4 Things you need to know if you want to be a marketing guru

Foto onder Creative Commons License by American Virus
Foto onder Creative Commons License by American Virus

4 Take outs I have learned from the ‘Congres Contentmarketing and Webredactie’ (Content and Web Editing Conference) in Utrecht, the Netherlands held 12 November 2013.

As a tribute to the American key note speakers at the  who inspired me to write my first business blog post, I decided to translate it to English. Hopefully they feel like reading it and enjoy it! So here’s to you, C.C. Chapman and Mark Schaefer.

1. Blogging is key

“How many of you blog?” asks key note speaker CC Chapman the 500 participants of the conference. About 20 people hesitantly give a show of hands. It’s a Dutch thing not to participate too enthousiastically, so please don’t be put off by it.  Chapman reacts genuinely flabberghasted (or is that a British thing?) and wonders if he should change the subject of his key note from ‘The power of Amazing Content’ to ‘Blogging 101’. “You could write ‘The 10 things I learned during this seminar'”, he offers the audience. “And probably all of you will be writing a blogpost like that now”, he laughs. “But that’s okay. Because even if 10 of you would write a blog post with that topic, I bet each of you would come up with your own learning points. Because you have a UNIQUE VOICE.” (I quote from memory, so CC, if I quoted you wrong, please don’t be offended! Let me know and I’ll change it.)

Blogging is the way – Mark W. Schaefer

Seriously. If you want to persue a career in pr or content marketing, you should know how to blog. And what better way to know about blogging than by actually blogging? A blog is your own domain on which you can publish and share content the way you want. And not have to worry about the ever changing user policies of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr and so on. Your blog enables you to share any type of content you like, the way you want to share it: articles, pictures, video’s, infographics, illustrations, whitepapers , you name it!

I believe any organisation should have its own blog. I believe that any marketeer should advocate a corporate blog for the company he works for. And if your organisation is not ready yet to go out and blog, I believe that any marketeer owes it to himself to train his blogging skills and blog, albeit through a personal blog.

This brings me so ever smoothly (if I say so myself) to my second take out:

2. Practice what you preach

I work as a marketeer in a professional services company. One of my main tasks is convincing my fee-earning co-workers to make time to share their know-how for marketing purposes. Would you prepare presentation for an event? Would you write a blogpost for the corporate website? Would you do a webinar for Youtube? I really had a hard time proving the ROI of a recent marketing campaign, not so much because of out-of-pocket expenses, but mostly about hours spent by the fee-earners! At the conference I heard a fellow participant lament on his writing averse co-workers. Something I definitely catch myself doing from time to time too. However, that’s only funny for a while, though.

How could I ever convince my co-workers of the benefits of blogging if I myself are unable or unwilling to blog? Talking from experience is such a powerful argument! Knowing what it is like juggling both daily business and working the long shot through blogging. Knowing what it’s like to suffer from writer’s block. Having experienced the energy when people share or respond to your blog. And besides: we marketeers are knowledge workers in our own right. We have the same obligation to our profession to share our knowledge and prove our value. So let’s get blogging!

3. Old school relationship building

If you are one of the online or social media lagging: please don’t despair! The objective of good content marketing is to build sustainable relations of trust. Maybe you’re such an ace at relationship building in person that you don’t even need content marketing as an instrument! For brands or products for whom it’s difficult to build these relationship content is the bridge between them and their public.

Same goes for the networking prone amongst us: too shy to go out and meet new people? Too introvert to pitch your skills? Content can help you bridge the gap. Useful tips & tricks, an insightful blogpost, practical checklist or just a moving photo or video: content is a great icebreaker. (I’m wondering if this translates well, or that my last sentence will re-appear in a blogpost about Dutch people trying to write English. ) Creating all of this great content, sharing through all of your social networks is sugar and spice, but:

Shaking hands ALWAYS trumps likes and shares – C.C. Chapman

At the end of his key note Chapman encouraged everyone to go out and shake hands with new people during the breaks. I guess it’s a no-brainer for a native American, who make make networking seem so easy, so I-was-born-to-do-this, so yes-we-love-hearing-about-your-talents. We Dutch have a born suspicion for the too happy or too outgoing. Mediocrity is a virtue in our country, where you get praise for being normal (aka not standing out). Just read these expressions and sayings. What do you think as a non-Dutchie?

  • Although he is famous/rich, he is still such a lovely normal guy
  • Acting normal is good enough
  • Don’t put you head above ground level

So this happy go-out-and-meet-new-people is not really our thing. We prefer to network with our inner circle, re-connecting with former co-workers, meeting tweeps IRL, and so on. However, we are not too ill-willed either, so Chapman’s appeal is a great excuse to give the networking thing a humble go. “Well, actions speak louder than words, ” says a fellow participant shyly during a coffee break and reaches out for a cautious hand shake.  Yes, they do! So let’s put our false modesty aside and go out and meet new people. I really had a fun lunch talking about 30 day challenges, raising children, working as a 1-person-office and much more. So you see, networking doesn’t have to be all about business.

4. Learn public speaking like an American

What’s with these Americans? It just look like all of them are natural born public speakers. Looking back at the full day program of the conference, the most engaging key notes were definitely from C.C. Chapman and Mark Schaefer. Why? They were personal, open and authentic. They weren’t afraid to show their flaws (main flaw: vanity). But mostly: they had genuine fun in what they were doing.

When do American learn this? Natural born talent? Required course in primary school? High school? I can’t really care how, all I know is that I want to be able to speak like that too. I want my boys to learn to be this inspiring. I mean, if these guys held a key note about frictional powers when using a tunnel boring machine, I probably would have found it equally engaging.

The chance of me being an American marketing guru is minute. I don’t think getting a green card is that easy these days, is it? I even don’t think it very likely that I’ll ever be a marketing guru. Although that is just my Dutch heritage speaking. I mean, why won’t I? Let’s go and die trying, right?

What do you like best about American speakers?

xoxo – Irene

7 thoughts on “4 Things you need to know if you want to be a marketing guru

  1. First of all, congratulations for creating this business blog. That’s awesome!

    Your observations are very interesting, especially about the cultural differences and the celebration of sameness in The Netherlands. I heard this several times during my visit.

    Not every American speaker is great : ) But I think for the conference to pay our way to be there, they probably did research on speakers who would do well with their audience. It was a wonderful experience and thanks for the great write-up!

    1. Thank you Mark! I’ll give blogging about my profession another thought. It’s probably a girl thing but up until now, I’m just too insecure to put on the proverbial white coat. Your feedback definitely helps me to shed that insecurity!

  2. I am SO proud of you for being the first person to write their first post after the conference.

    I just landed back in America and this is the first thing I’m seeing (thank you for tweeting it) and it gave me more than a few giggles.

    The funniest thing is that I usually have a slide in my presentation that reads Normal Is Boring! Based on what you wrote I’m REALLY glad I didn’t put it in there.

    I loved how you shared things I didn’t know about the Dutch and I wish I had known this going in. Your advice of practicing what you preach is crucial for anyone working in this field.

    So happy you walked away inspired and eager to try new things. That is what I always hope is the outcome of any time I take the stage.

    And, no, not all Americans are great public speakers. Mark and I have just been doing it for a long time and are constantly working to get better at it.

    Thank you for the great blog post.

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