You probably think of Thomas Edison as a great innovator, but did you know he was also a brilliant marketer? He foresaw the creation and evolution of markets, and he worked passionately to bring his beliefs to life.
While Edison didn’t use content marketing as we know it today to spread his ideas, there is a lot that we can learn from his formula for success as outlined in the book Innovate Like Edison: The Success System of America’s Greatest Inventor by Sarah Miller Caldicott.
One of his beliefs, the “Solution Centered Mindset,” describes his attitude that success is inevitable. There are five elements that he uses to describe this that I believe parallel great content marketing lessons:
Align Your Goals with Your Passions
Edison exuded passion. Absolutely exuded it. What is your company passionate about? I’m not asking about your products or your services – I’m asking what you are passionate about that exudes from the company on a daily basis. If you can’t answer this, then figuring it out is job number one before you even get to your content.
Customers, partners, clients and fans want to know what you stand for that they can emotionally connect to. Companies like Brains on Fire are brilliant at this. Your content should exude your passion, attract like-minded souls and give them a reason to believe in you. Since purchasing decisions are made with the gut and justified in the brain, this emotional connection is key to laying the groundwork with future customers, partners and clients.
Cultivate Charismatic Optimism
Edison was positive he could improve peoples’ lives, and that’s what he dedicated his life to achieving. Studies show that people buy for three reasons: out of fear, out of pain or because of an opportunity for gain. Does your content give your customers an optimistic sense that you can help them? If not, rethink it and make sure you address all three reasons. You never know which is driving the customer that comes to your site at any given time.
Seek Knowledge Relentlessly
Caldicott says Edison had an insatiable thirst to understand the world. Have an insatiable thirst to understand your customers. Make it easy for your customers to give you feedback on how you can better help them, by doing things such as these:
- Write a blog and encourage comments.
- Go to communities where your customers live and ask how you can help them.
- Create a wiki that customers can update with their insights and advice for each other.
Use this vast insight to create content that makes it hard for your customers to do without you!
Edison said, “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” If your content doesn’t connect with your customers give yourself permission to try something new. Try different approaches across brands and for very targeted customer groups. Perhaps customers looking at how your product can provide them an opportunity for gain might be open to a micro-site that doesn’t work for those buying out of fear. Just experiment.
Pursue Rigorous Objectivity
Edison is said to have trained himself to view the outcomes of his experiments as “neutral” rather than positive or negative. I don’t know about you but this is extremely hard for me! When I have an idea for content that I think will really resonate with customers I tend to “fall in love” with it. It is very difficult for me to look objectively at something that I am passionate about.
This is where Edison’s lessons come in handy – think of your overriding mission and don’t marry your content. Measure whether it’s meeting your customers needs and if not, change it up.
Do any of these elements resonate strongly with you? How will you apply them? Please let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your ideas!