In listening to businesses and industry leaders, I hear a lot about how important it is to tell our industry story and develop trusted relationships with the community and/or consumers and between businesses across industry value chains. It is important and there are good stories to tell.
Yet there is often also a sense that ‘we’re doing a great job and they’ [insert government, community, retailer, overseas market, activists etc] just need to be educated about what we do now and then everything will be fine.
Inherent in such arguments is the belief that ‘we’ don’t have to change – people are invariably more than willing to discuss and advocate how others should change so that they can continue doing what they’ve always done.
It means a lot of effort can be invested in how to ‘push’ and amplify industry messages at the supposedly uninformed. Interestingly, efforts to ‘educate’ consumers will more than likely see the industry receiving an education.
Rather than just advocating externally, the opportunity for industry leaders and innovators is to balance the narrative with internal communications aimed at changing mindsets and business practices across the industry.
Advocating innovation and higher performance will risk unpopularity with those industry businesses that are reluctant to change. It will also put visibility on those that are not performing to industry standards – usually the same ones that put the industry and product reputation at risk.
One of the most under-valued roles of industry service organisations is as advocates of change within the industry itself. Shifting mindsets from ‘they’ should change, towards ‘how can we change faster’ to be more viable and valued by our customers, governments and the community.
You still have to tell your industry story, but leading industry change in parallel makes for a richer story. I think of it as adding substance to the sizzle.