I recently met with a lovely non-profit in a gorgeous, sun-lit room located in downtown Denver. It was a cool winter day and we had just finished discussing how we were going to change the world by marketing the good work that the organization strived to do. I felt like I was about to be a cog in a very inspirational community wheel. The air was full of peace.
Until I started talking about content marketing.
"I work with service providers," I explained. "So, because they're not marketing a product, they're marketing themselves. And this has to be done through their content."
The two people sitting across the table from me looked a little doubtful as I detailed my plans to make this happen. I could feel my energy rising, my face getting flushed as I felt my passion for content marketing nearly burst out of my chest.
"People need to stop making digital noise," I nearly shouted and slapped the top of the table with my hand. "Say something with your content. Otherwise you're just contributing to the chaos."
I got smiles and nods of understanding and I think I got the gig. But I did walk out of there feeling like I needed to tone it down a bit.
WHO AM I????
If you had told me years ago that I would be standing up in front of various crowds preaching the benefits of marketing through storytelling, I would have told you that you were crazy. If you had told me that I would be spending countless hours trying to figure out a process in which to make this happen, I would have probably tightly held the mace on my keychain just in case I needed to use it on you. And if you had told me that I would be begging people to tell the world exactly why they're in the business they're in through the content on their website...I would have taken out the straight-jacket I carry in my purse (I have three teenagers) and put it to good use.
But these days, if you mention the words "marketing," "social media," or "I'm going to the refrigerator for a snack" to me, expect to get an earful. Yes, this makes the evenings so much fun for my family as I expound on the importance of telling an audience how your childhood bedwetting inspired you to become a financial advisor in order to gain their trust (okay, maybe we can skip that story)...but I can't help it.
It's my calling.
I love hearing other people's stories. And, face it, so do you. I recently listened to a podcast with Dan Pink where he was talking about his book "A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future" and he said (I'm paraphrasing here):
"When your spouse walks in the door and you ask them how their day was, they don't break out charts and graphs. They narrate a story about their day."
We are surrounded by stories. That's what engages us and connects us with others. It's that relatability, that emotion, that prompts us into action - especially when you're in a service-oriented industry.
If you're trying to engage someone on a personal level, you need to get personal.
If you're trying to engage in business-to-business marketing, you need to convey that you would be an awesome person to work with.
If you're trying to build a community, you need to do that by putting yourself in someone else's shoes and giving them the connection they're looking for.
Aren't you tired of it? People putting content out there to just put content out there? It's exhausting, isn't it?
What if you knew that every blog, video, or article was going ALWAYS do one of three things?
1. Make you laugh.
2. Make you think.
3. Make you feel something.
Can you imagine that? That everything you opened would be beneficial in some way and not say the same damn thing over and over again???
So, as a self-appointed Content Evangelist, I feel it's my mission to make this happen. If I have to preach "marketing through storytelling" to you so much that you hear it when you sleep (just like I hear my kids calling "Mom" in mine. Very disconcerting), I will make it happen.
Either say something. Or don't say anything at all.