Since joining the content marketing world full-time, I’ve grappled, struggled, cursed, lost sleep, and willed myself to sleep over the thought of how to distinguish myself from all the voices out there in the space of language. After all, being a content marketer who doesn’t create her own inbound campaigns is a little bit like a fitness instructor who is 200 pounds overweight, or a self-declared foodie who still lives on double cheeseburgers and milkshakes.
Who takes those people seriously? (Of course, the answer is no one.)
“What is my own brand voice?” I’ve wondered. It’s clear in my head—I hear it speak to me every single day, but is that really the voice I want everyone else to hear? And will all my friends and my mom disown me if I actually say those words out loud? (Truthfully, no. My friends say the same words out loud, and my mom has long given up on my lack of refined language.)
Last week, I spoke with a client who said something that affirmed the very thing that has been holding me back from putting my own words out there. “Marketers,” he said, “eventually take everything good and screw it all up.”
He was talking about language, about words, about the right everyone has abdicated from those who still think Socratically in order to share anything and everything they think in their heads with the rest of the world. He was acknowledging that there seems to be way too many voices screaming at us from the blogosphere, too many “experts” who are emerging from the dark corners, only to spout facts and stats and experiences that we’ve all already heard.
Are our memories so short, I wonder, that we need to read the same articles over and over again? (Well, ahem. . . yes, mine actually might be.) But, the truth of the matter is this:
Maybe we need to challenge our intellects.
Maybe we need to read less in order to read more.
Maybe we need rediscover how to think absent of the mass marketing mob.
So, as a content marketer, this is the year I’m going to tune in deeper, to listen more carefully, to observe more closely, to give a few more sideways glances at the shiny new objects that come my way before I pick them up and adopt them as my own. I want to be more thoughtful in the words I share, more nuanced in the phrases I create, and more aware of the philosophy I’ve held for a lifetime: We build worlds with our words.
And if that’s true, if we’re building worlds with the words we let escape from the tips of our fingertips, then we need to honor the people we invite into those worlds.
We don’t need more content. We need thoughtful content.
We don’t need more experts. We need true experts.
We don’t need louder voices. We need better listeners.
We don’t need fuller inboxes. We need fuller lives.
So here’s to a better 2017. Let’s tune in to the tiny details that actually find their ways deep into our spirits—the sounds of the winter wind through the row of pines, the laughter of people who have not yet forgotten how to connect with one another, the beat of a child’s heart vibrating against our ear.
Let’s take it all in, breathe deep and exhale slowly, and then watch, listen and remember as we find new, creative and original ways to proliferate our consumers’ worlds with words that will do far more than fill up news feeds and inboxes chock-full of anything and everything except true, relevant, world-changing content.
Lindsay Hotmire builds powerful content for innovative companies. She also marvels at the ways birds fly, the boldness of a moon that pierces a dark night sky, and the unhindered laughter of children who still believe the world is nothing but good. See her work at lindsayhotmire.com.