Want to Make an Emotional Connection? Be Brave Enough to Act Like an Artist.

As you prepare for the week ahead it’s a good time to consider, “how will I be brave?” It’s a particularly important question for sales and marketing teams to explore.

Bravery is essential when it comes to reaching, inspiring, and connecting with audiences. Connection doesn’t happen through wishful thinking, it happens through courage.

Every successful salesperson knows that bravery is a requirement. At some point, you have to swallow your fear and pick up the phone, knock on the door, or walk up to the prospect. Showing up is an act of courage, and it demonstrates that you care. Connection with another human being requires:

  • bravery
  • empathy
  • authenticity
  • originality
  • vulnerability

In his 2012 book The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin makes a beautiful case for bravery. He passionately advises us to get out of our comfort zone and stop behaving like typical marketers, tacticians, and strategists. Instead, Godin asks us to think and act like artists—people who are compelled to create in spite of the fear.

As Godin explains, we are living in a new era. The industrial economy is over, and the connection age is here. The industrial economy was about making stuff, and the connection economy is about sharing valuable information, earning trust, and embracing innovation. It’s about connecting on a deeper level. It’s no longer enough to have the best product. There are lots of great products. To stand out, you have to be brave enough to do things differently, to get emotional, and to connect human-to-human.

For years, marketers have had the luxury of thinking about connection as something that happens through specific channels, campaigns, and touch-points. At its core, inbound marketing, which has been a driving force for marketers for the past few years, is a process and a journey. The creators behind the connections are safe. They don’t have to be vulnerable or exposed in order to interact. If it doesn’t work, there’s a problem with the process. However, as the connection economy grows, marketers are going to have to embrace bravery and allow themselves to feel vulnerable. Connection is no longer about about click-throughs, it’s about breakthroughs.

Connection isn’t easy. It’s risky, it’s difficult, and it’s frightening. Art is also risky, difficult, and frightening. We’ve gotten pretty good at connecting superficially through technology, but reaching someone digitally isn’t the same as reaching them emotionally.

Forrester’s research report “The Whole-Brained Design of Signature Moments” states, “humans rarely form emotional bonds from an aggregated set of experiences; instead bonds are formed by specific moments that get above the noise of the day and make an impression. Moments, not journeys, win (or lose) the hearts, minds, and wallets of your customers.”

Connecting with an audience “in the moment” is also something that artists do. It’s why you can read a great piece of literature at different times in your life and have completely different experiences.

This became evident when we worked with the design team for the Country Music Awards. When you get to be a part of an event like this, you notice a few things. It’s understood that this is one of the biggest nights of the year for country music, so there’s no holding back. It’s clear that the physical labor, which there is plenty of, is there as part of a larger emotional payoff. The goal is to connect and move audiences; to make the most of the live moment and deliver something magical. It’s not about seeing Tim McGrawMiranda Lambert, or Keith Urban perform a song the way they do on tour or in a video. It’s about creating a magical moment; one that connects at a specific time, and that requires vulnerability, collaboration, hard work, fearlessness, and authenticity.

Several years ago, marketers had to learn to think like publishers. Now, marketers need to act like producers, creating live-streamed content, events, customer experiences, serial content, performances, and brand films.

Technology has given us access to incredible tools. Anyone can be a publisher or a producer, but it’s not ability that will win the hearts and minds of audiences, it’s intent. The fake news industry is capable of publishing and producing things that create dramatic emotional reactions, but the intent is not to connect—it’s to divide, fool, and manipulate. If you want to form an authentic and long-lasting bond, you have to think of how you can improve the lives of your audience in a specific moment.

Try to think like the producers of the CMAs, and create the biggest night of the year as often as possible. Summon the bravery required by the performer walking on the set for the first time with new material, new musicians, new lights, and new scenery in front of thousands people. Moving forward, see if you can’t develop the traits and behaviors of the successful visual and performing arts. To guide you, here’s a partial and slightly edited list of what the Hollywood Actor’s Studio seeks in its actors.

  • People with an unshakable faith & complete confidence in their talent & ability
  • People who focus consistently on what is possible rather than what’s not
  • People who visualize what’s possible
  • People with a big appetite for staying open, vulnerable, available, and aware at all costs
  • People who never cease searching for their unique style and expression
  • People who have searched for the deep longings that inspire them to create and bring that out in their work
  • People who are willing to be leaders
  • People who keep their spark alive and act from it
  • People who find ways to share their deepest feelings and experiences through their work
  • Above all, people who stay true to themselves

For the rest of the year, try to embrace your inner artist. Find the courage to stand out and treat every moment and every encounter like it’s the biggest, most important one of the year. You just may be able to create your own magic.

To learn more about how to create moments, scenery, spaces and images that connect with your audience, contact robin@concordcreative.com.

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