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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Strategic Content Professional [KNWLG] Become a strategic lynchpin

Is a content marketing specialist vital to the organization? Seth Godin's book explains why
Seth Godin's Linchpin is a great introduction to today's individual's strategic position. Godin tells the uninitiated (or inexperienced) worker of how in many companies there are a few "linchpin" contributors. He actually developed a unique original perspective on the idea of who is a vital "linchpin" worker. He suggests of a way to change how we work, making every worker irreplaceable by giving workers freedom to think and do creative work. This idea of giving each worker the ability to think for themselves and do the most they are able is not new. He suggests that our industrialization of white collar jobs made robots of workers. Essentially making most jobs routine, defined carefully to the point of simple tasks. He also suggests ways of looking at work and at management which are different from the traditional American corporate standard. I have seen this situation recently working as a freelancer on long projects (2 and 5 months) inside established companies. On the other hand, there are also great examples of companies which do not fit this mold. It seems more useful to today's content marketer to focus on where their work can be unique, productive and strategic.

My take on Godin's message is a bit different, more specific to writing and editing. Content marketing is a hot now, maybe even becoming a mainstream internet marketing sub-sector. What is going on today with content marketing is related to Godin's perspective, but you have to add the state of business and the internet to the mix. Godin is not unique in advising management to promote worker independence and responsibility. He is focused on the digital work-life and it's impact on companies and individuals. My perspective come from speaking with marketing and site (product) managers from across a wide range of companies. Today, most managers realize the power of independent thinking (and acting) content creators. From the early days of blogging, going back a decade or more, product owners have undervalued the power of the internet. First bloggers, then social media users, and now content marketers have seen the potential of the technology and the way people behave. Today, new trends like social networks and mobile user access is still new to many traditional marketing managers. This is where content marketing is useful. This is the area where content creators and editors have a potential to become a "Godin linchpin".

While new trends are sometimes under appreciated by mainstream marketers, there are many who are pushing ahead. Godin is right about many mainstream companies, tradition in business and industry has turned workers into replaceable "cogs". Yet, the internet industry is full of open minded daring people. If you seek people and organizations who need and benefit from leading new trends, you will find them. In the content marketing trend we are seeing now, internet companies and leading companies who depend on the internet (i.e. gaming, financial, IT) are excited about the development of content marketing as a field. Now as a writer, editor, content promoter (in social networks, advertising, or blogging), and graphic, or video producer, you can fit strategically into these companies.

Let's look at the strategic value of a content marketing professional. Strategic value comes from serving a crucial role in a company. To serve a crucial role, strategic workers (linchpin in Godin's speak) need to provide a unique or valuable service. A strategic worker is one that can not be replaced by another quickly or easily. Some strategic value comes from the ability of a worker to "produce" better, faster or cheaper (i.e. higher yield). Here, it is simply the "better" worker who is not easily replaceable. But the most strategic marketer (or writer, editor) is one which can do something others can't. In content marketing this could be:
  •  A marketer which can see opportunities and quickly take advantage.
  • A marketer with new skills, better technology or new methodology.
  • A marketer able to integrate or apply a new method or technology.
  • A technologist willing and able to market her product effectively.
  • A marketer with unique skills applied in a new or creative way.
All these situations are common today. Some I see on a regular basis. Some I see simply by looking at web sites and social media pages. To see strategic content marketing work in action, go to your favorite site, blog or social media page. Looking at ten to fifty pages, you will get a sense of certain qualities (i.e. attributes) in the style, format, design, flow, context and links (to other pages, articles, events, etc.), and overall how quickly and easily you connect and understand the product. As a content marketer (i.e. writer, editor, promoter, curator) look carefully at the what the author's message to the audience. There are other standard marketing techniques (i.e. branding, viral seeding, community building, mail list building) used in defining content. Notice the style, graphics and other media formats (i.e. video, pictures, drawings) which usually show more effort in creating or promoting the product. When you find a site, even an article, which stands out, there may be a strategic content writer there. If you see a site where you can do better, in writing, in article "flow", in more focus, or in broadening the subjects covered, here is an opportunity. If you see and analyze enough sites, your own work will become better. Learning from others is open in the internet. That's the good news. Knowing what people are thinking and doing behind the scenes is not so easy to figure out. So you need to go out and learn from people who are willing to teach. These are usually industry experts, freelance advisers or simply domain experts who are publishing and keeping up with certain skills.

I will come back to Seth Godin's Linchpin book in the future. Overall, Godin writes well about an issue which comes up in every big technology revolution. It is one of the best basic knowledge books I recommend. Next to actually learning a new skill (i.e. programming, graphic design, UI/UX, writing and editing) knowledge is a key factor to becoming a professional with current knowledge and ability. With all the developments on such a broad range of specialty areas, rounded knowledge is crucial in today's professional world.