Writing for the Audience Rather Than at Them

Every time I drive past this gas station in the Ozarks (yup, weezums in Missoura like people to say what they mean ana mean what they say) I smile–not only because it’s funny as heck but because clearly, the proprietor knows her audience.  She  does an excellent job of speaking their language and relating to them which is what is at the core of good copywriting.

fullsizerender-4

Listening to Jeff Julian and Jonathan Kranz discuss copywriting at CM World 2016 in Cleveland was a huge treat and a pretty much made my day because they confirmed what my instincts have been telling me: it’s good to be empathetic.  Jonathan Kranz (author of Writing Copy for Dummies) does a fantastic job of walking us through his learning curve and poses a series of hard questions that prompted me to re-frame how I think of copywriting.  Many of us start a project with the end goal in mind (if we’re going about it strategically, anyway) and oftentimes in copywriting, that goal is to sell.  But what if we conceive of the end goal not by asking the question, “did you sell?” but rather, as Jonathan asks, “are you real?” and “will you tell the truth?”  Of course, selling matters but the whole point of any communication with our customers ought to be relationship development.  Long term relationship development.  Would you want to be in a long term relationship with someone who was always and only trying to “sell” you or would you prefer to spend your time and energy on someone who offers intrinsic value by being authentic, compassionate, and in the end, helpful in solving problems?  Kind of a “no brainer,” right?

The approach Jonathan Kranz advises for copywriting, applies to consulting as well (incidentally, you should Google Jonathan Kranz and click on the second link that you see).  As Jonathan and Jeff note, we are far more likely to place trust in someone who admits they are not perfect, have made mistakes along the way, and most importantly, learned from those mistakes than we are likely to trust someone who is blustery and claims to be infallible.  The takeaway from this for me is that copywriting as well as client meetings need to be real conversations, meaning we are actively listen and empathize to understand as well as converse openly about mistakes and learning experiences.

When I was teaching, I often utilized a neat feature of McGraw Hill Textbooks: case studies.  I found carefully examining the case study to understand what happened behind the scenes of some of the biggest PR events in my lifetime was incredibly illuminating.  We got to examine how and why Johnson and Johnson took immediate action during the Tylenol scare of 1982 and what the creative process was for the “Got Milk?” campaign.  These case studies (because they were written for textbooks) always included a lesson–what the professionals learned along the way and better still, how they learned from their mistakes.  I agree wholeheartedly with Jonathan Kranz and Jeff Julian on the statement that being honest and forthright about one’s fallibility and the lessons learned from being fallible is far more endearing than the pretense of perfection.

I got further confirmation on the power of listening and being empathetic from  Marketing Prof Ann Handley, who points out in her article, Why “targeting” customers is the wrong approach, that use of the word “targeting” is an indicator that we may be going about it all wrong.  img_0934Ann asks, “What if we didn’t target customers, but instead sought to serve them?” Oh yeah!  The customer is always right, even when it comes to what words we use to communicate with them.  That means we need to be pathologically empathetic with the customer.  Along with that empathy, there also ought to be, as Jonathan Kranz puts it, “something of intrinsic value for the customer,” meaning we need to literally put the customer first and by doing so we find the copy becomes more real, more authentic, and hopefully, a lot like talking to a friend.  As someone who possesses what could arguably be too much empathy at times, I was delighted to read that empathy is a great asset to the copywriter and concurrently to the marketer as she talks to clients.  Turns out wearing my heart on my sleeve isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

 

 

Advertisements

Trial and Error Even in the Big Leagues: This is How We Learn

img_2334

Note that my friend “Accident Andy” here is smiling.  Sure, he has a couple of cuts and a splint but he’s smiling because he’s proud of his of trial and error.  Andy sits on my desk and encourages me as I develop the site for my budding small business(es).  I put Andy on my desk after listening to Jeff Julian interview Nicole Smith on Getting Scrappy at Dell.

Nicole Smith blew my mind when she told me that there were only eight people on the team that launched Tech Page One at Dell.  Incidentally, I have spent some time on Tech Page One and it is truly a wealth of information from education to entrepreneurship and, obviously, tech.  Here I sit, day after day, developing sites for various purposes, beating myself up, thinking (at times) that I have no idea what I am doing and then I hear Nicole tell me that she and the team developed Tech Page One on WordPress!  Holy cow!  They did so because they could test more effectively in that environment and essentially earned their way to success (and budget) through trial and error when they developed the highly customer-focused Tech Page One.

That was my other big takeaway from listening to Nicole–always be customer-focused.  I need Accident Andy on my desk (no reference to super-dude Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media here, I just like alliteration) to “feel heartened,” as Nicole Smith puts it, regarding my trials, tribulations and errors.  

More importantly, Accident Andy helps me to remember to focus on the customer and not my ego.  I liken the problem of being overly focused on my own business objectives and not putting the customer first to a server, who upon coming to the table to take the order, turns sideways and asks the customer, “Does my butt look big?” rather than taking their order.  A silly analogy sure, but I think it makes clear how easy it is to get myopic when developing a site and site content.

For example, I am getting really hung up on UI patterns.  My knee-jerk response is to develop something unique and user-friendly all at the same time.  I am beginning to see that really isn’t realistic for someone at my skill level (which is quite honestly, a tetch lower than basic).  Heck, the reason that certain UI patterns have become so commonly used is that they are user-friendly.  It is here that I have an opportunity to stop thinking about how special and unique I think my business is and start thinking about the customer and how they will be able to find what they need as quickly as possible.  It is likely that customer really doesn’t even think about the UI pattern at all.  What the customer does think about is getting the information they need and/or the product they want as quickly as possible.  As Jerry Cao puts it, “…we’ve changed the way we consume the web, which has resulted in a lot of common UI design patterns. Design patterns have matured and as such, there’s little in the way of innovation when it comes to UI patterns…There’s no real reason to reinvent the wheel. UI patterns must guide users through a smooth experience.”

Clearly, the time I devote to trial and error should not be wasted on UI patterns that others have determined work and work well, but what type of design is going to best feature my business and enable customers to navigate quickly and easily.  The other thing Accident Andy reminds me to think about is the path to purchase (for retail sites) and the path to donations (for non-profits) because if there are too many clicks or (ugh) dead ends that take the user in a loop, they’re going to leave.  Jerry Cao provides a great overview of 6 Web Design Trends and I used his article to spur some additional thinking on micro-interactions and what the best, most customer-focused micro-interaction will look like on my site.

Micro-interactions open up a world of questions from, “When should there be a pop-up to sign up for the newsletter?” to “What is the best language to use when allowing a customer to opt-out?”  Thanks to Google Analytics  the the genius of Nicole Smith’s advice, I get to try, test, determine error, and try again.  And silly me if I get too complacent and think that I can do that only once a year!  Website improvements need to be ongoing so as to effectively keep up with the demands and expectations of our customers and how lucky we are to have that kind of instantaneous feedback as well as the ability to make adjustments and changes based on our customer’s needs.

Here’s the thing: I certainly haven’t figured it all out yet.  My site is far from perfect right now.  But like one of my friends in Web Development once told me. “That’s what the undo button is for.  There’s nothing you can’t undo.”

 

 

 

When They’re Nearby: The Right Time to Contact Your Customer

img_2635Inspired  by the interview of Jeffrey Rohrs (Chief Marketing Office at Yext) by Jeff Julian (founder of Aji Software and Enterprise Marketer titled Location Based Services for Content Marketers I got to thinking about the right time to contact a customer (without being annoying) to offer value adds and engender customer loyalty and repeat sales. The most important takeaway from their conversation for me was the importance of location and ensuring that the location data that your smartphone or tablet pull up is the same as it appears on your Website.  This is more vital than many marketers are aware.

Take music venues as an example.  Given the number of apps that promote live music in your city (or region), a venue has a remarkable opportunity to increase ticket sales by ensuring the app not only provides up to date and accurate information but that the venue is also working with the app to ensure the customer has access to “official tickets” as well as accurate location information and even parking information which can be crucial in a busy, downtown neighborhood.

But what about those spur of the moment activities and how does a content marketer cut through all of the clutter and noise so that they are serving up the best and most relevant content to their customers and potential customers in the moment?  For example, Kansas City hosts numerous conferences each year and bring in millions of visitors to the city who, after five or six in the evening are likely looking for something to do.  Where do they look?  Their phones of course!

In this micro-moment, every food and entertainment business in downtown Kansas City has an opportunity to connect with a customer.  Jeffrey Rohrs talks about “micro-moments” and I pilfered these stats from Google’s own article about micro-moments to drive the point home:

1. Of leisure travelers who are smartphone users, 69% search for travel ideas during spare moments, like when they’re standing in line or waiting for the subway. Nearly half of those travelers go on to book their choices through an entirely separate channel.1

2. Of smartphone users, 91% look up information on their smartphones while in the middle of a task. 2

3. Of smartphone users, 82% consult their phones while they’re standing in a store deciding which product to buy. One in 10 of those end up buying a different product than they had planned. 2

•4. Of online consumers, 69% agree that the quality, timing, or relevance of a company’s message influences their perception of a brand. 2

These stats make it clear that context is just as important as content.  i.e. serve up the content customers want when they want it.  There are a few ways to do this and do it well and as “the Jeffs” point out, many marketers, even the CMOs of large organizations, do not focus on location-based marketing. I would argue that the reason location focused marketing isn’t a given for all organizations is that it seems to complicated and perhaps marketers are over-thinking the content they need to serve up in that place and time.  As it turns out, it’s really not that complicated.  If I can figure it out (and I can barely write HTML code) then trust me folks, it is quite possible to integrate location-based marketing into your overall marketing strategy right now.   Why?  Because users expect it that’s why.  I am repeatedly shocked by the reluctance on the part of organizations to communicate more and more often with their customers and am still trying to determine if that reluctance is real or if it is really based on being intimidated by data, geofencing and location based marketing.

What adds to the confusion is that most of the books and articles on location based marketing are woefully outdated (from 2011 and 2012) so the challenge is two-fold: not only is location based marketing intimidating (due to lack of knowledge) it’s challenging due to bad location data.  The fix for this is simple:

Become your own customer and try to find your own business through the exact same channels your customers use.  Secondly, know that your customers are already using location based sources and it’s your job to make sure they are correct.  

So when is the right time to contact your customer to let them know you are there? When they use key words in their search and, just as importantly, when they are close!  Message them and let them know they are just three miles away and even better, offer them a motivator to come and see you.

Moosejaw did this for me over the weekend while I was searching for a gift.  Moosejaw not only let me know they had a location on the Plaza, within walking distance from my house, they also offered me $10 off my first purchase just for coming into the store.  The code was sent directly to me within seconds and I put on my shoes and headed out the door.  I was able to do this for a number of reasons:

  1. Moosejaw knew I was a new customer and offered me an incentive to come into the store.
  2. Moosejaw’s location data was accurate and I quickly learned I could walk there in minutes (for me this was a huge motivator because I could shop and get my exercise)
  3. The staff in the store also knew that I had the promo code because I was a new customer and made mention of it.

I was able to learn all of this using the search term, “Best Gift for a 12-Year Old Boy.”  Pretty neat.  Great job Moosejaw.  Not only did they provide me with what I wanted using GPS automation, they complemented that automation with the human touch and made me feel welcome when I entered the store and made a purchase.

“There’s something here relevant for your business,” Jeffrey Rohrs states in his interview with Jeff Julian and I couldn’t agree more.

 

 

 

Proper Care and Feeding of Your Marketer (or What a Marketer Should Examine When Taking on a New Role)

deckster

Please don’t roll your eyes and assume this is a whiny piece about how much control we marketers feel we should have over one aspect of business or another. It is also not a Millennial complaining about being misunderstood (I am not a Millennial and frankly my age is my business–deduce what you like from that statement).  This is about who we marketers tend to be as people, what we thrive on and how, when we thrive, we can sell units and generate buzz like there’s no tomorrow.  Those are the good points.

Marketers also have their not-so-good points.  Sure, we may get a little frustrated sometimes that people don’t work as hard to understand us as we work to understand them but working to understand others is just what we do.  It’s second nature to us the same way life-long learning and keeping up with emerging tools is.

According to folks at CloudPeeps, there are six types of marketers.  This is a really great article and covers all of the aspects of marketing extremely well.  I am a combo Content-Community focused marketer.  I would argue that most marketers, regardless of type are pretty social people.  They are also likely competitive–perhaps not with others but with themselves.  Setting and attaining goals is what marketers are all about and most of them are going to need to establish benchmarks and KPIs or they feel they aren’t doing their job.  In my career, in non-profits, I have always set my own benchmarks and KPIs and it has been a useful means of tracking my own progress and ensuring that my efforts are well spent.

Careful consideration of  the following applies to both the organization hiring a marketer

  1. Prioritize where you need help: find someone to complement your skills and take over tasks you don’t like doing or that are taking up heaps of your time
  2. Ask specific questions: what they did, how they specifically moved the meter — dig deep into their experience
  3. Pay attention to your candidates question: an experienced marketer should really drill down to your goals
  4. Create clear expectations in advance: set budget, time frame and commitment
  5. Ask what tools they use: the best marketers use the same tools
  6. Look at culture fit: when hiring a remote freelancer, specifically, look for people who are self-starters, entrepreneurial spirits, prioritizers, excellent communicators, trustworthy

Flip to the marketers perspective and these are the questions she will want to ask before making her next bold move:

  1. Why a marketer and why now?  Did the previous hire leave?  How come?  How long was she in the position?  What kind of support and integration into the organization was she afforded?
  2. How does the organization want to move the meter–if they are not able to articulate specific goals then a deeper conversation is required to determine how those goals will be established and in collaboration with whom.
  3. What is the marketing budget?  If the answer is, “we don’t really have one yet”(as is common in non-profits) this is a red flag.  It is not a deal breaker but it does give the marketer an opportunity to underscore the need for marketing dollars and to manage expectations regarding what those dollars can actually accomplish.
  4. Is this a job that should ideally be a contract position or freelance job?  I have often found in non-profits that the organization may not be ready for an “in-house” marketer who is going to make demands for funding and seek to implement new tools at a pace that is likely faster than the organization usually moves.

Finally, I humbly submit this food for thought for those hiring and supervising a marketer:

  1. Take some time to understand the complexity of the marketing cycle in the digital age and know that marketers understand every, single aspect of that cycle and study it constantly.
  2. Allow the marketer time to develop a solid strategy and plan before you hold them accountable for results (I am not talking months or years here–just a few weeks while the marketer studies the business and purchase cycle and develops a strategy and appropriate voice).
  3. Trust the marketer to make creative decisions (yes, that includes an update to your logo if it is outdated or tired looking).  It is likely her decisions are part of a larger strategy.
  4. Know that your marketer is likely going to be moving faster than you and thinking three steps ahead–this is a good thing!  Don’t be threatened by it and don’t ask her to slow down.  Moving quickly and thinking three steps ahead why she is good at her job.

Finally, know and understand yourself as a marketer and/or as a manager.  Are there areas in which you are not so strong and could use some help?  If so, is that an area that should your new marketing hire take that on for you?  If she does, will you be happy (and not threatened or hyper-critical) about her expertise in that area?

As a marketer are you territorial?  If so, about what and why?  Is this information you should share during the interview process?  e.g. I am very territorial about social media and need to be the sole staff person managing social media until I can share the strategy, voice with my colleagues and perhaps even provide them with a crash-course in writing good, social, copy.

This article by Lisa Schneider for The Hired Guns is a another list of skills sets to examine and contemplate thoroughly before making a marketing hire.  My key takeaways from Lisa’s article are that managing a marketer effectively means you must understand that marketers possess:

1. Initiative

Meaning they not only do what their supervisors tell them to do but also spot issues and propose solutions on their own.  img_3007

2. Creativity
Meaning that they come up with fresh ideas and approaches at the same time they keep up to date on the latest technologies, platforms, and trends. As Lisa Schneider notes, too many people continue to re-purpose something that’s worked before. And while there are times when “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “no point in reinventing the wheel” are true, make sure you’re not stuck in a rut.

So if you, as a manager, are ready for these skill sets (amongst the many other skill sets marketers possess) then by all means, find yourself a spitfire!  If not, consider developing a priority list of projects you need completed and hiring a freelance/contract marketer to help you achieve those goals until it is time to go “all-in”.

 

 

Why Your Public Library is Your Best Friend

Hey Marketers–your public library is the best free resource you have.  First and foremost, if you are a taxpaying citizen in any community, you have already paid for this fantastic resource through your tax dollars.  And thank you!  Your tax dollars not only assist people like you and I trying to create their own gig and keep learning, your tax dollars also pay for kids to access technology.  Libraries are one of few entities actively working to bridge the digital divide.  For that alone, libraries and all the amazing folk who work there should get a thank you note.

After 9 years as a public library professional, if I had a nickel for every time someone said, “You have that at the library?” I’d be a very wealthy woman.  This is true not only in Kansas City but the entire metro area and frankly, the world.

When I was living in Copenhagen last summer, I desperately needed to brush up on my Danish language skills and sure, I had downloaded DuoLingo and was using the app every single day but that was not enough to keep up with the pace of conversation with family and friends.  First stop: local library where I found a treasure trove of language resources including workbooks that enabled me to “up the ante” on my language skills by progressing to a new level when I was ready and not when that annoying little owl on
DuoLingo determined I was ready.

“Yeah, libraries have that.” And so much more.  Sure, public libraries may seem to some like a relic from the past filled with dusty old books and dirty looks from cranky librarians. But let’s not sell librarians short—they work diligently to make sure the public has access to everything from free wifi (yes, even from the parking lot) to the best databases your tax dollars can buy.

Here is a short list of the resources marketers can access from anywhere (including the library itself of course) and all you need to do is get a dang library card:

Library card required from home

Produce comprehensive business and residential lists as well as detailed demographic reports. Assess business viability, perform market and site location analysis, create sales leads and/or marketing mailing lists, find potential sponsors and donors to grow a non-profit, prepare a small business plan and much more.

Library card required from home

Get online access to the most recent issues of the Kansas City Business Journal, special publications, and the Book of Lists.

Library card required from home

Read articles from newspapers, magazines, journals and trade publications.

Library card required from home

Lynda.com is a leading online learning company that helps anyone learn business, software, technology, and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals. Access their library of high-quality, current, and engaging video tutorials taught by recognized industry experts, thousands of courses you can take at your own pace on any device.

Library card required from home

Project MUSE – a development of Johns-Hopkins and other major U.S. Universities.

E-books in the classics, history and literature, now totaling more than 10,000 titles.

Available only at Central and Plaza

This database is geared toward individuals and small organizations seeking grant money. You can read about specific grants, and learn how to increase your chances of success.

Kansas City Public Library has partnered with local tax giant H&R Block to develop and make public the H&R Block Business Center. My husband, a budding entrepreneur (he’s in plants so that’s funny-get it, budding?) is a proud graduate of the Kauffman FastTrac and I think it was during the third day of class that he was taken to the Kansas City Public Library and introduced to the wealth of resources the library offers.  He used the resources to complete his course work as well as to start his business and we both access online databases from our home PC on a weekly basis (at least).

Kansas City Public Library is most certainly not the only place to go in the metro area either.  Johnson County Library has thirteen locations throughout Johnson County and Mid-Continent Public Library has programs dedicated to assisting small business owners, even for us marketing folk.

Yes, all of the links above require a library card and if you clicked on any of the links, you saw that I took you to the source, save the last link which takes you to the login with your library card.  Maybe you even cursed me because you couldn’t get any further in your search but do not despair.  All you need to do is get on down to your public library and get a darn library card.  Don’t winge and say that’s too complicated, you’ve already paid for it and I know you will be pleasantly surprised.

And in case you need to be reminded, these resources are free.  Enjoy.

Why I Stopped Looking for a Marketing Job

IMG_2545Today I cancelled all of my job alerts for marketing, communications, public relations and digital marketing jobs.  I did so not because I am discouraged and giving up on a job search but because I have been fortunate enough to have had some really important conversations with some really smart people over the past couple of months.  Those conversations have helped me to understand not only where my greatest strengths lie as as communicator, but also, how I want to operate as a communicator—I want to teach and I want to learn.

There was a reason I chose to feature a personal photo of myself on this blog (Am often loathe to publish personal photos but the photo above is of my sister in law Tine and I having a conversation about marketing.  She’s a marketing in Danish broadcasting and is a wealth of insight and knowledge).   I want to provide readers with a clear an authentic picture of who I am as a communicator, as a teacher, and most importantly, as a life-long learner.  The tool that I bring to this task is myself and my experience working for large, multi-national corporations as well as small, non-profits.

This post is inspired by the recent post from Jeff Julian about the role of marketing and marketers.  Jeff accurately points out that leaders of many organizations (large and small) may not consider marketing as an important strategic function.  Jeff says many times, marketers find themselves lacking “a seat at the table” meaning that marketing has not been integrated into the strategic function of the organization and as Carla Johnson  aptly points out in this great piece, marketers find themselves working to “bring their companies into the modern age.”

At present, the board of directors and leader of my organization are having lots of conversation about experiences.  So important is the experience to them, they have coined the term “Company Experience” to brand the customer experience that they want our customers to have.  They are forgetting that an important aspect of the customer experience is online (it’s where we make our introduction to many of our new customers) and while program development is important, ensuring that the experience with our existing programs is delightful can also be a priority.  That is where the cognitive dissonance lies.  Talking about the importance of the experience without the strategic and tactical means by which to make that experience a reality is just that-talk.  As the sole marketer within my organization, I feel I have a unique perspective on what is desired and what is (or is not) done on behalf of the customer because I study them.  I also have an up close and personal communication with our customers via social media and the telephone.  Yes, the telephone.  I know that some of our customers use the telephone because they may not be comfortable with technology but it also signifies an issue: the company Website is a challenge to navigate.  No es bueno.

The cause of the cognitive dissonance with regard to our owned assets is two-fold: our administration and leadership are not personally using the site so they do not understand the actual customer experience.  The second reason is that Web development is a less-than-well understood aspect of the work for my colleagues.  I liken this to the way many folks feel about going to a mechanic to have their car repaired.  The customer wants the car fixed in the least expensive and most efficient manner but are not interested in knowing exactly how it will be fixed–they just know they want it to work.  And that is valid.  I feel the same way about the mechanic but thanks to Google, I can now speak with my auto-mechanic with a degree of knowledge.

I have spent the past few weeks conducting my own personal usability studies of our mobile UX by asking my friends and family to go to the company site and buy something. This Moz post was a helpful guide though I would love to implement Inspectlet as I work with developers on the new site.  Five out of six users have simply given up on the purchase with the current site.  That made setting my priorities beautifully simple: get a new Website.

My goal for the Website is to provide a valuable experience for the customer and at the outset will focus on the following:

  1. the purchase process
  2. engaging content on current and upcoming artists
  3. easily accessible information of our events as well as the larger local and national music scenes (specifically Jazz)
  4. a rich and engaging visual and audio experience as it relates to our business
  5. database growth through charming buttons for newsletter sign up and donations

Rather than focus on the challenges I face as a single marketer in an organization that has not yet integrated marketing into the larger strategy,  I am focusing on possible solutions. Focusing on solutions requires that I look at the situation from an objective position first. Leaders who do not consider marketing an important and/or vital function of an organization do not do so out of malice.  Objectivity enables me to see that there is an internal education process required before the real work can begin.  But how does one educate their superiors and peers without sounding patronizing?  Repeating myself and forcing projects down the throats of my colleagues will not work, it never does.

The answer: Game it.

In the coming weeks I hope to launch a Web scavenger hunt.  I will send an email to my colleagues within the organization and ask them to find a specific piece of content or make a purchase on our site.  I will also ask them to track the amount of time it takes to complete each task and “reply to all” with their results in terms of completion as well as time spent.  I will also incentive the game with a reward.

The manner in which I communicate about the scavenger hunt is also crucial.  I plan to use words that are engaging and not accusatory.  I plan to focus on solutions and spur excitement about what is possible in a new Web environment and with updated CSS.  I plan to show each person how the new Website will work to their personal advantage (lucky for me it is a small organization).  I plan to share examples of other Websites and features that provide a superior customer experience and demonstrate how much opportunity we have as an organization to grow our existing customer base through online engagement.  I also know I will need to communicate these things more than once.

Again, in my new found role as a teaching and learning communicator, I want to teach and I want to learn.  Regardless of the outcome, creating a game to engage others and communicating to engage will be a learning experience.  I will let you know how it goes.

 

What Happens When You Stop Learning

As marketers we are all acutely aware of the importance and the challenge in trying to keep up (heck, trying to stay current) with the plethora of tools and sites and practices intrinsic to successful marketing practice in 2016.

I would like to take this opportunity to say, “Hey, good for you!”  The fact that you are reading this post is a testament to your own curiosity and your understanding of the importance to keep learning.  To go a little further and try to literally make your day, I will share with you what happens when you stop learning (this is the part that you get to read,  and take a deep sigh of relief because you’re still learning and doing as much as you can to stay current):

  1. You nod during conversations all the while knowing you have no idea what you are nodding about and this makes you feel crummy.  (Had a great conversation with some Web Developers recently who told me that many of their clients “do the nod” during meetings and then freak out when the developers implement what they nodded in approval to which makes for a really awkward follow-up conversation.)
  2. You get defensive and angry because you are not speaking the same language as the people around you.  (Note, this is not an age thing at all.  I am rather long in the tooth but when I hear a term I do not fully understand I do one of two things: ask for an explanation or conduct thorough research privately).
  3. You slow others down.  (Because now they have to explain it to you and because most people are nice-they really are-they will try to do so without sounding surprised or patronizing and in doing so may inadvertently throw in two or three more terms or processes with which you are unfamiliar.  That causes your brain to lock up and you end up missing or misunderstanding the entire explanation).
  4. You compromise your own ROI.  (I have been with organizations that have outdated Websites that do not utilize Google Analytics and as a result, they are not able to calculate return on investment not only for the site but for paid, earned and owned assets as well.  This is truly a marketers nightmare because most of us live to measure and compete not only against others but also against ourselves).
  5. You stay humble.  This is sage advice from AJ AGRAWAL in his 2015 article about this importance of learning.  He nails it when he argues, “When we are looking to learn as much as possible, there’s less of a chance that we will come off as arrogant.”
  6. Lastly, and perhaps most dangerously, you get out of the habit of learning.  Curiosity, like many things, can be cultivated as a habit and as far as habits go, it’s probably the best habit to have.

My grandmother, who lived to be 96 years old, was the most charming and engaging woman I have ever known.  The reason?  She was forever curious.  Even into her 90s, Gram worked to stay current in the world and would ask questions to clarify her understanding.  When I asked her what her secret was for staying young, she answered, “I’ve kept my brain and body active.”  She did so through daily walks and conversations with people around her and through voracious reading.

In conclusion, here are a few (often cited, often referenced because they’re among the best) resources to stay current in marketing and business:

Ted Talks (hopefully a given).

Enterprise (through Aji)

Orbit Media

Content  Marketing University 

And always and of course, your local public library.  Please don’t be nervous to ask your librarian for some guidance because librarians love to help you, they really do.

But again, none of this applies to you because you found yourself here.  Nice work!  Keep learning.  It’s the best way to rock on with your bad self.

 

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑