I recently wrote a guest blog post for GVSU Alumni’s blog about how graduates should format their business cards. Because content marketers and creative writers also carry business cards, I thought this post to also be helpful for you. Enjoy!
As I recently told readers, I started a new job. But this time it was different.
When I met each of my peers, almost everyone said, “Oh, you’re the one that’s going to write content for us.”
During meetings and happy hours, the conversation always included, “So, how far along are you on that content?”
No pressure, right?
This should seem normal. In fact, I was hired for content marketing, so why shouldn’t they expect me to write?
What threw me in for a loop was the eagerness for content. I’m blown away that everyone here knows what content is and its value to the company and to their roles.
I made the right choice to work here.
This isn’t how the story always goes. In prior roles, I heavily campaigned to execute content marketing strategies that often got the thumbs down from the big titles.
Some companies just don’t value the creative process of content marketing.
But why? What is it about content marketing that gets such a bad rap with company leaders?
Or do they simply not understand?
Companies have their reason for why they don’t value content, so it’s my turn to debunk those myths:
“Those Questions Can Be Answered Over The Phone.”
Content is a great way to answer a buyer’s questions early in the buyer process. We all prefer to answer our FAQs through Internet search, so why not be the one providing those answers?
Content sets up your potential buyer for success. Answer basic industry, product or service questions through content so that they want to call you with more informed questions and with confidence in pursuing this purchase.
And your sales team will thank you. Customer communications will be more effective, especially if your sales team can email potential buyers informative content during each stage of the buyer process.
It’s a win-win-win. And we all like to win.
“We Haven’t Done This Before.”
Many companies are familiar with magazine ads, radio spots and billboards. In fact, these approaches have worked—and for some, still work—for decades. Why change this strategy?
It’s not about not changing the strategy. It’s about expanding it.
More companies would rather jump into social media than consider a content marketing strategy. While likes and follows are great, it’s not driving traffic to your website or beginning a dialogue with new customers, your future loyal fan base.
That’s where content comes in.
Social media needs a regular posting schedule and active engagement in order effectively build your brand and increase purchases. Content is the icebreaker to that conversation.
But don’t give up the billboards yet. Traditional marketing may be bringing people to your website or social media channels, but it’s the authentic content that’s reassuring them you’re the one for the job.
Content marketing isn’t asking to replace methods that work. It’s suggesting to complement your strategy.
“What If It Doesn’t Work?”
It may not work. Some content falls flat on its face. Some content marketing strategies never meet KPIs or reach ROIs.
But there’s a reason for that.
Content marketing is about providing genuine information to potential buyers about the industry or product or service or the experience of it.
It’s not a promise that the reader will buy. It’s not a statement that your company is the best in what it sells.
The content simply just is.
But think about what content does for your brand. It makes you the authority in your field. It enforces your value of caring about the customer’s experience. It builds trust between you and your customer.
And this is how content marketing works. A potential buyer reads more and more pieces of content until they feel assured of your authenticity and expertise, then they move closer in their decision to purchase from you.
And what better way to start that relationship than with good intentions?
What do you think? Why do you think companies don’t value content? Share your opinion below.
I once worked in a beautiful space. We each had our own corner with our desks facing each other in a circle. And one wall was a full window, letting in the sun’s positive rays into our creativity and productivity.
That all changed.
Without notice, our workspace was dungeoned into a labyrinth of cubicles, walling us off into prisons of shadows and social alienation.
No, I’m not being dramatic.
The decision, crafted in the royal room of the castle, didn’t take into consideration what happens in this precious workspace. But who has the gold (or shiny title) makes the rules, so the order to build Cubicle City commenced, while the supervisor guards leading the way chant, “this isn’t my fault. I don’t have a say.”
Not holding a grudge at all.
No courtesy email explaining the change was sent. No meeting explaining why the change was held. In fact, the only way I had access to the truth was by hearing it through the grapevine.
And it all came down to fairness.
It wasn’t fair that all workspaces weren’t the same. So all open desks were pushed aside and replaced with matching green walls in every non-executive workspace.
But with uniformity comes loss of creativity.
My team is in charge of the creativity of the organization. We serve the organization as knights, shaping our strategy and brainstorming our ideas within our circle of trust before riding off into the digital realm to carry out the message to the people.
But how can we create with these shielding walls?
Now I forget that I even have co-workers. We don’t say hello. We don’t say goodbye. And now we email our questions because we think we’re alone in the office.
And alone in my box, I have even lost my inspiration. Now I can only complete my mundane tasks at my desk. As for my creative work, I must step away from my desk to a space with a shred of light or complete the work at home.
And that’s not right. I’m not being creative where I’m supposed to be. That’s because the space doesn’t support the intended solution.
In previous blog posts, such as here and here and here, I explain why a workspace with light and space and openness for collaboration heightens creativity and productiveness. Different jobs require different workspaces.
And that’s why uniformity isn’t the answer.
If the plan to install cubicles was presented to our team prior to its installation, we could’ve argued the case against it with research and examples of how effective our previous workspace was with supporting stats and charts.
But the money has been spent. And there is no going back.
The one that really gets hurt is the company. Less creativity and less productivity hurts company revenue, reputation and employee morale.
And in the end, that’s really what the cubicle is designed to kill.
What are your thoughts on the cubicle? Does it kill creativity? Share your thoughts below.
Structure or no structure? In a craft dependent on creativity, does structure inhibit or encourage innovation?
This question doesn’t have one simple answer. When it comes to writing structure and creativity, there are two sides to this debate:
How Structure Kills Creativity
Structure takes away new opportunities
How will you know if you write better in public or by hand if you never try? New solutions to your problems won’t be discovered if you adhere to the same structure. Sometimes writer’s block can be kicked simply by not doing the same old, same old again and again.
Structure limits right-brain activity
Structure and analytical thinking comes from your left brain. When there’s too much emphasis on structure, it’s hard to write with both sides of your brain.
Structure can’t measure a writer’s full potential
If you measure a fish only by its ability to climb a tree, you’d never know its great swimming talent. Structure doesn’t take all skills and talents of a writer into account when only certain skills and talents are measured.
Why Creativity Needs Structure
Structure is the platform for creativity
There are 26 letters in the alphabet and 12 notes in a musical scale, yet there are infinite ways to create a story and a song. Writing is like a science experiment: structure is the control, creativity is the variable.
Creative freedom can be limiting
If the world is your oyster, you may not know what to write. Having structure makes writing a game: these are the rules, this is the goal, how will you get there?
Structure lead to more writing
There’s structure in the actual writing process too. You’re more likely to actually write without distractions when you have a routine in place. Your mind will be ready to write if you have a pattern of always going to your personal writing workspace or your favorite café or library to write.
What do you think? Does structure kill creativity? Or does creativity need structure? Share your thoughts on this debate below.
In an ideal world, we would write creative stories and never set foot in an office. But since bills and birthdays exist, we need to step away from our writing desk and find a way to earn a living. Here are some real world careers that exercise writing creativity and pay the rent.
It takes a lot of creativity to catch someone’s attention. A copywriter writes blurbs, slogans, and any kind of content for advertising material. They produce content for billboards, catalogs, displays, direct mail pieces, product packaging. Knowing how to capture and captivate an audience translates easily into your creative writing.
Social Media Coordinator
How do you get your message across in 140 characters? A social media coordinator must dip into their creative and analytical skills in order to be original and effective in their social media posts for a company. Although you won’t write that many words, you’ll have energy to write after the workday is done.
Writers are usually great editors too. Editors help authors prepare author manuscripts for publication, whether that be for a book publisher, magazine, or journal. You must be great at finding grammatical errors as well as detailing a manuscript with suggestions on story arc and character development. You’ll have a behind-the-scenes look into the publishing industry so you’ll know how to present your manuscript when the time comes to publish it.
Creative Writing Instructor
This one requires more education, usually a master’s degree or a PhD. A creative writing instructor leads instruction in creative writing development and practice. You’ll pass along the lessons you learned about writing over the years and offer insights invaluable to new writers. Spending the day reading and listening to stories doesn’t sound bad either.
Bilingual? Multilingual? There are a variety of opportunities for translators including teaching, interpreting, and translating content. Using both sides of your brain to analyze and interpret will warm up your brain to write creatively after the workday is done.
Other Writing Careers That Pay If You Hustle
If you have the patience, drive, and passion, these creative writing careers can also bring in a cozy paycheck:
- Book reviewer
- Fact checker
- Marketing consultant
- Writing specialist
In this economy when many company positions are on the chopping block, jobs for writing and editing seem to be the first to go.
A business has no obligation to maintain writing and editing positions on the payroll. A business that wants to stay in business makes choices that will be best to the survival and success of that business.
But aren’t writing and editing skills essential for business survival and success?
Many of us think that we can write. With social media at our fingertips, it only takes seconds to publish what we want to say. We can quickly fix our grammatical errors thanks to spell checking applications without learning from our mistakes.
Often businesses have this mentality. Too many times have I read business materials with sentences that have misspelled words or misuses of apostrophes–or that aren’t even coherent. And too many times have I submitted my application to these companies without receiving an email of interest.
Have businesses forgotten the importance of writing?
Websites are where many (if not most) clients receive their information about a business, not to mention social media, print handouts, billboards, posters, and email communication (this isn’t a conclusive list). Although visuals are highly effective in marketing, the written word is still the main way businesses communicate with clients.
In other words, writing is the hello handshake in business conversation.
What does writing well do for a business? These characteristics come to mind:
Writing well shows that a business is sharp on its skills and are willing to take the time to look up the difference between their and there. A client assumes that if a business knows grammar and sentence structure (or takes time to research it), the business is knowledgeable across other fields, and this brings reliability on the assertions made by the business.
Writing well is the equivalent of wearing proper business clothes and maintaining clean hygiene for an important business meeting. A client can dismiss a business at any moment, and poor writing gives the client an early excuse to discontinue potential interest. Even in social media where the conversation between business and client are often casual, the client deserves the same caliber of correctness.
Writing well means defining all aspects of the business efficiently and engagingly. Respecting a client’s time and holding the client’s attention are key in the client’s decision to pursue a business. This also applies to potential employees reading job posts, trying to identify if their skills match the position and/or if the business is a good fit for him/her.
Conversation turns engaging when the client can relate to the company. Writing well and utilizing key words presents how the client and the business share the same goals and values. The client soon forgets to look for errors and focuses on what’s being stated instead on if it’s being stated correctly.
Internal communication is just as important as external communication (emails, letters, memos, etc.). When an employee conveys a message effectively in writing, then the message can be understood by other employees in the shortest amount of time so that necessary action isn’t delayed.
There are more characteristics that I’m sure I missed.
Business should be done the write way (obnoxious and grammatically incorrect pun unfortunately intended).