One of the most powerful TED talks on leadership is by Rosabeth Moss Kantor: “Six Keys to Leading Positive Change”. As we mentioned before, Kantor boils down the concept of leadership to this mantra:
Show up. Speak up. Look up. Team up. Never give up. Lift others up.
So how does this apply to content marketing, I wondered? In 2 previous blog posts, I tackled Show up, Speak up, Team Up and Lift Others Up. In this post, I’m dealing with ‘Look Up’ and ‘Never Give Up’.
Look Up + Never Give Up
I have highlighted the importance of having a content marketing strategy many times (here for instance). Not only do you need to know what it is you’ll do (your content tactics), you absolutely need to know why you’re creating content in the first place (your purpose and goals), for whom (your audience persona’s and buyer journey) and what it is that will make your content stand out from the pack (the famous content ‘tilt’).
I’ve been in the content business for some years now, and I know full well that getting bogged down in day-to-day operations is a dangerous trap. There’s a relentless ‘urge to create’ that we constantly need to fight, both from within and without the marketing department. Giving in to that urge, without checking it against the strategy and the plan, is the first step into the content swamp.
And once you’re in the swamp, it’s hard to get out. We all know this to be true, right? Agreeing to create content which is not aligned with your strategy, simply because people ask for it, is opening the door to being swamped (pun intended) with requests. “You’re so creative, can’t you just work your magic for me?” or “Never mind about the why, just do as I say and it’ll be fine” or “Well, can’t you be a teeny tiny bit more agile?”
You need vision, a solid plan, and the mettle to say no – convincingly, elegantly and with empathy – to stuff that doesn’t ‘fit’, and to the people asking for it, whether they are executives or not. Does that mean you have to “stick to the plan” stubbornly, come what may? Of course not. Every marketer needs the flexibility to shift tactics when the conditions are such that change is required. But this is never random. And agility is not a synonym for capriciousness.
‘Never giving up’ is closely linked to this. It’s easier to keep going, against some or all odds, if you know which direction you need to go in and why. This perseverance is a key ingredient for success. Content marketing is a long game which requires patience and hard work. It is by no means a quick fix. We’ve talked about this before, in a blog post on the biggest myth in content marketing.
Joe Pulizzi from the CMI already pointed out in 2015 (!) that the most crucial – and lacking – ingredient in a content marketing program is … patience: “Content marketing doesn’t usually fail because of content quality. The main reason is because it’s inconsistent or it stops.” In other words: To the patient companies go the spoils, and monetization comes after you’ve built a loyal audience. This almost never happens overnight.
That’s why looking up, and not giving up, are vital when it comes to being successful as a content marketer.
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Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash