Standing Out in COVID-19 Marketing

Now, more than ever, times like these show us that companies want us to buy their products. We’re getting overwhelmed by brands who understand how overwhelmed we feel, and we can’t help but notice the unprecedented use of the word unprecedented as marketers battle over who can help us maintain a sense of peace.

So, how can content marketers stand out in all of this “now, more than ever” marketing? That answer is found in those who actually stand out. Here’s what I admired:

Displays of Creativity. Besides the in-home videos by famous people, one of my favorite posts was simply “30 Creative Alternatives to the Word Unprecedented” by Hero’s Journey Content. It spoke to an overused word with diminishing effectiveness and gave a fun and useful set of alternatives for copywriting and content.

Reality Based. The world did change, and marketers were wise to acknowledge that. In the beginning, my inbox was filled with a mix of email marketing messages. Some saw an opportunity to provide genuinely helpful information. For example, a software security company sent out information on how to protect your data when working from home. Some wrote with information about changes in how they were operating. Those writers who made no mention of the circumstances seemed tone-deaf in how they ignored pandemic repercussions. But a few stood out by talking straight. I particularly liked the emails I received from John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing. Three of his subject lines were: Why generating referrals is your best bet right now, How to get unstuck, and Keep investing in yourself. Good input.

Signs of Optimism. Actor John Krasinski launched a hugely popular Youtube news show direct from his home and dedicated entirely to optimistic viewpoints. Some Good News was sweet, funny, inspiring, uplifting and an otherwise joyful interruption to a lot of bad news. This was his self-funded show, yet brands joined in the fun to sponsor freebies and prizes he revealed to guests during his episodes.

Touching Tributes. Many tried to say in one way or another “we’re all in this together.” But some advertising teams really know how to bring together creative concepts and production quality to deliver a great ad with the right tone at the right moment. Kellogg’s did just that when the company produced a commercial that thanked farmers, line workers, truckers, and others who bring food to the table every day.

These are just a few examples of marketers who got attention for good reasons during a bad season. What did you notice? And how can you apply creativity, reality, optimism and heartfelt appreciation in the content marketing you produce? If you’d like my help, just let me know.

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Minnie Lamberth is a freelance copywriter in Montgomery, Alabama. Email [email protected] to discuss your next writing project.

Your Creative Purpose Podcast, Ep. 2

Today the topic is: It’s not too late.

It seems, in hindsight, I’ve always been doing what I do – just in different applications of my creative purpose. Here’s how that worked for someone else far more well known … a grandmother who began painting in her late 70s and achieved lasting recognition. What lessons can you gain from Grandma Moses? Listen in and find out. (7 minutes)

Music from Pixabay

Your Creative Purpose Podcast, Ep. 1

I love how the hero in this story is a nursery school worker. Listen in and learn how she helped someone see something new is something he already knew.

This is Your Creative Purpose Podcast, episode 1 — See the Same Thing in a New Way. (6:42)

 

Music from Pixabay

What I Learned from the Library

Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

When I return books to the library, I would prefer to bring them inside and hand them to a staff member.

In doing so, I’m trying to be … I don’t know … polite or helpful or faster in getting them back on the shelves for someone else. This is opposed to dropping them in the large container outside where it says “return books here.”

I’ve done it my way a few times, but a couple of times when I checked out later, my account was flagged for not returning a book.

This was a concern. I knew quite well that I had returned the book – and I denied not returning it. But you can’t argue with a record, and the record said I hadn’t returned the book.

So … what to do, what to do, what to do?

Well, I had a thought. I went to the shelves and looked for what I could see. And sure enough, I found the book in question right where it needed to be. I brought it to the staff member who’d alerted me to the flag and said, “See? I did return the book. Here it is.”

This happened twice before I understood what was probably going on. I was operating outside procedures and expecting someone else to do the same.

It makes sense, when you think about it.

When all the books are retrieved from “return books here,” there is a set procedure for checking them back in and returning them to the shelves. If a book is set on a counter, though, the person at the desk may get busy with the next patron, and the check-in step gets overlooked. Later, when the staff member turns his/her attention back to the book that’s still sitting there, it’s returned to the shelf without the official check-in.

So I don’t take the returned books inside anymore. I drop them outside where it says “return books here.”

One of the morals of this story is: don’t get mad at human nature when any of us could make the same mistake.

The other moral is: most of us operate better when we have set procedures, checklists, guidelines. And if you’re a solopreneur, the nice thing is, you can invent your own.

I like the procedures I’ve established for tending to my tasks, staying in front of my market, and moving forward on my goals. Structure frees me to get the things done that I’d like to do.

Minnie Lamberth is an author, content writer and creativity coach.

Is There Something Different about You?

What’s the one thing people think of when they think of your business? Is it consistent with how you see yourself?

I’m a writer for hire, and the fact that I’m a writer is fairly well established in my network of contacts (my referral pipeline). While I do want people to think of me as a writer when they have a project, having writing skills is not enough of a distinction.

In the world of marketing and communications where I’ve spent my career, most of my colleagues have writing skills. Many entered their fields with journalism or communications degrees. Plus, the designers I work with often write their own copy – and are pretty clear about how they want their messages crafted.

If I proclaim to the universe “I’m a writer,” I can almost hear an echo from everyone in my network: “So am I.”

Therefore, there must be something different about me. And this is it: In my client work, I make things easier for others to get their work done. These “others” are the ones under pressure to fill their member magazines, produce their newsletters, retool their websites, prepare their press releases, publish their books. They’ve got bosses, members or clients to please, and they’ve only got so much time to get their work done. When they’re overwhelmed, I make it easier for them to move forward.

This sense of ease isn’t an end product, however. It needs to run through everything I do. It’s easy to get in touch with me. I am easy to talk to about projects. The other side is that I’m not going to create hardships by missing a deadline or doing shoddy work or in any way embarrassing my contact related to his/her decision to hire me.

I didn’t know any of this when I started out. I thought (and believed) people would hire me because I’m a writer. I was wrong – not about my writing skills but about the reasons people hire others. I have never once convinced someone to hire me because I’m a writer. I have only been able to persuade those who have a problem to solve that I am an easy solution to the pressure they are under. Thus, understanding my unique selling position came from better understanding my clients.

So, what’s different about you? What is your identity as an entrepreneur that goes beyond your skill sets? What is the sweet spot, the secret ingredient, the illuminating benefit that separates you from your competitors and solves a client’s problem? Or what if this “competitor” is not another provider of the same service but the client’s reluctance? As I mentioned, my clients could do their own writing projects. Often my competitor is not another writer sneaking into my territory – but a client saying “I’ll just do it myself.”

Minnie Lamberth is a copywriter, content creator and creativity coach.

Taking a Break to Volunteer

Yesterday I took a break from my copywriting to volunteer with the Respite Ministry at First United Methodist Church. Other community-centered companies give their employees volunteer hours, so I figure I can give myself the same, even as a solopreneur.

For one of the activities, we set up four long church tables, pulling them together to form a much larger rectangle. We then covered them with long cloths and set up stacks of empty soft drink cans. The participants rolled (or threw) tennis balls to knock down the cans, and volunteers set them back up again.

I thought about calling the game “Tin Can Alley.” But then I thought maybe “Can ‘n Ball.” I could sort of see a logo and packaging. This was my writer’s mind meandering while engaged in other pursuits.

Volunteering is a chance to do something fun and helpful while it also gives a your brain a break, and I love how creative ideas come (even ones I’ll never use) when I’m not doing what I usually do.

Getting Real

I came home from my morning walk and found that my feline assistant Trixie had grabbed her favorite toy and gone back to bed. I get it. It’s January. The weather is dreary. And toys are nice.

I bought this scurrying creature for her at The Dollar Tree on her first birthday, and she has loved it now for more than two years.

I’ll find it in my closet, on my desk chair, on a table, in the middle of the floor, and, quite often in the mornings, I’ll realize she brought it to the top of my bed in the middle of the night.

For a time, this toy had a little mechanical device within it. When you pulled the tail, it supposedly scurried like a mouse. That device is long gone – loved away through lots of jumps and carries from here to there.

To Trixie, I think this toy has become real.

I didn’t know about The Velveteen Rabbit, a classic children’s story by Margery Williams, until I reached college. Somehow I missed the tale of the boy whose love made a stuffed rabbit real. But I heard friends talk about it.

People long remember stories they hear in childhood.

I think often about Stone Soup, where this man was in a village long ago making soup out of a stone that he’d put in a pot of water. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be a picture of a scam or a display of genuine leadership, but people kept saying things like, “Oh, I’ve got some carrots. Let me add that.” Or “Here’s a little meat. Would that help?” And the whole community comes together to make soup that everyone enjoys.

It’s a nice tale. So much can happen when we work together to serve others. Hope you’ll remember some nice stories today about love, or community, or some other good quality.