What Do You Stand For? - Write Your Manifesto


Super cool word isn’t it?

Sometimes I just like to over enunciate it. Maaaaan-i-feeeees-toe….

But beyond it being one of those great words like “pants” or “pickle”, a manifesto is something every company should have.

So, what’s a manifesto?

A manifesto is essentially a statement of beliefs that allows both your internal team, employees, and prospects as well as your external customers (only if you want – more on this later) to understand who you are and what you stand for.

And why is it important to let the people who touch your company in anyway know what you believe in? Because this is WHY they do business with you.

This is WHY they stay after work and finish that long project instead of looking for another job. This is WHY they select your product or service over another.

This is WHY they stay after work and finish that long project instead of looking for another job. This is WHY they select your product or service over another.

One of the biggest misconceptions in business is that people want to know what we do and how we do it.  

This is where most business leaders, marketing, and sales people mistakenly spend their efforts.

To give you an example I can spend a ton of time if I’m talking to a prospect or a customer telling them that we’re all about story and that we believe that story changes the world and story is going to impact your business and drive results. How do we do it?  Let me tell you, I love talking about it (although no one else really does)!  “Well, we have this framework that we take you through, this seven step process that’s going to change the way you approach the way you communicate… etc.”

Don’t get me wrong.  The what and how ARE important. You do need to clearly articulate that to your team and customers.  But a little goes a long way.  Essentially the what and how are what we call “permission to play” attributes. You have to have them just to get in the conversation.

Apple and Samsung definitely tell you about their products and what they do… but only so you can check those requirements off your list.  

4G LTE, check.

Black case, check.

Can download any app I need? Check.

So once the “permission to play” boxes are checked off, then it quickly comes down to what each company is about and what YOU believe in that determines your purchasing decision.  I’m an Apple-lover for the record.

When it comes down to it, it is getting harder and harder for companies to differentiate in today’s market.

Look at Apple and Samsung. They are in a feature race and the features they have are really no different. Will either phone handle voice, text, or data any better than the other? No, they both get the job done superbly.

What customers really want to know are  the WHY and WHO.

These are the questions that really matter and these are the questions that we’re always asking at WILDSTORY when we attempt to solve any problem or work with a customer. When we’re trying to sell our services it’s all about WHY and WHO and a manifesto allows you to do just that.

I’ve posted our company manifesto here for WILDSTORY and so you can see first hand how this might look and feel.  Immediately, you’ll get an understanding for our company tone and values.

Wildstory Company Manifesto

This manifesto is written in our company nomenclature and personality. We say things like “we can’t stand people who poop on dreams!”  And while that is true for us, it may not be the right message for you or your company.  If you’re a company that doesn’t use that language you shouldn’t put that in your manifesto. The only real rule is to be honest about who you are then to scream your true essence from the rooftops.

By being true to yourself you will let others know if you’re a good business fit.

Right away when you read our manifesto you know what we’re all about, what’s important to us, and if you might like working with us (or not – that’s great too! We’re not for everybody).

At the end of the day people crave, whether it’s in your personal relationships or your business relationships, to know what you stand for.  

And if you stand for everything people know inherently that you stand for nothing.

If you stand for everything you stand for nothing.

If you stand for everything you have communicated to the world that you’re beige and unclear on who you are as a company. Think about that. Are you attracted to people or companies like that? I’m guessing not.

It’s so important to communicate what you stand for to your employees, prospects, and your new hires. Everyone talks about wanting to attract A-talent but outside of evaluating on skill set, this is a great way to know if they are the right fit for your team — not every A-player is.

We use this document when we’re going out to the market to both look for new hires and let people know what our company is all about.

It’s one of the first pages in our new business proposal because right away we want clients and prospective clients to know who we are and what we stand for and you’re either with us or against us and either one is fine.  We just want to know sooner than later in the relationship.  Many customers are initially afraid to share their manifesto with the outside world. They are worried about offending potential or existing customers. But what they soon find is the exact opposite happens. They begin to develop deeper and stronger relationships.  But if you’re not comfortable sharing your manifesto with the world it’s fine to keep it as an internal document.

A little note on this “you’re either with us or against us” idea.  Look, it’s not us against the world. You don’t have to believe what we believe but what we believe is an inherent part of how we do business . Like most people, we want to work with people who have the same values as us and who want to accomplish the similar goals. How to communicate this? Through your manifesto of course.

You can also create a personal manifesto. This is an example of one that I have personally for myself.

Persona Manifesto

This is what I personally believe. This is representative of my personal outlook on life, my world-view as it’s called, and it’s a great way to let people know what you stand for.

Perhaps more importantly it’s a great way to remind yourself what you stand for.

So many times we get lost in confusion about who we are and it really all starts with ourselves. I work with so many visionary entrepreneurs that want to get right into crafting their business story, but I remind them that first we need to develop your story, remember who YOU are, so we can have a proper foundation for the business story.

So once you’re very clear on who you are you can then go out into the world and do amazing things and change the world through your business – but first you need to know what’s really really important to you.

At WILDSTORY creating a manifesto is one of the core pieces of our intensive course and something that we do often with clients to set the stage to really transform and animate their business. The process of creating a manifesto also ensures that everybody on the team  is in alignment. Your manifesto can also serve as your company vision.

At its essence a manifesto is just a public declaration, a written statement of your intentions, what you’re trying to do in the world, your opinions, what you believe most about, what you hold dear, what are your non-negotiables and your company “world-view”.

After reading your manifesto your reader, your customer, your employee should be like either yes, this is me, these guys are for me or no, this  company really isn’t for me and I need to go another way.

A manifesto is designed to elicit emotion and make you feel something and connect you (or repel you) with whomever is reading your manifesto.

At WILDSTORY we have a whole worksheet and exercise template to walk you through in the extraction and crafting of your manifesto but if you’d like to try one on your own here are some quick prompts.

  1. Start with the sentence “Around here we …
  2. “Here’s what we know for sure…..”
  3. “We believe in…”
  4. “We want to live in a world where….”
  5. “I hope to one day…..”
  6. “We think the world would be better if…”
  7. “We think you should fire us if…”
  8. “We fight for…..”
  9. “What does everything else in your industry get wrong…”
  10. “ What breaks your heart…?”

As an example, let’s look at the first prompt. A brainstorm on that might sound like…. “Around here we laugh… Around here we respect one another no matter what… Around here we drink beer on Fridays… Around here we only take on the most challenging projects ..”

What will happen, is once you start riffing on that prompt you will get some great some ideas for your manifesto.Those are just a few examples.  The key here is to brainstorm and really let the ideas flow. We find the BEST IDEAS happen way down the line. When we’re laughing, being silly, or taking a stand against something that makes us angry!  The most important thing? Have fun. Be you.

One you’re done send it to your designer and display it for all to see!

Feel free to drop me a line at marc@wildstory.com if you have any questions or to share your manifesto!

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