Tuesday, January 17, 2012
I won’t even pretend to explain the plot of Moneyball because what I know about baseball is this: you need a ball, a bat and four bases.
What I can tell you is Moneyball is a movie about a man who tried to do something different within an industry that thought he was all wrong. In the film, Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics implements a system called Moneyball—introduced to him by a squishy Yale graduate named Peter, played by Jonah Hill.
The system is designed to pick players based on the number of runs they are able to accumulate, and therefore the wins.
Everyone thought it was crazy. Then the team won 20 games in a row, never before accomplished in Major League Baseball.
There are 3 major lessons content strategists can learn from Moneyball and they have nothing to do with batting averages:
1. Ask the right questions.
In at least 2 scenes, Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) listens to a group of people arguing and responds to them, “You’re asking the wrong questions.” Then he boils down their problem to a question that better defines the challenge at hand.
If you’re a good content strategist, this happens to you on every project. Because your clients, or your boss, or someone on the executive team brings you a problem they think you can solve digitally. But very often, the problem as they have it defined is not the problem. Or, the problem does not have a digital solution.
Ask the right questions. Make sure you’re trying to solve the right puzzle.
2. The first one through a glass wall is the bloodiest.
At one point in the movie, the owner of the RedSox offers Billy Beane a job. Even though the team Billy managed didn’t make it to the World Series, the RedSox owner believes in what he’s trying to do.
The owner says to him “Any time you try to change things, people feel threatened and they knock you in the teeth for it. The first one through the glass wall gets the bloodiest.”
Content strategy is not really new. In fact, it’s the oldest job in the world—how do you get one group of people to march in one line on the same beat? Yet, very often, we’re seen as trying to do something radical, something that can’t be done, something that is worthless or impossible.
Epilogue to the movie? After applying these newfangled principles that everyone in baseball dismissed, the Boston RedSox won the World Series 2 years later.
3. Check to see if you’ve hit a home run.
When Billy Beane feels defeated after not advancing to the World Series, Pete shows him a video of one of their players who was terrified to run to second base at the start of the season. In the video, the player hits the ball 60 feet over the fence. The irony? The guy was so scared of running to second base that he falls on the turn and crawls back to first base. The other team has to tell him to look up and see the home run.
Effective content strategy is hard work. It’s a lot of heavy lifting and decisions. You don’t always know if you’re making the right ones. Change management is almost always involved.
Every once in a while look up and see that you’ve knocked it out of the park.
Maybe the baseball players were the ones who said it first: You have to celebrate the wins.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
We all make goals around this time of the year. The classic list—how do we make our new year more productive?
It’s only natural—beginnings feel so fresh.
However, for many of us, it’s hard to meet those goals. And, we are constantly adding new information to the blender of our imaginations. This causes many businesses to go off course, following strategies that months later look foolish.
So what are some tried and true things you can do to start 2012 off right?
1. Review your content marketing and content strategies. Look for holes. Talk to colleagues. Brainstorm. Set a meeting once a month to review again.
2. Imagine where you want to be a year from now. Real leaders invent the future. Where do you want to be? Set goals for the rest of the year that will get you to that point.
3. Look for new blood. Maybe your blog needs some guest posts. Or your content marketing agency is coming up with nothing innovative. Whatever, you do, look for things that spice up what you’re doing, not alter course.
4. Set aside once a week to read the experts. My daily influx of email and Twitter updates is overwhelming, but I set aside time every week to read those things that interest me. The rest I file into a folder for Read Later. You never know where the good ideas may come from and when you may need them.
5. Target one customer you really want to reach. Identify this person with a user persona or profile. Make sure something you’re doing in your content marketing mix will target that customer in 2012.
6. Pay attention to your analytics. Say goodbye to the days when you could pretend to ignore them. We’re moving toward a much more metric-driven industry. But…
7. Set the right indication measurements. It may be more than just interactions, followers and mentions. Every industry and company is different. Find a way to measure the things you REALLY need to know about how your customers are responding to you in cyberspace.
8. Take a beginner class again. Whatever it is that you do, you think you know the basics. You’re probably right. But this year, I took a refresher writing class and I learned so much. It opened my eyes to writing (something I do all day, every day) in a completely different way. And, even more importantly, it ignited my passion for writing again.
9. Schedule regular socialization time with your team. I don’t care if you schedule time everyTuesday at 4pm or once a month happy hours. Just make sure you change the scenery with the people you think with on a daily basis.
10. Try something crazy innovative once a quarter. We learn much more from our failures than our successes. Even more so, if we’re not OUT THERE, we’re not trying. Don’t be afraid of something outlandish; just don’t walk the fine line of offensive. You never know what you might learn and what new avenues might open up.
11. Pay attention to advances in design. Those affect content the way a bad economy affects presidential popularity. With mobile and content delivery platforms changing rapidly, you cannot afford to be clueless about the latest advances in design delivery.
12. Trust your instincts. This might not be a check off for your “What to Do in 2012” but it’s an important rule to remember. If something in you says it’s not right, listen to that instinct.
I’d love to hear if you have something you plan to focus on in 2012.
Happy New Year!