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CXO Content Conversations Part 1: Is Your Content Lacking Eminence?

Posted on: 07/12/2012

No matter who you are or what you create, aim for eminence with your content because volume doesn’t equal insight, it doesn’t win you more business or prizes and you don’t get paid by the pound anyway.

While there’s probably no question at all that you’re the best in the world at doing what you do, there is, however, some question about being as good as you need to be in communicating your value.

Have you ever thought to yourself “…we are so damn good at what we do, but not enough people know it…” If so, you have a communications problem. And if other people (your customers) aren’t helping you tell your story, you have an eminence problem.

What is the difference between a communications problem and an eminence problem? A communications problem is more of a core structural issue or a platform issue where you don’t have the avenue or strategy to speak on behalf of your company or its products/services. More likely than not, you either lack allocated budget, sufficient human resources or a known need to publish powerful content.

An eminence problem is more complicated and means you are having trouble achieving a state of being recognized as a distinguished leader through your content. Anyone can publish these days; problem is too many are throwing anything and everything out there in hopes that someone will pay attention. It’s like deep-sea fishing with no bait on a tiny hook.

Imagine you’re a busy CEO and you’re hearing from your CMO that content is going to be playing a more important role in the organization. She’s saying, “Hey, we need to start being publishers. We’re being told we need to write more content and start creating smart videos about our company and our products and make sure those that matter to us, know about us.”

First of all, I can confidently tell you that she’s right. What she’s saying is that you need to spend more time focusing on your company’s eminence through great content.

How do you create eminence?

Every company has an opportunity to build eminence. You just have to be willing to walk the walk before you talk the talk. And I use the word “build,” deliberately because it rarely happens quickly.

In business, eminence comes from many places. I have come up with five:

1. Communicate with modest confidence in your offering. Communicate in a way that your favorite baker, butcher, mechanic, dry cleaner or doctor communicates with you. In other words, be a human and smile and laugh once in a while. Don’t be afraid to make it personal.

2. Nothing is more powerful than earned evidence and validation. One way to make people understand the value in your offering is to create content that helps them see their problem next to your solution. Even better, help them see their problem solved by another one of your customers. Help your customers understand you, your company and your offering better. Have your past customer advocate on your behalf.

3. Remain focused and always be clear about what you do and for whom. I cannot stress this enough. If you are anyone for everyone with a dollar, you are no one. This is difficult because you do not want to alienate anyone who may potentially pay you. Here’s how we’re focused toward eminence: “Centerline is a content marketing agency that makes and distributes powerful content for larger companies ready for a breakthrough.” We’re not anything else for anyone else. We remain focused and clear about that in everything we say and do.

4. Share smart ideas, insights and advice that bridges that gap between where you want to be and where your customers want to be. Eminence is about having and sharing powerful advice that your customers find trustworthy and valuable. It’s what they want and it’s what you want to give. Also, it’s okay to have a strong opinion. In fact, the opinion you are shy about communicating is probably your next breakthrough. Coming up with relevant ideas or advice about how to do something important that your customers care about and giving it all away for free is very important. If it’s good then it will get spread around.

5. Fly higher. You know what your competition is doing or at least you ought to. Go beyond simple table stakes. Make yours better. A better design, a more tenacious rebuttal, a more ambitious innovation, a sexier product. And I don’t just mean polish or flash. Flash is superficial and it’s not what your customers want. They want to do business with someone they like and respect and then they want good, smart executable ideas from those companies that they can actually use. They want your confidence. They want to be a part of your bold plan.

Where I work, we try as hard as we can to build our client’s confidence in our teams by having good ideas, insights and advice that we know is relevant for our client’s businesses. We call it “accountable creative.” We do this because we know our customers aren’t interested in a bunch articles and videos that bounce around theory or ideas that they can never execute; they want smart, actionable advice grounded in facts and reality they can sink their teeth into. They want smart and solid answers to the right questions and information they can put to work. You know what else your customers want? They want help getting their jobs done.

So…you need to know that your CMO has a very personal role in helping your company achieve eminence with content. And she needs help. One way you can help her is to make sure every time you write an article, a blog post, create a video, design a presentation or write a case study — any time you speak in front of a client or a group of colleagues or show up on video — think about contributing to your company’s eminence. Make it a practice to let eminence guide you toward smarter content at every turn.

If you want to play a role in helping your CEO or CMO create more eminence for your company, copy and paste this in an email to her today:

Good morning __________. It has occurred to me that there is a new emerging marketing imperative that is very likely on your radar. In addition to all our company does each day to keep the doors open and revenues flowing in, it also needs to sell ideas to our customers, partners, and employees.

The value of those ideas and how well they’re communicated to our customers is what matters, now. Eminence is the substance of our company’s reputation and is what will make our customers have the greatest confidence in our offering. We must make sure the content we’re putting out there is doing its part in creating eminence our company deserves. And I’d love to be a part of this new imperative.

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