It’s not just why, it’s what

The theme at Inbound ’17 was empathy and authenticity. Almost every speaker — including Michelle Obama and Brene Brown — touched on the need to find your voice and connect with others. 

Those things are important, absolutely.

But we still have to sell widgets, right? 

As marketers, we have a responsibility to work a little harder to both connect and sell those widgets. We can talk about communicating authentically, about sticking to our core values in everything we produce, but it’s time we put our money where our mouth is and do the hard work. 

That means that instead of cranking out post after post of content that’s already been done before just to get rankings and “establish thought leadership,” we need to produce content that truly embodies our authentic selves.  Hint: that might not be blog posts. 

We say we’re writing for our audience, that we’re sharing the things that are important and worthy of their time. But they’re not reading them. So we push them out in emails. We blast them on social media.  We (gasp – no please) private message them and plaster them in Facebook ads. READ THESE POSTS! And we get a what – 3% click through rate and we rejoice! 

Take the hint.

People don’t want your content. Your content is bullshit, and most of it can be found anywhere else on the internet.  Stop producing and start connecting.

What does that mean?

That means phone calls. Cleverly written emails that share information that is timely and relevant (you can absolutely store these as email templates and use them over and over!). That means guides that are specific to you or to your clients. That means personal videos and putting yourself in front of people, face to face.

It means taking that meeting with a struggling business owner who can’t afford you, and giving them as much advice as you can. It means doing a little pro-bono work in your community, and it means always, always keeping an eye on how you can teach those who come behind you.

True connection requires empathy, and both of those things are a bit difficult but absolutely possible, and they pay off in spades over time.