Welcome to August!
For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, it means one more month of summer.
Even if this summer has been unlike other summers due to COVID, you can still use August to accomplish something special for you!
In 30 days, you can get halfway to developing a writing habit, including creating a long piece of content. And you do it while remaining safe during COVID.
In fact, I did this during the summer when I had full time corporate jobs.
Unlike many of my content marketing peers, I have a BA in Political Science and an MBA in Marketing, not in journalism or creative writing.
While I dreamed of becoming an author back in third grade, I never learned how to write in either high school or college. Instead I learned to write taking a Stanley Kaplan GMAT course and a remedial writing course in business school. (Because I had mistakenly thought I had failed the writing test!)
Despite this, I became the go-to person at work for any important writing.
So I didn’t think about my childhood desire to write until a college friend called to tell me she was in the hospital with cancer.
That call made me stop and think hard about what I wanted out of life. It motivated me to act on my “maybe someday” notion about writing.
To get started, I took writing courses in New York City that I could attend after work and on weekends. Instead of the overpriced university options, I studied at the 92nd Street Y, the Westside YMCA and The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in the East Village (where I even met beat poet, Allan Ginsburg).
About the same time I heard about the University of Iowa’s Summer Writing Festival. It offers week long writing workshops. Unlike its prestigious Writing Workshop which is extremely difficult to get into, all I had to do was apply, pay and attend.
My week there studying with Pulitzer Prize winning author, Robert Olen Butler, hooked me on spending immersive time learning to write and to be with writers. So attending summer writing retreats became part of my summer routine (and vacation).
While I never got a writing degree issued by a university, I studied with and met a variety of authors and poets. Each writer stretched me in their own way, helping me to grow and try new forms of writing including poetry.
I had forgotten about these summer experiences. Until last week, then 2 items caught my attention and inspired me to set new writing goals for August.
- Chuck Palahniuk’s Consider This (book). I was inspired to add this new book about writing fiction by the bestselling author of Fight Club to a recent Amazon order. The book reads more like a conversation than a “how to” book. (BTW, while working a day job, Palahniuk learned to write with a group of writers in Portland, OR.)
- #1000WordsOfSummer. This week-long writing challenge starts next Monday, August 10th. It’s a great way to start on any writing project. It has daily emailings, a Slack group and crowdcast conversations with authors. Run by Loyalty Bookstore, you need to sign up for the daily conversations.
And, yes, I realize that August started on Saturday!
But, over the years, I’ve learned that using a calendar as a prompt to do something doesn’t always work. For example, starting a diet or workout regime in January. (Of course, it may be a big seller post-COVID when we all stop baking!)
Instead, I have to fool myself into doing something until it becomes a habit. For example, in the midst of our sheltering-in-place, I returned to writing morning pages for a half hour first thing every day. And when I don’t have enough time, I try to squeeze in 15 minutes.
Even better, when I have writing-related ideas, I use this brain dump to capture my ideas and create rough drafts.
To get started on your personal or business project, use these questions as a guide to create your own schedule for the next 30 days:
- What would you like to accomplish? This is your big goal. And you are the one who defines what “big goal means.” Note: If you don’t start you’ll never get there! Take it from me. I’ve had projects that filled file folders but I never took the first step.
- How will you make time to work on this project? And, you can do it, even if you’ve got a job, a family, aging parents or other challenges! For example, I got up an hour early to write when I was at Citibank. (BTW, Toni Morrison got up early to write her novels while she raised children and had a full time job!)
- How can you break this big project into easy-to-do chunks? Okay you got me – you need to make a plan or you won’t achieve your big goal! Would you get into your car without knowing where you’re going? Even better, take a hint from my friend Ardath Albee. Put all of the small actions into a spreadsheet and track them. This will help you to see your progress.
Don’t let yourself feel down due to this current period of uncertainty.
While I realize there are lots of issues to deal with and the news can be pretty depressing, you can control how you feel about it and do something to help yourself long-term everyday. Even better, this helps you to build structure into your life.
And, while it may seem like others are doing great, it may just be that they don’t talk about their concerns publicly.
For example, I have good days and bad days but I don’t talk about them on social media. Instead, I’ve learned to put my energy into projects that I never seem to have time for but that need to get done when I can’t face my computer any more. As a result, I now have a clean pantry and bathroom with 2 big black garbage bags to prove it.
In addition to working on my writing, this week, I’m attending The Voice of Healthcare Summit on Wednesday, July 5th.
Because healthcare is one of the biggest areas where COVID significantly sped up consumer acceptance and use of voice-first products.
Before COVID, would you have considered a video doctor visit instead of going to the office?
I wouldn’t have!
Yet, since COVID hit New York City, I’ve had 3 doctor visits via video. More importantly, I was able to get an appointment quicker than normal and I was happy not to leave my home!
In a post-COVID world, consumers want more touch-free experiences for a variety of different interactions and transactions to reduce possible disease transmission.
According to my colleague Bradley Metrock, who runs The Voice of Healthcare Summit and Project Voice:
“COVID has sped up voice-first use in 3 to 4 months what would have taken 1 to 2 years.”
Want to get up to speed on Voice Marketing?
Shout out to new readers: یسانا, Lud, Gordon, Parisa, Linda, Traci, John, Clerry, Sandra, Evelyn, Robin, Bob, 刘自, Lola, Keith, Caroline, Gregory, Jim, David, Gladwin, Heidi, Diandra, Diego, Happy, EM, Dung, Alisa and Haesung.
Thank you and welcome to the Actionable Marketing Community!
P.S.: Want Heidi Cohen to contribute a quote or other commentary to your next article, presentation, video, research and/or book?
Then hit reply to this email and ask.
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FEATURED ARTICLE: Influencer Marketing
How do you define influencers and how do they related to:
- Your prospect’s buying process
- Your marketing
This article provides some of the theory behind the power of influencers. Including Malcolm Gladwell, Jonah Berger, Kevin Kelly and Li Jin (Andrressen Horowitz).
As well as 10 steps to guide you to create an influencer program.
Hat tip: Gordon Glenister of BLANK for reaching out to me to ask about influencers and marketing!
In addition, check these related books by some of the thought leaders in the field:
- Jonah Berger: Contagious and Invisible Influencers
- Neal Schaffer: The Age of Influence
- David Meerman Scott: Fanocracy
Here’s useful influencer related research:
FEATURED ARTICLE: Storytelling and Content Marketing
Then tell your stories better.
AND, continue to transform them into other formats to expand your audience.
Did you know that Hamilton, the play, can show you how to do this?
FEATURED ARTICLE: Sonic Branding Definition
Do your brand’s unique sounds stand out from the non-stop noise and sounds people regularly hear?
Why do I ask?
Since increased ownership and use of voice-enabled devices means the audio elements of your brand must be consistently identifiable.
HEIDI COHEN AROUND THE WEB
► According to DigitalScouting.DE, Heidi Cohen ranked 61 among top 100 Global Digital Influencers. Check out Digital Scouting’s unusual list to get a more diverse perspective on your marketing.
► My colleague, George Stenitzer, spotlighted me in his column, “How do you prove that an ungated content asset led to a sale?”
2 Key Elements:
- Call-to-Action (aka: CTA): Include a way to track your visitors based on which specific link or CTA they use.
- Connected content. This is an off-ramp that takes visitors from wherever they see your content to your website or landing page.
Photo: COVID-19 Beach Items: NIH.Gov
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