Six questions your content creator should ask you

If you want a content creator to write for your business, do you just say “Write this, and make it viral”?

Not THAT viral. (Too soon?) By Alexey Solodovnikov (Idea, Producer, CG, Editor), Valeria Arkhipova (Scientific Сonsultant) – Own work. Scientific consultants:Nikitin N.A., Doctor of Biological Sciences, Department of Virology, Faculty of Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University.Borisevich S.S. Candidate of Chemical Sciences, Specialist in Molecular Modeling of Viral Surface Proteins, Senior Researcher, Laboratory of Chemical Physics, Ufa Institute of Chemistry RASArkhipova V.I., specialization in Fundamental and Applied chemistry, senior engineer, RNA Chemistry Laboratory, Institute of chemical biology and fundamental medicine SB RAS, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=104914011

Six words of instruction will not result in great content.

Even if you just say “Write this” and leave off the viral part, this will not work either.

You and your content creator have to have a shared understanding of what the content will be.

For example, as I indicated in a previous post, you and your content creator have to agree on the tone of voice to use in the content. The content creator could write something in a tone of voice that may not match your voice at all, which would mean that the content would sound horribly wrong to your audience.

Imagine a piece for financial executives written in the style of Crazy Eddie. Ouch.

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml6S2yiuSWE

And that’s just one thing that could go wrong when you and your content creator are not on the same…um, page.

Bredemarket’s content creation process includes six questions

When Bredemarket works with you to create content, I use a content creation process. I’ve revised my original content creation process several times, and I’m sure I’ll revise it more as I work with more of you.

But as of today, Bredemarket’s kickoff meetings with clients begin with six high-level questions that set the scene for everything that follows.

Question One: Why?

As I noted in my Simon Sinek post, the “why?” question needs to be answered before any other question is asked.

Before you ask a content creator to write a case study about how your Magnificent Gizmo cures bad breath, you need to understand why you’re in the good breath business in the first place. Did you have an unpleasant childhood experience? Were you abandoned at the altar? WHY did you care enough to create the Magnificent Gizmo in the first place?

(As I write this post, I’m going to look at how each of these six questions can be answered for the post itself. After all, it’s fair to ask: Why does Bredemarket do what it does? Short answer: because I write. You can pry my keyboard out of my cold dead hands. For the longer answer, read the “Who I Am” page on the Bredemarket website.)

Question Two: How?

You also need to make sure your content creator can explain how you do what you do. Have you created your own set of algorithms that make breath good? Do you conduct extensive testing with billions of people, with their consent? How is your way of doing things superior to that of your competitors?

(Now if you’re asking the “how” of Bredemarket, my content creation process is the “how.” After these initial six questions, there are other things that I do, and things that you do. Here’s how I create content of 400 to 600 words. Here’s how I create content of 2,800 to 3,200 words.)

Question Three: What?

Once these are clear in your mind, you’re ready to talk about the “what.” As Sinek notes, many people start with the “what” and then proceed to the “how,” and may or may not even answer the “why.” But when you ask the “why” first and the “how” second, your “what” description is much better.

(Again, you may be asking what Bredemarket does. I craft the words to communicate with technical and non-technical audiences. For additional clarification, read “What I Do,” which also notes what I don’t do. Sorry, finger/face/ID document vendors.)

Question Four: Goal?

Once the Golden Circle is defined, we’re ready to dig a little deeper into the specific piece of content you want. We’re not ready to talk about page count and fonts, yet, though. There’s a few other things we need to settle.

What is the goal of the content? Simple awareness of the product or service you provide? Or are you ready for consideration? Or is it time for conversion? The goal affects the content dramatically.

(In the case of this post, the goal is primarily awareness, but if you’re ready for conversion to become a paying customer, I won’t turn you away.)

Question Five: Benefits?

I’ve written ad nauseum on the difference between benefits and features, so for this question five about benefits I’ll just briefly say that written content works best when it communicates how the solution will help (benefit) the customer. A list of features will not make a difference to a customer who has specific needs. Do you meet those needs? Maintain a customer focus.

(Bredemarket’s primary benefit is focused content that meets your needs. There are others, depending upon your industry and the content you require.)

Question Six: Target Audience?

This one is simple to understand.

  • If you’re a lollipop maker and you’re writing for kids who buy lollipops in convenience stores, you’ll write one way.
  • If you’re a lollipop maker and you’re writing to the convenience stores who could carry your lollipops, you’ll write another way.

Now sometimes content creators get fancy and create personas and all that (Jane Smith is a 54 year old single white owner of a convenience store in a rural area with an MBA and a love for Limp Bizkit), but the essential thing is that you understand who you want to read your content.

(This particular piece is targeted for business owners, executives, directors, and managers, especially in California’s Inland Empire, who have a need to create focused content that speaks to their customers. The target audience not only affects how I am writing this post, but also how I will distribute it.)

What if you use a different content creator?

I am forced to admit that not everyone chooses Bredemarket to create their content.

  • Maybe you create your content yourself.
  • Maybe you already have access to content creators.
  • Or maybe you have a limited budget and can only pay a penny a word to your content creator. Let’s face it, a five dollar blog post does sound attractive.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use these six questions. I did publish them, after all, and they’re based on questions that others have asked.

If you create your own content, ask yourself these six questions before you begin. They will focus your mind and make your final content better.

If you have someone else create your content, make sure that you provide the answers for your content creator. For example, if you seek a content creator on Upwork or Fiverr, put the answers to these questions in your request for quotes. Experienced writers will appreciate that you’re explaining the why, how, what, goal, benefits, and target audience at the very beginning, and you’ll get better quotes that way. If someone knows your target audience is crime scene examiners, then you’ll (hopefully) see some quotes that describe the writer’s experience in writing for crime scene examiners.

And if you provide the answers to those six questions and your content creator says, “That doesn’t matter. I write the same for everyone,” run away.

You’ve probably seen the film. By Wikifan75 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29042440

Maybe the resulting content will even go viral. (The good viral.)

What if you want to use Bredemarket?

Or perhaps you’ve decided that you don’t want to trust your content to someone on Upwork and Fiverr, and you want to work with me instead. After all, I can help you with white paperscase studiesblog postsproposal responses, or other written content. (Well, unless the written content involves finger, face, driver’s license, or related identity services. There’s the day job, you know.)

Ah, we’ve moved from awareness to consideration. Great.

If I can work with you to create your written content, please contact me.

And to make our meeting even smoother, start thinking about the answers to the six questions I posed above.

Donning…archetypes?

I have done a little bit of acting in my life, and have learned that acting often involves removing aspects of yourself and replacing them with aspects of your character. Just like donning a mask to cover parts of your head.

By JamesHarrison – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4873863

Perhaps the character you are playing as an actor may be dramatically different from your own self. To my knowledge, Carroll O’Connor did not insult non-white people like his character Archie Bunker did.

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3gHj5LHB6s

Yet at the same time, the character necessarily acquired some traits from the actor, and the actor identified with the character.

When we spoke to (O’Connor) prior to his death, he explained to us that he constantly had to battle writers who thought they understood the character better than he did.

From https://www.hollywoodoutbreak.com/2022/09/13/carroll-oconnor-the-burdens-of-being-archie-bunker/

But this post is not about “All in the Family.” It’s about “All in the Business.”

When a business’ archetype is not your own

I’ve previously written about archetypes before, in the August 2021 post “Why is Kaye Putnam happy that I’m IGNORING her marketing advice?” That post describes how I took an online test to see which of twelve brand archetypes matched the personality of Bredemarket, and also myself. The results clearly showed that I was primarily aligned with the Sage archetype.

From https://bredemarket.com/2021/08/05/why-is-kaye-putnam-happy-that-im-ignoring-her-marketing-advice/

For those unfamiliar with the Sage archetype, Kaye Putnam explains:

Primary Goal of the Sage Brand Archetype: To understand the world and teach others what you know. To seek and share the truth.

From https://www.kayeputnam.com/brand-archetype-sage/

So when left to my own devices, I tend to get somewhat curious, investigative, and explanatory.

But we can’t always be left to our own devices, and sometimes I have to don the mask of a different archetype.

Such as a maverick.

By Warner Brothers Television – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30035548

No, not that guy. THIS guy.

By Alberto Korda – Museo Che Guevara, Havana Cuba, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6816940

(Ignore the political ramifications. Stay with me here.)

So how do you doff a “Sage” mask and don a “Maverick” mask, or perform some other archetype switch?

You need to understand the brand archetype you are targeting, and consciously adapt your communication to fit that archetype rather than your own.

So perhaps I might write a sentence like this in my normal Sage mode:

Finding the perforations in the wrapper, I carefully unwrapped the ice cream sandwich.

But how would a Maverick open an ice cream sandwich?

Removing the barriers that separated me from the final product, I boldly unwrapped the ice cream sandwich.

In the past, I guess I’ve subconsciously absorbed the tone of voice for a client or employer for whom I was writing, but in most cases I never thought of this in archetype terms.

What is your archetype? And should you care?

So when Bredemarket starts to write something for you, should you fret and fuss over what your archetype is?

If you feel like it. But it’s not essential.

What is essential is that you have some concept of the tone of voice that you want to use in your communication.

And how do you know what tone you want to use? You have to answer some questions.

To be continued

Users are not stupid; systems are

For years, I have been working with computer systems that are used by people. Sometimes I forget that, but then someone like Mike Rathwell reminds me of this fact. Just like Jake Kuramoto reminded me of that fact 12 years ago. It’s all about customer focus, after all.

Mike Rathwell says that users are not stupid

Mike, a former coworker of mine whom I’ve mentioned before, just wrote an article fpr Modus Create entitled “Why ‘Techsplaining’ is a Bad Idea for System Admins.”

Rathwell begins by asking why people administer Atlassian systems (or, frankly, any system).

…the real reason we are around to administer this particular system is because real humans are using this system to do real things. Without humans using this system to do real things, administering it is purely an academic exercise. As such, we are here to ensure that this particular system supports, and continues to support, doing these things.

From https://moduscreate.com/blog/system-admin/?utm_content=221412142

Fine, and water is wet. So what?

Perhaps there are those that think that the users of an Atlassian system are required to serve the needs of the system. That’s backwards. The Atlassian system is required to serve the needs of its users.

Even if they do stupid things and ask stupid questions.

For those who think “Dumb and Dumber” is too complicated, there’s always the panned prequel. The poster art can or could be obtained from New Line Cinema. Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3132477

Except they don’t.

Rathwell emphasizes that users do NOT ask stupid questions.

Be sure to read the rest of the article, which states that “techsplaining” is a bad idea also.

But I’m going to travel back in time to another instance in which users were called “stupid.”

Jake Kuramoto says that users are not stupid

Perhaps some of you remember this one.

Most of us access social platforms by performing some type of “login” process. Now logins can take many different forms (password, fob, biometric, whatever), but the process is basically the same.

  • You go to a place on the Internet.
  • You “login.”
  • You are now able to access your social platform of choice.

Now some of us intuitively understand how to “go to a place on the Internet” and “login.”

And back in 2010, there was a group of people who had a sure-fire method of doing this. Specifically, they would go to this thing on their computer (they didn’t know what it was called, but it was on the computer), type “facebook login,” click on the link that came up, type in their login and password, and access Facebook.

Now “this thing on their computer” was the Google search page in their web browser of choice. And they would search for “facebook login,” and the first search result would happen to be facebook.com. Once they made it to facebook.com, they would type in their login and password.

This was a method that people had perfected, and it worked 100% of the time.

Until it didn’t.

Here’s Jake’s summary of what happened:

The short version is:

ReadWriteWeb posted “Facebook Wants to Be Your One True Login“.

Google indexed the post.

The post became the top result for the keywords “facebook login”.

People using Google to find their way to Facebook were misdirected to the post.

The comments on the post were littered with unhappy people, unable to login to Facebook.

From http://theappslab.com/2010/02/11/these-are-our-users/

(Incidentally, if you go to Kuramoto’s post, you’ll find a link to the ReadWriteWeb article. That link no longer works, primarily because ReadWriteWeb is now ReadWrite. Maybe the spiders sued. The current link as of 2022 is https://readwrite.com/facebook_wants_to_be_your_one_true_login/.)

So what broke down? When a new page became the top search result, people would NOT end up at facebook.com, but would instead end up at a ReadWriteWeb blog post. This blog post did NOT have anywhere to enter your Facebook login and password. So…Facebook is broken!

Now most if not all of the people reading my post right now know that you need to go to the facebook.com URL to log in to Facebook, and that you cannot log in to Facebook via (then) readwriteweb.com. But then again, the people that are reading my post right now actually know what the acronym “URL” means. (If you don’t, it stands for Uniform Resource Locator.)

Now find someone who doesn’t know the difference between a computer monitor and a web browser and explain to that person what a Uniform Resource Locator is.

Now there were two schools of thought on the whole ReadWriteWeb / Facebook login episode.

The one school of thought maintained that anyone who thought that they could login to Facebook via ReadWriteWeb was stupid, and that everybody should know to bookmark the facebook.com URL or type it into their browser rather than searching and running into an unbelievably successful SEO campaign.

But that school assumed that everyone knew what a URL is, or what SEO is. (Search engine optimization. Try explaining that one while you’re explaining Uniform Resource Locator.)

And Jake, despite his technical chops (he was with the Oracle AppsLab when he wrote this post), stated the same thought that Mike Rathwell would echo twelve years later.

I think it’s fair to say that computers shouldn’t make people feel stupid. 

From http://theappslab.com/2010/02/11/these-are-our-users/

I say that users are not stupid

If you want to get to your favorite social platform, you shouldn’t have to know acronyms like SEO or URL or HTTPS. The only thing that you need to know is the name of the platform you want to access. (Otherwise you’ll end up at MySpace. Or Grindr.)

I’ll take it one step further. If the myriad of systems that make up your computer can’t figure out what you want to do, then it’s the computer and its many systems that are stupid, not you.

Now I just have to take Rathwell’s message to heart and avoid “techsplaining” myself.

And when I write, I need to continuously keep my customers (or, more accurately, my customers’ customers) in mind. I’m writing for them, not for me. Create messages that resonate with them. And if the audience is non-technical, don’t assume that they know what SEO and URL and HTTPS mean.

Ajay Patel, Sarah Kane, and the Mob

Last week I enjoyed a three-day vacation from my day job, so I had the opportunity to join SMA’s weekly Town Hall. (I am still officially an SMA Associate, on inactive status.)

SMA Town Halls usually begin with an “Art Talk,” and last week’s Art Talk focused on art in Las Vegas.

Coincidentally, I was leaving for Las Vegas later that day.

Sarah Kane’s presentation last week covered the Mob Museum.

Coincidentally, I had reservations to visit that museum on Saturday.

When I shared this in the Town Hall chat, Ajay Patel requested that I share pictures of my visit. Here they are.

This parking lot wall depicts the history of Las Vegas. Kane had nicer pictures in her Art Talk; cars obscured much of the wall when I visited.

The museum is located in a historic Post Office building that also hosted a courtroom. More on that later.

Mugshots, early 20th century.

This wall was the backdrop from Chicago’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929. The bricks were subsequently relocated to Las Vegas.

If you don’t know why this ticket from the 1919 World Series is in the National Mob Museum, look it up.

Lest you think that all mob activity was centered in Chicago, there may have been a little mob activity in Las Vegas also. Some of the casinos from the 1940s and later had questionable financing (and questionable accounting), and the aforementioned courtroom was the site of hearings chaired by Senator Estes Kefauver.

If you’ve worked for a couple of facial recognition/video surveillance companies (the I and N companies come to mind), you’ve probably compared a picture from an early Whitey Bulger arrest to a later picture of Bulger. He ended up in prison in his later years, and did not survive the experience.

El Chapo was in a Mexican prison but escaped. He’s in SuperMax now.

I finished my visit to the Mob Museum in a speakeasy. Special medicines may or may not have been consumed. Sorry, no pictures of any alleged consumption.

Who’s laboring on Labor Day?

Bredemarket has always restricted its business to the United States. (Lately I’ve focused more on California’s Inland Empire West, but that’s another story.) So everyone in my target market is celebrating Labor Day today.

Theoretically.

It’s important to note that most other countries celebrate the contributions of labor on May 1, but for several reasons the United States chose a different day. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO page that explained this no longer exists, but I quoted from that page in a tymshft post a decade ago:

Despite the popularity of May Day and the appeal of an international holiday, the American Federation of Labor pushed to secure Labor Day as America’s primary celebration of its workers. This was due to the more radical tone that May Day had taken. Especially after the 1886 Haymarket riot, where several police officers and union members were killed in Chicago, May Day had become a day to protest the arrests of anarchists, socialists, and unionists, as well as an opportunity to push for better working conditions. Samuel Gompers and the AFL saw that the presence of more extreme elements of the Labor Movement would be detrimental to perception of the festival. To solve this, the AFL worked to elevate Labor Day over May Day, and also made an effort to bring a more moderate attitude to the Labor Day festivities. The AFL, whose city labor councils sponsored many of the Labor Day celebrations, banned radical speakers, red flags, internationalist slogans, and anything else that could shed an unfavorable light upon Labor Day or organized labor.

From https://tymshft.com/2012/05/01/the-american-perspective-on-may-day-or-i-am-not-a-commie/

So for over a century, most Americans have chosen to celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in September.

Well, some Americans.

I took a walk.

My employer for my day job is closed today (at least for its U.S. workers), so I kinda sorta took it a bit leisurely, waking up at…5:35 in the morning.

You see, this is the last week of my company’s wellness challenge, and because of the current heat wave in Southern California, I wanted to get my walking in while the temperatures were still in double digits (on the Fahrenheit scale; that’s something else that Americans do differently than the rest of the world).

I didn’t take any pictures of myself walking today, but here’s one that I took Saturday while I was walking inside (at the Ontario Mills indoor mall).

At Ontario Mills, Saturday, September 3, 2022. It was about 25 degrees cooler inside than it was outside.

Other people were working.

But while I took my early morning Labor Day walk, I ran across a lot of people…working.

  • There were the people at the Starbucks in downtown Ontario, busily supplying breakfast sandwiches and drinks to people.
  • There was the woman at a 7-Eleven in Ontario, letting me hydrate with a cold drink. (She may have been the owner, but owners deserve a day off too.)
  • Finally, I passed two men who have been working on and off on a residential wall, and today was apparently one of the “on” days. I hope they’re not working in the afternoon.

The truth is that, even in the midst of COVID, the entire workforce can’t shut down entirely. Some people have to work on days when many people don’t work. Remember that even in “blue law” states, preachers certainly work on Sundays.

Me too.

But still my morning walk was somewhat relaxing, because even though it was a weekday, I didn’t have to end the walk by 8:00 to start my day job. So while I got my steps in, I did so somewhat leisurely.

So what did I do after my walk was done?

Well, I did Bredemarket work.

  • I renewed my City of Ontario business license. (Online, of course, since city offices are closed for Labor Day.)
  • Right now I’m writing this post.
  • And after I write the post, there’s an email that I need to send.

So I guess I didn’t completely take the day off either.

But at least I’m not buliding a wall out of doors.

Oh, and I work on Saturday mornings also.

Of course, since I’m employed full-time, Bredemarket itself is a weekend job for me. My official office hours fall on Saturday mornings, for example.

While this is work, in a way it’s not work, because it’s a refreshing change from my normal work. (And since I enjoy my normal work, that isn’t so much work either. If you’re not working at something you enjoy, then you’re working.)

And if you don’t enjoy creating written content, let Bredemarket help you create it.

I can help you with white papers, case studies, blog posts, proposal responses, or other written content. (Well, unless the written content involves finger, face, driver’s license, or related identity services. There’s the day job, you know.)

If I can work with you to create your written content, please contact me.

Why Visionaries Keep Their Mouths Shut

(To the person who has been waiting for this post: yes, I finally got it out.)

I’ve followed Brian Brackeen for years, starting when I worked for IDEMIA. He posted the following observation on Saturday August 13:

Is anyone who puts visionary in their LinkedIn title actually a visionary?

From https://twitter.com/BrianBrackeen/status/1558463913771016193

Most if not all of us on Twitter agreed with Brackeen, with some noting that an exception should be granted for opthamologists and optometrists. My contribution to the discussion was to note that Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, didn’t call himself a visionary.

I also observed:

Actual visionaries probably DO think of themselves as such. Whether they explicitly say so publicly is another matter.

From https://twitter.com/JEBredCal/status/1558645370397175809

But there was something that I didn’t tweet regarding calling yourself a visionary. Namely, what visionaries say instead of saying “I’m a visionary.”

They’re more intent on communicating the vision, rather than their place as a visionary.

What Steve Jobs said about the successful iMac

Let’s go back to the 1990s, when Steve Jobs returned to the company then known as Apple Computer.

By Rob Janoff – This vector image was created by converting the Encapsulated PostScript file available at Brands of the World (view • download).Remember not all content there is in general free, see Commons:Fair use for more.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10326626

While some would probably disagree, many would argue that Steve Jobs was truly a visionary. Throughout his life, he shared several visions for technology, many of which changed the world.

One of those visions was Jobs’ vision of the iMac. People anticipated that Jobs’ return to the company he co-founded would result in some new insanely great thing. But when Jobs talked about the iMac, he didn’t say, “I’m Steve Jobs, and this is my next revolution.” Instead, he took a customer focus and talked about what his next revolution would do.

(The iMac) comes from the marriage of the excitement of the Internet with the simplicity of Macintosh. Even though this is a full-blooded Macintosh, we are targeting this for the #1 use consumers tell us they want a computer for, which is to get on the Internet, simply and fast.

From https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/08/15/apples-revolutionary-imac-is-20-years-old-and-still-going-strong

Nothing about “I am Steve Jobs.”

Nothing about “This is Apple Computer.”

No, his message was that consumers want to “get on the Internet, simply and fast.”

Of course, because it was Jobs, there also had to be a design component in the iMac, and this is the time that we learned that Jony could be spelled with only one “n” and no “h.”

By Stephen Hackett – 512 Pixels; license appears at footer, All iMac G3 images are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98724350

In some ways, the iMac message was more compelling because the consumer market was catching up with Jobs’ vision.

  • When the original Macintosh was introduced, the market wasn’t necessarily convinced that an easy-to-use computer was a necessity. (The market would take a few years to catch up.)
From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R706isyDrqI
  • Back when the first Apple I was introduced, the market didn’t necessarily believe that many people needed a home computer.
By Apple Computer Company, Palo Alto, CA. – Scanned from page 11 of the October 1976 Interface Age magazine by Michael Holley Swtpc6800, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14202549
  • But by the late 1990s, there was a strong desire for people to surf the World Wide Web on the Internet, and therefore people were more receptive to Jobs’ message.

What happened? The iMac was introduced, and while some predicted that the lack of a floppy drive would doom the product, it seemed that Internet access made the floppy drive less significant.

Oh, and one more thing:

Of course, (Ken) Segall also noted that the use of the “i” could later be adapted to future Apple products. Which, of course, it was.

From https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/08/15/apples-revolutionary-imac-is-20-years-old-and-still-going-strong

And Apple Computer changed its name, because it was no longer just an insanely great computer company.

What John Sculley said about the unsuccessful Knowledge Navigator…or was it actually a success?

Now at the time, critics could argue that Apple Computer lacked customer focus. After all, why release a computer that didn’t have a floppy drive? That’s as customer-unfriendly as releasing a non-DOS computer in 1984.

But there’s a difference between short-term customer focus and long-term customer focus.

There are many points in Apple’s long history in which it could have opted for the safe and sane approach. And perhaps that could have yielded a nice quarterly profit without pouring all that money into silly stuff, including the 1987 Knowledge Navigator concept video.

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umJsITGzXd0

Apple never built the Knowledge Navigator. I don’t think that even John Sculley expected Apple to build the Knowledge Navigator. And even if he had tried to get it built, the public loudly told him that the idea was stupid and he didn’t know what he was talking about.

But Sculley’s concept (for which he credited Alan Kay) had more customer focus than the customers of 1987 realized. Over the years, actual products were released that could trace their lineage back to Knowledge Navigator, ranging from Clippy to Google Assistant to Teams/Zoom/et al…

…to the iMac.

Sometimes it takes some time, and several visionaries, to realize the vision.

What Bredemarket says about communicating your vision

Perhaps you’re a visionary in the Inland Empire that is readying your own iMac or Knowledge Navigator or better pizza topping.

And you want to communicate your vision to potential customers via some type of written content.

But before you write a single word of that content, you need to ask yourself some questions (even for a short piece of content):

  • Why does your offering change your customers’ lives?
  • How will it change their lives?
  • What is the offering?
  • What is the goal of the piece of content?
  • What are the benefits (not the features, the benefits) of your offering?
  • Who is the target audience for this content?

When Bredemarket works with you to create written content, these are just some of the questions that I ask you to ensure that the final written product will achieve results.

If I can work with you to create your written content, please contact me.

I’ve never written a case study THIS detailed

I’ll admit that the case studies that I’ve produced, either under the Bredemarket name or under other names, have been relatively short in the two-page range. This is why I usually recommmend the Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service for clients who want my case study services.

But there’s no law that says that a case study has to be that short. If you want to create a 1,000 page case study, you’re certainly entitled to do so.

But what about a 17 page case study?

That’s the length of the case study that greenlining.org prepared on a program here in the City of Ontario.

Greenlining.org explains what the case study covers:

Since 2007, a coalition of residents, community-based organizations and the City of Ontario have been working together under the Healthy Ontario Initiative (HOI) to improve health outcomes and quality-of-life. HOI came together to address community health and build safe and vibrant neighborhoods, against a backdrop of high levels of poverty and chronic disease burdens. 

From https://greenlining.org/publications/2021/building-community-collaboration-tcc-case-study/

At 17 pages, the case study goes into a great deal of detail on a variety of initiatives, including Healthy Ontario and the Vista Verde Apartments near Holt and Grove. The apartment complex and other projects all fit within the goals of improving “health outcomes and quality-of-life.”

Read the case study for yourself (PDF).

Remote working obscures one fact about us

After spending three years in semi-remote work (I was in an office, but my boss was in a separate office across the country), followed by over two years of near-complete remote work, I’ve realized that there are critical differences between the remote work experience and the traditional in-office experience.

For example, I spent all day last Friday working in my shorts, and none of my coworkers was the wiser. This is something that I never would have done if I were in an office. (Decades ago, one of my former coworkers turned up in shorts on a casual Friday and received glares from one of the executive secretaries all day.)

In the remote workplace, we present our physical personas via the cameras on our computers and smartphones, and all of the context outside of the camera range is lost. This post highlights one of these pieces of context, highly critical in in-person interactions, but almost completely obscured in remote interactions. Is the loss of this piece of context important?

My observation at late 1990s Printrak

Before explicitly talking about this lost piece of context, let me go back 25 years to the days when I drove to work at 1250 Tustin Avenue in Anaheim every day.

In those days I worked in Proposals, and the Proposals Department was not too far from the executive offices. This is where Richard Giles, Dave McNeff, Dan Driscoll, and others at the VP level and above worked.

Passing by the executives in the halls, one thing was very apparent. Most of the executives were taller than me. I happen to be over 6 feet tall myself, so these other executives were very tall indeed.

This is not unique to Printrak. In 2004, when Printrak had been gobbled up by Motorola, a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology observed that for certain professions, there was a positive correlation between height and income.

…height was most predictive of earnings in jobs that require social interaction, which include sales, management, service and technical careers.

From https://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug04/standing

I should add a caveat that at Printak in the late 1990s, all of the executives except one were male. This skewed the height effect, since (as the study noted) the average height of women is shorter than the average height of men. (The study controlled for sex, as well as age, to compensate for these differences.)

But this doesn’t negate the fact that many executives are of above-average height…with some notable exceptions.

By Jacques-Louis David – zQEbF0AA9NhCXQ at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22174172

My observation at my 2022 home office

Which leads me to my observation about a key point of remote work.

I hope you’re sitting down as you read what I’m about to say.

Actually, that’s what I’m about to say. Most remote workers are seated.

For remote workers, the desk chair is the great equalizer. By Emiellaiendiay at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Sreejithk2000 using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10532585

During my years that I exclusively worked at my sole proprietorship Bredemarket, and during the subsequent months that I’ve been in full-time employment, I have never met most of my clients or coworkers in person. Unlike my coworkers and clients that I met in the hall in Printak’s Anaheim office, I have no idea if I’m taller or shorter than most of them. I have met some people at local events such as those sponsored by 4th Sector Innovations, and I anticipate that I’ll meet some of my new company’s coworkers at some point, but as of now I don’t know if most of the people that I interact with would look up to me in person, or if I would look up to them.

Does the height obfuscation of remote workers matter?

Since my associates and I usually don’t gather around water coolers, I’m missing the contextual information derived from our relative heights.

But is this important?

Short people will answer this question with a resounding “no,” believing that the height of a person is immaterial to their effectiveness.

“Short people are just the same as you and I.” The philosopher R. Newman. Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3305960

Tall people who are honest will answer this question with a resounding “yes,” since height does have a psychological effect that is lost when everyone is sitting.

Perhaps the short people are right. As we conduct more and more remote work with people throughout the country and around the world, in-person interactions are naturally going to decrease and we’ll interact more via Zoom, Teams, and other videoconferencing methods.

So now, the only thing that will matter is the deepness of your voice.

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pou4-hJql5E

Now I’m hungry.

Extremely targeted marketing (customer focus)

If you’ve read the Bredemarket blog for any length of time, you already know that customer focus ensures that your customers will pay attention to your message. (TL;DR Customers are happier when you talk about them than when you talk about yourself.)

Did you know that customer focus also increases your revenue?

Customer focus, personalization, and growth

Take banking, for example. Louise Coles of Diebold Nixdorf wrote an article in International Banker entitled “What is Driving Customer Centricity in Banking?” Coles said, in part:

Although personalisation differs from industry to industry the philosophical shift is occurring nonetheless.

From https://internationalbanker.com/banking/what-is-driving-customer-centricity-in-banking/

Personalization (or, for Coles and others on the other side of the pond, personalisation) potentially offers powerful benefits to banks (and other firms) who offer it.

For example, in the mortgage space there is likely to be a move away from standardised interest driven offerings, to a place where banks are considering offering mortgages which are more reflective of today’s societal makeup, for example intergenerational mortgages. This highlights how a customer centric focus is not only shifting the digitisation journey, but the underlying approach to the product offerings behind that next-generation innovation.

From https://internationalbanker.com/banking/what-is-driving-customer-centricity-in-banking/

What does personalization mean for your company?

  • It can mean a lot to an auto dealer. Not only regarding the autos offered to consumers (the days of the black-only Model T are long gone), but also regarding financing, service, and other offerings that go beyond selling or leasing the auto itself.
  • A certain company whose name rhymes with Fartrucks is well-known for the creative order customizations that its baristas receive. While there are divided opinions on some of the more extreme orders, it’s clear that some customers love this capability. Imagine if Starbucks only served “any kind of coffee, as long as it was black!”
  • If I may toot my own horn here, while I do have standard writing offerings, I can customize them as needed by increasing or decreasing review cycles or turnaround times.

Today’s acronym is ABM

Some companies choose to implement Account-based Marketing (ABM), which dictates how an entire company responds to particular customers. If Purchasing knows that a customer on “the list” needs something, Purchasing will strive to delight the customer.

Of course, ABM has a marketing component.

Account-based marketing requires you to personalize everything (e.g. content, product information, communications, and campaigns) for each account you invest your resources in. Through this personalization and customization, your relevance among these accounts is maximized.

That’s because your content and interactions are tailored in a way that shows them how your specific products, services, and other offerings are what they need to solve their challenges. Meaning, ABM allows you to angle your business in a way that makes it the most relevant and ideal option for your target accounts.

From https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/account-based-marketing-guide

How I can personalize my offering for you

Now obviously I don’t have the software to personalize this blog post for each of you. For example, everyone read my quote from HubSpot’s blog. Maybe you hate HubSpot with a passion and would prefer to read some other company’s take on ABM.

But if you would like to discuss your specific marketing needs, and how I can help you create the text to support those needs, talk to me. Maybe I can help you design a simple letter template that lets you include or omit paragraphs based upon a specific customer. If this intrigues you…