Content is king - but not when it's kak

Tiffany Markman - Content is King

At our most recent Small Business Showcase dinner, 150 of us were enlightened by the incomparable Tiffany Markman. She shared a content talk from the global communication conference she keynoted at in New York in June.

“I have a confession.”

Tiffany gets straight into it with a confession: She made a mistake. (Stranger things do happen and not just in the Upside Down.) We’re not getting the US talk because – believe it or not – “16 ideas in 60 minutes”, sexy as it sounds, is not easily doable.

We’re getting “6 ideas in 60 minutes”. 

But, true to her generous nature, Tiffany offers the audience something pretty amazing in exchange. Email her with your own confession and you’ll receive all 16 ideas from the NYC talk. Oh, and 10 more.

Because… Why not?

(Okay, Tiff. You’re forgiven.)

Knives and spoons… What the fork is going on here?

“Have you ever felt like there’s nothing new to say?” Tiffany asks. The audience’s response says it all. They howl. If you own a business, if you run a business, if you write for a business – you know the feeling. And you only have three options:

  1. Say something no-one has ever said (good luck with that…).
  2. Say something unoriginal in a completely original way.
  3. Say something else entirely.


The micro-focus method: how to say something unoriginal in an original way

If you want to write something good, not kak (and have the confidence to actually post it), Tiffany explains that she has three micro-focus techniques you can use: 

  1. The Shrink
  2. Down the Rabbithole
  3. The Leap

Here’s an example of the Shrink. Tiffany once had to write about the Ever Given, the container ship that ran aground for 6 days in the Suez Canal in 2021, blocking it entirely and affecting global trade to the tune of an estimated $9.6 billion.

You probably heard about it. Which means you know it’s been covered – to death.

So Tiffany looked for the smallest possible variable that would affect the largest number of people. She discovered that the hospitality trade was massively affected by the Ever Given, because the canal blockage caused a global shortage in cutlery.

So that’s what the fork she was talking about!

Onwards, down the Rabbithole. When you follow the rabbit, you need to look for similarities and overlaps. Then do your research. And enjoy the ride. Your piece and its fresh take will get an old message across in a new way.

But remember not to lose sight of the main point.

You might be wondering which rabbithole to go down. Things in people’s lives: the weather, pop culture, art, current events. Oh, and cutlery.

That’s not to say your research will be all fun and games. Tiffany brings the audience to tears with this moving example of what rabbithole research can do.

Let’s look at the Leap.

When the Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation couldn’t use the words “breast” and “cancer” in public-facing advertising, for reasons of religious sensitivity, they got creative and made “Khabatze?” (“Have you baked bread today?”)

Take the leap and make (sometimes illogical) connections that draw your audience in. Use the senses, like “Khabatze?” does, or dates (like Women’s Day but with a less obvious, more surprising association; e.g. The Lion King).

You could even use the texture of your hair, like Zander Moricz did. Here’s a story on Zander, the first openly gay class president at Pine View School in Florida and a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the “Don’t Say Gay” bill – aka, the Parental Rights in Education Act.

Time comes for Q & A and Tiff reassures nervous content creators: “Don’t overthink it. It’s not life or death. It’s a piece of content.” And she leaves us with another valuable nugget: You get your best ideas when you’re totally unplugged.

So: unplug, let the juices flow and take the pressure off. When you try the Shrink, go down the Rabbithole, or take the Leap (or, all three), you’ll see that you don’t have to be a professional, experienced or skilled writer to market effectively.

You just need to follow the rules. Or Tiffany will kill you.

You can also get Tiffany Markman in to talk to your people about this exact stuff, a customised version of this stuff, or completely different stuff.

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