The Marketer’s Checklist: Creativity, Consistency & Clarity
Options tend to overwhelm me. Not because I’m indecisive, but because of my desire to experience as much as possible. So, when it came time to choose between the hundreds of sessions and speaker spotlights (and dozens of food trucks) at HubSpot INBOUND 2019, overwhelmed would’ve been an understatement. But, instead of going in with a one-path mindset, I took in as much as possible. Within less than a week, I covered everything from graphic design and podcasting, to data ethics and channel optimization.
And although each of the 14 I attended were just as unique as they were insightful, I noticed a pattern as I jumped from session to session. Each presenter emphasized consistency, clarity and creativity. While these aren’t new or unusual terms, I now find myself mentally checking off the “3-C’s” whenever I’m consuming or creating content.
In a world cluttered with content, we only have a few seconds to draw people in. Most would contribute that to my generation’s declining attention span. But, the harsh reality is most of the content just sucks.
Depending on your industry, that may seem near impossible. That’s especially true in the B2B space. But for someone who’s clients do everything from manufacture industrial equipment to enterprise data management, I assure you it’s not.
Your content is only as strong as the connection you make with your audience, and too many B2B marketers make the mistake of sticking to the status quo instead of taking advantage of the freedom they have to try new things and stand out from the competition. In the words of reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, “we don’t even realize something is broken until someone else shows us a better way.”
Whether you’re starting from scratch or marketing for a household name, maintaining consistency is critical. Trust has become a key brand differentiator. Every interaction should convey a similar tone that’s recognizable to your audience.
Things can get a little tricky as your team scales but instituting your identity early on will guarantee alignment across your organization. This takes a lot more than throwing together your company’s color palette or font type. It’s both making sure you’re speaking to what your customers know you for and that your team is aligned on your core values. At the end of the day, your employees are the No. 1 advocates for your brand.
That being said, it’s easy to get carried away. Consistency should never compromise creativity. There’s a fine line between cross-channel content amplification and abuse. Despite the importance of instilling your personality into every piece of content you create, make sure you’re still following the best practices for the channel you’re using. Take social media for example. LinkedIn and Facebook are both very conversational, but completely different. Content that performs well on one, probably won’t do so on the other. Each has its own set of rules, specifications and targeted audiences to consider… and those are just two of the seemingly infinite communication channels available to us today.
One of my favorite spotlights (mostly because of its mission-driven focus, partly because of my undying appreciation for “13 Going on 30”) was Katie Couric’s interview of Once Upon a Farm co-founders Jennifer Gardner and John Foraker. Their advice to someone looking to grow a business with a clear conscience? Be clear about your purpose. Not only when determining your mission statement or core values, but in everything you do.
Every message tells a story. To make that story count, you must help your audience visualize both the problem and its solution as quickly as possible and without completely spelling it out for them. Believe it or not, that isn’t the easiest thing to accomplish as consumers are continuously burdened with distrust and ‘fine-print’ anxiety. According to technical marketer and call-to-action (CTA) expert Travis McGinnis, marketers should always attempt to guide the user to the most logical next step with just enough context to alleviate that anxiety. Your words matter—so choose them wisely.
So, if INBOUND 2019 taught me anything, it’s that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for marketing. Instead, there’s incredible value in approaching every initiative with a strong foundation of creative, consistent, and clear thinking. Trends come and go, and the industry is all about embracing that change—but that doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel every time.
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