Archive for October, 2013

Wicked Witch Good Witch

DATE: October 31st, 2013

On a rainy, dreary October day, witches and goblins, minions and blow up Fat Bastards are preparing to haunt the streets and beg for candy.

So bad witches and good witches.

Knowing which one you are and maintaining your character.

It’s easy to understand voice in the context of amazing brand leaders like Apple, Nike and Microsoft. But when developing our own voice, we are distracted by the many voices in our heads.

We get the principle: a unique voice creates a personality that establishes authentic relationships.


Not really.

Unpacking that is one of the most difficult things an organization can do. We have to break through the giant brick walls of three loud and powerful voices that natter in the background:

  1. Organizational voice.

In every organization we develop words that are unique to us. Too often those words have little resonance with the audience, but we have used them so often in the past that they chatter in the background, holding us captive to organizational speak. My husband challenges me constantly when I natter off acronyms that are meaningless outside our industry. Yeah – I get caught in it.

How to get out of it?

Start listening to the people around you.

My oldest son is a hard core, geeky gamer (sorry Chris). Frankly, I have no idea what he is talking about – ever. Because my gaming experience is locked into Mahjong and Bloons TD 5. We talk at length about herbs and cooking techniques (where we stand on more equal footing), but rarely wade into the region of gaming.

When we lapse into organizational speak we start talking to one audience and one audience alone: ourselves. Break down the organizational voice that reduces you to blah, blah, blah….

  1. Other voices

It’s easy to identify organizations that have found their voice. Sometimes we lean towards copying rather that developing our own unique voice. Now don’t get me wrong, copying is a valid marketing strategy.

But be careful.

Voice is about authenticity, relevance and personality.

Listen to the other voices. And then shut them out. Learn from the principles of other’s success, but learn to be keenly aware of the tones and personality of the voice.

Then step back and develop your own unique voice.

  1. Editing

Years ago we did a pitch for a large financial company who wanted to create a unique voice for a segment of their audience. Now we’re a teeny boutique agency. We are creative, inventive and diligent in our work – but we’re the underdog (a great place to be!).

Our pitch was awesome.

So we won the pitch (always exciting!!!!)

We developed the program, hired the models, story boarded, wrote, filmed, designed….

Then it went to various teams, boards, lawyers and other people with red pens.

At the end of the project, with drinks and fatty comfort food, we unpackaged the process with the project lead…. And mourned the loss of personality of the overall messaging.

Lead the process of developing your voice. Yes, ask others, listen to others, and learn from others… BUT don’t get caught in re-writing to please internal audiences.

There is so much more that I can say – about consistency across channels (and why is the digital hiding in the finance department, remind me), consistency in social mediums (my cousin’s nephew is on Twitter all the time, he can Tweet for us after school), within the board room (our chair is a prominent lawyer, he has to weigh in).

Voice is crucial for success in our triple screen, multi-channeled world.

Content, Content, Content

DATE: October 23rd, 2013

The Canadian Marketing Association is conducting an online poll — as of today, 73.75% of marketers are including content marketing as a part of their current plan. They also just released a research paper: Content Marketing or Marketing ContentI interviewed Darin Diehl, Sun Life, and John McLeod, Desire2Learn, for the paper.

Sun Life and Desire2Learn have very different strategies. But here are some of the key lessons I learned:

1. Know your audience.

Sun Life is very focused on their target audience. The have defined them precisely and developed segmentation strategies to address the unique needs of each audience. They are able repurpose their content , multiplying the power of their content. Desire2learn is no different. Their content is sophisticated and targeted. They know their audience. As they develop content for rich learning sessions, they address specific challenges their audience has identified.

2. It’s about the customer.

This might be the biggest learning. OK… I knew it before I talked to Darin and John. Anyone with Marketing 101 knows that it’s all about the customer. But here’s the stickler…. why is so much content driven by the objectives of the company/organization and NOT for the customer? One of the greatest challenges marketing teams face is unwinding the snake-like arms of their own agenda from their brains. Frankly, often the value you put on your product is  not be the value your customer sees. It’s easy to point out the places where it fails. But it’s brilliant when it’s spot on.

I am further confused by the number of marketers that are just too busy to listen to their customers.


Great marketing identifies the critical interests of their audience. While that seems simple, I think we have to dig a little, listen a little and play a little to truly unravel the focus of what the customer wants. Let’s take dish washing detergent. Without changing the core message, see how Palmolive as adapted to the new customer:

In 2013 Palmolive continues to result in soft hands, but we’ve negated the grease and the mess for a pretty bottle:

3. Richness of the content, Sun Life’s content focused site, is rich with information. It’s not all produced by Sun Life, adding an authentic voice. It’s generous, current and relevant. People are going to the site to get vital information about their finances, their health and their future. Desire2Learn delivers most of its content through seminars, conferences and events. Like Sun Life, they partner with knowledge leaders to create an event their clients and pre-clients look forward to attending.

4. Focus

Sun Life has developed an editorial content plan. This plan is updated frequently and shared with internal partners. It keeps the team on focus and able to develop authentic and relevant information. It includes major external events and financial milestones to engage Canadians. Desire2Learn’s plan is built with the sales team with effective tracking tools to measure overall performance. The company has grown from 1 entrepreneur to more than 800 staff members in less than 15 years illustrating the success of their plan.犀牛运动会

While I believe great marketers have always used content driven expertise, today’s social and digital environment requires a much more rigid application of great content that the customer/client/donor values.

Let me know what you think about content marketing!