Show Some Personality in Your Content

Shawn Cordner  10/18/16

We try to plan ahead but sometimes a client drops something in your lap at the last minute and you just have to roll with it.  That happened yesterday when one of our clients got a message about a webinar one of their vendors was holding today and they wanted to help by promoting it to their partner base.  So we threw together an email announcing the webinar that was starting in less than 24 hours and pushed it out within a couple hours of getting the request.  

Typically you promote a webinar at least a week or two in advance, because people are busy and I have yet to meet a partner that just has an empty 60 minute slot wide open on their calendar just begging to be filled by a last-minute webinar. But, you never know, so we pushed it out and decided to acknowledge the silliness of the abbreviated notice with a slightly cheeky subject line.  

This client gives us some latitude to do that, which we love.  They didn’t always, but as we proved ourselves to be dialed in with their brand over time, they allowed us to push the boundaries.  Eventually, when I was pitching a new campaign idea where their initial reaction was that it was too edgy, they even made the remark that they feel comfortable that we get their voice and they approved it with no changes.  The voice we use for them is a clever and edgy, but never snarky. It’s confident but not cocky. They’re a young company filled with sophisticated digital natives that pride themselves on their disruptive position in the market.   They don’t speak softly, but they do carry a big stick. The voice fits the brand.

So anyway, they got a response from a partner that was really stoked about the playfulness in the email we sent about the webinar and it made me think; what a wasted opportunity to connect with our audience it is when our marketing content is inauthentic and “corporate”.  Amongst all the dry the corporate-speak this guy was subjected to this week, we were a beacon of humanity in the form of a (not even that) witty subject line and it moved him enough to actually take time out of his day to tell us about it. The people you’re marketing to are just people, they want to engage.  They want to smile. They want to be conversational. They want to be part of something. 

There’s a dichotomy at play.  We use this professional writing style when we communicate with our audience publicly through our content that follows a particular cadence, draws from a familiar shared lexicon of buzzwords and acronyms, and seems to go out of its way to be as vanilla as possible.  Then we talk to them like we’re old college buddies when we get together with our audience in person like at the Channel Partners shows or for a golf outing or president’s club. It’s a small industry, and on some level we’re friends with our partners and vendors, so why do we have these two faces?  Why put on airs?  

I’m not suggesting you be unnecessarily casual, sophomoric, or drop all hints of the pretense that this is a business relationship.  I’m just saying that your brand is, among other things, a reflection of your culture and that culture should reflect in your content and communications.  If you happen to be a stuffy, corporate, white-collar type of brand, then that’s exactly how your content should read. But if you’re a blue collar bunch of installers, then your content should make me want to grab a beer with your brand.  Or if you’re young and sophisticated like this client, maybe a martini. Either way, whatever your brand’s culture, find your voice, and don’t be afraid to let it shine through in your content.

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