A very practical application of the REACT framework™
I was recently asked about how I came to outsource the marketing activities of my business; what was the process of doing so? How did I make the decision? My reflection was that I used on myself the REACT framework™ that I use with my clients to appoint my Social Media Maven to handle marketing for my business.
Let me explain. At the time, the decision to appoint was actually not as easy as it seems to me now; now it is entirely natural to me that Sarah and her team at Mushroom Soufflé are an integral part of my business. However, before I took the plunge it did take me ages to decide and it was the REACT framework™ that finally enabled me to commit.
When I set up my business, I decided that the strategy would include claiming expert status and as part of that I would write and have published a book on business transformation (yes, ‘Dance with the Elephants’ was first dreamt of back in 2010, although back then it was known as ‘The Book’). I took something like 3 years to hone my writing capabilities and style, writing with increasing frequency. When I started to write my book, on Christmas Eve in 2013, I knew I would need a marketing plan for it that was integrated with the marketing plan for WTT Results Ltd. That meant my business would need an actual marketing plan, as opposed to the ‘virtual plan’ that I kidded myself was sufficient.
Writing the book was far more enjoyable than the prospect of writing a marketing plan, so the marketing plan got postponed, delayed and rationalised out of my priorities. One of the reasons I knew my book would get done was that I made a public commitment to rather a lot of people that I was writing it and that it would be available by ‘late summer’ of 2014. The website and imagery for the book were done very early on and I ‘put it out there’ that the book was coming – a technique I encourage my clients to use to help them make and keep bold commitments.
To my mind, October cannot be considered to be a part of ‘summer’; therefore the book needed to be published by the end of September at the latest (it actually made it to Amazon on September 19th and the launch date was the last day of September). However, at the start of May of that year I still hadn’t completed my marketing plan. It wasn’t rocket science, and my friend Chantal had provided me with an excellent book telling me how to create an appropriate marketing plan, but it needed a herculean effort on my part to clear two consecutive days in my diary to get it done (having faffed around for weeks).
The two days saw me complete my marketing plan, and then the difficulties really showed up and had a great time tormenting me. I couldn’t possibly do all the things my marketing plan stated I needed to get done, and run my business, and sleep. It was just too much. The stark reality revealed itself – I needed to outsource my marketing, and fast! Intellectually, I got it. Emotionally, I recognised I really didn’t want to do it. But why was I so resistant? The simple truth was I felt outsourcing my marketing was outsourcing my voice, letting someone else speak for me, and I couldn’t get comfortable with the prospect of losing any control at all of my message. After all my messages, my content, my voice was unique to me.
This was deeply ironic! At several points in my career, I had undertaken personally the very same task for others. I had spoken, written and presented on behalf of senior leaders that I worked for. In one situation, I had regularly prepared up to a week’s worth of material for my CEO to use with our parent company – based on only around 30 minutes one-to-one time with him in total. I also delivered his presentation to each of the company’s induction events – in effect speaking with his voice.
I was running out of runway; it was now the end of May and the publication date was looming ever larger. Before long I would be down to 100 days. Leave things undone much longer and any actions taken to market the book would likely be too little, too late and would not achieve a decent ROMI (Return On Marketing Investment). The question formed in my mind ‘what would I do if I was with a client in this situation?’ The answer was instant – I would introduce them to the REACT framework™ and then work through it with them. It was time for the cobbler to fix his own shoes; time for me to work through REACT.
R is for Recognise – what did I need to recognise about my state? I was certainly feeling some tension, some discomfort, and quite a lot of unease. I was five months into the book and it was going really well, but it could all end in very public disappointment if I had to delay, or shame if it was published and nobody knew about it or wanted to read it. I was anxious, frustrated with myself, and recognised the wispy spectre of fear. In summary – not a good state.
Evaluating (the E) whether or not my state was appropriate to what I wanted to do took a very short moment of reflection. It clearly wasn’t.
But what were the Appropriate resources that I needed? Were there any times when I had access to such appropriate resources? When had I outsourced something in my past? That was a tough one in that the examples I came up with were pretty lame. Things like letting the car dealership service my car instead of trying to do it myself just weren’t of the same order as outsourcing my voice. The truth was that I had never done this before.
Again, what would I do with a client in this situation? One option would be to ask if the client knew well anyone who had done what they wanted to do. I did; I could think of 3 individuals who had actually outsourced their voices to me. Could I model my behaviour on theirs? Best to choose just one initially, so I focused on one of the three. What were the resources that he had deployed successfully? The best approach would be to identify the three most important and effective resources.
This I did, coming up with a list as follows:-
- A combination of trust, faith and belief that it would work
- Patience, and an understanding that things would develop and improve with time
- Willingness to invest time in safer situations before diving in deep in public
Things now came much easier to me and I noticed a change in my physiology (as I would with a client); I felt much more relaxed, confident and pleased with myself (a great contrast to a previous state of beating myself up at the prospect of failure). Could I recall a time when I had operated pretty much on the basis of blind trust? Many times; it was just a question of picking one of them. I recalled a weekend when I was living in Japan; I had been there just over six months, my spoken Japanese was way short of what I would have wanted, and I couldn’t read more than a handful of the written kanji characters – basic literacy being 2,000 characters. But I was determined to go way out of the relatively familiar Tokyo conurbation into the unknown of a small town with a famous garden far away – AND to go out using one route and back using another (simply retracing my steps was kept as a contingency). The weekend had gone well (not fault-free) and I made it, got wonderful food, photographs and memories. I also managed to go out one way and return using a completely different route.
In the interest of brevity I am not going to share what I identified for the other two resources, it’s sufficient to tell you that I followed the same process as in the preceding paragraph. I had managed to Claim the resources (the C of REACT) I needed. I had also learned that the Chief Executive who had trusted me with his voice did not know me particularly well when he did. My assumption had been the person to whom I outsourced would need to be someone I knew well and who knew me well – not true! That assumption would have severely limited my choice and quite probably extend my timescales; my new understanding was very liberating.
The final step of the REACT framework™ was to Take the appropriate resources with me into the time when I was to outsource my marketing, my voice, my identity. With these rediscovered resources I decided that Sarah and I should get together to discuss things. I got to our meeting place about 20 minutes early, and spent the time recollecting the three events that represented for me the appropriate resources I would need to make the meeting successful – to agree on outsourcing my marketing. I recognised the distinction between ‘what’ and ‘how’. The decision to outsource (the ‘what’) had been made. Whether or not it was to Sarah (the ‘how’) was different – if not Sarah then serendipity would likely help me to find someone else. As it turned out, we got it right first time. We interacted with more than 1500 people on the launch-day of ‘Dance with the Elephants’.
I hope this outline of my very practical application of REACT has helped increase your understanding and will give you greater access to achieving what you really want to achieve, leading to being the best you want to be almost always. If you want to learn more about how to use REACT expertly, and are seriously committed to being the best you want to be, help is available to you here http://bit.ly/REACTworkshop