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Are You Squeezing Out All the Big Ideas and Great People? [The Weekly Wrap]

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And that’s a wrap of the week ending July 3, 2020

This week I’m wondering whether we’re squeezing out all the big ideas. I talk with Manifest Executive Chairman David Brown about whether we’re squeezing out all the great people. And I point to an article that offers 18 ideas to squeeze yourself out of writer’s block.

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Our theme this week is big ideas. As John Maynard Keynes wrote, “The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones …”

Listen to the episode:

Let’s wrap it up.

One deep thought: Leave room for human time (3:09)

Read then write. Use the time in between for what’s important.

A little more than 20 years ago I helped manage what was then considered an innovative company: a website development agency (yes, really).

I worked with a brilliant programmer who taught me some of the basics of programming and writing code (it didn’t stick). He told me that, at its core, computer technology was either reading data or writing data. “Whether anything interesting happens in the middle,” he said, “is all on me.”

Marketers rely more and more on technology to execute and measure smarter and bigger content efforts. According to Chief Marketing Technologist’s Scott Brinker, there are now more than 8,000 marketing solutions, as he illustrates in Martech 5,000 Landscape. Twenty percent of the 2020 list didn’t exist last year, and 8.7% of the 2019 list no longer exists. The fastest-growing category by far is data.

There are now more than 8,000 #marketing solutions, according to the Martech 5,000 Landscape via @chiefmartec. @CMIContent #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

Martech affects the entire process by which enterprises create content. But, more importantly, it reshapes what we create. Every part of the content creation process has a tech-driven component. Technologies can now tell us what concepts we should focus on, help us collaborate to turn those concepts into content, and suggest words, images, and narratives to best express those ideas to a specific audience.

Why do we need every possible content creation process gap filled with technology?

In a word: time.

Content practitioners are under more time pressure than ever. According to the 2019 Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising (the 2020 version comes out soon), technologies such as artificial intelligence, customer data platforms, blockchain for advertising, and real-time marketing are the most popular new technologies. These all speak to the desire to optimize every millisecond of our workday.

Being a real-time human marketer is a silly notion. It would require omnidirectional senses, super-hero processing speed, and the delusion that we can create meaningful ideas in less than the blink of an eye.

Being a real-time human marketer is a silly notion, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

But this expectation explains the pressure for more and more technology. We’ve deployed the technology to read and write faster. Now we’re trying to squeeze what happens in the middle – human creativity – into as small a gap as possible.

There lies the irony. The smaller we make the gap between reading and writing, the smaller the ideas must be to fit within it.

The smaller the gap between reading and writing, the smaller the idea to fill it, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

I talk about the opportunity one company missed because its big idea didn’t fit with its specialized tech platform – and other reasons why marketers should focus on widening (rather than shortening) the gap between read and write.

This week’s person making a difference in content: David Brown (9:28)

My guest this week is David Brown, executive chairman of Manifest, which was named 2019 Content Marketing Agency of the Year. David started in the direct marketing world at OgilvyOne and moved to the content marketing arena 15 years ago. He led Meredith Xcelerated Marketing; the agency won multiple awards, including Content Marketing Agency of the Year in 2014 and 2015, and was recognized in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for global digital agencies. Under David’s watch, MXM became one of the largest independent agencies in the United States. Before joining Manifest in 2020, David was chief strategy officer at OneSpot, a content personalization platform, where he helped establish a new approach to content measurement called Active Content Intelligence.

David has worked in London, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, so he has a broad perspective on the role of content in building brands and businesses.

David and I talked about the impact of the recent decision to block H-1B visa applicants the rest of this year from coming to the United States. We also talked about why big ideas are needed now.

Here’s a preview of what David had to say:

Content is the means to the end – the means to meeting an audience need. What great content teams do better than anyone else is understanding what the audience needs and the insight that their brand can uniquely answer. That may make us more strategic and less executional because we have as much right to owning the insight as anyone else.

#Content is the means to meet an audience’s need, says David Brown of @Manifest_Agency via @CMIContent. #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

Listen in, then learn more about David:

  • Visit (and subscribe to the agency’s weekly newsletter called itch).
  • Watch David’s recent presentation on big ideas.
  • Google David Brown content to find more ways to learn about and connect with him.

One content marketing idea you can use (31:01)

The one post on CMI’s site I’d love for you to take a look at this week is updated from a 2018 article: 18 Ideas to Overcome Your Writer’s Block.

CMI’s Ann Gynn asks a question we all know the answer to: “Do you ever want to curse the cursor when you’re in a slump?” Then she shares ideas from fellow marketers to help you get out of your creative content marketing slump.

Here’s one that works for me: Pick up your pen and just start drawing. I draw and doodle whatever comes to mind, and that often helps me start coming up with new ideas. What works for you?

Love for our sponsor: Sitecore

As the well-known marketing saying goes, “Content is king.” And with organizations having to rely on their digital channels more than ever these days to reach customers, creating and publishing effective and engaging content has taken on a whole new level of importance.

Sitecore recently held its inaugural Virtual Marketer Day, and one of the tracks was dedicated to helping organizations better manage their content – from beginning to end.

There is a new post-event guide titled “Understanding the end-to-end content lifecycle,” with practical steps you can take to optimize your content engine and personalize digital experiences for your customers.

Download the guide today.

The wrap-up

I hope you’re enjoying the big ideas we cover in this show. I’m always striving to improve it. If you have thoughts about what you’d like to hear about or guests you’d like to hear from, let me know in the comments. And if you love the show, I’d sure love for you to review it or share it. Hashtag us up on Twitter: #WeeklyWrap.

To listen to past shows, go to the main Weekly Wrap page.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute