-by-point answers. The bell has rung- you are not going to un-ring it. You can just respond.
  • Fast and Good – A quick response that is reasonable is much better than a slow response that is perfect. Do you see Toyota out there floundering with the slow and perfect story? That’s because slow in the naked world is by definition imperfect.
  • Find Your Voice – As a writer and speaker, I go through a number of exercises to make certain I am writing in my voice. Not what I think to be the “professional and homogenized” voice. In the heralded brands around the world, one of the key elements to the rankings is their consistency and authenticity of their voice. You need to make certain that the voice is an authentic voice.
  • Be 3-D – All the movies are going 3-dimensional for the same reason; the audience expects a different experience. You have to be multi-dimensional in your market message. A website with a never-changing brochure of product/service lists doesn’t cut it. Customers want the multi-dimensional experience. Give it to them. Videos, photos, blogs and ever-changing content.
  • Thousand Points of Light – Your brand is no longer just the crafted message of your marketing firm. The touchpoints are now your brand- employees, customers, vendors and competitors. You have to be out there knowing what is being said. You can’t survey once a quarter and keep track of the voices. This has to be a daily part of someone’s role. Key word searches and tracking make it easier- but it has to be done constantly.

On this blog-site, you can read past entries to see what it is like to live naked. Noemi’s blogs provide examples of how ugly in can look when big companies try to hide. This is especially true for those companies who have not yet realized that the emperor not only isn’t wearing clothes, but his wardrobe has been shredded. But the question for you should be “What is my strategy for living naked?”

When thinking through your strategy, include these questions:

  1. On a simple Google search of my company’s name and my name, what comes up and in what order? Is it what I want to come up? How can I change it?
  2. How do we tell our story to the world at the level of customer, employee and supplier? How is the world telling our story to us in the naked world at the level of customer, employee and supplier? What does it mean about us if no one is telling our story?
  3. Who are the examples of companies, regardless of industry, that we look up too in the naked world? What can we learn from them?

Fortunately for me, living in a naked world requires neither diet, nor exercise nor surgery. But it does require confidence and a strategy. What’s yours?

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