How To Make Your Work Timely and Relevant, Yet Timeless
When you pay close attention to what’s happening around you on a societal level, it can help you shape messages in your content that will bring people even closer to you.
The alternative is just to follow what the rest of your industry or sector is saying. The problem with that approach though is that you’ll get lost amongst your peers and competitors.
Finding your place – one that suits you, that resonates with your audience and reflects, responds to or challenges what’s happening in the world around you – is a great way of stamping your work with meaning, boosting your content today whilst ensuring there’s longevity built in for tomorrow.
It’s how you carve out your own space and also communicate relevance in the hearts and minds of others.
Credit for the subject of this article goes to a sentence in a recent article by Mark Schaefer called The Lifetime Advantage Of Being Naive. Mark says, ‘Momentum begins when you 1) pursue an idea (not just think about it!) and 2) your idea fits with emerging opportunities or “seams” — an undefended niche.’
It’s the second part, your idea fits with emerging opportunities, that I’d like to delve that little bit deeper into, looking at the context we all sit in, and the world we interact with.
If It Looks & Smells Like Everything Else…
If you take one message from this article, make it this – be the person who’s tuned into what’s going on around them rather than looking no further than their industry textbook.
If what you share looks like marketing, smells like marketing and feels like marketing, people will, for the most part, sidestep it. Tapping into a broader worldview helps you stand for something and makes all the difference in helping you find “your” people.
During a YATM Online session in 2020, Margaret Magnarelli, from Morgan Stanley in New York, introduced the idea of following the pandemic curve. Her idea was that company messages should be attuned to how people were currently living their lives.
Brand promotion in its traditional sense should be put to one side and become attuned to how people were being affected. The point here was all about tapping into the world around you, rather than following (what could soon become) outdated industry rhetoric.
As we make our way through 2021, this will mean continuing to embrace change whilst also understanding how we fit into the shifting landscapes.
What Does It Mean?
Elevating things and reflecting a wider societal context means you end up delivering content that taps into the cultural zeitgeist; you bring people together and you all share not just a common experience but a collective feeling.
It’s the opposite of what’s seen all to often: industry messages that are homogenous and monotonous, both in their content and in how they’re being delivered: For instance, do you really want to hear more about ‘the importance of brand’?
An Example Of Putting This Into Practice
This April’s You Are The Media Month Of Learning had a content marketing undercurrent running through the whole month, but the term itself, ‘content marketing’, was never used in any of the materials. Everything was centred instead around the idea of finding momentum. After the year that everyone had had, helping people pick themselves up and find impetus with their content creation and promotion efforts, seemed far more resonant and fitting.
The Month of Learning was all about giving people the right sort of shared experience, at the right time. The structured, modular learning was marketing-led but the deliverables focused on how people could build their messages and communicate as effectively as possible. The best thing was that people were seeing results and reaping the benefits, as they put the learning into practice, whilst the month itself was happening.
Most of the time, we only ever see the world through our own lens. However other people might not see things the way we do – our perspective and understanding might not resonate with them. This is why nothing from my side has a big ‘content marketing stamp’ to it.
Just because I might be excited about the contents of the Marmite jar, it doesn’t mean other people are. So it’s important to find the things we do share or have in common. The times we are living through and the challenges we face can be a powerful shared meeting point.
How You Can Approach It?
Whatever industry you’re part of, step back from what it is you actually do and identify the wider role you play at this particular time that we’re living in. This is a way of bringing others into a space we all share.
For instance, what will the wider themes around future YATM Months Of Learning be? Is it going to be togetherness? Persuasion and the power of influence and influencers? Belonging?
Similarly, on your side, how does what you do fit into the wider lives and concerns of your audience? Step away from the industry theory and align with the cultural shifts that are happening. For instance, should you be talking about the sector you specialise in or making it more general, and talking about encouragement, redevelopment, support, gratitude, building stamina and strength?
Don’t just get stuck tinkering with the company sales pitch. When you amplify and embrace what’s happening around you and find meaning and resonance in it, you can really start making a difference to your audience.
As much as being an opportunity, it’s also a challenge – cultural shifts and technological and societal changes are happening all the time. The challenge is in staying tuned in and finding what’s particularly relevant to your audience. That way, hearing from you will become a necessity for them and that will be a good place for you to be.