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On Rejecting Best Practices

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rejecting best practices of marketing

This stock photo man in a business suit has something to say to YOU!

Have I told you? I’m in marketing.

As part of my day job,  I write. I write  a lot.  I write more articles in one month than the number of posts that exist on this entire blog,  because it keeps the company website’s content fresh, and it’s a major part of proving to Google that a site is still relevant. That’s an excellent strategy for a business, and I’m not saying those articles aren’t useful for people. They are. But a side effect of doing this is that through the research process, you start to spot when people are churning out content on the pretext of giving advice.  Think about how many times you’ve clicked on a blog post called “The Ten Secrets to XYZ,” only to realize that the ten “secrets” are the same rehashed platitudes you’ve already heard. That “secret” part? It’s kind of a dead giveaway that someone is baiting you into reading their blog.

Here are some other ways people may trick you into reading writing-that’s-not-writing:

  • A controversial headline followed by an article that proves not to be all that controversial
  • Anything that compares a business-related topic (sales/marketing/managing a team/etc) to a completely unrelated popular television show,  event, movie, or public figure
  • Lists, sometimes accompanied by bullet points (ha!)
  • Infographics. Some blogs do them beautifully; everything else is pretty much useless.
  •  Any “new trick” related to Facebook or Twitter. I promise you, you’ve already heard it.
  • And I really, really hate to say this, but be more wary of blogs that aren’t a “leader” in the industry. Sorry. I’m not trying to pick on the little guys, because I’m one too. It’s just that NPR is usually a more credible resource than Joe Schmoe’s politics blog, and SEOMoz is a better resource than some random marketing guy who’s trying to get his content noticed. We all start somewhere, but you don’t have to start there with us. That said, if you do notice a little guy who has something particularly interesting to say, it can be really fun to follow them and see where they end up.

So now that I’ve told you why not to read my blog, here’s why I think you should:

Because I don’t update very often, at least not these days.You’ll never see a “filler” post on here, and if you do, call me out on it. What this means from a marketing standpoint is that my blog is a little more likely to go unnoticed by the search engines*, but what it means from a “me” standpoint is that I can focus my time on my nonprofit, and also on making sure the words that flow from my brain to my fingers are the ones I’ve been meditating on. And in the midst of noise and ceaseless streams of content, I do have faith that quiet writing still has a place. Plus, I think this journey is fun, and maybe you will too.

A common writing exercise back at Smith was to go through old papers and omit every needless word, and sometimes I wish I could do that to the entire internet. But in the meantime, I can take comfort in knowing that when I write here, even though it rejects best practices, it means I actually have something to say. And I really do think people can still get by on intuition and heart, rather than on rehashing and repacking somebody else’s advice.

That said, you can expect more hilarious hijinks here soon, as The Great Exchange begins to hold its first meetings and I attempt to fold various elements of mindfulness practices into the program. So check back!

*Caveat: that viral little Kony2012 post still pulls in a lot of people, which I think is another testament to quiet, thoughtful writing.

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