What, exactly, are we actually selling, as content marketers or sustainability communicators?
At their core, marketing messages are about hope—that an online community will bring us the business networking or professional insights we’re looking for, or on the sustainability side of our practice, that the right mix of low-carbon solutions will be sufficient to control runaway climate change.
But the space between hope and reality is all-important—because empty hope is a sham and a betrayal, if there’s no realistic pathway to take action on it. On After the Kids Leave this morning, our social media strategist Karen Irving asks a question that she and I have often discussed at home—how dare we sell hope in situations where, realistically, there is none without a change in the actual circumstances behind the message?
This doesn’t mean we stop looking for real solutions, whatever area of work we’re in, and it certainly doesn’t mean we stop talking about or advocating for those solutions. As Karen points out, if I’m writing and you’re reading this, it means we’re both in the still relatively small segment of the world’s population that has the tools and resources to make a difference. Which points back to the duty of diligence and and call to thoughtful action in this quote from Henry David Thoreau, one of my two or three all-time favourites:
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
So, yes, I’m answering Karen’s dissection of motivational quotes with another motivational quote. But this one isn’t a platitude. It sets us on the road to actually do something, rather than just talking about it (or marketing about it)…which can’t be a bad lead-in to 2014.
Here are the opening paragraphs of Karen’s post. After you’ve read them, I hope you’ll follow the link and take in the rest.
Platitudes R Us: How “inspirational” quotes mess with our minds
Okay, I have a confession to make. I’ve officially had it up to here with “inspirational” quotes. You know the ones I mean—they’ve been around for years, on posters and greeting cards. They say things like “Life is only as good as you make it!” and “Your thoughts control your destiny!”
Many of them offer a kind of canned spirituality, offering feel-good platitudes to convince us that no matter how crappy our lives might be, there are great things waiting just around the corner: “Every single thing in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.”
Lately I’ve noticed sayings like this proliferating on the Internet. I can’t open my Facebook or Twitter feeds these days without some well-meaning soul plastering the place with happy fairy-fart sayings like, “All your dreams can come true, if you have the courage to pursue them!” (Thanks, Walt Disney. Glad things worked out for you.)
I call bullshit.