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I was in Whole Foods the other day, browsing the gluten-free cookie aisle, and I heard this little voice pipe up. 

“Hi!” 

And there, parked in a stroller by the almond milk, was an adorable baby girl, waving emphatically at me. 

“Hi! Hi!”

“Well hello there,” I said, delighted, walking over. “What’s your name?” 

And then the baby fell silent. There was an awkward pause. Then she looked past me to someone else ambling up the aisle. 

“Hi! Hi!” 

I had reached the apex of her engagement skills. Granted, she was like two. But still. Once she had my attention, she was moving on. She simply didn’t have anything else to say. 

I laughed, grabbed a box of something made with rice flour, and walked away. 

Sure, she’s a child. She doesn’t have a vocabulary for engagement. But we do. 

And it struck me that this is exactly—exactly—the problem with efforts we make to attract and engage people for our businesses and brands:

We love waving people in. We love getting them to pay attention. We love getting our stuff “out there” and “raising awareness.” 

We invest tons of time and money, to GET people to notice, thinking once they notice and like us, they’re ours forever. 

Nope. 

If all we do is try to wave people in, we’re no better than that baby in the dairy aisle, waving hard and then turning our attention to the next person. 

Because once you stop making that effort, to show relevance and value, they walk away. Sometimes even when you DO make the effort, they walk away! 

Take this blog, for instance. 

The minute that thing happened with the baby, I got excited, because I knew I wanted to tell you about it.

You might be entertained by this, but someone else just said to themselves, “What is this drivel,” and dealt the death blow to the “unsubscribe” button. It’s fine. 

To keep the right people engaged and in conversation with you, you have to let everyone else move on down the aisle toward what they’re looking for. 

So what is the magic that DOES keep people engaged? It’s not offers. It’s not discounts. 

It’s content. But content is not a platform. It’s a conversation. 

Email, wordpress, social—these are platforms.

The platform is the body; the content is the soul. And if marketing efforts feel empty to you, it’s because they’re dead inside. 

I know you’re busy. Content feels “extra,” like another thing you have to do that you’re not getting paid to do. 

But in fact you are getting paid to do it.

Every time someone engages with you, reads your stuff, understands who and what you represent and offer, you are paid handsomely in the one thing people are the most stingy about: Their attention. 

Ready for the invite? Here it is. 

I’m teaming up with my digital strategist and branding pro Cass McCrory to offer a two-part webinar, a free one, unlike anything I’ve done before online, actually. 

This (free) 2-part master class is called “Rekindle Your Content: How to fire up your creativity and fuel your marketing efforts.” 

>>You can get the replay here.

This (free) two-part virtual event is great for you (and/or a team member) if you:

  • Want to generate more and better content, but are tired and bored of doing it
  • Are paralyzed by a blank page and hate sitting down to “write copy” 
  • Want to refocus your content efforts, but aren’t sure where to start (or restart)

(Can’t make both, or either, times? Register anyway. We’ll send you the recording. But due to the very dynamic nature of this thing, you’ll get far more out of doing it live.)

Part I: Rekindle your content is about aligning those efforts with intention and purpose, rather than firing off posts with a t-shirt gun. 

Part II: Reinspire your work is where we roll up our sleeves and DO the work, yes, right then and there. 

This isn’t a pitch fest; it’s a master class. And I wouldn’t do two parts if I didn’t think it would be powerful and worthwhile. 

>REGISTER for “Rekindle Your Content” replay (for $0). 

 

P.S. You do NOT need to be a professional writer or have a blog to make this worthwhile. If you have ideas you want to share, a brand you want to build, this will help you focus that effort. Join us!

 

Old books on a wooden shelf.

Old books on a wooden shelf.

I sat next to a woman at a lunch recently who heads up the magazine publishing program at NYU, and she said the students are, understandably, feeling down about what they see as bleak prospects in magazine publishing—simply because those seats are becoming fewer and fewer.

It’s easy to interpret the shuttering of (many) print magazines and newspapers as ‘death’ to publishing, but I don’t see it that way. What we’re seeing is a shift in consumption habits, in expectations, and in business models. Content may be king, but we’ve also become accustomed to having it be, well free. What is and will continue to change is how we pay for it, and who is paying for it. Yes, that changes things.

Print magazines are, simply, a platform. No different from any other platform you use (newspapers, books, blogs, and so on). As beloved as they are to you, they were a platform, and platforms evolve or die off. We’ve gotten attached to them, of course—we’ve had them longer. Now social media and other content platforms come and go so fast that they seem disposable; we hardly have a chance for habits to form around them!

But one thing is for sure, and this I can say without question: There will always, always be a need for great writers and storytellers, people to create and curate. We need them to see, capture and interpret the world for us and always will.

How can we not? With all the content pouring at us from all platforms, streaming toward us through every device, we rely on editors to tell us what to pay attention to, and what not to. The era of the Big Magazine and Big Publisher may be shifting dramatically (and yet as you can see, they’re not totally gone), but what that means is that the role of the storyteller is even more important. You go to the salon for the stylist, not the other way around, right?

Enter: personal branding.

Writers are now responsible for their own brands. Many of them cry that the surplus of content has driven the fees (and quality) down. If you are a writer and your claim to fame is that you can string words together, you’re no different from a plumber; you both can combine separate objects so that something vital can flow through them. Fine. You can do a thing. Doesn’t mean I need to pay you for it.

Some writers feel they should be paid to do what they do because, well, they like doing it. Sorry! That’s not a reason for a job! Would you hire a plumber because he said, “But I really love plumbing! It’s my passion!” Nope. You hire a person based on how well they solve your problem, period. (See my TEDx talk for why passion isn’t enough.)

Enter: entrepreneurship.

The future doesn’t belong to just people who can do a skill; it belongs to those who can find ways to create value for someone. If you want to make a living as a writer, editor, OR plumber, you have to identify a need, ideally someone who will pay you for your solution. And you need to supply that solution in a way that suits your customer, suits your market.

This doesn’t depress me, and it shouldn’t depress you, either. We are living in a very exciting time for content! It used to be you had to pick magazines or books, and jobs for content were fairly limited (even if there were more seats at traditional publishers). Now, the degree to which you create something amazing determines how well you do. And that is in your hands.