We are coming to a stage where content marketing success in 2017 will be those who can validate and show others, so they can relate.
Wherever you click, there is always someone out there telling you how to behave. Whether it’s another Simon Sinek ‘Start With Why’ reference, the Seth Godin ‘content marketing is the only marketing we have left’ image jpeg, or how 2016 has been a fantastic year for someone else’s business.
We never really cared?
There are many out there who have taken the vow to tell others how to behave when all they are doing is regurgitating what has already been said with no personal slant to it.
Deeper thinking has to be a key route to success in 2017 and not following the same path as the rest of your industry and no one saying anything different/interesting/challenging/fun.
Making That Stand
It is time to stand up and do something different and then show, not dictate to others.
Why prove it, when you can tell others for your own self-gratification and pomp. There is even a book out there called ‘Working On My Novel.’
It is merely a book full of tweets from people that uses the phrase, ‘working on my novel’ (am I too late for the stocking filler?). Whether they published or not, they were ‘working on my novel.’
However, I totally get it.
It is a way to make other people and businesses look more authoritative than someone else. Why share the journey and the pain that goes with it, than fast-forward to the successes and tell everyone else the ‘x reasons to be more successful by doing this.’
Are we getting to a point where the companies who will succeed in 2017 are those that share an approach/belief, not another Start With Why rehash? I asked my Marketing Homebrew podcast co-pilot, the super smart Ian Rhodes.
Ian answered, “Smart marketers know the value of demonstrating how they help their audience solve a particular challenge. Whether they’re selling products or a service.”
“Smart marketing is about blending demonstration with validation. Lifting the lid on how you help solve that particular challenge. The process (your voice). The outcome (your customer’s voice ).”
Bringing Rocky Into Some Meaning
In 2017, be more Rocky not Ivan Drago.
It is better to live true experiences and be more real, than think you can become an expert that relies on other experts.
In Rocky IV, Rocky’s training became a cabin in Russia, alongside Paulie, his wife Adrian and Tony Evers (Apollo Creed’s trainer). From running up snow-capped mountains, lifting rocks and training in a shed, Rocky did it the hard way.
Ivan Drago went for the proven scientific route, judged by machines and other people who ‘knew best.’ Everything was already programmed into how it will all work out to a positive result. However, what a fight that was on Christmas Day 1985. We all know how that turned out.
What Am I Trying So Say?
The point I am trying to highlight here is that it is better to have a well-rounded view of what a practice looks and the tough journey that it takes, rather than rely on other people who have a prescribed way of behaving.
It is all about understanding the small steps and not heading straight for the finishing line.
Recognising how we do the basics, what we learn and the ability to share with others is what enables us to tell our own stories. It is the authentic heart to what we believe in, not a chase to be seen as the oracle (take a look at any professional services firm) and end up looking and sounding like everyone else.
Marketing is the ability to share an approach combined with a story that resonates with someone else.
The objective is to alter someone else’s behaviour. The narrative and journey is far more important than looking to be cool with the result.
This Is Where We Are Today, Looking Into 2017
No one is the expert in everything.
The company that tells you that now is the time to start investing in video content one month and the next they are sharing the need to have branded stationery/clothing, doesn’t contribute to anything to anyone’s LinkedIn/Twitter feed. What is different in that?
We don’t have to be brilliant at everything but to create pockets of perfection in what we do and have the conviction to share and show this with others. What would you rather do, create deeper interaction or pretend to be the leader in anything your company puts it’s hand to from design, to UX, to print?
The best foot forward are those companies that are ready to show others with a different way of thinking. In a recent Content Marketing Institute article that looked at predictions for 2017, Andrew Davis, highlighted his belief to show. Andrew stated, “2017 the year for show me don’t tell me. Time to show everyone. Start crafting real stories.”
I asked Andrew why is it important to show, rather than tell others how to behave?
Andrew said, “We live in a world where it’s never been easier to talk about yourself.”
“It’s never been easier for your business to tell me what you do; to tell me how you do it; to tell me why you’re different. Stop telling me you’re different. Start showing me you’re different. Start with your very next customer.”
“Do something different than everyone else in the industry. Create an experience so different that it generates new business – new referrals. Show me what you do, how you do it, and even why you do it. Welcome to the year of show don’t tell.”
Showing the action is something that I am going to champion next year. The You Are The Media Lunch Club has been my side project in 2016. This live blog has been my medium to share my learning and showcase businesses that are taking on board an owned media approach and make it work for their business.
The thing that I take more than anything else is that when another company shares their approach or belief rather than the ‘origin’ and the ‘success.’ A framework that is seen by many businesses in any digital space is the ‘I/we started this in the spare room and now we are a global leader in apps/cards/ecommerce.’
When someone hears the approach of someone else, they want to put themselves firmly in that story. This is why showing becomes the differentiation.
People can’t relate to the final outcome of an extremely rosy positive result. For instance, my most read blog posts are those that look at failure and my own mistakes. I now see it; the difficult parts are where people see themselves. This is how people relate to one another by the experiences that they have had and how they connect with you.
The Framework & Approach
You have to share a framework and an approach that you believe in that puts someone else firmly in the middle to look around and how it can benefit them, or at least get them to change a habit.
This was why I started the Talking Content Marketing project in 2013, so people who come to the ID Group site can find out more about an owned media/content based approach from those people who are recognised on an industry level.
The ‘this is how it works’ approach is far more authentic than the ‘x reasons to be better,’ it’s what makes us more inquisitive and makes us more normal. This is why the You Are The Media Lunch Club happens to bring people who instigated the change or stood by an approach.
If you can show how things work according to you and your inquisitive nature, make it believable. It can help others shift an opinion and change a perspective. This is how we educate others.
It’s what Michael Grubb has recently done. Michael Grubb Studio is a lighting design consultancy and just about to approach their fourth year of business.
Rather than a purely product focused approach of why brands need to consider their lighting approach, Michael gave an honest view of why his company can’t be considered as a new company anymore. You can read it here.
The story is there to create an emotional connection and those who are at an early stage to their business.
It’s a way for others to understand another company better on a much more personal level.
So, how is next year shaping for you? If others are happy with the ‘tips for building a social media conversion strategy’ to the ‘why you need to dance like no one is watching’ that is totally fine, lets stop looking over our shoulders, they don’t take on board the experiences, the failures, the wins like you do. Would people understand you (and your team) better if you decided to open up a bit more?
No one wants to go back to the days of school and the lessons you became totally uninterested in when learning was dictated from an old set of principals and theory and you sat there with heavy eyes. This is what is prevalent at the moment on the social platforms we use and the spaces that we create, where the dictation and instruction of message can become tiresome when it isn’t compelling and makes a connection with us.
Lets Round Up
It is time to stop telling others what to do and become more open to share within a community our failures, our viewpoints and also how to help others see the solutions to the problems that arise in a professional (and personal) arena.
Lets stand up for being normal again and champion our own deficiencies, views and understanding of the commercial world around us and how it shapes the marketplaces we are within.
You can be different when you present an approach that doesn’t fit in the same box as everyone else. Who wanted to conform to an experience that looks the same as the rest? That’s my big drive for 2017.