1. Marketing is enthusiasm transferred to the customer. Expecting customers to get excited about your product without your help is expecting too much.
2. Content is customer success. While effective teaching requires more than education (motivation, modeling, entertainment, etc.), the bottom line is that content succeeds when it helps customers succeed.
3. Writing often gets in the way of teaching. David Ogilvy once said that “The temptation to entertain instead of selling is contagious.” Marketers often let flowery writing get in the way of their actual jobs. Hemingway should be your hero, not Faulkner–clarity reigns sovereign in the world of content. Make sure your education relates to the product. Reducing the number of “I didn’t know your software could do that” comments is the content team’s responsibility, too.
4. You either have a content culture, or you don’t. Either the whole team rides the content train or you never leave the station. This doesn’t require everyone to write, but it does require interest and collaboration. I can ask Justin, Becca, or anyone else on my team for research on an essay. I can schedule an impromptu call with leadership to discuss content. And I know that it’s my responsibility to inform the rest of the team what we’ve been up to lately.
All of this is because content isn’t just marketing, it’s culture. As John Hall says, thoughtful writing can even attract great hires:
When it’s done right, digital content can have the same transformative impact on HR as it does on marketing. It’s simple: Great content attracts great people, and it encourages the people who are creating it to stick around.
5. You don’t have a tactics problem, you have a content problem. My inbox is full of smart folks looking for an answer to “Why isn’t this working?” Candor is rare, and nobody wants to say that what they are putting out is sub-par, so the lens is diverted to tactics–the successful people must know something we don’t.
The disappointing truth, however, is usually that what they are creating simply isn’t good enough. The immediate solution is to use inversion thinking: what’s awful about your industry’s content right now? Do the opposite. The long-term solution is better input: more reading, cultivating connections, and having a content role model, so you can see what sort of quality is truly possible. “Great content” is now a trope, but it’s also still the biggest hurdle.
6. Work on your weaknesses, but compete with your strengths. In many ways, the word “frenzy” is quite applicable to many online marketing departments.