Your Revolution Isn’t In A Headline

Your Revolution Won’t Come In A Headline The Content Advisory Raised Fists

Well, it’s been an eventful couple of weeks. I mean in content. (Why? Is there something else happening in the news that I should be aware of?)

Anyway, first, Adobe purchased Marketo in its biggest acquisition ever ($4.75 billion). So the giant enterprise software company focused on content and experiences is now also in the marketing automation business. If you’re a happy Marketo customer, the acquisition is good news. It means the product is now truly supported. If you’re an Adobe Experience Manager customer, this means diddly squat.    

Second, music streaming service Pandora just sold to Sirius XM for $3.5 billion. This, the press release argues, creates the world’s largest “audio entertainment company.” Whatever that means, it’s clear that internet audio is, indeed, a real and big thing.

As with most big acquisitions, a torrent of breathless headlines about “game-changing strategies,” and “new directions for content and customer experiences” followed the announcements. One of my clients asked me if I thought this is a revolutionary change in martech (and content marketing as a strategic result), or whether it’s an incremental change.

I said it’s both.

See, you can really only see revolutionary change in hindsight.

You wake up one day and recognize that things are fundamentally different – but they’re only a little different from yesterday, and yesterday was only slightly different from the day before that.

For example, while the U.S. Interstate Highway System got started under President Eisenhower in 1956, it was preceded by many laws, failed projects, and various other related efforts going back to the early 1900s. All those attempts to make incremental improvements led to a bigger attempt at improvement – and, in hindsight, a revolutionary idea.

So that raises the question of whether there has ever been a revolutionary change that was initiated as such. How about President Kennedy proclaiming in 1961 that we would go to the moon by the end of that decade? Certainly, going to the moon qualifies as a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal).

But, while the idea of going to the moon was innovative, actually going wasn’t revolutionary change. It was a culmination of many small economic, psychological, and technological advancements. All those incremental changes led to the president calling for this revolutionary idea. And that, itself, led to the years of improvements that would be made before Apollo 11 left Earth.

Even if we hadn’t made it to the moon by 1969, we still would have reaped the benefits of much of the technological change.

There’s a wonderful lesson here for those of us trying to drive big change in our business.

We focus on creating revolutionary change, breakthrough campaigns, and big ideas. We aim for the viral, big bang: one and done. And the thought of this change becomes overwhelming. It’s like we proclaim we’re going to the moon, but don’t even have the concept of flight.

Truly successful media creators – whether they produce newspapers, magazines, TV shows, movies, or even novels – focus hour by hour, day by day, and week by week on creating the most valuable story products they can. It’s only in hindsight that any of it gets labeled “revolutionary.”

Content marketers need to follow this slow and steady model. Even the content marketing revolutionaries we often talk about – Red Bull, Kraft, Indium, HubSpot, and others – didn’t set out to create revolutions. They set out to make a change for their business through many incremental improvements that would add value to their customer’s lives. Only in hindsight do we see them as revolutionaries.

Only in hindsight will you recognize your revolutions. They don’t come in a headline.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

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