Warning: Jeff has included no pictures in this post.
In the past five years anyone in communications could not escape the term “content marketing”. It made me smirk from first hearing. I mean, has there ever been, “non-content marketing”? The best, that is, the most engaging, relevant and entertaining marketing tells a story. People do not buy something unless they can insert and see themselves in the product or service’s narrative.
For a long, long time those stories have been influenced and marginalized at the earliest stages of development. Why? Because their authors begin thinking about the pretty creative pictures and different fonts that will accompany the text along with the myriad of communications channels where the story can appear.
Good copy must stand on it’s own. The reader should be blown away the words on stark, black type displayed on plain white paper. Recently, I spent thirty-five hours on planes in a hundred hour period. As a voracious reader, I took that time to chew through magazines, newspapers and everything else I could devour on my iPad.
One print publication was The Walrus. It is one of those magazines that you never want to see go digital. I find beauty in print and that may betray my age more than the lines in my face. The Walrus is a Canadian magazine focused on “provocative long-form journalism, innovative ideas, and continuing the Canadian conversation.” In short, it is a brainy piece that is approachable yet delightfully pompous. Read more
It was a relatively lean year for outstanding business books even though Sheryl Sandberg grabbed attention and book sales with Lean In. Her well-intentioned but unremarkable plea for empowerment will go down in history as one of the most skillfully promoted books. In fact, a great book for 2014 would be one that examines the marketing lessons from the launch and support of Lean In itself, a work that was highly irrelevant to the vast majority of working women but was unavoidable in the media and on shelves.
This year in business books reinforced something long known. Being successful in business is incredibly hard. Whether you are leading a startup or managing a team within a famous blue-chip company or rising early to open your own dry cleaning business, there are no shortcuts or magic panaceas. Books promising four-hour work weeks are fables, how-to books are vacuous and dangerous, and the content of so-called inspirational works are trite, ineffectual and soon tossed out when met with the blunt adversities found in actual commerce.
Jeff Swystun on storytellers…
I learned long ago that people enjoy buying stories not products. They insert themselves into the narrative when deciding to try and buy a brand. They imagine themselves in a new car and connect with its advertising. The promise of an exotic vacation paints a vivid picture of the potential experience. Marketing has always been about storytelling.
What follows is a selection of quotes from famous writers speaking about their craft. In these are amazing lessons for marketers. The quotes cover motivation, preparation, effort, content, style, quality, challenges, criticism and reward. Each is absolutely applicable and relevant to those who plan and execute marketing strategies.
“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Albert Camus
“The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning and inhibit clarity.” Bill Watterson
“I just knew there were stories I wanted to tell.” Octavia E. Butler
“I write out of revenge.” William Goldman Read more
These quotes carry amazing lessons…
“Advertising is a craft executed by people who aspire to be artists, but is assessed by those who aspire to be scientists. I cannot imagine any human relationship more perfectly designed to produce total mayhem.” John Ward
“Advertising did not invent the products or services which called forth jobs, nor inspire the pioneering courage that built factories and machinery to produce them. What advertising did was to stimulate ambition and desire – the craving to process, which is the strongest incentive to produce. Mass production made possible mass economies, reflected in declining prices, until the product that began as the luxury of the rich became the possession of every family that was willing to work.” Bruce Barton
“It used to be that people needed products to survive. Now products need people to survive.” Nicholas Johnson
“In marketing there are those who satisfy needs and those who create wants.” Juan Carlos Castillo
“The talent for discovering the unique and marketable characteristics of a product and service is a designer’s most valuable asset.” Primo Angeli
“Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative person looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.” Robert Wieder
“Genuine ignorance is profitable because it is likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity and open-mindedness; whereas ability to repeat catch phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the conceit of learning and coats the mind with varnish waterproof to new ideas.” John Dewey
“Strategy is not a lengthy action plan – it is the evolution of a central idea through continually changing circumstances.” Von Clausewitz
“We tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing inefficiency and demoralization.” Petronious
“The universal current conviction that one deserves better, that one is employed beneath one’s station. Everyone dreaming of the higher job he or she has so richly merited, while botching the one he is lucky to have. And as the waiter dreams his dream of upward mobility, he spills the soup downward into your lap.” John Simon
This is a biased piece of writing because I love quotations. It is amazing how a few words can pack such punch. They illuminate the meaning of a subject and help unravel the complex. Quotes are also witty, often self-deprecating and that makes them even more appealing.
People quote to share, incite, honor, compel, inform, and inspire. I am not talking about the self-improvement and motivational quotes that now punctuate the Internet. As Willis Goth Regier said, “Quotations calcify into clichés” and I believe many of those shared on Facebook and Tumblr are terribly clichéd.
I favor using quotes to support my ideas, arguments, and views. The content and context of a well-turned phrase coupled with the credibility of the author are powerful in communication. I don’t roll quotes out in conversations all that often but I do use them liberally in business presentations and reports to convey tone and direction. Read more