It’s Raining; It’s Pouring…

…content. It’s a content-flooded world. No, it’s a content-deluged world. It’s a wonder no one’s been called to build an ark or hasn’t witnessed animals coming two by two.

You HAVE to have a blog.

In this world, people are told they have to have a blog. They have to publish content consistently.

Consistency, of course, is important, but the underlying implication is that people need to push their content all the time to all the channels. They need to press their message on anyone who’s listening and even those who are not. They are to be a flood, a deluge. They don’t see that some people are building arks. They don’t understand that their audience is leaving – perhaps not two by two, but they are leaving just the same. They aren’t following anymore. They aren’t listening. They are tuning out what businesses are in danger of becoming: white noise.

What should be done then? Should businesses not have a blog? Should they stop peddling their content? Perhaps, but perhaps not. A blog is not the end-all, be-all. Neither are white papers, case studies, email newsletters, and social media updates. Such things are tactics and supporting materials, and they need to return to playing those roles. They cannot be or replace the strategy.

Destroying the land with “content-wash”

What would happen in a world like that? Would people pay more attention to the company that sends a gentle rain rather than the one that destroys the land with its content-wash? Would companies that choose the quieter route become the ark that people enter for safety? Would people broadcast that company far and wide? Perhaps they would. It’s certainly something to ponder as everyone attempts to escape the content-flood.

Illustration by Edward Hicks [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s Just Business

“It’s just business.” It’s a mantra that fills many an employee with fear. It’s no wonder – the phrase typically is used moments before explaining to an employee or two that they are to be laid off. In some cases, the act may be necessary as in the case of an unruly employee or one that simply won’t heed direction. In others, the act isn’t. The act is done because of the business’ belief that profit, profit, profit is the most important thing. The business wants to save a penny or two, so they lay off workers, often the best ones.

Consequences

Such a belief isn’t without consequences, and it isn’t only the employee to be laid off who feels the belief take hold and turn to poison. It’s a belief that permeates the work culture and infiltrates every one’s minds. Every employee feels the impact when a business chooses “business” over people.

When a business does so, the consequences are manifold. Some of them include:

Reduction of company morale. Employees no longer take joy in the work they do or in being at the workplace. They do what they have to do, but they turn into timecard-punchers. They will not give a company that holds money as the highest principle their best efforts. They will conserve their energy for a place where there is joy in doing the work and in being at that workplace.

Fears about job security. Jokes about pink slips and layoffs abound in work cultures that pinch pennies. It’s a way of self-preservation. The employees to be laid off use the jokes to avoid the tears. Employees allowed to stay use the jokes as a way to ward off fear and to make light of the culture.

Questions about the value of one’s work and oneself. This consequence may be the most disturbing; an employee let go when she is a good worker and gives her all to the company will find herself waylaid by doubt. Perhaps she isn’t as a good worker as she thought. Perhaps she merely isn’t important enough to be given any consideration. She isn’t the only one to suffer from misgivings; employees who witness the layoffs will ask the same questions of themselves.

Seeds of distrust and disloyalty. Layoffs done to save pennies tend to cause coworkers to distrust each other. Every word they say becomes weighted and guarded because they know some of those words are being reported to someone. They know this because of the rumors that come back to them and the way messages are worded. They become cautious. They put on their headphones and isolate themselves from everyone. It’s said that no man is an island, but in this work culture, every one is. Every one’s trying to figure out how to scrap and strap enough wood together to escape their mutual islands. They have no consideration for others. It’s every man and woman for himself and herself.

The new mantra?

What do you think of the “it’s just business” mantra? Can opportunities come from the saying or is it one only filled with threats?

Illustration has been released into the  public domain by its author, Ltljltlj. This applies worldwide.

Why your marketing doesn’t matter

Marketing sometimes is treated like the black sheep of the business family. It’s the stepchild – maybe even the illegitimate one – or the least favorite. People in other departments might not say as much, but the people in the marketing department know that they are superfluous. Their jobs only are as steady as the business’ sense of well-being. If that decreases in the slightest, the marketing department is the first to be escorted to the chopping block.

Silos

The scenario is understandable, particularly if the business employs a siloed concept; that is, no one knows what any other department is doing. Nobody knows how their actions or inaction affects anyone else. Everything is a mystery. Sales numbers, budgets, and pricing are kept secrets. Questions about what customers are asking or actually need are met with blank stares.

In such environments, marketing often is used as a strong arm (Yes, please do think “Brian Loncar.”). It is “me” focused rather than customer focused. Social media, if it’s even used, only acts as a megaphone. Nothing social actually happens, and the marketing department may even be told not to be social on social networks. Little, if any, content marketing is done. Everything is about broadcasting information about products and the company even if that means broadcasting news that isn’t newsworthy. Email marketing, too, suffers; it becomes yet another channel by which “salesy” messages are sent.

Marketing can’t just be about the company

This sort of marketing truly doesn’t matter, but, in siloed businesses, its failure to produce leads and customers is viewed as a failure of marketing rather than a failure of how the business is run. Marketing can’t just be about the company. It has to remove the business from the equation. It has to ask:

  1. How is this beneficial to Mr. or Mrs. Customer?
  2. What problem does this piece of marketing of solve?
  3. How can this marketing piece be made into something that’s relevant and resonant?

This sort of marketing does matter, but, if the marketing department already doesn’t matter, it’s hard to obtain the permission to create it and most likely will never have the opportunity to try. In a world where marketing doesn’t matter, it’s “off with their heads” not “let’s experiment and see if we can’t do things better.”

Illustration formerly attributed to Jan van Scorel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

7 Reasons to Review the (Writing) Basics

One of my hobbies is dancing salsa. It’s a dance based on a seven-beat, hence the “seven reasons” found in the title. The trick with dancing salsa, as with any dance, is never to forget the basic. No matter how complicated a turn or shine (also known as footwork) is, it’s based on the basic.

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