Leo Tolstoy once said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.“
It’s a rather bleak sentiment. But it’s one that came home to me last week during a little anniversary trip that Janet and I took to the Tuscan region of Italy.
We stayed at what’s known as an agriturismo farm. It’s a type of vacation spot that combines homemade food and drink (the “agri” part) with a place to sleep, relax and sightsee (the “turismo” part).
This particular farm, called Cretaiole (kreh-tie-OH-lay), is run by Isabella and her husband Carlo. She’s a wicked smart and talented marketer from Milan. And he’s a wicked smart and talented farmer who is also the olive-oil-tester-in-chief for the province of Siena.
During a “get to know everyone” session, Isabella told all of us guests the story of how she came to town loaded with big-city ideas for turning the farm into a five-star luxury destination replete with swimming pools and cabana boys named Antonio.
To her surprise, every one of her proposals met the same response from Carlo and his father Luciano: “Assolutamente No!”
Rough translation: “Not no how! Not no way!”
Eventually Isabella got the message, which is that on this farm, tradition trumps trendy.
So what did she do — pack her bags and move back to Milan?
Assolutamente No! Instead, she embraced that message and turned it into a spectacular differentiator.
How she did it is a lesson for those of us who offer products and services that are commodities or, at the very least, difficult to position.
So with a hat tip to Isabella and Carlo, here are some things you too can do…
Your own philosophy might be grounded in the reason why you entered your particular field, your personal vision, or the limitations of other solutions. Write it down and use it to establish the central theme for your content.
Your own ideal customer is someone who understands and connects with your philosophy. Create content that speaks to him within the context of that philosophy. No, it won’t be for everyone. But if you do it well, that content will resonate with customers who are a superior match for what you do.
Acknowledge the value of other available solutions.Then explain the advantages of your own philosophy and why your products and services are a better fit under those circumstances.
To be effective, think about how to continually adapt your own content. That doesn’t mean relying on clever tricks like “newsjacking.” It does mean regularly assessing how your audiences respond to what you say. Then making sure you deliver what your content promises.
The bottom line: Tolstoy was on to something.
No matter how hard you try, you have little control over the world of markets, demand, the economy, competition, regulations and, most especially, what goes on inside the heads of your prospective customers.
But you can change how you listen, interpret and respond to that world.
And when you effectively connect that response to your audiences’ needs, they’ll see your offerings as the logical choice.
So until next time, ciao comunicatori!