Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bees with Guns (and Electric Fences)

My post about shooting bears a few days ago has seen a pretty big response. And a few emails asking me to explain myself. So here goes..

Bees aren’t sexy and they aren’t big and powerful. A bee contributes. A bee is by default part of a community. A bee works hard to build supply and defend that community for his own sake and for the sake of others.


A bear is a solitary predator who looks out for himself and only has interactions with others when he wants something. Bears are only interested in what something can do for them. They are not interested in contributing or in building.

The contrast between these two is the most stark when you consider that honey is one of the things bears like most. They love it but they produce none of the honey they consume.

What if we rename ‘honey’ as ‘value’. Bees work hard in a community to build up all the value and a place to store it. Bears don’t contribute and they don’t build value. They not only take the value built up but have absolutely no problem in destroying the place that holds the value either.

I doubt that bees, if they were asked, are terribly enamored of bears.

Think about the market
A lot of traditional marketers and many business people are bears. Bears don’t understand contribution. Bears don’t understand concepts like giving value first, customer service and caring about things outside yourself.

Both these models work by the way. Bears and bees both survive well and will continue to. It’s worth remembering though, that bears can only continue to do this because the bees can't stop them and they can't warn the next hive.

With the interconnectedness of communities these days, does the same apply to your brand or business? Is being a bear sustainable for brands?

In the bad old days no one could stop the message, no-one could warn the next community or group to build an electric fence, now they can and do. Information about who you are as a digital citizen is available to everyone. As many big brands brands and companies are discovering, stealing one group's honey can lead to fences being built for you all over the digital landscape.

Of course being a big bear meant something once. It meant you didn't have to care what people thought. But when the bees have guns and electric fences, however tiny, it all starts to add up.

Reputation and it’s affect on the bottom line have become so important that no one is big enough to steal someone's value and get away with it any more?

Don't be a bear, bees are much harder to shoot...

Bonus Update: If you don't want to shoot the bear you could always take the advice of Dwight Schrute. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment