Chris J. Snook talks about success in politics and business in the digital age.
A political or business campaign that gathers the support of the people and, in turn, relies on those people for feedback and word-of-mouth support is becoming more commonplace in our current climate. The strands of democracy are woven from grassroots movements and, now, the people’s voice is helping create, guide, and empower individuals and businesses in a networked world. The rise of technology has led to immediate access to, and communication about, the passions, strategies, and ventures of the new grassroots campaigner.
Success in Politics
From the politics of early 20th-century hopefuls like Theodore Roosevelt to the current campaign of Ron Paul, the grassroots movement has played a major role in American democracy. The methods and attention paid to cultivate the grassroots have changed in our age of information, but the key tenets remain. People believe in someone who presents the truth and connects sincerely with his audience.
Ron Paul, as a current example, might not realistically be elected by a majority vote, but he has substantial grassroots support. Paul has accomplished something his establishment colleagues from the traditional parties have not in seizing grassroots momentum and passion to elevate his platform and issues. Through unapologetic transparency and unwavering consistency, his campaign will shape politics and discourse among the elective body for years to come. By taking the high ground of educating people on how politics is played, Paul has gained their trust. He helps to bring “the people” back into the discussion.
A successful grassroots political movement springs from a foundation of people’s concerns and ideas, relies on an efficient and embracing means of communication, and proposes solutions. Many people are disillusioned by the clutter of media and public image that prevails, and they are seeking the authenticity held in grassroots movements. The qualities espoused by these organizations are applicable to a broad spectrum of pursuits.
Success in Business
A business must gain and maintain attention in today’s marketplace. The rise of “branding,” or name recognition, dominates marketing strategies used not only by entrepreneurs, but also our politicians. The role of grassroots in this scenario depends on how “real” the business or entity appears. If a business does not maintain positive customer relations, then it becomes evident very quickly via the internet or word of mouth. A business’s worst nightmare is that it becomes irrelevant and ignored.
Internet T.V. is the new testing ground for attracting consumer, or user, attention. With over 50% of viewers dropping off after five minutes of any YouTube video, entrepreneurs and marketers must present their stories through efficient and professional means. If a business markets through video, how well a story or piece is shot, edited, and strategized is paramount to its success. The feedback loop is instantaneous. A business’s willingness to assess, adjust, and restart until the views and subscriptions grow requires dedication and creativity. However, once that company finds the formula for connecting its message to the people and holds an audience’s attention, then it is in control of the only currency that won’t deflate anytime in the near future.
In addition, customers have an incredible number of options in purchasing products and services through web-based companies. Unprecedented fragmentation makes trust crucial in a climate where attention is gold. The consistency of the message is more important than compliance with status quo paradigms of business. The key for business success is to balance true authenticity with the relevant needs of the market segment. Bluntly stated, people respond to quality, consistency, and honesty.
Grassroots Strategies for Success
A grassroots campaign is built upon its central story. People crave a story that is unique, relevant, and true. The proliferation of “train wreck” reality T.V., dogmatic political commentators, and corrupt big business has audiences clamoring for legitimate enterprises. The difference between a true persona and a manufactured image can be tricky territory, but the manufactured image is bound to have skeletons in the closet. The discovery and reflection of truth through today’s multiple media can be a quick and vicious turn.
On the business front, small ventures can really tap into the momentum of the people through respect. The easiest, although often underutilized, strategy is to reply to existing concerns, comments, and questions directed at a business. Entrepreneurs can individually address major concerns through quick video replies or posts to clarify voiced concerns. Businesses should not run from critiques but, rather, embrace them to strengthen their bond with the people. Individuals and businesses that don’t take the time to engage are failing to connect on a very basic level. Engagement between the business, or politician, and the audience is the bedrock of success.
The continued rise and success of grassroots movements has strengthened the voice of the people and, in turn, changed the face of politics and business. The instant availability of facts and feedback can crush a campaign that is not based on authenticity and genuine engagement with supporters. An audience that feels a connection to, and empowerment through, an organization values that loyalty and validity. The past of Teflon presidents and businesses above the law cannot survive in a world where people hunger for integrity and have the technology to recognize when an image is just an image.
Photo—Grass from Shutterstock