So here I am randomly blogging after what, a two year hiatus (?) and outta the blue I ask whether or not you’re exhibiting symptoms of Marketingus lapsisus. Sounds like a hideous disease but there may be more to this #fake scientific name than you think.
Allow me to walk you through this by first going down memory lane. This may be slightly painful, so bear with me.
Anybody can do marketing
Right? #AMIRITE ??
That’s what a few people suddenly found themselves saying during the Great Recession of 2008, especially following that subprime mortgage fiasco we won’t go into.
I’m not suggesting hordes of people lost everything and suddenly became marketers overnight. I have no specific data to support this claim. However, I distinctly remember encountering and interacting with a host of Twitter profiles back in ‘08 who were all very clearly evangelizing the magic of Marketingus followmeitis, relentlessly bullhorning brand and bait in the name of self-actualizing goals!
Nothing wrong with that. And some may well have transitioned themselves successfully as bone fide marketeers. So, is it true? Can anybody do marketing?
Self-employed pro’s, consultants, artisans and the like do it themselves all the time!
That said, marketing may look like the type of job anybody can do. But it obviously depends on the context, audience and scale. Enterprise level marketing, for instance, requires specific skills, technical knowledge and field experience. Not only that, you must truly be agile, transmutable and ahead of trends before they emerge.
The unforgiving digital age
During the halcyon days of social media, where online networking was experiencing its own version of Woodstock, the wild wild west of social marketing started rearing its ugly–—I mean, was also burgeoning.
Thought leadership, one of the most overused marketing jargon that’s gingerly carved itself into the universal corporate lexicon, will continue to unassumingly find a snug spot among the annual playbooks of many communications and marketing professionals.
However, examining the etymological construct and semantic implications of this term would be akin to writing about what it is or what it’s not (ahem). So I’ll spare your eyes from itching and tearing.
Instead, I’d like to quickly segue into a short list of considerations.
Why should folks in our profession need to stop acting like content sycophants, especially when sculpting our respective digital footprint?
Novelty is not just about originality but also, and perhaps more importantly, purpose
If your sole aim is to augment your prospect and client database for the sake of bullhorning your way into a lead, you might wanna rethink your approach.
If a client is asking for help with lead generation, would you quickly pull out a formulaic, one-size-fits-all strategy that looks original but covers a finite stand-alone goal OR would you work harder at researching your way into an intricately story-boarded saga of intrigue, designed to branch out and morph under the weight of its own appealing complexities and idiosyncracies?
Content can be crafted to shine and sparkle on command. But if there is no long-term vision or purpose behind its existence, then all the sweat-induced thoughts poured into its mould will last only for that one instance.
Novelty is an elaborate Venetian mask that will always end up being shelved after the ball. So the face behind that mask had better be able to launch at least a thousand ships.
When you’re using a blatant marketing voice, it’s not just boring; it’s annoying
We see this all the time. And the most obvious and common examples are evident on Twitter, day in and out.
“Check out my latest, 210th variation on disruptive engagement” or “Watch how I mindlessly favourite a series of tweets ’cause anything by @EveybodyLovesThisGuru has GOT to be great” ..
I try to diligently regulate the frequency of my own social sharing. But each time I do take a moment to check in on the larger social stream, I am invariably assailed by the same users tweeting, retweeting and commenting on the same tunnel-visioned theme, with the same tone of voice, and the very same, predictable manner of expression. Granted, they do this since they have no choice: it is their purported area of expertise after all.
Share something totally different, but echoes elements of your core expertise. Make someone smile or laugh, make them believejust how real, how fun and approachable you truly are.
How you create content is even more critical than what content you create
We are so obsessed with producing original content that we easily lose sight of the overall process of creating.
By definition, the act of creating IS in fact the actual gold we are mining. The multiple—often intricately detailed—phases involved in giving form and breathing life into an idea offers rich opportunities for gaining new perspectives and never-before-seen ways to arrive at the next step, the next iteration or variation.
You know I don’t have to spell this out, but you really must ask yourself from time to time: “How attentive am I at filtering the indiscernible nuggets that crystallize what makes my content meaningful, substantive and compelling?”
This post was inspired, ironically, by a long hiatus from Twitter. When I did spend a few moments reviewing my feed today, I noticed how predictable my Twitter stream looked and felt. Yes, felt.
As a creative person, my visceral reactions often urge me to articulate thoughts based on raw observations.
How about you? What inspires you to formulate thoughts enough to want to share them? And in so doing, do you feel like you’re inspiring (dare I say ‘leading’) others to do the same?
It’s an unsaid fact that those in our field are either natural born movers and shakers or highly trained Type A personality types with a gifted eye for the big picture and a sharp nose for emerging trends.
But a few folks have recently asked me: how ever do you keep up?
Now I doubt I’d be divulging any major trade secrets here, but below are food for thought for those who really don’t get ‘how some of us do it’ or newbies who could use the tip.
Cultivating the Creative We are creative types. Yes we are. We’ve always been creative in the way we think, act or choose to define ourselves (i.e., what some now call ‘personal branding’).
Whether you practice an artistic craft or are a bonafide appreciator or critic of an art form, you will always have the propensity for and be drawn into something that the general public will view as creative.
But being successfully (or productively) creative is not as obvious as it may appear. A creative predisposition comes with fair knowledge of history and science, since most universal art forms emerge and are thus recognized from a confluence of these seemingly unrelated disciplines.
So marketers do in fact make time to hone in their creativity either by consistently practicing an art form or being part of it as an observer, supporter or commentator. Cultivating the creative is not just a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have, must-do, which has in effect become second nature to most of us.
Diversifying Interests Financially, a diversified portfolio is considered a sound approach to investment. Biologically, diversified gene pools tend to produce the most disease-resistant offspring across almost all species of animal and plant life.
The very same principle of diversification applies to marketers and communicators who tend to produce the strongest ideas and most innovative solutions. Their minds are not tunneled into one direction or focused into a singular interest. Some have their hands in almost anything and everything that moves or twitches.
This urge to be hyper aware and involved in multiple forms of activities is what ‘keeps us on our toes’. It’s preprogammed in how we respond to the barrage of stimuli that comes our way on a day-to-day basis.
The more we know about and get involved in different pursuits and interests, the easier it is for us to connect the dots. In essence, this is what big picture thinking is all about. Or rather, Big Picture 2.0. We’re not conspiracy theorists. We’re simply able to see (and sense) the underlying importance of our implicitly interconnected world.
Defying the Comfort Zone Not much there to it, right? Comes with the territory, you say.
Well you’d be surprised how many of us actually have to push ourselves, to convince ourselves that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Unreal, right? All this creativity and diversification and yet some of us can be quite constipated at just the mere thought of stepping outside the boundaries of what’s cozy and familiar.
But we do it nonetheless. Because we know it’s part of what makes us better at what we do.
What spooks us is not the unknown itself as much as the thought of failing in understanding or mastering the unknown. And if we don’t actually have the gumption to do it on our own, we’ll ask someone we trust to push us.
Defying our respective comfort zones sharpens our agility and enables us to always remain calm and collected whenever faced with unforeseen SNAFU’s that would normally make others wilt from pressure and stress.
Monitoring Technology We get tech. We always have and always will.
Today’s modern marketing and communications professional belongs to one of two camps: 1) those who are a product of the current technological revolution that’s shamelessly influencing how we connect virtually, consume instantaneously and cord-cut outdated modes of connection willingly, or 2) those who’ve proactively adjusted themselves to stay in synch of this sweeping revolution.
Either way, we know that we can never underestimate how technology shapes our lives. Consequently, we are among the few outside the field of tech itself who stay right on top of its movements.
So these are some of the things that have allowed me to “keep up”. How do YOU keep up? Do share.
New entrants to the social media sphere are getting their feet wet, googly-eyed while sorting through the hype and determining what to leverage and how.
For business communicators keen on emerging web-based technologies and their various applications to existing processes within the enterprise, a good starting point would be to look at how wikis (not blogs) are being leveraged for internal collaboration, particularly when managing projects involving several players in a team.
This post is geared to help familiarize communicators with the potential of using wikis as a collaborative tool within their organization.
Blogs vs. Wikis
Blogs are great vehicles for enhancing external marketing and communications efforts, managing brand awareness/reputation, improving lead generation, etc.
Wikis, on the other hand, can be an efficient platform for streamlining processes within the enterprise, either for a given operational unit (e.g., marketing or corporate communications) or for cross-functional collaboration (e.g., between marketing and IT).
Streamlined communication. Imagine eliminating more than half of your day-to-day project-related email communiqués that tend to clog your inbox.
Virtual access.Users can easily access a wiki online through secure login, view/modify content on the fly and track what others are doing with the content.
Archiving ease. Each page revision is kept as a version. Hence, a previous instance of a given page is archived automatically and can be easily accessed.
Collaborative input and validation. Wikis are an open content management system since every user has a say and is able to input, modify and vet content accordingly.
Best Practices A recent wiki-related project has prompted me to jot down some key notes to keep in mind. The same best practices are observed in project management.
Define scope. If you don’t define this from the get-go, you’ll easily end up moving out of scope and missing your target deliverable.
Establish a timeline. Be clear on mapping out a critical path for your wiki-driven project. A drop-dead completion date will serve to align the wiki’s life cycle with the project.
Identify content owners. While wikis are indeed an open platform, users’ settings should be configured so that there is at least one overall owner or point of contact assigned for a given wiki page/section. The onus is on this person to oversee the progress of their respective content entity and keep a pulse on all other entities related to their content.
Unified moderation policy. Thispoint is subjective and at times almost impossible to map out and implement, since each user has their own style and approach for managing content. However, at best, a set of over-arching rules should be enforced and observed for content modification and internal collaboration among team members. These rules are based largely on common sense (e.g., refraining from using inappropriate language, offensive personal attacks, airing dirty laundry, etc.) Sound familiar?
Is your organization using wikis? What have you observed and found helpful?