As part of the blog spotlight series I’m sharing this month I wanted to highlight the work of a creative colleague, Bec Newton. Bec is a Brisbane-based copywriter who has recently shared something new in her business: a business manifesto.
manifesto: a public declaration of policy and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party or candidate.
This isn’t a new concept but it definitely caught my attention as I haven’t seen one for an online business in many many years. So naturally, I wanted to find out more about where the idea came from, why they are useful in business, and how to go about creating one. And then share those details with you!
So read on for our discussion about how a manifesto can help grow your business.
(p.s. if you have a business manifesto, I’d love to see it, please leave your link in the comments)
Q. Where did the idea for creating a manifesto for your business come from?
Bec: Well, I first got the idea of manifestos when my friend who does hand-lettering was commissioned to make one for a client. I decided to make one for myself as a way to clarify my thoughts, and communicate what I do to my clients.
I used the manifesto as a way to explain what “ethical copywriting” means to me, and give my clients a deeper understanding of what my style of writing is about. It also gives people something to refer to as a guideline if they too want to follow the principles of ethical copywriting.
See, the main difference between ethical copywriting and other copywriting is how it feels. Ethical copywriting doesn’t use manipulation and fear-based sales tactics to sell. It just paints pictures of a brighter future and then invites the reader to step into it. Of course it’s persuasive and of course it’s ultimately designed to sell, but it’s based on respecting the reader as a human being and wanting to form long-lasting connections with them. To me, selling should just be matching up your product or service with the person who needs it.
So to effectively communicate this to potential clients I mapped out my writing style and ethos into a manifesto as a way to connect me with more of the right clients for my work, and to encourage those not in alignment to find a better suited copywriter elsewhere.
You can check out my manifesto here if you want to see what it says.
Q. How do you use the manifesto in your day-to-day business life?
Bec: The manifesto reminds me what I stand for and creates a ‘north star’ for my work, which is a kind of perfect world vision of how I’d ideally like to operate.
When you’re in an industry that prides itself on making as much money as possible for other people and being slick and perfect, it’s sometimes hard to go against the crowd and stay true to your values.
‘Going ethical’ wasn’t the easiest decision since it’s a harder sell than, “I will make you a bazillion dollars in one sales page”, so the manifesto reminds me why I did go ethical and what that means, and that I can’t do anything else and still be true to myself.
Q. Do you think it’s beneficial for businesses to have some kind of manifesto?
Bec: Yes! I think a manifesto can help to clarify people’s thoughts on what they really want to accomplish with their work.
I’m heavily influenced by Donald Miller’s work in Building a Story Brand, where he recommends giving people something larger than themselves to strive for and identify with, and I think having a manifesto helps to bring that vision to life (once you work out what it is).
Q. How can a manifesto help to optimise or grow a business?
Bec: A manifesto helps you know what you stand for, which helps you cut through all the competing messages and all the fears and doubts, so you can do your best work.
This means you can hire better, make decisions that are aligned with you, communicate your message better, be more real and authentic, and do better work.
It also gives your community a rallying point. If they like your message, lay it out for them in a manifesto and give them something tangible to follow.
Q: What needs to go into a business manifesto?
Bec: A manifesto is just a representation and communication of what your business stands for, so there’s no set format for it.
When I created my business manifesto, I just wanted a list of guidelines. But I’ve also created a manifesto detailing my views on how the face of work is changing, and that was a full-length article.
The format is up to you, but it should definitely contain:
- Your own language
- A mix of current and future state ideology
- An honest and authentic representation of who you are/your business is
- A little inspiration
- Something to take away.
Q. What’s the process of having a business manifesto created?
Bec: A business manifesto is usually created as part of a branding and messaging package, but I also offer this as a stand-alone service.
The process involves a questionnaire that encourages a brain dump of your business’s core values and vision, then we have a discussion session where we solidify the core values of your business. Then I go away and find all of the right words to succinctly put all of discussion into a manifesto that clearly outlines what you stand for, how you do things, who you work with, why you do things, and your purpose/vision.
In summary, a business manifesto can act as your guiding light in all of your business operations. Something to show you in clear concise words how you want your business to operate and to keep you focused on the direction.
This helps you to find staff and support, make decisions, work with clients, use a marketing approach, and create services that in alignment with your true business values and vision. And, I think it’d probably help reduce a lot of those random “shiny object” investments we often regret.
All in all having a manifesto for your business sounds like a worthwhile cause. But if you’re going to the effort of creating one, please actually use it! Frame it and hang it on your office wall, create a graphic of it for your desktop background, publish it on your website, include it in your proposals or onboarding documentation… somewhere to continually remind you of your values, purpose and direction.
If you’d like a manifesto created for your business, contact Bec Newton for details.
Read more interviews from the Spotlight Series.