Article | March 13, 2021
A human approach to content marketing begins and ends with being vulnerable. No, it is not the same thing as being weak. As Brene Brown says:
"Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center of meaningful human experiences…. What most of us fail to understand...is that vulnerability is also the cradle of the emotions and experiences that we crave. Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity."
This is why being vulnerable is important to your content marketing: it helps create a connection. (If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be connected to other people. And we need to wash our hands more.)
If the thought of being vulnerable totally freaks you out, remember that no one is perfect. No one.
Here’s how to weave that human approach into your content marketing.
Share your struggles
People who don’t know me well probably think I float through life on rainbows and sprinkles. If only.
When I graduated from college, I had zero resilience and was struggling with severe anxiety. Unfortunately, I had very little self-awareness, so I had no idea. My first “real” job was with a truly wonderful company, and of course I had the dragon-lady-boss-from-hell. I lasted five miserable months, during which time my anxiety went through the roof and I developed bulimia.
I recovered from bulimia after four years, but I didn’t get my anxiety under control until I fell down a hole into depression when I was 37 years old. Here’s how bad it was: If I was out running errands and noticed my car needed gas, I could not stop at a gas station unless I had already planned to. Spontaneously changing the “plan” was mission impossible. Didn’t matter if I drove past six gas stations. I couldn’t do it.
Eight years later, I am still on anti-depressants. I doubt I’ll ever go off, because it makes life manageable. (If I hadn’t been medicated during the early days of the pandemic, I probably would have ended up in the looney bin.)
Anyway, my point is that we grow the most as humans when we survive and overcome challenging times. My struggles have certainly helped me become the person I was meant to be.
Sharing our personal stories – especially the thorny, dark ones – make us human and relatable. If you are on anti-depressants, you and I are now connected by that shared experience.
Own your failures
I have failed as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and business owner. I am sure I have failed complete strangers as well.
Here’s a short list of my failures as a business owner:
Doing work for free
Not charging enough
Failing to fire bad clients quickly
Ignoring the financials (profit and loss, balance sheet, expenses, etc.)
Hiring the wrong people
Working without a contract
Not getting a security deposit
I own every single failure, which is easy to do when you use the experience to learn and grow.
A few years ago, we created a social media marketing strategy for a small clothing brand, even though we didn’t have a contract in place. When we sent the invoice, they refused to pay it. Without a contract, we were SOL. I was furious at myself, but I am comforted knowing that karma is a total bitch.
When money is on the line, I tend to learn the lesson very quickly. Recently, I had a discovery call scheduled with someone who had not yet signed the contract. When I called her, I simply said, “We can’t proceed until you sign the contract.” She apologized profusely. We jumped off the phone, she read through it, signed it and called me when she was done.
No muss, no fuss.
An authentic, human approach to content marketing is being you.
A client once fired us because I sent an email that was “too direct.” He said he found it offensive.
Was I upset? Not at all. I laughed.
Then I read the email again. I scratched my head. I had someone on my team read the email. They scratched their head.
In near unison, we said, “Dodged a bullet!”
You can’t be everything to everyone, and frankly, I don’t want to be. I am known for saying it like it is and making you laugh at the same time. Not everyone appreciates my style, and that’s cool. We are all different.
And that is the beauty of using a human approach. You have no choice but to be you. As a result, you’ll only work with the people who get you. Would you have it any other way?
The next time you’re writing a blog, social post or email, I want you to do something for me. Read it and ask yourself, “Would my best friend recognize that I wrote this?” If the answer is yes, congrats: you are using a human approach to content marketing.
Article | August 17, 2020
For many in the B2B marketing world, original research provides an effective way to build thought leadership and drive content for owned and earned media. Unfortunately, many research reports from B2B companies are dry, uninspired and focus solely on pontifications from the brand point of view. Such unremarkable content isn’t helping customers, especially if they never see it due to information overload or they don’t trust it.
Article | August 12, 2020
The depth of customer engagement depends, in large part, on how personalized the shopping experience is. If a customer feels like a brand knows them as an individual among thousands of other customers, they will purchase more from that brand, more often, and remain loyal.
The path to 1:1 marketing is paved with personalization, and while there are many personalization tools out on the market, it’s hard to understand which one(s) to pick. This can become particularly challenging when distracted by a shiny UI — though usability is, of course, vitally important to the marketing teams who desperately need personalization tools.
Article | February 10, 2020
There are over 4.4 billion Internet users worldwide. If you look at them collectively as a country, it would indeed be the largest in the world. With every click on the keyboard, there is content being added to this virtual infinite universe that is being created, trillions of pieces of content get created every day. It is being created in terms of updates, likes, comments, and of course the larger pieces—websites, videos and blogs, among others.
This is a borderless country, so this content is actually accessible to anyone online, and we are no longer competing with ‘India-specific’ content. Consumers are also easily shopping across borders today. No wonder there is a switch to the digital content piece as you can swipe across this vast network and choose what you want to.
Today, digital content is an integral part of the consumer’s journey, regardless of whether she’s looking for entertainment, information or exchange (EIE). As marketers, the amount of mindspace we are able to occupy is what matters to us.