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The Power of a Pause: More Effective Than Words? [The Weekly Wrap]

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And that’s a wrap of the week ending June 12, 2020

This week I’m wondering whether we wait too long or long enough to speak. I share a fresh take on research into content paywalls. Randy Wootton of Percolate stops by to talk about how brand publishing is changing. And I share an article that says content marketers must use this moment to push back against racism and inequity.

Listen to (or watch) the Weekly Wrap

Our theme this week is the power of the pause. As Margaret Wheatley wrote, “We pause long enough to look more carefully at a situation, to see more of its character, to think about why it’s happening, to notice how it’s affecting us and others.”

“We pause long enough to look more carefully at a situation, to see more of its character, to think about why it’s happening, to notice how it’s affecting us and others,” wrote Margaret Wheatley. Via @Robert_Rose and @CMIContent #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

Let’s wrap it up.

Listen to the episode (time stamps apply to the audio version):

Watch it, too:

One deep thought: Get comfortable with silence (4:00)

One of the greatest skills humans have is the art of conversation. We know instinctively how to converse with just about anyone.

I’m not talking about the art of what we say. People’s conversational skill levels at keeping others engaged vary. I’m talking about the ability to optimize the gaps – the length of silence between the end of my words and the beginning of yours.

Researchers have found this innate skill isn’t dependent on language or culture. While there are some differences in the cadence of languages, humans on average wait about 200 milliseconds between speakers.

This phenomenon is so ingrained that people notice when there are misplaced gaps. When you take too long to respond, your significant other might ask, “Are you paying attention?” If you answer too quickly, your honesty may be questioned.

But when it comes to digital communication, we don’t have this skill level. There are no standards or even instincts when it comes to how quickly we should respond to an email, text, social media message, or a comment on a post.

Marketers are often tempted by technology to shorten the time until it’s their turn to speak to customers. Software lets someone immediately call or email a prospect who downloaded a white paper. But should you?

AI chatbots allow companies to reply instantly to just about any customer query. But should you use them that way?

Should you wait until you have every answer before responding to that question on social media? Or should you respond immediately, letting them know of your intention to have a more valuable response for them in time?

In marketing, we often talk about delivering the right message to the right customer at the right time. As we work on more artful, real-time conversations, remember – there may be just as much value in delivering the right pause at the right time.

A fresh take on the business model of content (9:42)

This week’s news item comes from an FIPP study covered on What’s New In Publishing: Give the Customer Many Reasons To Come Back: Insights from FIPP’s Report on Paywall Strategy.

It caught my eye because it offers so many correlations with where I see marketing and content registration paywalls today.

The article opens by noting the decline in print circulation and advertising, which traditionally made up 70% of magazine revenue: “PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates a 6.2% decline in print advertising, and a 1.6% decline in print circulation worldwide for consumer magazines from 2017 to 2022.

“It also predicts a 5.8% increase in digital advertising and a 5.5% growth in digital subscriptions during the same period.”

And that’s why, the article notes, publishers are developing portfolios made up of subscription, advertising, event, product, and other revenue sources.

One example the article points out is Dennis Publishing, which expanded from car-enthusiast publishing and acquired BuyACar.Co.Uk and Now they’re one of the U.K.’s leading car purchase and finance platforms, with an amazing 21% of all online U.K. motoring spend.

The article also talks about Meredith and Hearst, two publishing giants that now make money through retail sales with their advertising partners and through their own product divisions.

Why are they doing this? Per the article: “The real-time data collection, analysis. and targeting is the glue that keeps customers engaged with relevant information.”

That’s the content marketing business, too. Publishers are discovering that creating an ecosystem of content and adding direct sales of product is a way to balance a portfolio. Product and service companies are discovering that adding a layer of content to their products and services can produce a similarly balanced portfolio.

This week’s person making a difference in content: Randy Wootton (16:40)

My guest this week is Randy Wootton, chief strategy officer and president, Percolate, a Seismic company.

Randy’s been a leader and strategic innovator in the marketing technology industry for over 20 years. He and I have the gray hair to prove all that (and, as you’ll hear, we’ve got some common loves in our marketing history).

Prior to Percolate, he served as CEO of the predictive marketing platform Rocket Fuel. He serves on the board of directors at Guidant Financial and Rally Point Networks and is a graduate of Harvard Business School, St. John’s College, and the U.S. Naval Academy.

Randy and I talk about how being a brand publisher and marketer has evolved over the last 20 years – and how the pandemic crisis is changing it yet again.

Here’s a sneak peek at one of Randy’s insights:

Go hire those English teachers or those folks who are editors at magazines today so they can apply the editorial discipline. But (they also bring) a way of looking at the world when you’re telling long-form stories and narratives where you’re building on these themes, which is different.

Hire English teachers or magazine editors so they can apply editorial discipline, says @randy_wootton via @cmicontent. #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

Listen in, then get in touch:

  • Visit for content about B2B sales channel activation.
  • Read the blog at for content strategy and operations.

One content marketing idea you can use (32:38)

The post on CMI’s site that I’d love for you to take a look at is by CMI General Manager Stephanie Stahl. It’s called: Content Can Perpetuate Racism and Inequity. It’s Time to Do Better. In the article, Stephanie acknowledges the systemic racism that has brought us all to this moment in history and explains how we can all get started by reviewing the content we’ve produced and what’s coming up. It’s a great piece that comes from both the head and the heart, and I hope you’ll give it a read.

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The wrap-up

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute