By Michele Linn published February 12, 2016

Your Brand Needs a Point of View, But Do You?

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My 8-year-old daughter recently questioned her 4-year-old sister: “What’s your POV?”

Not surprisingly, my 4-year-old just looked at her, dumbfounded. She has no idea that POV means point of view or why a young child (or anyone) would need this.

The genesis of this conversation is (a bit embarrassingly) The Next Food Network Star that my older daughter and I watched over the holiday on Netflix.

If you aren’t familiar with this Food Network show, each contestant needs to identify his or her point of view and infuse it in everything he or she does. For instance, the season we watched had Lenny, the “gourmet cowboy,” rise to glory through many challenges that included describing food, going on live television, creating culinary experiences, and more.

I like that my 8-year-old is already thinking about how she is going to differentiate herself in whatever it is she decides to do (even if it’s not becoming a chef, which is her current ambition). We as marketers need to be doing this as well – regardless of what role we play. It’s not just something that brands or consultants need to do. It’s something that you – yes, you, dear marketer who works for a brand – need to do if you want to stand out in the sea of other marketers.

If you’re aiming for meaningful and enjoyable work, a POV can help you filter out opportunities that don’t fit your needs, hone in on roles that fit, and make you more interesting to employers. (And employers, if you are looking to hire someone, there are many positives to looking for someone who has a POV.)

What is your POV?

My interest in this subject stems from a conversation I had with Christoph Trappe during Content Marketing World. I wanted to chat with him because he’s one of those people who balances his personal brand – The Authentic Storyteller™ – with the work he does for his brand, MedTouch. Not only does he have a blog and a book about the subject, but it is this lens by which he evaluates his career:

My boss asked, ‘Where do you see yourself in 10, 15 years?’ Traditionally I would have said, ‘I want to be the VP somewhere. I want to be … whatever.’ Instead, I told her, ‘I’m going to be whatever I can to make the biggest impact on people telling their authentic stories.’

He goes on to explain:

The other day I had a recruiter call me and say, ‘We want you to lead our digital department.’ I said, ‘Tell me more.’ They said, ‘It includes PPC and SEM and design and …’ Instead of spending time considering, I was able to quickly respond, ‘I’m really honored.’ I didn’t even ask how much it paid or anything. Instead I realized it has nothing to do with what I actually want to do.

The-Authentic-Storytelling-Project

How to mesh your personal POV to help your brand

A related theme also surfaced at Content Marketing World: If you want to be hired for a content marketing job – or advance in your career – there is no better way than to choose a project/passion, communicate about it via a blog, podcast, a video series, etc., and build your audience.

People who seek awesome content marketing talent have told me they want people who are putting something together around their personal passions. Prospective employers recognize that people who publish content about a topic of personal interest and share their knowledge likely can apply that knowledge and tenacity to their brand.

My personal POV

Since these conversations, I have been thinking a lot about my point of view. What am I passionate about, what do I want my career to look like – and am I fulfilling it in my current job?

As I briefly wrote in our most recent CMI team SlideShare, if I could have any job, it would be helping people (specifically other moms) reinvent their careers and find the jobs (and lives) they want to live.

At first, this may not seem like something I am doing now as the vice president of content for CMI, but the more I thought about it, this is something I do every single day.

While there are many things I adore about CMI, the most gratifying feedback we receive from marketers is when they tell us that we are helping them find the career they want. It could be by giving them a way to describe what they have been doing for years or by giving them the skills to improve what they are doing so they can get the job they want. It’s even by helping them find their “people” who understand what they do so they can figure out challenges together.

This aha moment has given me a different perspective on how I write and how I plan editorial. (For instance, the bent of this post is intended to help you find the life you want to live, which is kind of meta.)

Instead of considering my vision as something I want to do “someday,” I have started to make small changes in what I write and how I present myself online. Here are examples of the updates I made to my Twitter bio and LinkedIn profile. It’s an evolution, certainly, but it’s nice to have a guiding light for my personal brand.

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Click to enlarge

Other personal points of view

There are many examples of small brands – and solopreneuers – who have a distinctive point of view. Joe describes this critical step as your content tilt. For instance, I love the example of Ann Reardon, the food scientist and baker who creates seemingly impossible creations such as a cake that looks like the Instagram logo. Or MatPat, the YouTube celebrity who has a channel called The Game Theorists.

However, I know many of you marketers who are working for brands may not think these individuals’ perspectives are relevant to your circumstance. Here are a few examples from your “people” who have a strong point of view that is integrated into the work they do for their brand.

LinkedIn’s Jason Miller has a POV around a topic seemingly unrelated to marketing, but it is part of everything he does – rock ‘n’ roll.

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As you can see here, Jason incorporates his rock-star attitude into everything he does:

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Click to enlarge

I have also really enjoyed watching Andrea Fryrear, who works for SurveyGizmo and MarketerGizmo, develop her personal brand that closely aligns with her marketing passion: Agile marketing.

I learned about Andrea’s passion for Agile last year at the Intelligent Content Conference. In short, she now is my go-to person for Agile marketing (with both writing and speaking) – and, as you can see in her Twitter bio, she writes for other digital publications as well. She consistently identifies herself with Agile marketing.

This is Andrea’s Twitter bio:

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And LinkedIn profile:

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And on her website:

Andrea-Fryrear-Agile-Marketer

The other part of the POV formula

There is another part of the formula, too: Stick-to-itiveness and a lot of hard work. As Christoph simply stated:

A lot of people want to build their own brand but very few people actually do it because it takes a lot of work. You have to be very passionate about it.

If your point of view isn’t evident, consider these steps that Minda Zetlin describes in a recent article on Inc., 9 Surprising Ways Just Being Yourself Can Make You Remarkably Successful.

Having a point of view is relatively simple – and necessary. My 8-year-old is thinking about this. How are you going to apply this to your life?

Want to learn more about how Andrea Fryrear has developed and implemented her personal brand? Chat with her at the Intelligent Content Conference this March. Use code BLOG100 to save $100 off of the main event and all-access passes.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Michele Linn

Michele is the Vice President of Content at the Content Marketing Institute. She is one of those people who truly loves what she does and who she works with. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

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  • Christoph Trappe

    Thanks for the inclusion, Michele.
    The short answer: Yes. Everyone needs a point of view and should live and then share their authentic stories. It’s the only way for people to stand out. Unless of course they want to blend in …. Not sure why people would want that but it’s an option. Blending in can be commoditized.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Thank you for the inspiration, Christoph! And great point about being a commodity with a solid point of view. That’s a good way to motivate people and help them think differently.

  • http://www.velocitypartners.co.uk/our-blog/ Doug Kessler

    Great post, with a strong, clear POV, Michele.
    Bravo.
    We evangelize the need for brands to have strong POVs too.
    A corollary is a strong world view: a clear perspective on what’s going on out there.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      High compliment coming from someone whose POV I always admire. And, yes, I’m a bit fan of brands having a POV as well. I am a huge fan of Joe’s content tilt approach where brands can figure out how to differentiate themselves: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/02/killing-content-marketing/

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • rogercparker

    Inspiring and provocative, thank you Michele. Love the examples.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Really appreciate it, Roger!

  • http://www.b2bmarketinginsider.com Michael Brenner

    Michele, Great post. This is something where I have a strong POV as well. I completely agree with the points you make. And I love how you presented your own POV in the context of passion and expertise and not just “where do you want to be in 5 years.” I also agree with Joe’s content tilt idea. My own POV as the “Marketing Insider” is to help brands develop effective content marketing programs from the perspective of someone who has lived and labored inside companies both large and small.

    In my own content marketing strategy engagements I warn my clients about too much “navel-gazing” and what I call the “POV trap.” The thinking goes a little something like this:

    1) Most brands spend too much time and money creating content about themselves. Why they are different, why they are great, etc. How many brands have positioning statements like “we are the leading provider of blah, blah, blah?”

    2) These positioning statements are intended to reflect differences, yet they all end up sounding the same. Most brands are stuck with a POV that is neither unique nor interesting in any way. It’s totally about them. And then their content reflects that. This is the trap: “We are different. So buy our stuff because we are different.”

    3) Content marketing only works when a brand truly commits to continuously helping their customers through content. That creates value that can be quantified. My advice: create content that makes you uniquely valuable.

    So, I agree with you 100% that a strong and unique POV is important. I agree with Joe that the content tilt is the only way to create content that is truly differentiated. But this should serve mostly as a lens through which a brand delivers value in their content. The focus must remain on customers.

    And here I go again, writing a blog post in a comment! I would love to hear your thoughts?

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      I always appreciate a great comment / blog post from you Michael.

      I couldn’t agree more that customers need to come first. But, to your point, if you only think about customers and aren’t considering your place of passion (if you will), you really risk having vanilla content. If I had a nickel for every time I saw (and cringed) at this mentality: “We are different. So buy our stuff because we are different.”

      I think brands absolutely need a with a distinct POV / content tilt. As Joe discusses, it’s that combination between what the customer wants and what the brand is distinctly passionate about. I don’t see this nearly as much as I would like, but I think forward-thinking brands are beginning to get it.

      Then, there are the people who work for these brands. By and large, I don’t know of many examples of people who have positioned themselves with a distinct POV. It seems — and I would love to be corrected — that many marketers associate themselves with their skills that help the brand, but they don’t consider their unique tilt — and how that may help them evolve.

      I see consultants and entrepreneurs doing this, and Joe’s Content Inc. is filled with those examples. But, I would love to see more people who work from brands and who are in the trenches thinking about their careers like this as well.

      Thoughts? Really appreciate the comment!

      • http://www.b2bmarketinginsider.com Michael Brenner

        I completely agree Michele. You can’t have one without the other. It’s also why I define content marketing as the overlap and intersection between your Brand Mission (POV) and Customer Interests.

        If all you do is focus on your POV, you can get lost in the trap of thinking and speaking of only yourself. Today’s consumers (we) tune this out. If all you do is focus on customer interests, you create videos of kittens and puppies that don’t differentiate.

        It’s an important balance. And the brands that do it well pivot from there passion (what they love) and expertise (what they are good at). Thanks for forwarding the conversation!

  • Paul Mattioli

    Great read – thanks Michele! I have the unique and intricate role of selling to marketers – so having to build an authentic POV is necessary for me to encourage my clients to do the same for their brands/content/thought leaders/etc.
    I think Minda Zetlin’s Inc. piece says a lot about how pent up many personal and commercial POVs really are… Can you imagine that you have to show someone 9 different ways to success by being yourself?!
    Thanks again – I’m off to be authentic and encourage new clients to do the same before the weekend…

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Love it, Paul. Thanks for the comment!

  • http://www.wordspicturesweb.com/ Buddy Scalera

    Great post. You bring up great points, but they really resonate because you put enough of yourself into them to be authentic. POV extends into every aspect of our personal and professional brands, and of course, the brands we represent. More like this.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Thanks so much, Buddy. You are another marketer who has a unique and authentic POV. I love how you bring your knowledge and passion about comic books and visual design into everything you do. Appreciate the comment!

  • theo zatko

    Actually I listened to Jason speak at B2B Forum and was turned off by his POV. While it provided an entertaining presentation I found it to be self absorbed and could not get past the ego. Rock on bro…

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      I think POV’s are subjective. What appeals to one person may not appeal to another. The point of this article is to get you thinking about why you may need one. Thank you for your comment.

  • Ben chapman-smith

    Great post! Thanks Michele. What are your thoughts on building a strong personal brand when just starting out? Is that the best time to think about/develop your point of view? My wife and I started our copywriting business last year. I worry that if we made ourselves ‘niche’ in some way, we might end up with a shortage of work. We want to (eventually) develop a strong personality, and clear values about who we work with, but we’re also new to the game so don’t want to be fussy about our clients. Keen to get your advice.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Hi Ben,
      Your POV doesn’t need to align specifically with your services / niche. For instance, I look at what I do — and any future opportunities — under the lens of helping people live the life they want to live. This can take so many forms.

      Additionally, your POV can definitely evolve as you take on more work and figure out what you love. There may be a thread you may find running through why you love working with different clients. It’s completely OK to shift as you learn more about yourself and what you love to do.

      Best of luck to you and your wife!

      • Ben chapman-smith

        Thanks Michele. That’s really helpful advice and sits nicely with our approach right now. I can definitely see our POV changing as we become more experienced and thus, can afford to be more fussy.