Suddenly Marketing

Brand Messaging | Content Strategy | Writing

Tag: balance

Get mad: marketing from your dark side

Do what you love.

Follow your passion.

Lead with your heart.

I have more Pollyanna DNA than most, but this tired advice has always felt a little empty to me, a little one-dimensional. After all, life isn’t just rainbows and unicorns. Life has a dark side. The trick is learning to access that dark side for good instead of evil.


No one is a hero without a villain.  Click to tweet. 

Your brand is what you stand for. It embodies the things you want to be known for – speed, agility, creativity, beauty, progress, simplicity, the lowest price in town, etc. What so many people forget, however, is that the best brands also stand against something.

What is the opposing force that your brand is poised to fight? What war cry would your brand scream charging into battle? What sends you into apoplectic fits of rage and indignation? What injustice are you determined to undo? What piece of insanity do you want to wipe from the face of this Earth?

Everyone – even the sweetest, most mild-mannered of us – fights an enemy. What enemy are you fighting?


The villain isn’t a “who,” it’s a “what.”

Be careful not to confuse your enemy with the competition. They are not the same.

Your competitors are actually your allies, battling beside you against a common enemy. You compete against each other for the loyalty of your shared audience, but at the end of the day you’re fighting the same fight.

Your enemy is much bigger than your competitors. Your enemy isn’t a “who,” it’s an idea or a situation or a philosophy. It’s a way of life, the status quo, a lack of something, or too much of something else. It’s the thing that makes you want to write a proverbial letter to the editor each time you encounter it. It inspires you to get up on your soapbox and preach your personal gospel to the world.


The villain helps define the hero.

Without an opposing force, a hero is just a person who is going through the motions.

Without an opposing force, there is no fire in the hero’s soul. There is no sense of greater purpose, no fierce commitment, no do-or-die mission.

Without an opposing force, we never get to see what the hero can really do.

Like it or not, your enemy is a big part of who you are and why you are.

  • Who is Luke without Darth Vader?
  • Who is Frodo without the Dark Lord?
  • Who is Buffy without vampires?
  • Who is Erin Brokovitch without corporate corruption?
  • Who is Katniss Everdeen without the Captial?
  • Who is Liz Lemon without Jack Donaghy?

You get the idea.

What idea or status quo is your brand pitted against?


The battle brings critical conflict to your story.

You know that marketing with story is a powerful technique, but do you know what makes a story a story?


No conflict, no story.

If you haven’t identified and called out your enemy, your story lacks conflict. It will fall flat, failing to pique the interest of your audience, never mind inspire them to loyalty or incite them to action.

When you get clear about the nature of your enemy, you get clear about the war you’re fighting. You know what your battle cry should be. You can make a strong stand not only for something, but against something else.

This is important.


Do what you love, but know why you love it.  Click to tweet. 

Love does not exist in a vacuum.

  • I love being out in the quiet of the woods because it provides me with an enlightening escape from the overwhelming, multi-tasking world of my computer.
  • I love beautiful art because it strikes a blow against the boring and overly utilitarian.
  • I love simple, well-designed apps because they help me wrangle and manage the chaos of my life.
  • I love second-hand clothes because they help me express my individuality amidst the sea of mass-manufactured clone-clothes that hit the chain stores each season.


  • Quiet vs. Noise
  • Beauty vs. Blah
  • Simplicity vs. Complexity
  • Individuality vs. Mass Market

Like love, your brand exists in the context of what you’re passionate about and what makes you passionately crazy. They say necessity is the mother of invention, but being ticked off about something is often what drives someone to build a better mousetrap.


When you are working on your branding, don’t forget to look the dark side in the eye. Know your enemy. Name it. Call it out. Rally your troops and wage your battle. Get mad and then get even. Accept both the loving and angry sides of your passion – when you have both working for you, you will be unstoppable.


Can you name your enemy? What is your battle cry? How does the dark side of your passion – your anger – help define your brand in a positive way?

Image Credit: matthijs

Social media balance: a rant, a lament, and 5 tips

Social media can be a lifeline or a noose. The question is: where do you fall on the spectrum and how can you get the most out of your social media time?

A rant: Social media is not your job.

I don’t recall if it was Chris Brogan or Seth Godin who first pointed this out, but it made me utter a vehement, “Yes!” worthy of an evangelist stage. On the “addicted” end of the spectrum, people lose sight of this truth and the grind of social media wraps itself around their necks in ever-tightening coils of updates, tweets, shares, likes, and so on.

Please stop.

I love social media as much as the next marketing geek, but I’d hate to see you get so caught up in your social media activities that you lose sight of your real work. I won’t judge you – I know how easy it is to get swept up in the endless Mardi Gras that is social media. There’s always something to share, some link to follow, some cool quip to retweet or image to repin. The problem is, all that activity is about recycling, not creating.

It’s awesome to share, and I think curation is an important part of any content marketing strategy, BUT you have to leave time and energy for your Real Work.


A lament: Don’t throw your hands up! 

On the other end of the spectrum are the people who avoid social media completely. If you’re one of these folks, you probably justify your absence from the social media scene by claiming technical ignorance or saying you have no time for “that sort of thing.” I hear you. I can see why you’d want to keep your distance, but – and I say this as a marketing strategist, not a social media addict – you don’t know what you’re missing! 

Social media can be scary. It can expose you more than you want to be exposed. It can be a huge time suck. It can serve up unwanted run-ins with ex lovers, bosses, and high school frenemies. BUT – it still has enormous potential to enrich your life, your network, and your business. Don’t let the negative elements that lurk on the social scene steal away the opportunities that are rightfully yours. Just be smart about how you involve yourself in these arenas.


5 tips for creating social media balance:

If you want to use social media for marketing, you need a plan and a process. Period. If you’re missing these, you’re not only missing the point, you’re quite likely wasting a lot of time. To get the most our of your social media investment (after all, time is money, and social definitely takes time), you need to get clear on your goals and exercise some discipline. Here are five tips to get you started.


Have a strategy.

Without a plan, you will never get where you’re going. A strategy helps you gain clarity about your goals and how to achieve them. It helps you make smart choices that move you forward instead of in circles. There are many moving parts to consider, but one simple social strategy method is the W5H plan: 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why) and 1 H (how). Define these for your brand, and you’ll have a solid foundation from which to build an effective social media plan.


Focus your efforts.

Just like you can’t be everything to everyone, you can’t be everywhere all the time. The social media landscape is vast and varied. Each week brings us shiny new objects to play with. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself spread so thin that you’re not making an impression anywhere. Stop. Step back. Take a look at your options and – using the W5H strategy – figure out which networks make the most sense for your business. Focus your efforts there. You may feel like you’re handicapping yourself by shrinking the size of your pond, but you’ll ultimately be able to make a bigger splash.


Create systems.

Even if you’re only swimming in a couple of networks, there is still a lot you have to do to engage at a level that will help build your audience and drive traffic. Get smart about creating systems and processes that streamline your social content creation and curation. Find tools that work for you and a routine that helps you stay in a consistent “groove.”

For example, my Twitter system looks like this:

  1. I built up a rich and robust collection of RSS feeds which I aggregate using Google Reader.
  2. Each night, as I lie next to my daughter, waiting for her to fall asleep, I scan dozens of blog posts and “star” the ones that I think I’d like to share.
  3. After my daughter falls asleep, I hit my laptop and give the posts I’ve starred a closer read.
  4. As I read through the original posts, I leave comments.
  5. Then, I load the posts I want to share into BufferApp (one of my favorite social media tools) – scheduling them to post throughout the next day.
  6. Over the course of the next day, I scan the tweets in a few focused streams that I’ve set up in Hootsuite (another favorite Twitter tool) and supplement my scheduled tweets with some “live” retweets and conversations with Twitter friends.

This system allows me to focus on the content sources that are most relevant to my business and my audience. It helps me efficiently “batch process” my reading and publishing. And, it leaves room for real time interaction. Works for me.  😉


Define boundaries.

One of the biggest dangers of the social web is its power to distract. We start out with the best intentions – we’ll only spend a few minutes checking Twitter or cruising our Facebook news feed – and suddenly an hour has elapsed and we’re behind on our deadlines. Be merciless in setting and defending your social media boundaries. Be clear with yourself about which activities are beneficial. (Tip: friendly stalking and watching LOL cat videos don’t usually have strong business benefits). Set time limits – use an actual timer if you need to. Be aware of red flags that alert you to time wasters. (I steer wide of any political or religious conversations and I ignore all invites to Facebook games like Farmville and Words with Friends.)


Evaluate your ROI.

Last, but certainly not least, is to find a way to track – even at a very high level – your ROI, your return on investment. Calculating the ROI of social media is a challenge, but it’s not impossible. There are many “soft” benefits of social media, but those soft benefits often translate into hard, “bottom line” benefits.

Using my own experience as an example, I have enjoyed the “soft” benefit of connecting with my peers – primarily through Twitter – getting to know people, sharing war stories, and generally developing a relationship. In several cases, those online relationships have evolved into real world meetings and collaborations. In other cases they have resulted in new business via referrals. I can put a cash value on the business I’ve gained through these channels that definitely justifies the time I spend on them.


Social media’s potential to connect people to each other and to ideas is vast, still staggering to those of us who grew up long before Mark Zuckerberg was a twinkle in someone’s eye, never mind Facebook being a twinkle in his.  But the dark side of social media – its endless labyrinth of links – has the power to lead us slyly astray, disguised as “research” or “networking” or “relationship building.”  However, if you can harness the power of these connections and conversations without falling prey to the many pitfalls, social media can make a big difference to your business.

Do you feel like you’ve achieved social media balance? What has helped you the most? Where do you still struggle? Do you have stories of how social has helped your business? Love to hear them! 

Image Credit: Jem Yoshioka

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