As a content marketing specialist, clients are always asking me for “secrets” or “shortcut” ways they can promote their business. I’m not sure what the logic is here exactly — in what other industry is there a “secret” way to instantly achieve success? If you happen to know what this secret may be, please let me know posthaste my dear sir/madam.
What those people are really saying is this: I don’t want to do all the hard work involved. I am lazy. I want to find a way to get this done and get results ASAP using the least possible amount of effort.
As I ran through my daily Google Alerts earlier today, I started reading an article about airlines like Delta that were going above and beyond the call of duty — in this instance, battling a fucking hurricane to get people to safety — it hit me:
There’s an implicit understanding in our culture that companies are essentially people. Don’t believe me? Check out the Citizens United case here that pretty much said, okay big brands, you count as people, you get First Amendment Rights, your voice matters just as much (if not more, really).
If we’ve grown accustomed to (implicitly) treating companies like people, it makes sense that the companies we remember are, like people, exceptional. The companies that go out of their way to win us over by doing, not saying. The companies that aren’t afraid to stand out.
If you make cookie cutter copy — if you’re constantly finding ways to re-purpose external content, if you only ever dare to write about well-known, non-controversial topics; if you never have the nerve to try something totally, genuinely out there or have ever uttered the sentence “that’s just the way things are done here” — why should anyone bother remembering who you are?
There’s your secret.
Don’t aim to be ‘good’. Aim to be exceptional.
Be bold. Don’t be afraid to take risks or ruffle some feathers. Indifference, in my opinion, is worse than outright dislike anyway. To dislike something means you have a strong opinion on it, and having strong (even negative!) feelings is better than having none at all.
If you want to start a cupcake business, I dare you to try and think of a flavor you’ve never seen before, then to find a way to make that flavor taste delicious. Take the time to comb through your writing to make sure you’re not using redundant phrases. Create a piece of art with a medium you find ludicrous and use it long enough to get really good at it. Maybe pick the name of that medium from a hat. Maybe it’s dry spaghetti.
Who knows; all that really matters is that people are drawn to things that are captivating. People are drawn to enthusiasm and passion, drawn to high spirits and playfulness, to those who dare to dream; and what better way is there to elicit these emotions than by doing something bold that you also happen to love?
The crowds that come will do so of their own free will — not just because you paid them to be here, or tricked them with a clever ad. They’ll listen more intently to what you have to say. They might even become lifelong fans.