THE HOW-TO GENRE IS THE BIGGEST ‘CON’ IN ‘CON’TENT MARKETING


I followed a Twitter link on a HOW-TO subject that interested me for the simple fact I have to write case-studies … I naturally fell upon this typical ‘Content Marketing’ nonsense advice.

Desperately disappointing and so typical of the WWW repository of nothingness!

How to write a credible case study

At XXXX we have written hundreds of case studies for clients like Microsoft, HP and LinkedIn. Based on our process and experience, here are ten tips to help you write better case studies:

  • Do your groundwork.  NO SHIT SHERLOCK! I AM NOT GOING TO WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING FOR A CLIENT THAT I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT AND THEY EMPLOYED ME!!! Understand the product or service being sold, and research the companies on both sides of the deal. This can be as simple as reading the ‘About Us’ section on a company website, or their company news page. You need some context for the deal you’re writing about.
  • Get some background. I AM CONFUSED HERE ABOUT OBVIOUS QUESTIONS! Try to get hold of the person who was on the ground and made the deal, and get them to tell you what happened. Get some background so when you speak to the client you aren’t wasting their time with obvious questions.
  • Interview the right person. WELL I NEVER! … WHAT? GET HOLD OF PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY WORKED ON THE DEAL! … The real story will come from the people actually involved in procurement, implementation and customer relations. Avoid interviewing marketing or PR people, as they will only tell you a repackaged story, which will sound hollow when you write it up. You want the real customer, preferably a champion of your product.
  • Find the story. A USE CASE IS A STORY OTHERWISE THERE IS NO STORY! This is the crux of the case study. There has to be a story: a struggle before, a journey to improve, and a benefit in the present. This doesn’t always mean profits: it might be improved employee retention, saved time or a new business model. The focus is on what matters most to the person you interview. And make sure you tell the real story – no inflated figures.
  • Create a template. NOT THE CREATE A TEMPLATE ADVICE – WHOOPEE DOO DAH! Once you have your basic story you can build a structure. Most case studies fall into company biography, challenge, process and benefits. Structures are there to emphasise the story, not shackle it though. Tweak it to the story, and give yourself four or five subheadings.
  • Categorise your transcript. GO THROUGH YOUR NOTES… ARGHHH! OH YES … IT BECOMES AUTOMATIC DOESN’T IT? Take your interview notes and go through them, assigning each part to one of your subheadings. You should end up with three to five key points for each section. The more you write, the more automatic this step will become.  The flow of the story will be obvious as you do the interview.
  • Find your key quotes. WHAT THE EFFS A FRANKENQUOTE??? Never use frankenquotes in a case study; people can spot them a mile off. It is best to use short, snappy quotes, dotted throughout the case study that underline or explain one of your bullet points. Let your interviewee’s personality shine through.
  • Flesh it out. OH MY – NOW WRITE IT ALL DOWN????? You have a structure, bullet points and key quotes, which means the writing part should now flow easily. If it doesn’t, you haven’t got to the real heart of the story: go back and reassess the structure to make sure you are emphasising the right points.
  • Clean it up. EDITING BABY EDITING_IMPORTANT STEP N’EST CE PAS! … Don’t use too many marketing phrases or clichéd product explanations – keep it human, but make sure you are referring to products correctly, and types of implementation or acquisition in the right way. Keep the story accurate. And be sure to include specifics.
  • Cut your copy. WHAT RANDOMLY SAYING ANYTHING A MILLION TIMES IS NOT GOOD???? MAKE IT VITAL HA! HA! HA! – SERIOUSLY PEOPLE!!!! A case study shouldn’t be longer than 500-750 words. Any more and people just won’t read it. Cut out repetition, shorten quotes, and make sure everything you write is vital to the story.
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The rigours of life and television … is still the same as it ever was.


Let’s open with a quote from Colin Dixon’s (of NScreenMedia) well written article on TV viewing habits, where we are debating (in the comments) the merits of the small screen in the mix of viewing devices.  We all have our opinions on that.

On-demand, live, and online viewing peak at the same time

What is interesting and to me, and hardly a revelation, is that people all watch TV when they can or want to. It is generally around the same time, in the evening after work, after homework and after the kids bedtime (if you have some of course) – This is called PRIME TIME VIEWING – i.e. it is when you are most available to consume content uninterupted. So no matter where it comes from, Prime Time content is still Prime Time content.  The TV industry and ‘wannabee TV operators’ (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat et al) think they can all have you as their sole Prime Time viewer…

I have covered this time and time again – Despite all of the content that is available, on all of the systems we have, we all have a limited window of time that we can offer this particular entertainment medium.  Most stats reveal that it is the same window of opportunity on a per country basis, which is enough for the news, a couple of TV shows and/or a film.  There is simply too much TV available today to fill everyone’s 15 years-of-lifetime-TV-viewing (yes we spend around 15 years of our lives in front of the TV).

Nothing new: Rebecca Lake a financial journalist from North Carolina – published this in 2015

What’s the most popular time of day for watching TV?
Prime time is when the majority of viewers are tuning in, with nearly 2 hours of daily TV watching taking place between 8 and 10 pm. Daytime TV airing between 11 am and 4 pm comes in second, with people watching about 1 hour and 40 minutes on average.

However when Robots take over our jobs we will have more time to watch much, much more .

The Reality of the Lazy TV Audience


So let me start with a few extracts from a blog piece that was written by Mr. Will McKinley a New York writer and author. Why? Well, I want this subject matter (Streaming versus Linear TV) to not be seen as my opinion (because I don’t have the clout when it comes to people taking note of what I say … But I do say things that other more famous people say, often way before them – Sometimes that is frustrating. Sometimes it reassuringly delights.)

I love the convenience of streaming. It’s thrilling to have easy access to every episode of shows (and movies) I love, and have loved for my entire life. But, in a landscape where there’s so much choice, having everything can almost feel like having nothing. There’s no call-to-action, no immediacy, no reason why I should watch one thing over another right now. But perhaps more importantly, there’s no shared experience…

But perhaps most importantly, a linear network means that someone else is doing the work for you. Because sometimes you just want to plop down on the couch and watch, not assemble your own custom lineup from across multiple streaming platforms (and I speak from experience, because I subscribe to pretty much all of them)…

Will on-demand streaming be a dominant force in TV? No doubt. In a sense, it already is. But creatively curated linear programming will always be an important option. They call TV viewers couch potatoes, not couch amateur TV executives for a very good reason. Never underestimate the laziness of the American public.

While this ‘Linear versus Streaming TV’ narrative plays out across the world, it was interesting to see at IBC 2016 show in Amsterdam that TV technologists can now introduce SVOD content into EPGs as if it were a Linear channel. There are also companies that will, for a small fee per annum, curate Free on-line programmes for you (e.g. Rabbit TV’s Freecast) so that you do not have to do the hard work of being your own amateur TV executive – Thank you, Will McKinley, for that expression, which I too have used in many previous articles to express the burden TV viewing is becoming.

Let’s not forget that TV, despite its modernisation, is a product that has to appeal to the masses. i.e. The old, not so old and the very young. I don’t like to use the term Millennials because they too will have life-events that will make them lazy couch potatoes. So as far as the majority of TV viewers is concerned, being entertained must not be hard work. So if TV streaming becomes the norm, we will be expected to be our own TV show curator, which means that we will end up stuck in a viewing rut, as our limited knowledge of what is available from the global pool of entertainment is limited by our ability to memorise the planet’s content. Yes, we are we now expected to take the cognitive burden of knowing what content is available from what provider and whether we have already seen it or not by having to dig through all the buried content.

Live broadcasts are also an opportunity to encourage sampling by channel-surfing new viewers, in a way that streaming will never offer.

I agree with Mr. McKinley when he says that we still need the lazy person’s option for a long time to come.

TV Viewing HAS NOT Changed – The Gap Filling Has!


We have yet another set of statistics that declare the living room TV Viewing habits are changing.  Let us look at this from another perspective:  I would put it to you that it is not TV Viewing that has changed it is human habits that arhave changed due to the advent of ‘New Technologies’.  If you were to take away the smart-phones and tablets from a TV centric family (as I have done at home recently) you will see that the TV viewing on the BIG Screen once again takes principle place.  Not book-reading, or board-game-playing but TV, and it quickly becomes a fight for the remote control with unhappy, sulky members of the family who are not interested in what the others are viewing….however we noticed that slowly but surely a migration back to sitting as a group with sharing-as-a-group takes place and an agreement to share what is on the TV, as it did in the time before these other access devices entrered the fray.  As a family we searched for common-content that all the family could get a little something from, be it a documentary, a film or even a cartoon that pleased everyone .  We became part of our children’s TV world and they ours, once again.  We also adhered to the ratings and respected the different viewing options based on quality of content – NO MORE VIOLENT, SEX RIDDLED,  TRASHY OR STOOPID content.  It was a pleasant and fulfilling exercise.  During the ads we went to the loo, talked and did what we always used to do during the Ad breaks – Watched some Ads and not others… (BTW Ads do not require ‘viewing only’ for them to have effect – the audio part subcontiously enters the brain even if you are not watching!).

Allowing the phones back instantly became the new distraction thus proving that easy access to communication (messaging), access to fun & stupid videos (via the internet) and access to ‘work and private’ emails urghhh, highlighted a penchant for instant gratification and removed the need to ‘work to find common-TV Centric ground’ and once again enabled what we call ‘gap-filling’ .  Each to their own simplistic and shallow needs.  The IAB piece on chaging TV Viewing Habits IAB Article states the following:

extract: For example, the incidence of checking emails is consistent during TV programmes and ad breaks (both 34 per cent) whilst texting or Instant Messaging is only 1 per cent higher during the ad break than the programme. The device tracking showed, overall, there was actually more online activity per minute during a programme than an ad break.

The information in the article is not startling and supports the findings of the experiment we carried out at home . It shows that if the viewer is not fully engaged with the programme they will still feel the need to do something else.  We saw distraction in the form of speaking and fidgeting or leaving the couch when the TV show did not fully delight a particular family member.  So what does that tell us?  It only tells us that TV is all about engaging the viewer as much as possible.  It has never been that we all sat avidly from start to finish without some form of mental distraction, UNLESS it was a TOTALLY compelling content from beginning to end.

In the old days we had a lot less content to choose from and it was a lot less ‘same-same’, as it is now in the world of 24 Hour channel stuffing. It is not TV Viewing that has changed it is the enablement of filling the ‘distraction time’ without having to get up and do something else and it is the masses of same-same stuff on TV that drives people to look for fresh and exciting, different content elsewhere, which makes the stats skewed.  The people surveyed must have been sat in front of the BIG Screen for those statistics to have been gathered…The only difference is from yesteryear to today we have technology that has made it simple to ‘visit another place’ for instant gratification. The dwindling ‘attention span’ is bad content and boredom, no matter how minor, leads to ‘gap filling’.

And to finish: The Kettle Surge moment, written in the article, is also a just sign of the developing times – We have much more efficient coffe machines and probably hear the sound of corks popping much more, as NESPRESSO and WINE has replaced the TEA drinking of yesteryear. LOL.

 

 

How To Kill The Creative Process – Ask a Machine for Guidance!


KretivRobotscript

I have met Josh Sapan, and I admire his passion, insight and flair.  I agree with him when he rails against analytics and the creative side of making content – I feel that he is absolutely right to state that the the future of content production should not be based on analytics, algorithms, and big data.  What AMC is bringing to the market in terms of content is already great because thier creativity abounds. Creativity and flair has to be nurtured; it must be allowed to fly free.  Content creation guided by algorithms and too much kowtowing to everyone’s opinion will see us end up with banal same-same productions that break no boundaries and do not push the envelope of imagination.

I loved ‘Mad Men’ but I could not get into ‘Breaking Bad’, unable to get past season 1,  yet amongst my peers I was a complete outsider on this particular show; that does not mean it was not a great show, brilliantly done. Ultimately why the hell should my opinion count – I am a viewer not a creative writer of TV shows?

Who better for guidance in the scripting and content flow for future shows but the people whose job it is to come up with the goods – I wouldn’t ask the local butcher to write a show and I wouldn’t ask a hollywood storyteller to be a butcher – horses for courses I say and let’s please stop trying to give credibility to computer algorithms goddamit.  NO I say! It should not be ‘Joe the plumber’, or ‘Fred, the banker’ or any Tom, Dick & Harry who has shouted out on Twitter or Facebook and the like,  that should determine how a show plot is developed.  Leave to the professionals.

See Here:  Josh Sapan – Data use to pick shows a disaster