So, 365 days of my life done. How did you spend yours?
I think you’d agree that it's been a wild, fast year. Probably one we’ll all look back on as having a significant impact on where we stand 5 years from now. The conflict. The bitterness. The surprises. The disconnection. There has been such an unnerving amount of disconnection in 2016, despite the irony that technology is now linking aspects of our lives together more intrinsically than ever.
In 2016 I regularly skyped my Mum in Australia. I built a successful website for my own business. I even flew to a foreign country for peanuts without having to speak to a single staff member, doing all my checking-in online. I could Google answers to all my questions in real-time and write brilliantly informed content because of it.
But, also in 2016,
I struggled to find a single waiting room where everyone wasn’t neck-bent over their smart phone. I couldn’t simply call a person in customer service to speak about a product issue I was having, as most large companies prefer automated email. I found real, genuine conversations with people were an absolute treat to have… because they are becoming ridiculously rare.
So in the 12 months that have just passed, I can spot a lot of contradictions and I’m not really sure what this means for 2017 or the years that unfold afterward...
It might be a year of rapid social, economic and political change.
Or it might not be everything we've hyped it up to be.
If the leaders of this world are anything like baseline marketers, there’s a lot of bark going on but limited bite. Their promotional message may be strong but it’s their actions - and the results - that we’re really bracing ourselves for. And these could be a great, big FLOP.
That’s another great realisation of 2016 for me - I’m in the minority. And that is a hard pill to swallow.
PUTTING AWAY MY SWISS ARMY KNIFE
As we roll into 2017 I plan to simplify things in my business and life. One of the most inspiring books I read in 2016 was REWORK, which has this strategy at its core. I will aim to find my speciality and take that to market - not a Swiss-Army knife skill set. I’ll continue to do work I love (writing for a cause) and build upon the progress I have made with heapswhitty Creative Communication in its first six months.
Since launching my creative business this year, I’ve spent the second half of 2016 questioning the role of a copywriter in modern day marketing. Do I want to be a copywriter? Or a content marketer? Or a content producer?? You might think it’s just a job title, but hey now, it’s so much more!
I want my clients to know at first glance what they are getting - and there’s a lot in a name. My name, Whitney, for example, ended up influencing my company’s name, heapswhitty.
GETTING OUT MY RACONTEUR SKILLS
For 2017: Storytelling is the focus.
This just sounds dull in itself. Copying is the opposite of what I want to achieve and I don't follow a set text or language formula.
In the traditional sense. I avoid cliches, cringe slogans and spiels that are simply trying to spam a product and shout about a call to action. I sell feelings and share stories to promote a core message.
I reject the idea that I am a disposable hire that you pay for a prescribed job and we never speak again once the job's done. I only work with clients that I genuinely connect with. That goes for their brand, mission and attitude.
So as 2016 comes to a close and the first six months of running my own writing business are done and dusted, I commit to being a full-time storyteller who knows how to write, market, draw and communicate your message. I’m a translator, I’m… wait, wait. I’ve got to specialise, remember. Baby steps.
As for you? Your attention tells me that you understand the importance of connecting with people through messages that matter. The festive season is one of the most crucial times to remember this, not in a professional marketing sense, but a personal sense. Make sure you connect with the people around you - properly. This means the shop attendants, postal service, your housemates, your neighbours and yes, of course your family. Tear your eyes away from a screen and see how well-oiled those good, old communication skills are.
Bring on 2017. I promise not to be all bark and no bloody bite.
Do you want to make beautiful stories together for your brand in 2017? Chuck me an introduction and we'll talk.