I haven’t always appreciated tough love and harsh truths. I think back to when I was around 12 or 13 years old and my Dad was my coach for the local basketball team. He always pushed me to give 110% at everything I did, but at that age, I rarely took that advice. I remember when he installed a basketball net at the end of the driveway and told me that I should take 50-100 shots a day. I obliged and for about a week or two, I did just that. My shot got better but I became bored rather quickly.
As time went on though, I started getting tired of doing the same thing over and over again and started to simply pretend I was shooting 50-100 shots. Instead of going out and taking the shots, I would run over to my friends place or explore in the backyard. Thinking back, he was obviously looking out the window at me but I wasn’t smart enough to clue into that idea. I walked in the house, told him I took the shots and he replied with a sentence that I’ll never forget. He said, “You’re not cheating me, you’re cheating yourself.”
Boom. Right in the feels.
I never went on to be a successful basketball player but those words stuck with me. Whenever I think about taking a shortcut and giving less than 100% on a project, I’m reminded of his words. It’s this type of harsh truth that many marketers need in today’s world. Too many marketers are selling fluff to their clients without focusing on what really matters. Too many marketers have had it easy with the days of TV ads and billboards with little accountability for their actions.
Here are two harsh truths that don’t sugar coat anything. They might be blunt but they’re exactly what you need to hear if you’re going to make a stand at generating real results for your marketing efforts this year:
Results Matter More Than Your Pretty Pictures
A lot of people who go into advertising and marketing do it because they’re creative by nature. It’s the idea of creating something beautiful, telling a captivating story, or communicating a message that resonates and drives change that truly attracts people to the industry. Yet, the reality of marketing is less sugar plums and lollipops and more insights and analytics. Or at least, it should be.
If you’re spending more time focusing on trying to get the right shade of blue for your next ad instead of trying to focus on the message that brings more people to your store; You’re Doing It Wrong. Marketing isn’t about pretty pictures and clever tag lines. Marketing is about selling. That’s right, selling. Whether you’re selling a product, selling an idea, or selling a reason why your brand is better than the next – all marketing should drive back to influencing behaviour or thoughts.
Once upon a time, it was expected that a billboard could impact sales and help a company succeed. Brands have spent millions of dollars on traditional advertising but the research shows that this is continuing to decline year over year. Brands are looking for ways to measure and track the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. At least, the best brands are and the ones who don’t will quickly begin to recognize how their resistance has hindered their growth and opportunity to succeed.
Even Marketers Need To Embrace The Hustle
In the early days of advertising, a brand could put up a billboard and call it a day.
Today, you need to hustle to drive results. It’s not enough to launch an ad campaign and sit back and wait. Unless you’re a brand that already has a huge following with thousands of brand advocates, it’s going to require some hustle to see your story spread. In a world where more content is created every single month than the entire 20th century, you need to think about how you’ll cut through the noise. You need to think about how you can get your story in front of the right audience and where these people are spending time online.
In December, I created a presentation titled the Ultimate Guide to Instagram, it was a Slideshare deck built off of a blog post I wrote a couple weeks prior. I took the content from the blog post, worked with a designer and created a visual guide for Instagram marketing. It wasn’t my first time launching a Slideshare presentation but it was one of the first in which I really hustled to get it out there into the wild. On average, my Slideshare presentations were generating around 5-6K views and driving a couple sign ups to my newsletter a month. Nothing special. Yet, when I made the decision to inject some hustle behind this deck, the results blew all of my expectations out of the water.
At the time of this post, the deck has generated more than 90K views and has more than doubled my mailing list. What’s most important about these figures isn’t the fact that it generated so many views; it’s the way in which I landed them. Below I list the six things I truly believe not only led to the success of my presentation’s launch, but will also result in success for anyone trying to spark the same level of engagement and viewership for online content:
- Submit As a Guest Blog Post: I have been blogging on Steamfeed.com for about a year now so I immediately leveraged their existing network to share the deck with a post titled: “Why Instagram Should Be On Everyone’s Radar in 2014.” I also submitted this content for a guest post on SocialMediaToday.com. The combination of these two sites drove more than 20K in presentation views.
- Use A Timely Title: The fact that I published the presentation in December gave me a great opportunity to capitalize on all the buzz surrounding 2014 trends, predictions, and resolutions.
- Ask Friends To Share: I sent tweets to a handful of my closest friends to see if they wouldn’t mind sharing the slideshow with their networks. 98% of them said yes, no problem and helped tremendously in making it get shared.
- Submit To Relevant Networks: Channels like Growthhacker.com, Scoop.it, and Inbound.org are networks that marketers love to hang out in and talk about marketing.
- Use Your Email List: I sent the deck out to my email list the day it went live to seed the content and get a few early shares.
- Slideshare Of The Day: If you create a beautiful deck and can show Slideshare that people like your content, they’ll likely give you a spot on their homepage as one of the “Slideshares of The Day.” This on its own drove another spike in visits.
So how long did all of this take me? Hours.
You need to be willing to put in the hours if you want to cut through the noise. It’s not easy but if it was, it probably wouldn’t be as effective.
What do you think? Any other harsh truths marketers need to hear?