WARNING: ARE YOU FEIGNING EXPERTISE? 3 WAYS TO FIND OUT

I’ve always been one to avoid bandwagons like they’re straight out of the horrors of the 14th century. And when you’re in marketing, you see a lot of these.

Life in the marketing world can often be a bit like driving down the same road, listening to the same radio station. After a while, you’re seeing the same exact scenery and listening to the same exact songs--working overtime to keep yourself awake and sane. 

LATELY, I’VE BEEN ASKING MYSELF THIS QUESTION: HOW DO I STAY OFF OF THE BANDWAGON AND STILL SURVIVE IN A COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE? AND JUST AS IMPORTANT, HOW DO I KEEP MY CLIENTS OFF OF THAT BANDWAGON AND STILL HELP POSITION THEM AS EXPERTS?

For me, it all started with Dollar Shave Club. It arrived on scene with a fresh, new way of doing advertising.

“Are our blades any good?” founder Michael Dubin asked. “No. Our blades are f**king great,” he said without skipping a beat.

Just like that, gone were the days of boring, everyday sundries. Dollar Shave Club—in a single ad campaign—just defined its entire brand with a touch of crass and a bold pronouncement of four-letter words.

And everybody loved it.

Fast forward a few years later: I can easily remember sitting across the desk from Joe, my soon-to-be boss.  Fresh out of “I’ve been being a mom for the last decade, juggling four kids and a part-time career,” I was interviewing to become the marketing and communications director for a small, conservative university. I crossed my fingers and hoped this could be the start of my re-emergence into full-time employment.

“Tell me about a brand that has done a great job with advertising,” Joe asked me.

Crap.

The only brand that came to mind was Dollar Shave Club. They had bucked the system. They thrilled and enthralled. They made their audience laugh and entertained with 90 seconds of advertisement.

But this was a small, conservative university. How in the world could I say the use of “f**king” was refreshing and hilarious and effective?

But, in a typical “To hell with it moment,” I owned my analysis and touted all the grandeur of the ad campaign. Twelve hours later, the job was mine.

Content Marketing Strategy: Do This First

If you’ve been living anywhere besides under a dark rock for the last few years, you already know this: If you’re in business and you don’t have a content marketing strategy, then you’re officially behind the eight ball.

While there’s constant debate as to just how important content is to a company’s success, don’t be fooled. The real debate isn’t actually about content’s importance; rather, it almost always comes down to content’s medium.

Here’s the problem in the marketing world: We work with humans. Our job is to convince said humans to invest their time and money into our brand. And humans are fickle, so what works one day and draws massive crowds isn’t necessarily going to work the next day. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, this is likely why Jesus never performed the same miracle twice. 

So when we live in a world of limited resources, where most of us wish we had bigger teams and bigger bank accounts, how do we develop meaningful content that actually keeps a relevant audience engaged? I talk a bit about that here. (Short version: Creatives need to emerge from the drunken stupor induced by follow-the-leader content theology.) When you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work creating something meaningful, however, there actually is a little bit of formulaic ideology that you can follow, and because it's centered on intensive self reflection, you'll emerge from this process with a better understanding of who you are, who you ought to be, and who everyone else thinks you are. 

Ready to get started?

3 Easy Ways to Start Building a Better Brand Story

These days, looking at current marketing campaigns can feel a bit like déjà vu. While reaching our target markets has never been easier, actually creating fresh messaging that attracts and keeps their attention has perhaps never been more difficult.

As a content marketer, I sometimes feel  like it’s impossible to hear a genuine, never-before-told message from my clients.  In fact, each time I ask a client to define her value proposition or to discuss what really sets his company apart from all the others, I almost always have the answer before a single word is even spoken—simply because I’ve heard it all before.

Want Great Content? Start Asking These 3 Questions.

It seems everyone is getting pressured to produce content in today's digital world. Tune in, and you’ll see it’s everywhere—eBooks, whitepapers, downloadable PDFs, free courses. But start to read much of that content, and it won’t take long to realize that simply making content available isn’t enough. Indeed, for content to really serve its purpose, it must be meaningful and relevant for the consumer.

And here’s where it gets tricky. As thought leaders, content marketers and industry experts, how can we really dig into the minds and hearts of our consumers and create content that speaks to their needs?

Step one: Be willing to ask yourself some hard questions.

Those questions will lead to some insightful answers—both about the mission of your organization and about the needs of your consumer. Then, you’ll be ready to start building a content library in a way that will nurture engaged and loyal consumers.

Here are three of my favorite questions to get you started: