Updated: Sep 27, 2021
I recently watched the first season of a TV show called “City on a Hill”, which was directed by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. I am sure you are wondering why I am talking about a TV show instead of business. My answer is be patient, I am getting to it.
At the very last seen of this TV show's season one, the pastor of a church said
"A City on a Hill cannot be hidden".
I immediately had one of those eureka moments. I could clearly see how this statement was valid in a business context, and how we apply it everyday consciously and subconsciously in business.
When it comes to business, what represents the "City" and what represent the "Hill"?
The word "City" comes from the Latin root civitas, originally meaning 'citizenship' or 'community member'. In business having a community of followers could be likened to an organisation's life blood. It is common knowledge that to build a community of followers on social media or through subscribers, you either undertake paid advertising or organic inbound marketing by creating free engaging content for your audience. The former is quite expensive and unaffordable for startups that bootstrap. The latter is more sustainable, and to be honest the only long term option for any organisation.
A "Hill" on the other hand is a piece of land that rises higher than everything surrounding it. Figuratively speaking, a hill or mountain is something you have to look up to, unless for some reason you are taller than one.
In summary, a business needs two core components to be visible organically, for all to see. They need a "City" and a "Hill". Without this, you will have to spend a fortune on online marketing and ads.
To be build a "City" you need to create content relevant to your audience, but that will never be enough. The reason why influencers are in so much demand is because they represent the "Hill". Business leaders with influencer status are key in giving growing businesses the jolt they need to be visible and grow a city of followers.
Whether its through funding, testimonials or giving their public stamp of approval, startups need established business leaders to back them, if they want to attract the right audience. You need both "Cities and Hills" to give your business the visibility they require to grow. The only other option is to spend a fortune on Google and Facebook ads.
Lets say you launched a social media company that will compete in the same market as Facebook and Twitter. Then lets say you are backed by Elon Musk or Bill Gates. Initially, these big names (Hills) will drive demand to your platform, and attract followers that may become leads (City). Still, if you don't have the right content, or rather, create content constantly for your brand, that traffic will slowly subside. Even if it was Barack Obama backing you.
To sustain your brand, you need to have great content in the form of tutorials, blogs, articles, white papers, video content, anything that is educational, free and helps your targeted audience. It must also be relevant to your brand. If you have that, and the backing of a seasoned business leader, then you can sustain that traffic to your platform and generate leads.
The worst example I can give is Donald Trump. He understood how creating content daily was important to building his right wing, and possibly racist community. He didn't need a "Hill" because he was already one. He took advantage of his status as a "Hill" and created negative content, which built him a massive community willing to interrupt the US democratic process of presidential handover.
Don't forget your product and services are also content, but may not be enough to sustain a business on its own. Still, if your product and services are bad, there is no amount of content, funding, or ads that will sustain your business.
So start building your “City“, by creating content. Once you know you have the right content, start looking for your “Hill”, then climb it for the whole world to see you.
Statistics show that audiences are more engaged by videos, so ensure you mix your content with a good amount of videos. A good place to start would be to listen to Shay Rowbottom, she knows all about using video to generate leads. Check out her videos at Shay Rowbottom - YouTube
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