There is nothing wrong with imperfections. When things aren’t pristine, this is how we learn, document and craft something to say that others don’t.
Our perfect worlds are polished and presented for others to see, what happened to some normality and keeping touch with reality?
None of us are born performers, but we are more than happy to tell others how to do something better.
Even Google is happy to tell you how to do a podcast in their answer box.
People are quick to tell others how to behave. As Jay Acunzo said at Content Marketing World we are, “flooding with advice we can access, so can everyone else.”
We are here to advise others how to blog, get more followers, create videos that want others coming back for more, have more subscribers than thought possible and the quickest routes than ever to success and revelry. We are all encouraged to be the consummate professional with an eye on the continually improved and more numbers than last week.
When it comes to content, no matter how few are paying attention, it is a very public arena and the doors are continually open in many different rooms.
Normality will not suffice, when it is ever more needed to be encouraged. Suicide rates among women in their early twenties within the UK is at its highest levels for two decades according to Office for National Statistics. In 2016, there were 106 deaths by suicide amongst 20 to 24 year old women. The last time it was over 100, was in 1992.
Jenny Edwards, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation highlighted, “There’s a tendency to blame ourselves if things aren’t working out for us. Particularly if the message we’re getting from social media is that everyone else is living fantastic lives, has got good holidays, and good jobs. That’s a fairytale that can affect our overall mental health.”
The world is more polished than ever. Whatever happened to finding your way, gut reaction, asking questions you don’t know and never really becoming the finished article that others are telling you to be?
I have to hold my hands up, I am guilty of it. I seem to be far more relaxed adding a Crema filter with a vignette to my life, than just sharing what I see with the world. No-one is going to see the evenings in the tracksuit bottoms writing, the weekends struggling to find something that is going to keep my children occupied. No one wants to see that, we portray ourselves as though we are an advert promising to be the things that we always wanted to be.
All Around You
If we are jumping into the cultural zeitgeist, you only need to look at X-Factor. The current series is awash with Ed Sheeran acapela humbleness and Adele type power notes. All come from polished performances and well trained vocals. However, people are reacting to the lack of bad acts, or just average people who are willing to give it a go because a family member said they sounded like Neil Diamond when they were on holiday?
The world has been airbrushed and we are all happy to portray the great lives that are lived to the full. When in fact it loses touch with reality and the rawness that makes us all different.
This is the problem for many businesses, when you keep on holding back from letting go, time catches up and someone else is already two steps ahead of you.
Can we really afford to live in a world of perpetual tweaking? I know we want to publish something we are proud of and stand back and say ‘we/I made this.’ However, if you are continually polishing and pruning, you are not publishing and distributing to those who are interested in what you have to say.
If you are building an audience, one of the most important factors is a consistent voice that doesn’t slip into the net of familiarity ie. articles you have ready, podcasts you have listened to everywhere else.
You need to be doing something and finding consistency rather than reaching for the stars. There are plenty of search results out there on finding the best ‘podcast equipment’ (58.9m to be exact) whilst there is nearly half the amount of search results when it comes to finding your ‘podcast voice’ (31.8m). We are searching for the ornate but not the roughness.
What About You?
Rather than aiming to show how faultless and popular you are, how about transparency, humanity and appealing to the softer side? If you can capture emotion as well as attention, you are in a far stronger place.
You have the ability to document and share, why bottle it up until it is ready? This is something I have highlighted in July with Treehouse Digital and sharing their journey with their Treaters short film, that is going to be released at Halloween.
Sharing and documenting the journey and not thinking we have completed the race, allows far more scope for creation. It’s about showing the by-product of who we are and that we champion the normal, rather than the faultless businesses that we represent.
On a personal level, when I was open that I nearly went out of business after a very tough 2010 to 2011 and putting 70% of revenue in a bankrupt clients side of the fence, people wanted to find out more. It was something that insurance company Hiscox picked up on and travelled to Poole to film. Whether it is something that people aren’t open about and real failure is not a very male thing to express, I recognised I could not have got much lower after a car crash related to the stress, so what did I have to lose.
The reason I am highlighting this is that this experience of failure was something that was very personal and something that I had experienced first hand, so decided to document it. If you want to see the proof of the type of articles produced, click here for what I was writing about in 2012.
The normalness of everyday life can become the thing that stands out and where the real stories lie that provides value to others. I guess in my case it was reading about someone who had a business that was nosediving. You could say it was the interesting that Hiscox picked up on.
Whoever wanted to be relentlessly working on the perfect blog article for weeks, the pristine white paper and the immaculate video? It can cripple a company, whilst someone else is keeping the momentum going and moving onto the next topic and building their audience who see a consistent flow, not a sporadic appearance within a channel, only to find that no one is paying attention in the first place?
Celebrating The Imperfections
Celebrate the normal, the flaws and the imperfections. This is what makes us real. Don’t let the aim for perfection affect your content marketing efforts. Here is why:
You can look to copy and blend in with everyone else and assume the role of Yoda, or you can question and be open that you don’t know the answers, but you represent a voice for your industry and be prepared to stand by it.
If you have an audience who subscribe and are happy to find out what you have to share, you have the opportunity to ask the right questions and topics that resonate with others. Remember that this is all about the people who participate, not what you want them to read, watch, listen to.
You can document what you experience and learn through insight. This is far stronger than being a repetition of what is already out there from self proclaimed experts and the ’10 ways to be better’.
You become more relevant when you can talk from the heart and not a Google keyword term.
This isn’t about reach but resonating with the right people. It is better to have 20 people who subscribe to receive information and get deeper with it, rather than 2,000 who barely open and take any notice (but it made you feel good because more has always meant better).
Accept that the perfect answer is not out there, but the way that you look at the world is infinite and the relevance that it has within your marketplace.
You can be inspired and you can inspire others when you take the time to look for a new angle to an age old proposition. For instance, this whole topic on perfection is not new, it’s just something that I see in the world around me and fits within my whole ethos of ownership.
If you can provide analysis, facts and opinion and do it in a timely way to an audience who are subscribed, you don’t need to worry about thinking that you have to impress, more encourage interaction.
Lets Round Up
When you strive for the perfect content to publish and distribute, you can end up conforming and fitting in with every other keyword search.
When you reach for normality it is a stand for authenticity, that can become a differentiating factor, whilst everyone else sounds and looks the same.
Where I have highlighted earlier this year that trust is now rock bottom for all of us, perhaps it is the things that keep us connected and grounded that helps shapes how others perceive you and your business in a slightly different light than everybody else.
Trust is built when you don’t lie about who you are and transparent with the rest of the world. It is ok to learn as you go along, as long as you are committed to the journey. As well as owning the spaces that are yours, it is important to own your errors and champion the edges where you may not be as polished as everyone else. Over time, that presents the opportunity to become a beacon of trust and honesty in a world of ‘don’t I look good.’