Guiding the Culture and Riding the Wave
In content marketing, we like trends. There’s enough data available on what’s going on in your industry that it’s not impossible to run an efficient business based entirely on what’s working for everyone else without ever even looking at your own numbers. Of course, there’s a pretty big downside to this approach: You’ll never be the number one name in your niche if you’re just playing follow-the-leader.
On the other hand, if you ignore trends, if you don’t look at the numbers, then you’re stuck with the task of reinventing the wheel every time out. In other words: The road map is there for a reason. The good news is, the roads can take you anywhere you want to go.
Goals and Mission Statements
Ultimately you’re trying to get somewhere with your marketing, and it’s probably not just to make a living. There are plenty of easier ways to make a living than to work in marketing. If you just want a reliable paycheck, there are office jobs and management positions out there for you to fill. You have a message, and your message is how you aim to guide the culture, whether that’s the broader culture or the culture within your niche.
It’s easy to give a cop-out answer here, “We don’t have a message! There are businesses that need to get the word out, and we help them with that!” but there are certainly clients that you won’t work with, aren’t there? If a celebrity needed some PR spin after an embarrassing scandal, we’re willing to bet that you’d have to really take a look at their case before taking their business.
In marketing we like to think of ourselves as total pragmatists, simply mouthpieces for the client, a means to an end for those who can pay us for our time. But no matter how mercenary you may be about the work, we all have certain values and principles that guide our work in both conscious and unconscious ways. We align ourselves with like-minded clients, and we bring our own voice to every project. Like it or not, you have a message.
Their Roads, Your Destination
Once you know where you want to go, what you need to understand about trends, algorithms, new technology, is actually pretty simple: It’s just a way to get where you’re going.
In other words, following trends, using the data you have available to you as a roadmap, that doesn’t need to be a compromise of your mission statement. In fact, you’d be crazy not to. Just bear in mind that, one, your message might not be suitable for massive numbers. That’s perfectly fine. If you want to reach twenty million people, you may have to dumb it down, or forget human readers altogether and start talking to robots and algorithms. But it’s not impossible to run a business on twenty thousand, or even twenty customers. Secondly, not every trend, not every point of data, is going to help you to get what you’re going. Again, the data is a roadmap, and you don’t reach your destination by going down every possible avenue.
So, what we’re saying here can really be boiled down to “one weird trick!”
- Follow the trends and study the data that gets you where you’re going, and ignore the rest.
If all you’re after is peak attention, you may well be forced to compromise your message. But if you know where you’re going, if you know what success looks like, then the trends, technology and data can help you to get there, and so can we at WriterAccess.
Gilbert S. has an extensive history as a professional and personal blogger, having maintained a blog for Julie Ann Amos at Exquisite Writing in the past and currently writing his own horror-comics themed blog on Tumblr.