You may have heard of the “Law of Attraction.” This is the idea that if you think about something enough, it will quasi-magically appear in your life.
At its most simplistic, it can get pretty silly — the equivalent of thinking you can click your heels together and repeat “There’s No Place Like Home” to whisk yourself back to Auntie Em.
That’s not what I’m going to talk about today. I’m going to talk about something that’s almost as “spooky,” but much more pragmatic.
It’s the way that content — if you structure it correctly — has a magical-seeming way of attracting certain benefits to your business.
The one we all think of — and are trying to create — is, obviously, the attraction of prospects and leads who will eventually become customers. For most of us, that’s why we create content in the first place.
We want to pull the right people in.
And if we’re smart, we want to chase the wrong people away.
But well-designed content marketing has a funny way of opening all kinds of doors you never realized were there.
For example, one of the great strengths of Rainmaker Digital is our team. The commitment to quality, passion for the customer, and just plain awesomeness are clear for anyone to see. If you follow anyone on our team on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn, you’ll see us sharing jokes, ribbing one another, snarking at the same things, and generally having too much fun.
We like each other. And we find it easy to work together because we value the same things.
And content played a big role in that — even though that wasn’t particularly part of our early content strategy.
It takes a very particular kind of person to feel comfortable on the Rainmaker Digital team. And most of those folks came into our orbit because they were pulled in by what was expressed in our content.
What makes this kind of attraction work
Your content can be polished, professional, relevant, and ultra-useful, but that’s not enough to have this effect.
In my view, the magical fairy dust that makes it work is the expression of your most fundamental values.
It’s not your mission statement. We don’t really have a mission statement at Copyblogger. If we did, it might be something like,
Help people out, be awesome whenever possible, don’t take yourself too seriously.
It’s a company of people who are extraordinarily good at what they do, and not particularly political in the traditional corporate sense.
The fact that our founder titled his latest project Unemployable might give you a clue.
It’s not “Leveraging dynamic excellence in pursuit of unsurpassed market dominance with synergy and exceptional service.”
Because, well, puke.
It’s G.A.S. It’s tomfoolery. It’s helping our lovely customers do things they didn’t think they could do.
I don’t think we’ll ever reduce it to a “mission statement,” because it isn’t a static collection of words. It’s not a checkbox on a list of “things to cover in our content strategy.”
It’s a felt, lived, understood way of looking at the world. It’s something we allow into our content, rather than something we try to shoehorn in there.
What happens when you quit being so uptight
I come out of the corporate communication world — a world I was never particularly comfortable in.
In particular, it never sounded like a good idea to me to try to present a brittle, glassy perfectionism to the world.
If you’ve seen the movie Inside Out, most corporate marketing is all Joy, with Sadness (and all of the other emotional characters) being violently repressed. Always.
That kind of happy-sticky-fake content is annoying and untrustworthy. And it’s completely unnecessary.
So where’s the line?
Is there no line at all that crosses over into unprofessionalism?
Is content marketing just a nonstop glitter disco party, with optional rants about your sex life and the quality of the sandwich you just ate?
Leading with your truth doesn’t mean that dignity or common sense go out the window. The line for me begins and ends with one word: Respect.
Being a train wreck does not show respect to your audience. (Or your team. Or yourself.)
Stunts, spats, fistfights (virtual or otherwise), and oversharing don’t communicate respect. They communicate self-absorption. And they’re not going to attract anyone other than other train wrecks.
Like so many things in content marketing, you need to find the right balance. And when you have a real question about where to find that balance, in my opinion the answer always comes from the audience.
The line between “appealingly informal” and “whack job” (or between “respectful” and “pompous,” for that matter) gets drawn by the audience you serve.
If it’s relevant for them, it’s relevant.
Wondering what it looks like?
This kind of thing is easier to show than to explain, so if you want some examples … follow any of the links in this post.
And if you have a piece of your own that plays this role, tweet it to me! I’m @soniasimone and I’d love to see your stuff.