[Off The Cuff is a collection of posts that are personal, random, apropos of nothing in particular, and hopefully just plain fun. This is the first one. Ever. Enjoy! –Team Robin]
Ah, Halloween! Tricks and treats and things that go bump in the night. In the spirit of the season, here’s something a little scary… There is a serious disconnect in the world of content marketing. The boogeyman is real and he’s in your content.
The first time I saw “Frankenstein” it scared me half to death. Looking back, that experience reminds me now of the widespread view that content is focused on its form, not its substance. Content is not (insert haunted house screams here) a tweet, a video, a blog post, or a white paper. That’s like seeing Frankenstein’s monster as, well, a monster. Much like understanding the true nature of the monster, you have to see beyond the form of your content to understand the true nature of content.
Everything you say, know, believe, experience, and feel is content. It takes shape as a video, a slide deck, a webinar, even a voicemail. Since I can’t invade your nightmares, to make my point here’s the written equivalent: Rejection letters are also content. And they are every bit as important as your latest press release.
No one likes rejection. One of the things we learn from a very young age is how to cope with inevitable failures. Not making the team. Getting passed over for a role in the play. Sitting home on prom-night. Whatever. It’s not fun. It can really hurt. And we carry around lots of resentment for the people who rejected us. But what if it didn’t have to be as bad as all that? What if we could do something to end the cycle? And I’m not talking about burning some evil spirit-cleansing sage.
Hiring people is a great place to start. Here’s what typically happens. You need to hire someone. You write a job description that is fully compliant with internal policy and Federal statute and reads about the same as how stale crackers taste. You get it approved. You post the job opening. You get a bunch of applications. Your recruiting system sends out automated, canned, soulless confirmation of having received their application emails. You select a few people to interview. You send a bunch of automated, canned, soulless rejection emails to all the rest. You interview the people you’ve selected. You send a few rejection emails…probably pretty short and probably somewhat soulless because let’s face it you don’t have a lot of time. You check a few references. You send an offer letter (or email) that is fully compliant with internal policy and Federal statute and reads about the same as how stale crackers taste. Congrats! You’ve hired someone. Happens every day.
Did you spot all the content through the soullessness and stale crackers? Emails, job descriptions, phone calls, interviews, more emails, references, more emails, or voicemails. For the person doing the hiring, this is a content-rich process. Mostly, the content is very poor and creates a great deal of resentment towards the company with the people rejected along the way. Tragic really. And completely avoidable. The problem is that this process, and the content it generates, is never thought of as a part of the “real” content marketing world but it should be. Why would any company deliberately tolerate what essentially are scores, hundreds, even thousands of bad Yelp reviews? Maybe every year?
Imagine a different scene. You need to hire someone. You write a great job description. It’s funny, maybe a bit quirky, it stands out from the boring, it’s basically badass. Even so, you get it approved. You post the job opening. You get a bunch of applications. So far so good. You take the time to modify the we-got-your-resume email that your recruiting system sends out because you know that automated, canned, soulless emails are, well, just that and you are anything but. You select a few people to interview. Instead of sending a bunch of automated, canned, soulless rejection emails to the rest, you take the time to write personalized, thoughtful, considerate emails since you know that doing so is worth the investment. You interview the people you selected. You send a few more rejection emails, written with the degree of heart and soul you put into the first bunch. For exactly the same reasons. You check a few references. You send an offer letter (or email) that is fully compliant with internal policy and Federal statute but reads about the same as hearing Beethoven’s 9th for the first time. Congrats! You’ve hired someone. More importantly you’ve created a bunch of fans of your company with the people you didn’t hire. How cool is that?! It’s not just cool. It’s good business. And that is truly GREAT content marketing.