Marketing managers battle a dozen dragons a week. Content often falls to the bottom of that list of dragons.
“I’m glad you followed up,” said the VP of marketing, once I’d reached him by phone. “Thanks for keeping me on my toes about our technical content. We’ve decided that we need to spend some more time planning so that we can kick off an organized effort. We’re pretty sure we’ll be ready with topics by mid-January.”
As a marketing manager, you can surely hear the good intentions behind that, but you know how many things will happen in the interim, and how fast the time goes between mid-December and mid-January.
A big, master plan is a thing of beauty. We can hardly wait to see it. Can we get a few hundred words of content out while we’re waiting?
Let’s get it started…
I related a scenario for this VP from a recent project with another client.
“That’s quite a bit of work ahead of you,” I explained. “I’ve seen companies become overwhelmed in this process and end up putting out nothing for another two quarters. Why don’t you pick a hot topic right now, and let’s get started turning it into a newsletter article? You’ve got the mailing list ready. It’s easy to put out something light like that. ”
“Well, we don’t want to do anything until our messaging and strategy are in place,” he answered.
At this point, I could tell he was just coming up with new ways of saying “no” and I desisted.
The newsletter article – Tolerant of imperfection
Everybody starts somewhere.
- IBM had a first advertisement.
- Hewlett-Packard had a first version of its website.
- Microsoft had a first blog post.
- Dell had a first banner ad.
I doubt they were certain of their long-term direction – or even their short-term direction – at the time. They put it out knowing it was a work in progress.
Newsletter articles don’t need to embody corporate dogma and strategy, the way white papers, annual reports and even press releases do. They don’t need to get everything right the first time. They’re about news, after all: a customer success, a partnership, an industry commentary that prospects and customers can follow. They’re quick bites to show that, in addition to building motorcycles or remodeling homes, you and your company are people who actually think about your customers’ problems and how to solve them.
A newsletter article can do this in 600 words. More importantly, it can help your marketing managers start the trickle of content that helps to plant your brand in the mind of your audience.
It’s too easy. Don’t wait for mid-December or mid-January or mid-anymonth.
Just get your content thing started.
photo credit: Ed Yourdon