Attention Spans Decreasing or Something Else?

We’ve all heard it before “the human attention span is only 8 seconds long.” That’s why you have to snag their interest with a great headline, blah, blah, blah. But what if it isn’t our attention spans? What if it’s something else, and it ties more directly to your content quality? 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Attention spans; are they going down or is it something else? You can probably judge by the title that I think it’s something else.

Less Than the Attention Span of a Goldfish

Humans went from having a 12-second attention span to an 8-second attention span. That’s less than a goldfish. 

We’ve been playing around with these numbers for a while. They first appeared in Microsoft Canada research, and everybody took it as a fact. But did you know that this number did not come from Microsoft’s actual research? 

It was cited in their research report, and the number actually came from an organization called Statistic Brain, who also cited some vague sources. I read a very interesting article by Simon Maybin, in which he went  through tracking down these sources. He couldn’t get a response from Statistic Brain. He couldn’t get a response from the sources that they cited. 

That’s not to say that somebody didn’t assess that human attention spans are 8 seconds, but it’s been a bit of a rough journey actually figuring out where that number came from. 

If It’s Not Attention Spans, Then What?

I think it’s something else. I think it’s the tolerance level that’s gone down. We have a low tolerance level for content that doesn’t serve us. 

Low Tolerance for the Subpar

With all of the options for content that are possible online, why would you waste any time on something that doesn’t serve you at all? On something that’s subpar, doesn’t make sense to you, or that’s low quality? Why would you do that when you know you could find better elsewhere? Why would you waste your time? 

I know we don’t. That’s what high bounce rates and low website traffic indicates. That’s why your website is ranked lower on search engines. It’s because your content isn’t where it needs to be. 

This comes from a variety of things. It comes from not investing properly in content as part of your marketing strategy, but it also comes from doing content just to do content. It doesn’t have a real purpose within your organization, and it’s just out there floating around. 

Binge-Watching as It Relates to Your Audience’s Attention Spans

Couldn’t you go watch a 2-hour movie right now if you wanted to? I’m sure that you’ve watched at least one within the last month. As a matter of fact, you might’ve watched the Avengers: Endgame movie, which was nearly 4 hours. So you can’t tell me that people can sit through things like that, and then tell me that attention spans are low. That just doesn’t make sense. 

Netflix Introduced Us to Binge-Watching

Netflix ushered in the era of binge-watching shows. Instead of waiting for it to come out week by week, I pick one season of a show and watch the entire thing. Netflix often releases shows that way; season by season, or even the entire thing all at once. 

We binge-watch them because they’re interesting. We don’t want to wait. There are people who will sit and watch several hours of TV over the course of 3 days. That’s not because their attention span is low. 

Is Your Content Binge-Worthy?

So you have to ask yourself; is your content binge-worthy? Is it even worth paying any attention to? Go look at it with an objective eye, and then try to answer that question honestly for yourself. 

Is your content binge-worthy? Is it worth reading when you compare it to your nearest competitors? When you look at their content, how does your content compare? Is it worthy of the attention that you want it to have?

People are not generally numb that we’d continue to read something that doesn’t do anything for us. So as a global society, with all of our options, we’ve developed a low tolerance for subpar content in any form. This could be text, videos, images, and any other sort of content that’s going to be more relevant in the future, like virtual and augmented reality. 

It’s going to include all of those things. They’re already here. It can’t be subpar. I always say it; quality over quantity. A stellar blog post will outperform 16 crappy blog posts over time. 

Reevaluate and Update Content

We have to reevaluate and look at content. Even right now, I’m rewriting and adding to a blog article that’s been on my site for several months, because I’ve learned new things. I’ve got more to add to it. My understanding of certain concepts has become more refined. 

This blog post gets traffic from search engines to my site, so I want to make it better. The data tells me that people are interested in this topic, and I know I can make it better. So now we’re going to move up. 

At the time, that was the best I could do. That was my level of “stellar”. Now, my level of “stellar” is up, and I have to fix it. 

Are you catering to your audience’s intolerance for subpar content? Are you delivering what they expect from you? It’s not their attention spans. It is the quality of your content.

Secondary Customers, Are You Taking Care of Them?

Are you taking care of your secondary customers? That may not be a question you’re ready to answer just yet. Who are your secondary customers, and why should you care? Those are all questions we answer in this podcast episode. 

Here is the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Who Even Is Your Secondary Audience?

You may be thinking, “Ruthie, I’m just trying to handle the regular customers that I have. Why are you bringing up this secondary customer?” I promise they’re not magical beings that are hard to get to. You already have them. What’s important is that you recognize them. 

In content marketing, this is called your secondary target audience. Some businesses have more than one target audience, so they may still fall within the primary target audience unless indicated otherwise by your strategist. 

They’re your second most important audience. The primary audience is typically the customer who will spend the most. Your secondary audience may not spend as much or as often, or they may not even purchase at all. 

Why You Should Care About Them

You’re thinking, “If they don’t purchase anything at all, why would I create content for them?” Ah, yes. Now we’ve come to the root of the problem, and I’ve got the answer for you. 

The Case of Product-Based Businesses

So with product-based or businesses or software as a service, it’s a little easier to see why you’d create content for your secondary audience. 

For most products, the secondary audience are services who utilize that product, so you’d create content for services that consult for your product or offer management services. If it’s a software, then offer software management services for your product. 


A great example of this is Hubspot, which creates a ton of content for agencies and consulting firms that specialize in working with Hubspot software. 

There’s a special email list for Hubspot agencies. Hubspot’s even created a partner program with tiers. You can be a silver, gold, platinum, or diamond level. Hubspot lists these agencies and firms on a website, and it directs customers to that website so they can find a consulting firm who can help them if Hubspot themselves can’t. It’s incredibly fascinating. 

Even if you’re not a Hubspot partner agency, there’s also the Hubspot Academy, which is content for customers. But they know that freelancers and smaller consulting firms, much like Defy The Status Quo, use Hubspot and finds value in that content. 

So why would Hubspot create content that would help Defy The Status Quo? Well, Hubspot’s gotten a lot of free publicity from me. I recommend them, I say great things about them. I got to know them as an organization through their content, and I’m confident when I direct people to their website. 

By helping these agencies, freelancers, and consultants become more successful, Hubspot itself becomes more successful. This is because these service businesses direct more people to purchase Hubspot’s software. 

The Case of Service-Based Businesses

This is a little tougher. It’s something you have to find for every single business. With service-based businesses, it may be related industries. 

So if I wanted to create content for one of my secondary audiences… Let’s say web design companies are a secondary audience. Why? Because web design companies may not always have content professionals on staff. 

So I’ve got relationships with web design companies and if they have clients who need content written, they recommend me as one of their go-to content consultants. I’m their secondary audience, and they’re my secondary audience. 

If I write an article on the topic of “the importance of excellent web design and content marketing”, it’s something that I could email to any web design companies I’ve partnered or that I’d like to partner with. 

That’s valuable because they read it, they see that I understand them, and I see how web design fits within content marketing. That’s going to move the needle in my favor in terms of likeability because nobody wants to feel like they’re unimportant. 

Oftentimes, content professionals put a little too much emphasis on content and not enough on good web design. I could write the best content for your website, but if customers look at it and they’re like, “Hey, so 2005 is calling and they want their website design back…”

My wonderfully written content just isn’t going to make it as far as it would if your website is modern, mobile-optimized, and with beautiful brand colors and designs. That’s why I would address my secondary audience of design agencies.

Entrepreneurs as a Secondary Audience

Another secondary audience for me are entrepreneurs, usually service entrepreneurs. These are typically people that I’ve met, who’ve heard me speak, who like my content on Linkedin. They may not have room in their budget to purchase my services or bring me on to consult with them, but they love my content. They share it, comment on it, and they recommend me for marketing opportunities to bigger companies. 

That’s why entrepreneurs are my secondary audience. If you go through my content, you’ll see I do have business management, development, as well as marketing content on my website. That’s because I work with B2B consulting and service companies. But I can take what my primary audience normally delivers to their even bigger clients, and apply it to entrepreneurship. 

That feeds my secondary audience’s need for the knowledge they can appreciate because it may take a different perspective on things. By doing that, I tilt the needle in the right direction in terms of likability. 

People do business and recommend people they like. That’s why you want to create content for your secondary customers. 

So I’m asking you? are you taking care of your secondary customers in your marketing strategy? Are you supporting them the way that they support you?

“12 Months of Public Relations – Credibility and Relationships” with Jennifer McGinley

Public relations is all about relationships. After 12 months of working with a public relations professional, Jennifer McGinley, CEO of JLM Strategic Communications, says you should expect to see some real traction. At this point, she aims for higher profile opportunities. Learn how Jenn has uses her 25 years of relationship-building in PR to get the best opportunities for her clients in today’s episode. 

Here is the podcast episode:

Here is the transcript:

PR Involves a Ton of Relationship-Building

Ruth: It sounds like there’s a lot of relationship-building involved. So you probably come across people who are like, “Oh well, I could do that myself.” 

Even totally ignoring the fact that they could not do it as well as you could do it, and that it’s not worth their time to learn to do it. In theory, somebody could “do what you do.” But that relationship that you’ve spent all these years building with various media outlets is not something they can duplicate. 

Jennifer: It’s all about relationship-building. I know who to go to for whatever I need. The media that I am close to know, they can trust me. In a crisis, they know that I’m here to help them.

I’ve worked really hard, especially in Philadelphia and in the Baltimore area. If they called me, they know within 30 minutes to 1 hour, I’d have a response. I’d have an expert ready to be interviewed so that when the news truck pulls up, it is a seamless process.

My bosses have always said “Details, details, details.” It is all about efficiency. It’s about being organized and preparing experts ahead of time. When something happens, we are set to go.

I’ve worked in Columbine and 9/11. I’ve worked in crisis situations which I enjoy, even though it’s a horrible crisis. I’m good undertaking that kind of pressure because I know what needs to be done. The media really values efficiency, credibility, and loyalty as well. 

It’s Been 12 Months. What Should My PR Look Like?

Ruth: Okay, so one more tie-in to this scenario. We talked about what you do in the beginning. We talked about what you’re expecting to see at 6 months. So it’s been 12 months now. It’s been a year. What are we expecting to see now? 

Jennifer: We’ve done 2 or 3 meeting campaigns by now. I’ve gotten some traction for them. I knew when I met them that they could be successful, depending on their backstory. 

I can start niching down and getting some of those higher-profile media placements. I’ve pitched the New York Times before, and the Wall Street Journal. I haven’t gotten anything yet, but I know how to pitch them, and I know what they’re looking for. 

Public Relations is About What You Bring to The Audience

You can do a trend piece, where it’s not just going to be about my clients. For example, I knew this organic farm in Baltimore and the woman who ran it. I did not work with her, but I knew she was going to be a superstar. Recently, there was an article on 5 female farmers, and it was in a Baltimore sign. It was a frenzy on amazing, rock-star women in organic farming in the Baltimore area.

That is such a great example of, “It’s not about me, it’s about our field and how we can educate others on the importance of what we do.” So a trend piece is great. 

You Need to Be Prepared to React to Breaking News

Breaking news is great. Offering a quote for something, and being there for the media in whatever way they need it, is always a win-win. For one client, I really want to pitch some podcasts. I also want to pitch Living Well because there’s a woman that specializes in the cultural aspect of food that can help.

I need to be aware of all the different types of media outlets and opportunities. A lot of it is my gut and a lot is timing. For some people, it’s hard to put a value on that and see that ROI. 

I used to be worried when I was in my twenties. I was like, “God, why do I feel like I’m procrastinating or I’m not organized?” But then I would call an outlet after the feeling was hitting me, and they would say, “I’m so glad you didn’t call an hour ago because we were under breaking news, but everything’s settled now. We can talk to you.” So it’s this weird gut feeling and gut that I have. A woman yesterday told me, “Yeah, I just go with my gut and my intuition on things.” And so do I! 

Knowing When to Call the Newsroom is Critical

We know not to call the newsroom at breaking news, we know to call 9:30 – 10:00, after they’ve gotten out of their team meeting about what stories they’re going to be covering for that day. 

For breaking news, if I have an expert, like for 9/11 or Columbine, hopefully, they already know that I’ve done my homework. I’ve already sent bios 6 months in advance. So if something happens, give me a call and I’m going to help you. 

The news organization knows I can provide an expert in the next 20 minutes. They can talk to you about PTSD, any behavioral health issues, or help parents talk to their children about what’s happened. 

Jenn is Always Thinking About PR and News!

My mind is literally thinking 24/7 about the news. I am a complete news junkie. I have a TV in my kitchen, I’m on my phone all the time, and I love Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, etc. My brain has been like that since before I went to high school. It’s just something that I’ve always absolutely adored. 

So I love journalists, I love the media so much. I think as a PR expert, we need to build relationships. We need to respect where they’re coming from and help them as much as we can. 

The work I do is not advertising. This is called earned media. This is a gift. You can’t even put a price on it, although you can figure out the advertising dollars it would cost for a 60-minute TV segment or 3-minute live TV segment. 

The Value of Earned Media

Earned media, to me, has so much more value and a higher credibility level, that I always make sure my clients understand. We’re at their beck and call, not the other way around. When they need us, we jump and ask “How high?” 

I’ve had clients who were like, “No, that time is not convenient for me.” Obviously I didn’t do enough education on my part to explain that you can’t do that. 

At the end of last September, NBC called me and said, “Can I come to your house in an hour?” I said, “Absolutely.” I drove across town and I told my client where we would meet the reporter. It was a beautiful, amazing segment that ran at the 11 o’clock news right before Mental Health Month, which I couldn’t have orchestrated more perfectly. And then, on the first day of Mental Health Month, she had a live 7:15 AM segment on Fox. 

There’s a reason for my methodology. There’s a reason for my research and my time. And that’s the value I bring to the table.

Can You Believe These Marketing Gaffes?

Can you believe these marketing gaffes? Really, the most important thing is what we can learn from these marketing mistakes. How do big companies make these sorts of mistakes though? I can only think of 4 really good reasons, and I share them with you in this episode.

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Today, we’re going to talk about some serious marketing gaffes, because there’s always a lesson to be learned from the missteps of others. If we don’t take the opportunity to go back and look at these mistakes, then how can we learn from them? 

This episode isn’t meant to throw shade at any one particular company, but to take the opportunity to look at what happened, what caused it, and how we can avoid those same mistakes. Nothing bad about that. No shade meant.

How Could These Marketing Mistakes Possibly Happen?!

There are a few companies that I picked in terms of what not to do, but before we get into these examples, I want to talk about some of the reasons that mistakes like these occur. 

As a consumer, when you see some of these mistakes, you may be thinking, “Oh my goodness, that company is so big! How did they make that mistake?! That’s ridiculous! They make way too much money to make these sorts of mistakes.” Or maybe, you’re thinking it’s NOT a mistake. That’s worse for the company’s brand perception.

There are a few key reasons why these mistakes might occur. 

1. Using a Cause They’re Completely Detached From

One of the reasons stems from the company trying to use or borrow a cause that they’ve never indicated any interest in. 

It doesn’t line up with their target audience or target customer demographics. They’re trying to borrow energy that’s not theirs, and it’s inauthentic. You can’t borrow energy that’s not yours to use. 

One of the best examples is when a cause or an issue comes around, a company will change its filter on Facebook or something. Some people find that really inauthentic, and there’s a good reason for that. 

2. Cultivating a Stifling and Unhealthy Company Culture

It could also be that while someone was brainstorming in the creativity meeting, nobody spoke up against it. This ties back to company culture. 

Some companies develop a culture which doesn’t encourage speaking up. There’s one person in charge of that particular team who uses a chokehold on everyone’s opinions. Only they have good opinions, and everyone else’s opinions suck. 

That’s not going to encourage anyone to speak up. 

3. Becoming Tone Deaf Due to the Lack of Diversity

Another reason might be that a company doesn’t have enough diversity in that department. Many of the examples I’m going to show you relate to diversity, in terms of different groups that they caused an uproar in. 

There may not be someone on that to say “Hey, that’s actually not a good idea. Let me explain why.” Then, it could be that there’s not enough diversity, or somebody’s got a chokehold on all the opinions. 

4. Not Doing Enough Research

The last one usually just boils down to the company not doing enough research. This is not an excuse. 

It can start at the lowest level. Somebody has a good idea and they present it to the upper echelons of a marketing department. No one in that entire chain checks. Boom! It’s bad. 

Kendall Jenner and the Pepsi Ad

First one up, you guys knew this was coming: Kendall Jenner and the Pepsi Ad

Why were people so mad? 

No matter what side of the conversation you’re on, Pepsi offered a story that had an over-simplistic solution to the situation. 

Basically, it’s Kendall Jenner with a Pepsi. She goes down, and resolves the entire issue by giving a Pepsi to a police officer, who’s standing there with a protester. 

This ties back to shootings in which black people have been killed by police officers. Pepsi wanted to appear as a unifying product, but they made it seem like that type of situation was just an easy thing to fix. It wasn’t. 

It’s institutional, and it’s deep. I think both sides can agree this stems from deeper issues. A can of Pepsi’s not going to fix it. 

Someone who disagreed with this ad idea could have easily raised their hands in the creativity meeting and said, “This is a terrible idea, especially for Kendall Jenner to be the one to pass off the Pepsi. In terms of deep issues, most people don’t take her seriously. It’s just a fact.” 

DiGiorno’s Tasteless #WhyIStayed Tweet

Another one is DiGiorno’s #WhyIStayed campaign. DiGiorno wanted their followers to use #WhyIStayed to talk about why they stayed with the brand. 

Unfortunately, it appears that the DiGiorno marketing team didn’t do enough research to find out that #WhyIStayed is a Hashtag that domestic abuse survivors typically use to talk about why they stayed in a toxic relationship. 

People ask that question, “If your spouse is doing that, why do you stay?” Well, that’s the responding hashtag. 

They could have easily popped that into Twitter and realized the truth, before assuming that any idea you have for a hashtag is original. 

Ford’s Offensive Car Ad

A really bad one was Ford using bound and gagged women to show how much space their new hatchback had. This never used ad was created in 2013. It received a surge of disparagement around the time that Harvey Weinstein was big in the news and the #MeToo movement was taking off.  

When people saw this ad, they were obviously appalled. Why didn’t somebody tell them that that was a terrible idea? I don’t know. 

We know Ford wasn’t trying to advocate for violence against women, but it came out anyway. It’s offensive. It hurts people. Ford is perceived as being too large a company to make these sorts of mistakes. Ford actually didn’t use the ad, but it came out anyway.

Dove’s Racially Insensitive Ad

Dove had a short ad, in which a black woman turns into a white woman. The ad was deemed racist and everyone was outraged. 

However, Dove’s response was that they were just trying to convey that their product is for everyone. Diversity. Anybody can use this product. It’s great for anyone’s skin. 

Unfortunately, the ad heralded back to the advertising gimmick of cleaning a black person into whiteness. This is something that we’ve seen with marketing companies from the 1900s, all the way into the last years. 

The soap was so great, it could clean a black person into a white person! Obviously that’s incredibly racist and very offensive. 

Dove’s intention and how they were perceived were obviously very different things. Again, you just have to wonder why someone didn’t say that this was a terrible idea. 

The Takeaway of All These Marketing Mistakes

What we’ve learned from these marketing missteps is that companies need to:

  • Introduce some of their marketing concepts to focus groups before they release them
  • Encourage people on the marketing team to speak up
  • Make an effort to get a diversified group of people to offer opinions, skills, knowledge, and personal life experiences

As companies try to touch upon more and more issues that matter to us, it would be better for them to take perspectives that appeal to us as consumers into consideration. They also have to consider how they may turn us off, which is something you should always focus on in your marketing, especially with popular culture and current events. 

Are you engaging in any bad marketing practices? Take a look at our Bad Marketing article and video and find out!

Marketing Deception – Bad Marketers Vs. The Rebellion

How are marketers deceiving consumers these days? In fact, according to this research paper, there are 6 different types of marketing deception, or stealth marketing. How stealthy is your marketing? Have you engaged in any of these types of marketing deception types? We have to make sure our marketing is ethical and honest. Great business is about building great relationships. Great relationships are built on honesty. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

I’m actually in school right now. We had been assigned a course project, in which we had to read a paper that used the movie “Keeping Up with the Joneses” to illustrate the different types of marketing deception. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. 

Marketing Deception vs the Rebellion

What Is the Marketing Rebellion?

When I say rebellion, I’m actually referring to Mark Schaefer’s The Marketing Rebellion, a business book I highly recommend. 

The author talks about how we are in what he considers the third marketing rebellion. This is reflected in all types of marketing that are most likely to succeed, which is partly why content marketing is so important today. 

People want to make up their own minds and they want others to just be honest. That’s why marketing deception is a terrible response to the marketing rebellion. 

What Is Marketing Deception?

Marketing deception, aka stealth marketing, is when marketers disguise marketing communications with the intent to influence the consumer. 

I’d like to note the word influence. This is dishonest. You’re trying to get people to do something they may not have done if they knew that your intent was to get them to spend money. 

The Importance of Disclosing Affiliate Links

This is also why we have to disclose things like affiliate links. That’s where the influencer marketing dishonesty comes from. It’s easier to identify macro-influencers than micro-influencers. 

Sometimes, you’ll see that everything they put on their Instagram, they’re trying to sell you. It’s obvious that it’s a big sale, so more companies are connecting with micro-influencers. These are people have smaller, but more engaged communities. That’s typically why they work better than macro-influencers. 

However, it may be harder for a consumer to suss out that this person is an influencer and they were paid for this post. This is why now influencers have to make it clear when they’re paid. 

The 6 Types of Marketing Deception

According to this research paper on, there are 6 types of stealth marketing or marketing deception.

1. Marketer to Consumer Deception 

This is the premise of the entire movie “Keeping Up with the Joneses.” If you haven’t seen this movie before, it’s about a family who moves into a suburban neighborhood. 

The family is made up of a teenage son and daughter, a beautiful wife, and a very handsome husband. They move to this area with the intent of influencing people to make purchases without disclosing that they’re marketing. 

  • The girl is trying to get people to buy makeup and clothes.
  • The boy sells sports and electronics equipment. 
  • The husband markets high-end cigars and male luxuries.
  • The wife is the ring leader, sand she tries to get women to buy high-end luxuries, like clothing, kitchen equipment, etc. 

Our task for the project was to determine which type of marketing was the most harmful, which I later determined to be a marketer to consumer deception

The reason why is because as a marketer, I have a professional obligation to be ethical, honest. Nobody wants to feel like they got the rug pulled out from under them. No matter what type of marketing it is, the buck stops with the marketer who’s paying for/creating it. 

Sony’s Fake Fan Site

Want a real life example? Sony paid to create a fake fan site to generate buzz for one of their new products.

As a content marketer, I was outright offended because I create content. Yes, the content is meant to help generate sales, but it’s not framed in such a dishonest way like this. 

The content that I write goes up on company websites. We try to help prospective clients make a decision that will make them the most happy. If you get a sale from this, it’s because the prospect decided you were the best solution, and that’s what content is meant to do. 

It shouldn’t be done in a dishonest way, but in an informative, entertaining way. The customer chooses you because you are the best choice. 

2. Consumer to Marketer Deception

I feel like this one’s more of a defense mechanism. You might be thinking, “How does a consumer lie to a marketer?” 

Well, you go onto a website and they need you to give them your email address, so you enter in a throwaway email address that you don’t check. This is you deceiving the marketer. 

This happens when everybody’s trying to gate things all the time. In the research paper, they likened it to people going to the dealership without the intent of buying the car. You just want to drive it. 

3. Marketer to Marketer Deception 

Current partners may make poor decisions, and you swoop in to get some of their market share. This doesn’t happen directly to the consumer. 

4. Consumer to Consumer Deception  

Consumer to consumer deception typically involves collecting information or influencing others without informing them, similarly to the marketer to consumer deception. 

The Girls Intelligence Agency’s Involuntary Focus Groups 

Their example was the Girls Intelligence Agency, which employs 40,000 girls between the ages of 8-29 to gather information mainly through slumber parties. Basically, they’re holding focus groups with unwitting participants. Terrible.  

5. Marketer Self-Deception 

This is one of the biggest ones for our marketers. How are marketers deceiving themselves when it comes to their marketing, impact, and effectiveness?

How Tobacco Companies Started Failing 

You can see it in how tobacco companies failed to adapt. Once all the research studies started coming out, they just kept acting like business was normal. 

They put the warning labels on the packets, and thought that was good enough. They didn’t really do anything at all. 

6. Consumer Self-Deception 

As a consumer we allow ourselves to become convinced to buy things, but regret it later. 

When you do have a regret around something that you’ve purchased, you really have to consider whether that landing page was what caused you to buy, or were you serving some other ideal. Another ideal being something like, “My friend bought it, so I want it.” 

We oftentimes deceive ourselves in terms of what we need and how much we can afford. That was even one of the big cruxes of the movie. I don’t want to ruin it if you haven’t seen it. 

Ethical Marketing Only

We have to be on the lookout, guys! Ethical marketing only. You don’t want your customers to feel like you’re lying to them. That’s how you get a hater for life. They will hate you forever and tell everyone about it. 

All right, that’s been an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. I’m your host Ruthie. Please leave us a comment or a review. Let us know what you liked about this episode. Give us some feedback. I live on feedback, so please talk to me. You don’t understand how important those things are to a successful and thriving podcast. I will see you next time! 

Under The Microscope: IBM’s Content Cantina

I wanted to try something new on the podcast. There’s a lot to be learned from past campaigns, so that’s what Under the Microscope is about. Once per week, we’ll take a look at a company’s marketing campaign and talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly. This week, I examined IBM’s Content Cantina campaign. This campaign isn’t over yet, but it’s already generated some amazing results!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

The First Installment of Under the Microscope!

This is a weekly series that I’m calling “Under the Microscope”, in which I select and dissect  a marketing campaign. It might be a content marketing, but maybe not. You get to hear about what made this a great or not so great campaign, as well as my favorite parts, and what I think they can improve on.  

Today, we’re bringing IBM’s Content Cantina under the microscope. This campaign was for IBM’s internal personnel, so I will preface everything I say with the fact that I don’t have access to IBM’s internal content platform. 

I can only talk about what I saw, but with it being IBM, I have high confidence that they’re doing awesome things that I was unable to log into. Yes, I tried. 

Discussing Content and Thought Leadership

A Powerhouse of Content Creation

IBM wanted to change the conversation around content and thought leadership for their internal personnel. I don’t know if you know this, but IBM makes a lot of content. They have multiple websites for different things. 

Part of why they’re able to do this is because they have decentralized their content production. Not all of it funnels up to the top. They’ve got editors, who are the boots on the ground for content, embedded throughout the organization. 

Let’s Rethink Thought Leadership

The tagline for the campaign is: “Let’s rethink thought leadership”. Simple, to the point, and great. 

IBM is considered a thought leader in many industries they’re involved in, so they clearly identified their audience. They were trying to speak to 300,000 internal personnel. 

They wanted to reach those people outside of their typical internal communications channels and inspire storytelling. That’s how they came up with the Content Cantina. 

An Attention-Grabbing Setting

The Content Cantina seems to be centered around videos, which immediately get your attention. It’s a Star Wars-themed talk show. You hear the Star Wars theme playing, and you see the Star Wars setting behind the talk show host, George Hammer, also IBM’s Chief Content Officer. 

That shows that they really know their audience because even if you don’t like Star Wars, you know about it. It’s familiar, but it’s also unexpected. 

George Hammer is a great host. He’s very energetic, does great on camera, and I imagine he’s a great keynote speaker. 

The Results of IBM’s Content Cantina Campaign

Contrarian Marketing Generates Attention

When you look at these campaigns, they often talk about their results. I think that’s fantastic because it gives you an idea of what it can be like when you do something contrarian in your marketing. 

Contrarian marketing is a low key buzz phrase, but it just means that you did something different and caught people off guard. Your marketing is outside the norm of common expectation. You can take inspiration from other people outside of your industry too, and it makes you stand out. 

So that’s what made me notice this campaign. I was like, “Oh wow, Star Wars! That’s fun!” It was an interesting setting to have a conversation about the future of content and how we can advance it. 

Results in Numbers

Anyways, let’s get back to the results of the campaign. 

  • Once they started posting these talk show segments of George Hammer speaking with some incredibly serious thought leaders within the content marketing space, their Linkedin post engagement went up 130%. 
  • Searches for IBM’s content on “Content Marketing” went up 100%. That’s huge, especially when you consider the number of people looking for content marketing! 
  • They noted that campaigns which used their best-identified practices and thought leadership saw a 23% increase in ROI and $5 billion in revenue leads. 

They had likely planned this, which goes back to when I talked about knowing the value of your content. There’s no way that they would’ve been able to easily chart out those numbers if they weren’t clear on their content goals from the beginning. 

It’s Not Over Yet

It turns out that more episodes of the IBM’s Content Cantina are coming, which is so cool! I can’t wait to watch them. 

George Hammer announced on Linkedin that the next 6 episodes are coming out soon. If I were you, I’d go search George Hammer on Linkedin and give him a follow, so you can see the episodes when they come out. I’m interested to see what the second part of the campaign will add to the mix. 

A Last Note

I obviously can’t see what they did with this content on their internal processes. But if I was part of that, I’d definitely make video snippets for snackable content, and then gauge serious interest in the various topics. That could serve as inspiration for a white paper or further research. I’m certain they came up with wonderful ways to repurpose this great video content.

Anything to help the 300,000 IBM personnel! However, that’s just me and they’ve got a whole team over there. I’m sure they’re doing wonderful things inside the platform that we can’t see.

Why You Should Read Simon Sinek’s Start With Why

I promise, this is the last episode about your company’s ideology. I couldn’t really conclude this series without recommending Simon Sinek’s Start With Why to you. When you can infuse your “why” into your marketing, sales, and operations, you can create customers for life. In the previous three episodes, we talked about your company ideology. Remember? How your values and purpose must be discovered, not created?

I know I said that I was done with ideology, purpose, and values, but I realized that in order to do a series properly, I couldn’t let this go without recommending one of my favorite business books. 

In today’s episode, I’m going to tell you why you should read Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. He narrates it himself, which is pretty cool. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

What This Book Can Help You with…

Putting Theory into Practice

Simon Sinek’s Start With Why is a book that goes into how you can apply your ideology, purpose, and values into your marketing strategy. 

I had the luck of reading this book before I set up my new website, and that was when Defy The Status Quo was born. 

Figuring Out What You’re All About

After I read his book, I really started thinking about what I wanted my company’s purpose to be. What are company values that would allow us to move forward? 

And it’s right there in the name: Defy The Status Quo. It’s about marketing and content, but not necessarily written content. That holds true for my vision of the future and what I want to provide for my clients. But I digress. 

Understanding How Communication Sets You Apart from Others 

After discovering your ideology and purpose, you might be saying to yourself, “Whoa! My mind is blown! I know exactly why my company exists.” 

Well, Simon Sinek talks about how communicating your values and purpose can set companies apart. It’s all about how they use their values, what they consider valuable, and how they use that in their marketing messaging to resonate with their target audience. 

In the last episode about ideology discovery, I said that it’s not a differentiating factor. It’s not something you create, but once you’ve discovered your ideology, you’re clearer on the types of clients you want to attract. 

Infusing Your Marketing Strategy with Passion

You want to make sure you can infuse your marketing messaging with this information, because your values and purpose are the things that you should be passionate about. Your marketing should always have passion.

I think that’s key for B2B service industries. If you decisively say you’re boring, nobody is going to be interested. 

That’s where people start to think, “Oh well, my clients don’t expect content from me. They just want awesome accounting/financial/various services.” The problem with that thinking is that your clients do want content from you. All of them. It’s the age that we’re in now. 

However, the most important thing is how you present that content, because what they don’t want is boring content. So if that’s what you’re going to put out, then yes, they don’t want that. 

But if you can liven it up and speak to them in their language, then they’ll want it. That’s where your ideology, purpose, values, and passion comes into play. 

Notable Criticisms: Excluding Other Companies in Favor of Apple

I will be honest about the book and say that it seems to have a bit of a love affair with Apple. Simon Sinek talks about them a lot, and I get it. 

I know that they’re a great company, ideal for branding. Their customers are evangelists for the brand. I see the lines coming out of Apple stores. 

I know their reach, but Simon talks about Apple a lot in this book. Okay, but what about Nike? What about those people who only wear Under Armour? Or about how Linux users, who are usually diehard users?

I think he could have talked about many other brands, but I felt like he incessantly harped on Apple. So I got a little bored at that part. Every time he mentioned it, I was like, “Yes. I know. Apple, the bite out of the apple. It was great, but what about other companies?” 

So if I were to give him feedback on the book, that’s what I would say. I would have loved to see other companies’ case studies. But if you love Apple, it’ll be great for you. 

I’m not an Apple person, as you might have been able to tell. I don’t hate Apple, but I have Google everything and an Android phone. 

Want to take a deep dive into your company’s ideology?Download our “Discover Your Company Ideology” ebook here.

Start With Why is Definitely Worth the Read

I still think the book is worth a read, even if you only get halfway through. If you’re planning an ideology discovery exercise with your C-suite, then I suggest you all read Simon Sinek’s Start With Why

He has valuable things to say about what makes an enduring company that withstands the technological advancements, as well as consumer trends and concerns. 

The book does a really good job giving everybody some perspective on why these things are important. 

Now, I promise that this actually concludes the series on ideology, purpose, values, and why those things are critical to your company’s future. 

Defining Your Company’s Ideology: Discovery

Your company ideology is made up of your business’ values and purpose. But you can’t create it. It’s a journey of discovery. Once you’ve begun this journey though, you’ll find business decision easier to make. You’ll prevent yourself from making poor business decisions, and you’ll motivate your employees. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

In a couple of episodes previous to this one, we talked about the two components that make up your company’s ideology: the values and the purpose. It takes some digging to discover these two things, but once you do, you’ve found your company’s ideology. 

Company Ideology: Not Created, but Discovered

According to an article that I read, your company’s ideology isn’t created. Even if you were to hire a consulting company to help you, they’d still be helping you to discover your ideology. 

This entire process is a path to discovery. But once you identify those values and your company’s purpose, it will help you with all internal decision-making issues. 

Guiding Your Business Decision-Making

If any opportunity comes along, you can revert back to whether it holds to your values or serves the company’s purpose. 

No matter your business size, going on this journey helps you stay true to your business. 

If you’re an entrepreneur listening to this, you’ve probably experienced a situation in which you did anything if you got paid for it. Entrepreneurs are very susceptible to saying “yes” when they shouldn’t. Even to the point where it draws them away from their core ideology and what makes them the happiest. 

This can happen in big businesses too. When certain businesses acquire other businesses, sometimes you say, “Oh, that’s, that’s interesting. I wouldn’t have expected them to buy that.” 

It could be possible that the company is attempting to purchase infrastructure or talent to further business goals that are tied to their ideology. 

However, it can also be a sign that they had an opportunity to buy another business, so they did. This could be drawing them further away from their ideology. 

Getting Back on Track!

One great example of a company realigning with their ideology was 3M, who divested themselves of certain parts of their business to get back to what their purpose was. 

Another example that comes to mind is of L-3, a company I used to work for. They had a business component, which was language services for the government, which they packaged up and sold off to the company I ended up working for, CACI International Inc

I have to imagine that had you been a fly in the room where those decisions were made, it might’ve been just that: the language services. 

While a vital service to the government and it did bring in money, didn’t line up with L-3’s vision for the future and ideology. That’s a reason why a company may choose to divest themselves of certain business divisions that they hold, even if those divisions are profitable. 

Authenticity in the Modern Era

You cannot create ideology, because that would be inauthentic. And we are in the era of supremely authentic marketing. If you are not authentic in your marketing, everyone can tell. You have to stay true to yourself.

Your Company Ideology Goes Beyond Simple Ethics

 And keep in mind that it’s a journey, so it’s not something that you do in a day. You want to be an ethical business person. When you look at your values beyond that,  you have to specifically decide what matters to you. 

If You’re a Small Business…

If you’re a small business, it’s fine if your ideology is still evolving in the first few years of your business. You will learn new things about yourself, as well as your business. 

Your ideology should be the beacon that lights the way into your future. It should be something similar to a rallying cry. 

If you’re a solo business, it should be something you can always go back to. That’s the soul of your business. Much like the small business, it will continue to evolve over time.

If You Have Employees…

But if you’re a business with employees, your ideology should be something that lights the fire in your employees. It could serve as a qualifier or disqualifier for new employees. It should tie in with what you want your business to accomplish. However, it should be something that resonates with the right type of employee.

So it’s not like a differentiating factor that you would use in your marketing, but you could be more motivated. Your employees could be more motivated because they believe in your ideologies. 

The results of holding that ideology tightly to one’s chest are that your employees may outperform your competitors’ employees because they truly believe in the ideology that you’ve set. 

Want to take a deep dive into your company’s ideology? Download our “Discover Your Company Ideology” ebook here.

Stable, but Shifting when Necessary

The big thing here is that your ideology should endure, in spite of this ever-changing, technologically advanced world. And if there’s ever any part of your ideology that just doesn’t feel right, then you have to let it go. 

Most entrepreneurs change the way they express their ideology, even if the ideology itself stays the same. The words that you use to express your ideology may change. This change is a great opportunity to help your employees better resonate with your ideology.  

All right, so that’s us wrapping up our series on company ideology. Don’t forget the two key components: your values and your purpose wrapped together, which creates your company’s reason for existing. 

This has been an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. Go ahead and leave us a comment, wherever it is that you’ve found us. We’d love to have a discussion with you. 

“6 Months with Your PR Pro. What Now?” with Jennifer McGinley

This is part three of my interview with Jennifer McGinley, CEO of JLM Strategic Communications. In today’s episode, we talk about what you should expect to see after 6 months of working with a public relations professional. PR is a lot like content in that 6 months isn’t a whole lot of time depending on your goals. However, there are micro-signs of success if you know what to look for.

Jenn also explains why she starts out with local PR opportunities first. It’s to safeguard the future of your business. 

Here is the podcast episode:

Here are the shownotes:

Ruth: Well, it’s funny that you brought up the Today show. (Jenn brought up the Today show in her previous episode).

I wrote a piece on supply chain and logistics, and there was an ecommerce company that did get on the Today show. The very next day, their business tanked. The amount of coverage they got flooded their website with orders. They didn’t have the business infrastructure in place to handle it. They ended up with a bunch of unhappy customers, and having to do a ton of refunds. (We told this story in more detail in a post about growing too fast).

So I definitely would err on the side of the local outreach, and not just to build reputation. If your business starts to grow, could you be an overnight success? Especially for a product-based company, overnight success would be a nightmare

Start with Local PR for Manageable Growth

Jennifer: Clients want the Big Bang. They want to get on CBS, or NPR, but they don’t really understand what’s logistically involved. I see five steps ahead of them, because I’ve been doing this for so long. I just know the fallout. 

It’s like the Oprah Effect. If you’re going to get on Oprah, you better have all your supply ready to go. If you’re getting on that show, you’re going to be an instant success. Whether it’s Ellen, whether it’s Good Housekeeping, or anything like that, you need to plan ahead. 

Planning ahead for success is one thing, and planning for failure is another thing. It’s that good balance of smart thinking and strategy. 

Public Relations Pros Are Great at Strategy

PR people are really good for strategy, consulting, and talking things out. I know I helped a dear friend of mine in college. She had a White House Summit 24 hours after I talked to her.

We set up a FaceTime call and she said, “I’m a nervous wreck. I’ve got to go speak on Capitol Hill tomorrow.” And I said, “You’re going to be fine. You have your MBA, you’re so well-educated. You are truly passionate about the work you do. Think of a triangle. Think of three points that you are going to make to really impact your work and your community, and help at this legislative session. You will be fine.” 

Jenn Says “Be Yourself”

I always say just be your best self. I think a lot of people forget about that. It’s like going into a job interview. Well, you made it to that interview because they already like what they saw. Take a deep breath and have that competence that brought you so far along. Everybody loves you for what you are, and what you really bring to the table. That’s half the battle. 

PR people are great at coaching, strategy, consulting, and seeing the bigger picture. Even I need to talk with other people. Whether it’s another PR expert or a business strategist, because I’m not seeing the same picture that somebody else is.

It’s been 6 months since we started working together. What do you typically expect to see at this point?

Jennifer: The website is up. We’ve got proper videos, even if it’s cell phone videos, talking about the client as an expert in their field. We may have had a couple of local media placements or some expert commentary, whether it’s a blog, a podcast interview, etc. 

If the client had an event, I would’ve definitely done the bio, a draft press release, as well as a media advisory to the local media outlets first. Depending on where that event takes place, then I would handle things differently. 

Six months is a lot more realistic than three. I have a client right now that has had a ton success before I started working with him. It’s been a bit tough to get new, different outlets. He’s already been covered so much in the national media outlets. So I have to up my game, my strategy, and be even more creative. That’s a great challenge, which I love. 

But with a brand new client, who hasn’t had a lot of media experience/exposure, it’s exciting. I can be creative, thoughtful, and I can think outside of the box. If there is breaking news, or I have some colleagues that need something, I can reach out to the media and say, “I’ve got this idea. What do you think about it?” This gives me a little bit more leverage to work with them. 

Leverage Current Events to Your Advantage

If there is a certain month, like Diabetes Awareness Month or Entrepreneurship Month, there are other opportunities that give you the framework to educate the community. 

Mental health is something that’s really important to me, because you can take definitions of depression, anorexia, or any other types of mental health issues, to educate and build awareness of a certain disease, but also bring in business. Any type of business or product has that same opportunity. 

I think in 6 months, there’s definitely going to be a lot more traction. We’ve got increased connection, visibility, and credibility. So when I pitch it to the media nationally, I already have some local media placements that I can send to them, so they know this person is prepped and ready for a possible interview. The media loves a package. 

I have done all the leg work for them; I’ve gathered statistics, I already have a quote for my client , and everything else is beautifully-written, very distinct and concise. Everything has been double checked, the grammar is perfect, the spelling is perfect. They can just run with it.

I have had that happen. I got my client a full page feature in her local newspaper, which she was so excited to see. I had written that content already, so that’s fantastic because I had already approved it. She’s already approved it. And that’s a win-win for everybody. 

And it’s a win-win for that outlet, because budgets are tighter with certain media outlets and they don’t have the staff that they used to. I need to provide authentic value and credibility to that media outlet, because they have an audience to serve. It’s not about me, it’s not about my client. At the end of the day, it’s about serving that media outlet. 

Defining Your Company Ideology: Purpose

Goals, strategies, and tactics all change, but your purpose should stay the same. Today we’re going over the second component of your company ideology, and that’s your company’s purpose. Why does your company exist, beyond wanting to make money? Why is this important? We’ll find out. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

Continuing on from our previous episode on defining your company’s ideology, we’re going to move into the second part: purpose.

What Is Your Purpose

Your Purpose is NOT Your Goals

There are two parts to your company ideology: your core values and your purpose. 

Many people confuse the purpose with the goals, but a real purpose should be able to stand the test of time. It may be even last a hundred years, or more. 

Disney’s Future Streaming Platform

Disney is a great example of this. Disney is a 95-year-old company and their purpose is to make people happy. It’s pretty succinct and to the point, isn’t it? 

How you choose to act on your purpose may change, but your purpose itself should not. So if your purpose is clear to you, then business decisions become easier. 

Consider Disney and their goal is to make people happy. Business partners that they choose and other business decisions, like creating their own content streaming platform and pulling their content out of Netflix, make a lot more sense when you tie their values and their purpose together. 

Their purpose is that they want to make people happy. The value is control over the Disney magic. So to continue making people happy and to continue with their value of controlling the Disney magic, making their own content streaming platform just makes sense. 

When your purpose is clear and it’s communicated effectively throughout all of your marketing and your sales materials, then your customers aren’t confused about your decisions either. 

Again, with the Disney example. Disney wants to make people happy. So when they started building theme parks, it wasn’t really all that confusing. Sure, they were capitalizing on all these great and wonderful characters that they had made, but it made sense. It was not confusing to anyone. Whereas if Hewlett-Packard suddenly started making toys, that would be confusing and pretty suspicious. 

Ask Yourself Why

If you’re having trouble with your purpose, you want to start with a service or a product that you offer, and then ask why. Why is that service important? Why is that product important? 

Yes, you want to make money. That’s true. But most businesses still have an underlying purpose. They want to provide something of value in exchange for money. It’s an honest need for many of us. 

Another question you can ask yourself is how your company is drawing the best out of people. That’s what the purpose revolves around. If you didn’t need to work, what would motivate you to continue running and growing your business? What would continue to motivate you to work within the company that you’re in right now? 

If you’re not the owner or a key decision-maker, what would continue to motivate you? What would continue to push you forward? That’s another way to look at purpose. 

Purpose Takes Shape with Time

Purpose and values aren’t necessarily something that you come up with overnight. It’s not going to be a matter of sitting down for a few hours and just writing these things down. 

As a solo business owner, my company’s purpose and its core values are something that I’m still developing. 

Purpose and values may be developing with a company that’s 50 years old. As times change, we have to look at how our purpose and values adapt, how they come to mean something else, or how they’re perceived by our customers or clients. 

They will come to you in time, if you give them the opportunity. So it’s something you want to start churning, but allow those ideas to come to you from your intuition, or wherever you get your inspiration from. 

Want to take a deep dive into your company’s ideology? Download our “Discover Your Company Ideology” ebook here.

Talk It Over with Your Board

If you have an advisory or executive board, this is something that you’re going to want to work on defining with them. Your board may be made up of a marketing expert, an operations expert, a financial expert, information technology expert, etc., and they’re all going to have different perspectives. 

What’s important is that even with those different perspectives, the purpose and the values still ring true. So this is an exercise that you need to go through, but once you do, it’ll be something that you’ll be able to engrain throughout every aspect of your company. 

If your company mission statement and vision are all ironed out and they ring true in your heart, please leave me a comment or shoot me a message. I’d love to hear what it is. But more importantly, I’d love to hear how you came to that conclusion.