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Writing Is Writing, Right? Not If You Want To Keep Your Content Creation Team



Writing Is Writing, Right? Not If You Want To Keep Your Content Creation Team

“It’s time to make the donuts.”

This phrase from a 1981 Dunkin’ Donuts ad campaign has become part of our workplace culture. People use it to talk about preparing to do something repetitive, grueling, or meaningless.

But that’s a misreading of the original message.

The ad featured Fred the Baker, who woke up very early every morning, struggled out of bed, and repeated his mantra, “Time to make the donuts.” By the end of the ads, Fred greeted his customers with a big smile, proud of his work.

“It’s time to make the donuts” wasn’t a lament about doing the same menial task day after day.

It conveyed Fred’s commitment to creating something special day after day.

The tension between creating content that feels special and constructing useful (but menial) content resonates with so many content practitioners. Without an adequate balance between the two, content creators may lose interest in their roles.

Many #content practitioners experience the tension of wanting to create something special but needing to construct menial content, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Writing is writing, isn’t it?

I talked with an extraordinary young writer at a B2B technology company the other day who told me about her career path. She’d landed a job at an agency where she wrote brilliant articles and blog posts for B2B clients. A couple of years later, she took a job in content marketing at this large tech company.

Initially, she loved her role, which involved writing short-form news articles about the company’s industry trends. She got to dig into the industry and the products, interview people, and go deep into the topic.

After a couple of reorganizations, though, she found herself serving as the website editor. Her daily job involved editing – not creating – content describing technical specifications and product how-to help.

Three months into her new role, she asked her manager about the possibility of expanding her assignments for more variety. The manager replied, “Writers are writers. And writing is writing.”

The first statement is true. The second is not.

Some say writers are writers, and writing is #writing. The first statement is true. The second is not, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Heading down a wrong path

I often meet people who’ve found great joy in their careers as content practitioners. They feel free to create valuable content that delights and informs an audience. They enjoy creating innovative, fun experiences that stretch imaginations.

This is the marketing task people mean when they say, “Everybody has two jobs – theirs and marketing.” The flame of creating cool, thoughtful content burns so brightly it attracts everyone – from the front desk to the C-suite.

On the other hand, I also run into talented content creators – like my acquaintance at the tech company – who spend their days constructing the most mundane but necessary content for the business.

These content creators often struggle with the pressure of constructing pieces that meet business needs while still trying for creativity. They often feel frustrated that their hoped-for creative role turned out to be more akin to laboring away in a content factory.

To be clear, the tech writer-turned-website editor recognized the importance of the technical documentation and the expertise or skill needed to transform those pieces into engaging materials. She just didn’t feel she offered much value in that role.

She didn’t feel she could really dig into the material because she lacked technical expertise. Her role was simply to ensure that the data and information were well constructed.

She recently left the company. That’s a real loss for the business.

I worked with another company to advise on their plan for assembling new content teams. The leaders seemed convinced that each group – product, brand, marketing, comms – should work only on their content. Product content creators should focus on the ingredients, specifications, and instructional how-tos of using the product. Brand content creators should work on taglines and thought leadership. Marketing content creators would work on sales enablement materials.

I disagreed and argued that product content could also be thought leadership. Brand content can be high-level promises and a simple list of ingredients. Marketing content can be ad copy for search engines and the cool videos that make us all laugh.

The difference is whether the content is created or constructed.

Creating vs. constructing content

One of my favorite quotes comes from G.K. Chesterton’s analysis of The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens:

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.

Talent acquisition and retention might be a content marketer leader’s most critical job today. And fostering and retaining content talent comes down to balancing how much someone constructs vs. how much they create.

It’s easy to assume “constructed content” is the boring stuff like navigation, tech-spec sheets, documentation, contracts, and compliance documents and that “created content” is the fun stuff like storytelling or viral videos.

That thinking isn’t correct. Almost anything can be constructed content, and almost anything can be created content.

The difference lies not in the thing created but in the why and how it’s made, to echo Chesterton’s quote. As he said, the essence of a piece “exists before the book or before even the details or main features of the book; the Robert Rose enjoys it and lives in it with a kind of prophetic rapture.”

Of course, not all content deserves or requires that level of enthusiasm.

Constructed content is important, but it’s usually something that needs to be created as efficiently as possible. Its value only exists after it’s completed.

While some people might love creating the 50th SEO-focused article for a product or the 10th compliance document for a service, the intrinsic value of the creation process would be quite small. Very few people love the essence of that compliance article before it’s constructed. That document’s value lies solely in its usefulness after it’s created.

Created content gives the creator (and even those around them) joy before it’s finished. It’s that bright flame attracting people from around the business. It has intrinsic value before it even exists.

Creating #content is the bright flame that attracts people from around the business to participate in its creation, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

My argument to the company planning to segregate their teams’ content creation was that the method wouldn’t ensure they attracted and fostered the best content talent. That requires ensuring a balance between constructed content vs. created content.

All writers write. But not all writing is writing. I’ve never met any content creator happy with constructing content as their sole activity.

Created content drives most of us to get out of bed and make the donuts day after day. Understand the difference between creating and constructing. Then, balance those tasks across the team. That way, every content creator gets to wake up feeling excited to keep making the donuts.


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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1



HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

This afternoon, HubSpot announced it would be making cuts in its workforce during Q1 2023. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it put the scale of the cuts at 7%. This would mean losing around 500 employees from its workforce of over 7,000.

The reasons cited were a downward trend in business and a “faster deceleration” than expected following positive growth during the pandemic.

Layoffs follow swift growth. Indeed, the layoffs need to be seen against the background of very rapid growth at the company. The size of the workforce at HubSpot grew over 40% between the end of 2020 and today.

In 2022 it announced a major expansion of its international presence with new operations in Spain and the Netherlands and a plan to expand its Canadian presence in 2023.

Why we care. The current cool down in the martech space, and in tech generally, does need to be seen in the context of startling leaps forward made under pandemic conditions. As the importance of digital marketing and the digital environment in general grew at an unprecedented rate, vendors saw opportunities for growth.

The world is re-adjusting. We may not be seeing a bubble burst, but we are seeing a bubble undergoing some slight but predictable deflation.

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About the author

Kim Davis

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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Advocate | DigitalMarketer



Advocate | DigitalMarketer

Happy customers love to share their experience, but sometimes they need some encouragement to do so. The cool thing is, once they do, they become even more loyal to your brand.

So, at this stage of the Customer Value Journey, ask people to share their positive experience with your brand by writing a review or sharing a social media post.

Once you get to stage seven, the Customer Value Journey is going to get a whole lot easier for you. This stage is all about learning your customer’s experience, and building up your testimonial database. 

The most important part of this step is asking these four questions. 

What Was Your Life Like Before Finding Our Solutions? What Challenges Were You Facing That Caused You to Consider Us? 

These questions are great not only because it gives you some really good stories, but because it gives you some insight on how you can provide similar prospects with that AHA moment. Understanding the average day of your clients is important in reflecting on your Customer Value Journey, and helps you understand what really set you apart from your competitors.

What Key Features Had the Biggest and/or Fastest Impact?

Not only is this going to get you to really specific stories, you will understand the specific things you provided that gave the biggest impact. The answers to these questions will not only give you great insight and testimonials, it will provide you with ideas for new lead magnets. This part is a new Entry Point Offer goldmine! 

What Has Been the Impact or Results in Your Life or Business Since Using Our Product or Service? 

This is a fairly broad question, and that’s why we put it after the others. You will have already gotten all of the specifics out of the way with #1 & #2. But when you ask this question, this is where you get the most valuable stories. You can use this part as testimonials, as an order form, as a sales page, this part is testimonial gold. 

If You Were Asked to Justify this Purchase to Your Boss or a Friend, What Would You Say? 

This is our favorite question by far. If you had to go back in time and justify this purchase, what would you say? I promise you what we’re going to find is a lot of great ideas for the jobs that your product or service has done. You’ll get a lot of great ideas for your core message canvas. This question is about backfilling all of the assets that you may not have. Here you’re going directly to the customer who are already happy, and using their justifications to help you sell to new customers. 

Hopefully you now understand just how valuable the Advocate stage could be, as well as the key questions you need to ask to get your customers talking. Here’s how it works for our example companies.

When it comes to fashion we all love to show off our outfits. So a good example for Hazel & Hems would be to have customers write reviews for a discount code or points towards their next purchase. 

Better yet, follow up with the customers to ask them to share and tag themselves wearing the items in a social media post and providing them with something valuable as a reward.

For Cyrus & Clark Media, hopping on zoom meetings or a streaming service for live talks about them and their business could generate valuable awareness for them, and a live case study for the agency. They can use the questions Ryan provided during this lesson to conduct the interview.

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Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions



Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions

Through deals and coupons, Instacart has saved consumers more than $700 million in 2022. As we dive into 2023, the leading grocery technology company in North America has big plans to help consumers save even more while also helping CPGs generate sales. Instacart recently announced an advertising solution that helps both sellers and consumers called Instacart Promotions. This exciting feature is designed to help drive conversions, boost sales, and generate overall engagement on the app.

Interested in this feature and how it can help your business on Instacart? Read on as we dive into everything you need to know about this ad solution including benefits, how to get started, and more.


What are Instacart Promotions?


Instacart Promotions is an advertising feature that’s now available to all brand partners, including emerging brands, within their open beta program. Promotions give CPGs the opportunity to offer new deal structures, promotions, and incentives with Instacart Ad campaigns. With this feature in place, consumers will have access to more promotions, coupons, and deals that are tailored to them within the Instacart Marketplace.

“With the launch of our new Instacart Promotions, all of our brand partners now have the ability to set up coupons and promotions that can drive meaningful business results while also passing on more savings opportunities to consumers. We’re proud to continue expanding our portfolio with additional self-service capabilities, ad formats that drive results, and measurement that brands need to understand the true impact of their campaigns on Instacart.”


– Ali Miller, VP of Ads Product at Instacart


Source: Instacart


How Do Instacart Promotions Work?


Promotions, now available in Ads Manager, gives consumers the ability to discover more promotions and savings opportunities within the Instacart app. These promotions now show up directly on product item cards before checkout for easy accessibility. Promotions allow advertisers to customize their campaigns to sync with their goals and objectives whether that be driving sales, building baskets, or boosting trials.

Instacart shared a recent example of a brand successfully utilizing Promotions… 

Athletic Brewing, General Mills, Sola Company, and Wells Enterprises (maker of Halo Top) are strengthening campaign performance by pairing Instacart Promotions with ad formats such as Sponsored Product and Display. Instacart Promotions include two new flexible and customizable structures: Coupons (“buy X units, save $Y”) and Stock Up & Save (“Spend $X, Save $Y”). 

According to Instacart, in the coming months, the company “will work to further enhance the new offering with new deal structures such as Free Gifts and Buy One, Get One (“BOGO”). The new deal structures will help brand partners run “Free Sample” programs that can win new customers and serve personalized discounts for different customer segments, such as “new to brand” and “new to category.”  


Example of Instacart Promotions

Source: Instacart


Instacart Promotions Benefits


Deliver Value and Savings to Consumers


With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to deliver value and savings that will have consumers coming back for more. With this savings feature, your brand can stand out among the competition and offer a variety of deals to shoppers ie: “Buy X units, Save $Y”.


Hot tip: Ensure you are selecting products for your promotion that are well-stocked and widely available.  


Tailor Your Campaigns to Specific Objectives


With a variety of savings options available, your brand can structure deals to fit specific business goals and objectives. 


Hot tip: If you’re looking to drive visibility and awareness, try pairing promotions with Sponsored Product campaigns. 


Access Real-Time Performance Insights 


The Promotions beta program is live and can be accessed within Instacart Ads Manager. Within Ads Manager, advertisers can access real-time insights to maximize performance and adjust campaigns as needed.


Hot tip: Make sure your budget matches your discount and objectives.


“As an advertiser, Instacart’s unique offering to self-manage promotions is so exciting! Historically, making adjustments to offer values and other promotion parameters was a more manual process, but now we’ll be able to easily make optimizations in real-time based on redemption performance.”

Emily Choate

Emily Choate, Senior Specialist, Marketplace Search at Tinuiti


Interested in Instacart Promotions?


With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to reach new customers, build bigger baskets, and drive sales. Interested in testing out the beta program or looking to get started with advertising on the app? Drop us a line – we’d love to help elevate your CPG brand on Instacart.


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