In creative writing, fiction and nonfiction, writers are told that that every detail, every word, needs to drive the story forward. If it doesn’t add to the story or move it along in some way, drop it.
For example, Nell may love her grandmother’s quilt, and the author may take 100 words to tell how Grandma sewed it for her when Nell was two years old and yada yada yada. But if this information doesn’t do anything else for the story later — Nell gives it to her daughter, she uses it to put out a fire, her husband spills beer on it — then the description needs to go.
Even talking about it seven chapters later, mentioning that Nell huddles under it whenever she feels sad is a good reason to keep it in. But if the reader never sees that quilt again, it’s not doing anything for the story, and it has to go.
Does Your Marketing Drive Your Story?
Your content marketing campaign — your entire marketing campaign for that matter — needs to follow the same philosophy. Your individual pieces of marketing collateral need to drive your story forward.
Are you focused on getting Facebook Likes? Given that 1) Likes don’t necessarily mean sales, and 2) Facebook is pulling the bait-and-switch on marketers anyway, focusing any kind of resources and energy on Facebook in general definitely doesn’t move your story forward. But if you’re focusing specifically more on Likes and less on having Likable content, then you’re not driving your story forward.
Are you having real conversations with customers on Twitter? That does drive your story forward, because you’re telling it 140 characters at a time. You’re also encouraging more people to interact with your story. More readers means the potential for more questions, which leads to more answers, which equals more content.
Are you writing blog posts, white papers, and other content? These are the individual chapters and scenes of your company’s story, because this is where you get to tell your story over and over. Jackie Bledsoe uses his blog to tell his story about being a husband and father. Doug Karr uses the Marketing Tech Blog to tell his story about digital marketing. I use blog posts about writing, language, and content marketing to tell our company’s story.
You need to question every aspect of your marketing campaign, and whether they’re actually driving your story forward, or weighing it down in unnecessary details and worthless adjectives and adverbs. Talk to your marketing team and to your customers. See what’s driving your story, and what’s just a waste of time and resources. Focus your attention on what’s good, delete what’s bad, and ramp up your efforts.