I find myself saying this over and over again. The temptation for organizations is to just keep creating more and more messages while sending them across the most efficient and established models for the organization. The fatal flaw is in that logic is that the consumer controls the conversation now, not the organization. That means I can "mute" you, and you can't do anything about it.
The lies that organizations buy into is that ...
- They constantly need to have something new to say.
- They intuitively know the communication preferences of others.
- They believe everyone likes to be reached in the same way.
None of these are true.
Not every reader is the same. Some want to digest every word slowly. Others approach books as a utility to deliver mature ideas to solve practical problems. Neither reader type is better than the other.
Most people scan nonfiction content. I don't think this is a new development, nor do I think it represents the dumbing down of society due to digital publishing. As book publishing becomes an increasingly competitive space, publishers are now building books based on the reader's native consumption habits rather than traditional literary guidelines.
Personally, I welcome this shift.
There are a growing number of people who have been writing blogs posts for a decade or more. If you've been doing it five days a week for 10 years, you've created 2,600 blog posts. If each of those blog posts were 500 words, you've written 1.3 million words. Wow! That's a lot of content.
The nerd in me wonders just how many nuggets of wisdom are buried in the ominous archived section of your blog. It seems an incredible waste of time and creativity if the content you share is only used once. Surely there is a way to breathe new life into latent blog post content. Don't you agree?
Content is an asset. But your ability to cash out its value depends on your willingness to reimagine new ways you might use it.
Asking questions is easy. Asking the right questions is hard.
When you get the opportunity to interview other people, you get to step into their world for a moment in time. The goal is to see the world through their eyes, so you can share their perspective with other people.
If this is something you're interested in doing but don't feel like you're very good at, here are some tips I've picked up after more than a decade of interviewing people in chase of the story.
A professional writer is someone who gets paid professional fees to write copy. A hobbyist does not. Be careful not to confuse the two.
People who get paid to talk about writing aren't necessarily professional writers. A professional writer is someone who gets paid to open up a blank document and start typing copy that is eventually published or utilized in some form of commerce, whether it is a direct mail campaign or a book.
Hobbyists sometimes pose as professional writers.
There is nothing more exciting than working with people who help you accomplish your strategic goals. If you manage areas of your business or organization that are responsible for copy development, then you’re likely familiar with hiring freelance writers.
Most people either love working with contractors or don’t. I find many times those who don’t have had a series of bad experiences that have colored their perspective on hiring outside talent. That’s really unfortunate because there are a lot of great writers available to brands, businesses, and causes. And that talent is easier to find, validate, and contract today that ever in history.
But communicating with freelance writers (especially for non-writers) can be frustrating.
Nike is only half right. “Just do it” works until we need to “Just quit it.” Only the quitting part seems harder that the doing part. I had the privilege of hearing Bob Goff speak speak a few years ago.
If you’re not familiar with Bob (and I wasn’t before this conference), he is an attorney with a sense of humor. Impressive! (Those are rare by the way. And, of course, my apologies to my attorney. I do appreciate you.)
One of the things Bob said that stuck with me was he quits something every Thursday.
There are a lot of people who call themselves content writers. It seems to be the catch phrase in the freelance world. They reason, “If content marketing is in, then I need to call myself a content writer.”
This, understandably, creates confusion for those who hire content writers. After all, you can’t call yourself a doctor if you aren’t one, right? But this scenario often leads to frustration and disappointment and can throttle the openness a person has to working with content writers in the future.
For those of you who don't know my complete story (and why would you), there was a time in my career when I was responsible for the marketing, revenue, and operational efforts of a multi-million dollar business unit that sold offering envelopes to churches.
Offering envelopes are about as sexy as ... um .... NOTHING.
Nevertheless, we managed to sell more than 130 million of them a year to more than 12,000 customers.
There is a reason traditional nonprofits raise more money through this channel than most churches. They recognize it is more than a utilitarian effort or legal obligation. They know that connecting every dollar with impact is essential to building trust and confidence in the mind of the giver. And you don’t do this once but again and again and again. If you are willing to put a little thought into it, it will pay dividends for you.
Here are some common observations I share with churches related to contribution statements that might help you reframe the role they play in your ministry funding model ...
I’m not anti-sales. I’ve been on both sides of the table—marketing and sales.
I understand the pressures both positions come with, and I believe both must work together if a company is going to consistently grow revenue—the lifeblood of any business. That being said, there are some unique characteristics that case studies can bring to the sales process.
These characteristics can help salespeople overcome an often jaded and defensive target.
Fire a client? I know. It sounds backwards, doesn't it?
But the great thing about life is you get to decide who you want to work with and what you want to do.
One of the quotes I'll never forget from Tom Peter's book is this ...
I was stunned when my publisher called a few months ago and said I would be interviewed on CBN's The 700 Club about my latest book. I know I may be a big deal to my boys, and my wife loves me a lot. But I'm just "little Ben Stroup."
This was my first TV experience. And it was live.
I was worried I would stumble and stutter. While the guest coordinator and associate producers did their best to calm my nerves, there is nothing that prepares you for that moment.
Case studies are powerful tools that help others say things about you that you may not necessarily be able to say about your self.
An unexpected benefit of a case study is you get a great excuse to connect with some of your biggest champions and give them a chance to share their enthusiasm for you and your product or service with others in a powerful way.
Everyone knows someone who lives by the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
I believe this is a dangerous lie, especially within organizations.
OK. That may be a bit of a overstatement, but I do think such thinking holds teams and organizations back from experiencing break through moments.
Buying into such rhetoric gives us permission to “pass” on challenging the status quo.
As long as our teams are performing to expectations, general benchmarks, etc., then we can pat ourselves on the back and move on to more pressing matters. The fundamental flaw in this thinking is believing that only things that are broken need to be fixed.
The brand-as-publisher revolution is remapping go-to-market strategies for brands brave enough to do things differently.
Don't believe me? Just ask Red Bull. Somewhere along the way to sponsoring a guy who jumped out of a rocket to earth an energy drink company became a media company.
Some people think all books are magical. They mistakenly believe all books possess some mystical reality that contains timeless truths to be pondered and consumed over long periods of silence.
There are books like that. It’s true. But that doesn’t mean every book has to be like that. In fact, most books aren’t.
Books are simply an ecosystem of ideas organized into a consumable format.
You can't afford not to publish a book.
But books are for artists and creative types, right? Not business leaders.
That’s where you’re wrong. In fact, it may be time to rethink the book entirely when it comes to its role in the life of a business leader.
Books are as valuable today to growing your business as your business card was in previous decades.
Content marketing has come to the enterprise, and the enterprise is the natural next frontier as content marketing matures.
What should you expect when launching a content marketing effort within your company? In other words, how do you know if you're doing it right?
Here are a few markers to identify along the way ...
Every office has at least one mean person. It sounds silly, but it’s true.
Mean people exist everywhere. It’s not just in an office setting. But there is something about office politics, the pressure to perform, and personal doubt that provide a fertile environment for mean people to thrive. Life is, after all, survival of the fittest, right?
Let’s define mean.
Mean people are not confrontational, direct communicators. The office is a melting pot of different personalities who must learn to get along. Some people are better at verbalizing their ideas than others. We all communicate in different ways and should learn how to best do that with a variety of people. (Note: This is the “magic” of management.)