conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

Must Your Story Always Be About You?

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Content today: Your story in context.

“Here’s where we show we care about what they care about,” I said. “For sure you get to tell your story. But 75-90% of the time your eye is on what your audience cares about. With social media we take off the loud salesman jacket and relax in an easy chair, ready to talk.”

For years I’ve talked with clients about teeing up conversations rather than selling copy. It’s a matter of committing to topics and copy that meets an audience need, day after day. Only my most forward-thinking clients listened without a glaze covering their eyes.

That’s changing.

One reason is organization-specific content has become a more easily-definable task. Buying content is becoming a bit more like buying advertising—though with a few key differences. You bought advertising with parameters and metrics in place: Buy your media and Bam! Targeted eyeballs and open pocketbooks follow.

At least that’s how we told the old advertising story.

Now we see that advertising model was all about interrupting, catching attention with brand hyperbole and hypnotizing dumb viewers to buy. And pronto.

Which hasn’t really worked for years.

What my clients now see is they can stay in touch with old and new and potential customers by telling what they know in a whimsical way. Not browbeating, but inviting them to think together about a shared interest. Staying in touch means many touch points along the marketing funnel, none of which are a salesman’s pointed jab. This means knowing what customers care about, what their problems are, and naming potential solutions to those problems.Marketing funnel-20160808

Creating content will seem circuitous to the hard-boiled marketing manager in her late 50s. And it is. But it isn’t. Creating content shows leadership and care as it sweeps up the concerns of our target audience and addresses them one by one, parsing out that copy over time so that we seem like we care.

And here’s the crazy thing—by creating content, we find ourselves actually caring.


Dumb Sketch: Kirk Livingston

4 Responses

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  1. Interesting, Kirk. In my world of academic publishing our social media and newsletters are more about sharing information than saying “buy this now”.

    • Thanks for the comment, Michael. In my world of medical device and industrial manufacturing, marketers have always wanted to control the conversation and move it quickly toward sales. But a true conversation is not easily controlled, as old-school marketers are now finding out. Academics are better at sharing than us capitalists (we’re desperate to protect our precious trade secrets). In many ways, academic sharing shows the way for forward for me.


      August 9, 2016 at 6:42 am

  2. A thought I had while reading this. If my blog counts as “content” I already care about the content, but writing about it makes me think more critically about it.

    Photography Journal Blog

    August 13, 2016 at 12:42 am

  3. Your care for the topic shines through with every post–that’s why I read. It’s your critical thinking about the topic and then your willingness to lead beginners like me through your process that are delightful. Thanks for the comment!


    August 13, 2016 at 8:33 am

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