What’s in your content: Marketing writing or corporate cheerleading? Here’s a parable for the content marketing manager.
A dear friend who does a lot of business writing once remarked,
Compact, compelling copy that doesn’t fall into business jargon is tough. So much of it is fake words strung together with corporate cheerleading.
I’ve mulled that over for a couple of years and can finally weave a parable around it.
In short, what if “fake words” and “corporate cheerleading” aren’t completely bad things?
Sporting Event = Game + Cheerleading
Cheerleading may seem a little daft when you’re in high school. But when you start going to your kids’ football and basketball games, you begin to see the valuable role it plays.
Consider what top-flight cheerleading squads do. They cheer, kick, jump, form pyramids, turn somersaults, sell raffle tickets and generally spice up the evening. They’re a show unto themselves, really. You can easily forget about the game you’re supposed to be watching when you’re absorbed in the talent, energy and acrobatic skill that cheerleaders display.
Cheerleaders are unflappable. Regardless of the team’s plight or good fortune, their tone is upbeat, emotionally engaging and designed to make you feel good about being there. It’s a job they do well, and we spectators need them to do it for us. They don’t put points on the board, but they sure do perform.
Meanwhile, on the field or the court, the game is in one of three states:
- It’s a wipeout, and we’re winning.
- It’s a wipeout, and we’re losing.
- It’s a close game, and it’s making us nervous.
The marvelous thing about cheerleaders is that, regardless of the state, they’re doing the same thing. Sure, maybe they’re doing the touchdown cheer less often in state 2, but they’re still cheering almost constantly. They have smiles on their faces, pom-poms in their hands and high kicks in their legs.
Because their voice is an important part of the game, too. The players have the job of scoring points; cheerleaders have a different job.
Writing and corporate cheerleading
As a content marketing manager, you’re responsible for telling your organization’s story and starting the conversations that Sales will continue. But do you have to use the same voice or tone for every story and conversation?
What if cheerleading is an important part of your game, too?
Think of the marketing content you put out: white papers, press releases, case studies, blog posts, technology overviews, market research, annual reports, social media updates, corporate backgrounders, and all of the copy on your site. Can you look at all that content and honestly say that it’s all science and objectivity?
Sure, you give your writers access to your executives, to industry analysts, to your internal data and research, and they give you back valuable content that Sales can use to persuade prospects and beat your competitors.
But fess up; you’ve also got some corporate cheerleading in there, haven’t you? A little rah-rah-sis-boom-bah-go-team-go that puts a sunny face on things? Even if sales are tanking and your business practices are under scrutiny by the European Union?
Can you be that honest with your content marketing writers? Can you tell them, “That report you wrote last month was dead-on objective, but this needs to be an upbeat piece on how our product is making life better for soccer moms. Don’t mention our ongoing patent litigation; just paint a favorable picture. It’s what we need right now.”
More crucially, when your colleagues start making snide remarks about “fluff pieces,” can you take the heat?
Yes, you can. As a content marketing manager you’ve done your job by providing both objective and “soft” content.
Just tell the cynics the parable of the football game and the cheerleaders.
photo credit: avinashkunnath