Unlike some last minute slackers (you know who you are), I knocked my taxes out early this year—refund ftw! I used TurboTax (not a plug, unless they wanna throw me some money) and at the end, they had those magazine offers you so often see. This time, I decided to take them up on the offer and picked out a few.
But my choices were deliberate. I wasn’t going to pick any business magazines. I wanted to get out of my bubble and research what I could learn from other types of publications. Consume content outside my regular world.
Ann Handley built a tiny house to do it, and often muses on her blog about how things outside of marketing made her think of marketing. Author and speaker Dorie Clark has started taking stand-up comedy classes. Jay Acunzo talks to creatives of all walks of life on his podcast. And they’re all fantastic marketers.
This is a theme I am hearing more and more often as we find ourselves constantly surrounded by work. People in our industry are also friends, and invite us to business groups on Facebook. Notifications from brands we manage outnumber the personal ones. We so often need a solace, an escape. And it can actually work wonders for our marketing. I’ll get into some of my lessons in a bit.
Why you should consume content outside your industry
But at the same time, maintain your awareness. Look for what works, what you gravitate towards. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the things that draw you in, the ideas you find clever and intriguing, and think about how you could do something similar.
Podcasts are a great example of this. I love listening to podcasts about marketing, and am subscribed to a ton of them. BUT, I’m learning some great storytelling lessons from things like S-Town and Slack’s podcast Work In Progress, which focuses on telling captivating stories about real people rather than how customers use their app. They only use the very end to add a blurb, featuring a customer and not just talking about them. Now, onto the aforementioned publications.
National Geographic: find the story behind the thing
One of the magazines I nabbed with this offer was National Geographic. Storytelling is something that National Geographic nails in their content. They don’t just report on something, they tell the story behind it—and everything has a story.
🌍 The planet (there’s a little history here)
👣 An obscure tribe of people (fascinating cultural differences)
🐚 The Great Barrier Reef (its past and questionable future)
🤖 The future (spoiler: it involves us and robots)
This has encouraged me to look deeper into things myself. What makes us tick? What makes things resonate? What brings people together, and why do they stay? Some of this I hope to incorporate into my interviews on this podcast. Why Austin? What about it works? What makes it weird, exceptional, and how are we contributing to or deteriorating that concept as marketers and business professionals here?
Esquire & Men’s Health: cover the tangentials
I’ll admit to being a sucker for advice on how to look and feel better (even if I can’t afford most of the items they suggest). But taking a deeper dive into the content these two magazines produce, those things are only part of the story.
Both of these publications nail the tangentials. They ask “What else does our audience care about? What other questions can we answer? What funny stories can we tell to entertain and/or inform them?” And that can actually make up the bulk of the content sometimes.
Red Bulletin: Learn from your fans
I know Red Bull has been covered ad nauseum when it comes to content, but I still want to give credit where credit is due. Their publication is exceptional, and hardly focuses on the product, save for a few placements. The magazine is almost exclusively focused on what else their consumers are interested in. And they are finding wild success in that endeavor.
Let’s look at a different example. Let’s say you cater to ecommerce merchants. Sure, you could talk about ecommerce tips until you’re blue in the face. But what else could be valuable to your audience? What else might they be interested in or find useful? Internet is crucial to ecommerce, so perhaps you create some content on picking the best routers or internet providers for business, or offer your take on the latest changes in internet regulation. Also, they value time, getting home to their family, managing stress, as well as just the individual things people love. Think about how you can tie these things into your content to talk to people on a different and more relatable level.
I’m using this same approach with “stock photography” for this blog and podcast. Rather than finding the standard marketing stock photos, I’m going out around Austin and taking my own, finding new ways to incorporate local flair to each post. Some will be iconic, some, like the one in this post’s graphic, are just things I randomly find around Austin (this is a painting in the lobby of an apartment complex!).
Now it’s your turn. Tell me ways you’re getting out of your marketing bubble to create new and interesting things. How do people respond to it? Comment below and share your perspective!
Keep it weird, y’all.