You had a Motive. Where’d it Go?

motivation and storyYou had a reason — for going off on your own to start a business or accepting a job. You had something that sparked your initial interest in the possibility.

For me, it was following the enchanting thought of being my own boss and making my own schedule. It was the thrill of climbing out of the corporate ivory tower to get back to people I thought I could help. It was being able to form close personal relationships and not be encumbered by a corporate structure.

That’s the story behind why I left my last company and went out on my own but it doesn’t explain why I chose to go into content marketing. If I talk only about flexibility, I’m leaving the most poignant part of my story out. Don’t do that.

Your Motivation is Your Story

We’ve all heard an actor ask, “What’s my motivation?”, to a director. Discovering the motivation tells the actor how to play a role and it also affects how we (as the audience) feel about the character. For instance we feel very differently about a woman with a starving child at home who steals a loaf of bread because all of her money went to pay for her husband’s burial versus a teen from a gated community who takes a 99 cent bottle of nail polish because she likes the feeling she gets of nearly getting caught. The bread is worth more but we have more empathy for the woman. While we may not be able to identify with the desperation she feels, we can understand that. Your audience will do the same when you share your motivation behind your current role.

If you leave out the motivation behind why you started a business or why you chose to be a part of your organization, you’re leaving out the best part — the part that evokes a response and is a foundation for building a relationship.

photo credit: Image via Flickr by AlsterJogger

photo’s story: the motivation behind building the Taj Mahal is frequently told as a love story but the building wasn’t built to win the heart of a princess. It was to commemorate her death. She died giving birth to the emperor’s 14th child. This amazing building was something he promised her on her death bed. It took 22 years to complete.

Telling Your Story and an End-of-Year Review

year end reviewRegardless of how — or if — you celebrate, I wish this for all of you:

a trouble-free time where you’re surrounded by the love of friends and/or family.

This image features a few lines from my favorite Christmas song — Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. I love it because in addition to the well wishes and typical sentimentality of this time of year, it’s nostalgic and forward-thinking.

“Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.”

As we mark the close of one year and one just beginning, I always take a moment — usually in a candle-lit room (no fireplace here in Florida) with glass of cabernet — and I reflect on the past year.

These are just a few of the things that enter my mind:

  • Where was I this time last year?
  • What were my challenges at that time?
  • What was I hoping to accomplish for this year that just past?
  • How have I changed?
  • What have I learned?
  • Is the lesson over? Or will it continue?

I make a living showing organization’s how to tell their story. Since every story needs a beginning, middle and end, taking the time to review the past year — like the struggles you’ve faced or the wins you’ve had — is a way to gather content for your story and continue to grow. If you’re shaking me off, try the video below for inspiration.

This song puts me in a reflective mood every time. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can appreciate the nostalgia of the song and of course, the velvet pipes of good ole Frank. Enjoy!

The Most Important Thing About Content

content locks impede sharingLots of people are going to tell you quality is the most important aspect of content. But let’s be honest, there is an audience for everything. Quality is in the eye of the consumer. It’s about what the people who follow you want to read about, not your personal preferences.

Helping Create Content Curators

The most important thing about your content — because I’m going to assume you know your audience and what they like to read (how would you write for them otherwise?) — shareability. This week I visited a popular blog. The content wasn’t my sort of thing — it was about Batman and his political persuasion. Even though it wasn’t my thing, it was clever and I have a very dear friend who loves the Bat. My friend and I, being on opposite ends of the political spectrum, love to debate politics with one another. The post was a very fitting share. Or at least it would’ve been, had the site allowed me to share it.

It looked like I could, with all of those colorful share buttons, but when I hit those nifty things I was prompted to join their community. My share was held hostage unless I joined. No join. No share. This is the wrong message.

Encourage Content Sharing

After all, sharing is caring. By blocking my ability to share, this blogger penalized herself. I already read the content by the time I wanted to share it. I wanted my friend to read it too. He would’ve liked it and shared it with his network. I would’ve looked like a superstar to him, which would’ve made me happy and would’ve made me come back to this blog in the future as I would associate it with good content. Instead, I remember it wouldn’t let me share. (Note: yes, I could’ve copied the hyperlink and shared via email or written him a hand-written letter about the appropriateness of this blog post but alas, I had other things to do.)

When Locking Content Works

Don’t get me wrong. There is a time to lock content, but only when your reader is vested in what the blog has to offer. When I’m only given a taste and I’m left wanting more, I’ll gladly give something for what is being offered. If I’ve received what I want from a content perspective, my personal needs are met. By barring me from sharing, the blog was keeping me from shining and cut itself off from receiving exposure to my network. I wasn’t emotionally invested or curious enough to be tempted to join the community. I didn’t see the value. If you’re going to lock content, give me a glimpse of what I could get or show me the value.

Have you come across a site that discourages sharing? Have you been back?

Presenting to First Graders Will Make You a Better Marketer

content marketing and tellng your storyForget the elevator speech. That’s so 1990. Summing up what you do for a living and presenting it to 18 six-year-olds is the pinnacle of knowing your business. Giving that speech immediately after a police officer who came with a gun and a Taser, will make you a content marketing genius.

When you’re talking to 6-year-olds you have to get to the important things quickly. You have to hit the highlights in words that are understandable and that mean something to the audience. Six-years-olds are incapable of understanding why someone wants to be a dry cleaner. for instance. You have to make it clear to them as to why you do it and what makes you special. Continue reading “Presenting to First Graders Will Make You a Better Marketer”

Explain Your Business Story to a 6-Year-Old

simplify your messageThursday is the Great American Teach-In. Adults in the community are asked to come speak to students and explain what they do for a living. It’s sort of like Bring Your Child to Work Day but in reverse – it’s Bring Your Parent to School Day.

Having recently started a business, and with all of the excitement of a child with a new toy, I jumped at the chance to share my experience with the kids.

The problem is I’m in marketing. I spend all day long telling others how to tell their story. Now I have to tell mine — and to a roomful of rambunctious six-year olds.

I’m always telling people to tell their story. But how is a whole ‘nother, well….story. How about some insight on the how?

The following suggestions are what I’m using to craft, and tell, my (business) story: Continue reading “Explain Your Business Story to a 6-Year-Old”