BRAVERY SPREADS – AND SO DOES COWARDICE
‘Brave’ is one of those notions you understand from the earliest moments of childhood.
I’m not referring to the use of the word ‘brave’ as used by parents trying to soothe a toddler that’s fallen over. Instead I’m talking about the instinctive respect bestowed upon the first kid in the gang to try a newly-discovered, homemade swing across the river.
I’m referring to the badge of courage conferred upon the school student willing to speak confidently back to a bully in support of another.
Nothing needs to be agreed or voted on afterwards. Everyone walks away from these occurrences understanding the transactional nature of what happened – the peer in question just obtained ‘leadership’ status in return for risks taken. The context and specifics differ as we grow, but the act of being uncommonly brave remains as rich.
The thrill that comes with a single moment of audacity, a decision made and enacted in an instant, leaves a residue: the knowledge you just redefined yourself not just to others but also to yourself; a freshly discovered power and ability to influence people and shape events.
Bravery is like a muscle. If flexed and practised regularly – it becomes a permanent and powerful addition to who you are.
Unlike muscles though, Bravery has a special characteristic. Bravery spreads.
The capacity you have to challenge bad conventions and behaviours; to change things for the better, inspires others around you to go ahead and do it for themselves.
Unfortunately the reverse is also true. Fearful, fainthearted and craven behaviour also spreads.
I contend that bravery is the single most important business quality a marketer can employ.
Throughout the process of gathering all the stories in the pages of Boring2Brave the book, nothing challenged my belief that being brave is the surest, most potent way of achieving commercial success as well as personal job satisfaction.
‘So what?’ you might ask.
Well, here are two more things to know about Bravery:
Firstly and quite simply, it’s easy to be brave. Anyone can do it.
Secondly and far less simply, few others in B2B marketing are doing it.
Some questions: do you feel too smart for your current job? Are you nagged by the feeling most days that you could offer so much more?
And is that just you? Or do you reckon it applies to others across your organisation too?
Look around you. How many others in B2B marketing can you see doing anything groundbreaking or even just fun? Does it feel like we’re fulfilling our incredible potential as a discipline?
In a business context, brave can mean any number of things. Sometimes brave is asking the difficult question others know needs asking but which has so far been ignored. Other times brave is challenging an established process that repeatedly produces mediocre results.
And though that bravery almost always results in ‘better’ for everyone, the organisation isn’t the key beneficiary of you being brave. You are.
‘Brave’ is an investment – one that comes with calculated risk – where the ROI is principally felt by you.
With every brave move you gain more influence, more respect, more personal agency, more confidence, more admirers, listeners, followers and fans. You build a reputation for leadership and therefore increase your chance of being promoted into roles that require you to lead.
The best part however, is your effect on those around you. With every moment of bravery you successfully pull off, you pass on permission to be brave to your peers.
Three things that characterise acts of business bravery
- They go against the grain: they typically challenge a powerful, prevailing wisdom and therefore feel uncomfortable and risky
- Something gets improved; bravery is used to unlock a bad situation or advance a good one
- You feel a surge, a thrill, as you carry out your act of bravery; you’re left afterwards feeling vital and like you could do it again immediately
I’m in B2B technology marketing, which should be one of the best, most exciting jobs in the world. You’d expect this particular discipline to be moving, innovating and experimenting at the same breathless pace as the products we promote. And in the absence of much true brand differentiation across much of the B2B tech market, there should be daily excitement within smart companies about the chance to exploit brilliant, emotion-led campaigns to capture both share of voice and share of market.
Instead, one has to work very hard to avoid an existence of producing boring, technical and ineffective work, to demand.
Some of the stuff we churn out – the white papers, the e-books, the webinars – isn’t just boring the very prospects we’re trying to target and impress; we’re boring ourselves.
So I’m interested in increasing B2B marketing’s impact, influence and fortunes. I’m looking to see if we can unshackle ourselves from the humdrum and often joyless task that currently is so much B2B marketing.
The kind, brilliant and talented people that contributed to Boring2Brave the book (out in the summer of 2021 but available to pre-order shortly) share a belief; a belief that B2B marketing can create bigger, better, braver stories for prospects and customers, forged from creativity, craft and audacity in the name of long-term brand building.
Some of the book might make uncomfortable reading as it seeks to uncover the series of fault lines that has somehow reduced B2B marketing’s clout and effectiveness.
I was amazed at the things you hear when 15 or 20 people from every level of seniority within our industry sit down to talk frankly about the state of B2B marketing.
The stories and case studies they shared are gathered in the book and will appear here and in our Linkedin group with the conviction that B2B marketers – regardless of budget or seniority – can boost marketing’s value in B2B organisations and increase their profile and influence while doing so.
Just by being brave.