On Monday 6th July we welcomed Michael Hayman MBE and Nick Giles, co-founders of campaigns firm Seven Hills, to present at our regular community event, Hub Talks. Speaking on the topic entitled – ‘Mission: Discover Your Campaigning Mindset’, the pair gave exclusive insight on how purpose-driven businesses with a clear mission have adopted a campaigning ethos to stand out from the rest, drawing on examples from Whole Foods, Air Bnb and Ella’s Kitchen.
Following on from the success of their Hub Talk, Michael and Nick have written this guest post – we hope you enjoy reading it!
According to research from Havas, consumers would not care if 74% of the world’s brands disappeared tomorrow. In this information-rich, attention-poor world, product alone is not enough to get noticed. To do so, businesses need to stand for something; they need a mission, a higher purpose beyond profit. A driving mission defines and differentiates the most successful businesses of today and with it comes the promise of a rare business gift- momentum. But the journey from mission to momentum is not one that every business will succeed in making. The companies breaking through are invariably led and staffed by fiercely motivated individuals, who act as campaigners in their own right.
To join them and adopt your own campaigning mentality we have identified 7 key traits exhibited by the commercial campaigners we have worked with:
Relentless drive means going the extra mile to do a great job when a good one would do. This unerring focus on success, the quest for the deal and the ability to negotiate until the end are all at the heart of what drives the campaigner forward.
Cobra beer founder Lord Bilimoria often says that: ‘Good judgement comes from experience; and experience comes from bad judgement.” A good campaigner is one who isn’t afraid to learn, both through educating themselves, and through experience. Being a sponge for knowledge will get you ahead of the pack.
Without communication there can be no campaign: no supporters, recruited, no advocates enlisted, no audiences persuaded. “The most effective organisations put communication at the centre of what they do,” says co-founder of Leon, John Vincent. A commercial campaigner is able to communicate their mission in a way that convinces customers and employees that this is a company worth investing either their money or their life in.
Great campaigners challenge the status quo: creating opportunities and exerting influence. “You need to be a disruptive type to be an entrepreneur,” says Wilfred Emmanuel Jones, founder of The Black Farmer food range. For any entrepreneur, being described as a ‘disruptive influence’ is a badge of honour and a symbol of business success.
In the start-up phase when your collateral assets are weak and your track record is non-existent, it is the ability to persuade that wins the crucial first steps- the first piece of business, the first staff member, the first investor. A successful campaigner is a persuasive salesman for their brand and vision, projecting an image not of what they are but of what they want to become.
In the early stages of building a business you need a relentless focus on getting out, meeting people and making connections. If you are not establishing a base of connections and gaining valuable recognition and word-of-mouth support, your campaign faces being stopped dead in its tracks.
According to Lord Young, the former enterprise adviser to the Prime Minister, “there is one universal characteristic that is possessed by every successful person, and that’s a positive outlook.” To immunise yourself against the inevitable criticisms and setbacks that will come your way, a healthy dose of optimism is necessary. For any growing company, this is the magic ingredient. The belief in your own ability to deliver against crazy ideas and sky-high expectations is the lifeblood of the campaigner.
If you don’t think of yourself as a natural-born campaigner, don’t be disheartened; not all entrepreneurs are. But with the seven character traits outlined above, campaigning is something that anyone can learn, adopt and perfect.