Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Strategy is deciding what not to do

Strategy is deciding what not to do.

It sounds so simple.

Which is exactly why it's so hard.

We all fall victim to the next shiny thing fluttering across our screen (or inbox).

Yet life reminds us again and again that instant gratification only exists for girls on Instagram - and that hard work, consistently, over time, is the only way to achieve success.

All good things take time, but our time as marketer's is extremely limited (almost as limited as our prospects attention spans).

Because we are limited by time and budget we have to make the hard choice about what our brands will choose to engage in.

By the way, this post is not for the CMO of fortune 100. This post is for you. The marketer who is actually planning and just barely executing on the strategy (because of the aforementioned limitations).

I'm running into this issue at my own job.

It's a large, mature, B2B enterprise tech company and our intern keeps telling us to try snapchat.

Cool idea...but...maybe not for B2B enterprise tech.

Then again, maybe I'm wrong?

And that's the paradox of content strategy that we as marketer's have to navigate.

You can always find a way to make an argument in favor of or against using a new channel (or tweaking your strategy).

What I've realized over the last 9 months is that there are no silver bullets. No overarching objective marketing answers.

No shortcuts.

You have to dig in, set up shop, get to know your customers, your team, the market, and FIO (figure it out).

Use data when you can, your gut when you have to, runs tests like a scientists (because you are), and when things seem like they're crashing down around you, trust in validated learning.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Buffer ruined my Twitter account

I've been hard at work this past quarter putting my nose to the grind stone, cranking out new content, and learning a completely new framework and methodology for discovering commercial insights.

For those who haven't read the Challenge Customer (it really is a must read) commercial insights are basically the way you've determined (through tons of research and validated learning) to message your products or services. This post is not about commercial insights - so click the link above if you're looking to dive deeper. Everyone else, continue on with me to hear about how Buffer ruined Twitter for me. 

So how did Buffer ruin Twitter for Daniel Taibleson? 

Let me take you back...

It was October 6th, 2016 when I published my most popular post on this blog titled High level Content Strategy. This was before I started working at Vertafore and I figured I better start proving to the world that I'm capable of teaching others about content marketing and content strategy. So, like any good writer, I decided to start writing about what I know and sharing it with the world.

No more than a week later while on Vacation in San Diego with some good friends I got the call from Vertafore and accepted a position with them as their new Content Marketing Manager. 

All was well in the world, I was in sunny San Diego while it was raining in Seattle, I had a new job to look forward to, and 2 weeks off to wrap up loose ends before getting back into the rhythm and routine of work life. 

All of a sudden I started to get notification on Twitter that people were tweeting my article.

Holy crow! This is awesome! What I had to say with people was actually resonating! 

Some of you who are cool kids on Twitter might already know this but when you get over 20 notifications it just shows 20 on your mobile device. 

3 weeks later and I was still getting 20+ notifications a day about my article. 

Even weirder - all of the tweets said exactly the same thing:

It's July and I'm still getting the notifications.

All the same tweets. 

So what's happened? Basically, buffer picked up on my article and has started suggesting it to people to tweet out (They even suggested a new title LOL - thanks for the hint guys). Which is fine, I get the promo - but it's not necessarily ginune engagement because these people aren't finding it themselves and they're definitely not reading the content before they share it. 

How do I know? 

I use buffer. 

And although I don't mind it - they do seem to be translating into real page views - and sometimes real interaction between the followers of people who tweet this out. The honest reality is that I'm never excited to log into Twitter anymore. Instead of anticipating what cool new connections I've made or what interesting people are reaching out to me to talk about the things I'm passionate about - I know it's just another automated, scheduled tweet from someone who uses buffer to boost their social media presence. 

Sorry Twitter, but I'm not sure how you're going to survive. I like what you're doing with real-time events, but I'm not sure you can beat Facebook or YouTube at that game (YouTube already streaming my favorite live festivals with real time commenting capabilities). I think it will boost your stock price for the next year and a half before we see a dramatic decline or acquisition. I don't wish a decline on anyone - but I can't see how they will compete with snapchat when it comes to Gen Z and even later generations. If you have any thought's feel free to chime in :) 

Monday, March 14, 2016

The key difference between thought leadership and commercial insight

Marketer's are a passionate group of people who love what they do and at a very basic level, love learning. If we didn't, we wouldn't have become marketers. When I talk to students about what they want to do post-graduation and they're in marketing/communications programs, they usually have no idea what roles exist. If they DO have some idea of what roles exist within a corporate communications department, or the media arm of an ad agency, they rarely have any idea what the people in those roles actually DO on a day-to-day basis. 

So I ask them this: 

How do you like to spend your time? 

Do you like to read and write? Or do you enjoy talking on the phone? Attending events? 

Or does spending time in an excel spreadsheet give you energy?

Don't laugh, some people actually enjoy spending all day in spreadsheets! (They might just be one of the greatest inventions of all time: cell-ception. A cell within a cell, containing infinite cells of with which to input data). Mind boggling I know. 

I enjoy discovering what makes people tick (doing the research, talking with customers, discovering insights) and then crafting the perfect message; writing a story so good and so undeniably RIGHT for who that person is and what they need, that they feel it was written directly for them. 

The sale is closure. The sale is validation. Approval. It's all of those things. But the journey is what's really addicting. It's one of those stories that evolves over time, connecting the dots one-by-one, unable to see the entire picture except for brilliant flashes and glimpses of what it might be. Until finally it's over and done, hung on the wall. Time for the next puzzle. 

Tomorrow is an exciting day for me. 

Vertafore is working with CEB and we've brought in a team to do a full 2-day training session in order to learn how to discover commercial insights. 

Going to college was one thing, but this is training and education I could neither afford or discover on my own. I'm thrilled at the opportunity to have some more formal training around the art and science of marketing. And as always, I'll report back here on my experience. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Mindfulness is a hot topic in the tech community right now, which is almost counter intuitive...because we see all of these prominent tech figures talking about how important it is to take a time out from our gadgets and social networks to reconnect with ourselves and the world around us.

I'm breathing in.

I'm breathing out.

Sorry about that, I was just taking a quick breathing break to remind myself of where I am and what I'm doing, so that I can truly appreciate life and the fact that I'm living and embrace this moment.

Because every moment on this earth is a fantastical blessing and miracle in it's own right.

There is NO doubt in my mind that technology is evil.

There is also no doubt in my mind that it's our savior.

Technology is 100% integrated into our evolution and from this point in time forward will play a role in shaping human existence. I am a full believer that our destiny's are intertwined.

Part of me feels hopeless about it. I look around and see people so consumed with their gadgets that I DO believe people will say yes to implants. Honestly I don't know if I'd say no to an affordable connected device embedded seamlessly (and painlessly) under the first few layers of my skin. It's an absurd concept, but one day it WILL be available.

The few things I do know are:

1) My son likes playing with rocks and dirt and puddles
2) But when you put him in front of screen, he's powerless to it
3) When I spend more time on social media, I get instant gratification, but feel more scattered, and less confident about where I'm at in life in the long run.
4) Our education system is NOT doing a good enough job at teaching kids about mindfulness
5) Humans are forgetting how we got here in the first place

If you're looking for a good place to start, try this:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Good Riddance Twitter Share Count

Content Marketers!

Take some time out of your day to pour a 40oz out for Twitter's share count. You've probably heard about it by now, or noticed it, but if you're pissed off or sad about it? It's time to turn that frown upside down.

Not only because you can get it back, if you want...

But a new day has dawned where the phonies are going to realize that they've been measuring the wrong thing all along.

Share count doesn't matter.

And I'll be honest it pains me to say it, because it was so pretty having all of those high numbers next to my tweet buttons...

But the internet has spoken, and the reality is this:

The only thing that actually matters is referral traffic from social.

Read this amazing blog post that explains everything and then think about it for a while, come back, and continue reading my post as I describe my personal expereince with share counts that turned me away from the darkness and delivered me to the light:

Forget your Twitter share count. Social referral traffic is more important.

Okay, done with that post? 

Here's my story: 

All you have to do is scroll down a few posts on the homepage of this blog and you'll see a post titled 

Now this post got picked up by buffer and was shared 40 times (linked to twitter search). How do I know it was all from buffer? Because they changed the title to "Understanding content strategy"and everyone that tweeted it had a buffer link. But none of them read the post! Maybe a few...but there isn't one comment on the post or one new email subscriber. It has more pageviews that normal that's for sure, but in terms of real engagement? Or accomplishing my goal of driving email subscribers...nada...

So think twice about what you measure and why it's important. Refer back to the article above about referral traffic for some real tips.