People have a natural desire to see the world as a series of beginnings and endings. Sunrise, sunset. Summer, winter. Life, death. It feels right when things start and finish. It feels resolved. Complete. And this desire for endings might be baked into the delicious nougat-centre of who we are.
Literary critic Frank Kermode used the metaphor of a clock to sum this up. When we listen to a clock counting down the seconds (you know, in the run up to lunchtime), we hear it merrily tick-tock away. But the sound a clock makes is actually just a “tick”. Our brains make up the tock so it seems different.
“Tick,” Kermode says “is a humble genesis, tock a feeble apocalypse.” The brains of our ape ancestors can’t just hear a sound being repeated forever. Something in us needs to split it into an initial tick and a closing tock. Start, finish.
In much the same way, some people will try and suggest that content marketing as something that can be “finished”. A binary state that, once achieved, can be ticked (or tocked) off. You’ve got your e-book, some blog posts around it, and some cool infographics for socials. Mission accomplished, on to the next big thing. What are these SEOs I’ve been hearing about? Let’s buy ten.
Now I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that this isn’t the case. After all, you’re here. You’re one of the good guys. You know what’s up.
Content marketing isn’t a clock, just ticking away. It’s more than that. In fact, content marketing is about as close as humanity has come to inventing the perpetual motion machine.
Every piece you make generates a few more ideas, which can link back to the original. Then these ideas generate more ideas. Then other employees see these ideas and feel inspired, and come to you with their ideas. Customers get involved and share what they’d like to see, things you’d never even though of. And all that while that initial idea is still bringing in new people, as are all the subsequent steps.
See, content shouldn’t be that thing you have to do for a while to get people in. It’s not a necessary evil you have to endure in the modern marketing world. Content should be the reason you leap out of bed in the morning. It’s the story of who you are, what you do, why it matters and how you do it best.
The key is using constant goals to be started and completed. Complete your first e-book, set up that newsletter you’ve been talking about. Get ten blog posts under your belt. There should always be a goal that you’ll complete, a new achievement that you’ll accomplish, an artificial ending just around the corner to keep that monkey-brain happy.
But we know the secret. It’s never done, it just keeps moving, stronger than ever.
Maybe it’s time you started taking content marketing seriously?