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Here’s an Idea: Have a Point!

By Sander Biehn | Nov 7, 2014

One of my favorite comedies is the movie “Trains, Planes and Automobiles.” The late John Candy plays the hapless shower-curtain-ring salesman, Del Griffith. In one scene Neal Page, played by Steve Martin, is lambasting Del for talking to much. Neal chides him, “Here’s an idea, when you are telling a story, have a point…” Del is crushed by this comment. Neal realizes he has gone too far. The truth can really hurt. But here it goes anyway:

Clobbered by task after task in the office, writing blogs or posting content online is always the last thing on a long list of things to do. And yet it seems like there is plenty of time in the day to worry about the consequences of not keeping up an online social presence.

The sales team is feeling the pinch: customers don’t answer the phone, and when Sales does finally reach them, they are better educated. They already know what they want courtesy of the guidance they are receiving from online sources. Likewise, traditional marketing spend on tradeshows and creating press releases yields little more than a fishbowl full of dead leads. You need to get your hat in the ring to stave off customers fleeing to a competitor with better online skills.

While nervously crushing a leftover squeeze ball from the last trade show in your hand, you consider your choices:

1. Wipe away the writer’s block and create some killer content.

2. Hire an agency to help you create the content ASAP.

While the former would be your first choice, you have a lot more money than time in the grand scheme of things. Besides, you don’t want to lose the content war. Half the battle is placing that content at the fingertips of you prospects. So it really doesn’t matter what it says, right?

However, creating the wrong kind of content is one of the biggest mistakes made today in business. And it is a mistake made by businesses of all sizes and stripes. Go ahead and Google some corporate blogs. Make sure you have a cup of coffee at hand as you try to decipher just what they are trying to say and why.

When these blogs aren’t missing the mark because of their complexity, they often smack of nothing more than overgrown advertisements.

But avoiding these mistakes can make online content marketing work for your business.

People can tell when you don’t have your heart in what you write. Making grand polemics about why your service, support and product are superior fall flat without it. Your solutions don’t solve anyone’s problems when they lack a sense of hope and confidence in your offerings. Whether your business is 1 year or 100 years old, there was an original spark that gave it a purpose in the world. All you need to do it reconnect to it.

While you may worry that your ideas will be drowned out by the tidal wave of other online content, remember this: 85% of the content online is the same expressionless attempt at convincing us to do something. It screams of disingenuousness. It cannot be distinguished from the crowd, and it lies in obscurity regardless of how many Tweets, posts or likes are bought or bribed.

Meanwhile, that one true statement, no matter if it is whispered by a child or a long time blogger, has the power to change thinking around the world. That is the power you have, and it can shine like a 10,000 Watt beacon on the hill if you can harness it.

My hat is off to anyone searching for their purpose in advance of setting out on a journey of creating online content. These companies and bloggers make it worthwhile for the rest of us to wade through all the other online drivel and flotsam. Thanks for taking the time to keep it real, because there are no short cuts to expressing your business story authentically.

Like any garage band that has broken away from playing cover songs can tell you, it is terrifying when you start singing your own songs. What if they aren’t liked or appreciated? But I am here to tell you that you need to connect to that individual spark or abandon this quest. Regardless of your sophistication or topic, you will find followers and success in online marketing if you find your true voice


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