Tuesday 2¢: Is Your Marketing Giving, Taking or Something in Between?

This week I am inspired by Adam Grant's theory of three kinds of people found in organizations - Givers, Takers and Matchers - and relate it to the nature of content marketing.

  1. chevron left iconTuesday 2¢: Is Your Marketing Giving, Taking or Something in Between?
Ian TruscottNovember 14, 2017
  • Content Marketing

Welcome to the Tuesday 2¢. It’s Tuesday, the weekend is a distant memory and it’s time to let off some steam and give our 2 cents on a hot industry topic. This week, Ian Truscott relates human nature to the nature of content marketing.

This week I am inspired by Adam Grant, the author of “Give and Take”, who gave a Ted Talk that one of my colleagues shared a few weeks ago (thanks Christina!).

If you are not familiar with his work, his book and Ted Talk both discuss three kinds of people found in organizations - Givers, Takers and Matchers.

Givers and Takers, I think, are self-explanatory and you can imagine their behavior. The Matchers, however, are the people in between who believe in a balance, a quid pro quo. Grant goes on to share some interesting analysis of how these different types of people fair in terms of success within their organizations.

I recommend watching the video or reading his book, but I’m afraid that I have to share a spoiler here - it turns out that high achievers are most often Givers.

If you read this blog regularly (and thank you for that), you will perhaps be unsurprised that I saw a connection between this and marketing teams, and more specifically content marketing teams. Perhaps we should consider what type of marketing team our organization is? Are we Givers, Takers or Matchers?

I am at Forrester CX Summit this week and as I thought about this idea, I had a really good conversation with Forrester Analyst Samantha Merlivat. We discussed what she described as the “Post Digital Mindset” – in a nutshell how we can shift away from all the shiny gimmicks and tactics of “digital” and take a more considered, holistic approach to the customer experience.

She discussed three strategies for doing this: being human, being handy/available, and being useful. Basically, considering the consumer of your marketing as a person, treating them as such, and applying these human characteristics and qualities to your marketing. Which brings me back to Adam Grant – are we Givers, Takers or Matchers?

I suspect that if you ask around, the traditional perspective of marketers is that of Takers. We basically interrupt, get in the way, and steal time for our own purposes. We talk about ourselves and are perceived as giving very little.

As a consultant, I would recommend that organizations move away from this and towards a more balanced “quid pro quo” approach to content marketing that provides something useful to both the marketer and the consumer. I would recommend that marketing teams depart from just talking about their own products and services and instead consider the consumer’s needs while still keeping an eye on the company’s return. If a marketing team thinking like this were a person, I think Grant would consider them a Matcher.

This, I think, is a great step. We have some research coming out shortly where we have surveyed marketers and it’s clear that the overwhelming majority are still only producing content that focuses on their company, service or product – becoming “Matchers” is still an aspirational state for many organizations.

But what about becoming a Giver? Could a marketing team totally focus on the customer’s needs? With no consideration of a return on marketing investment?

Grant found in his research that some of the most successful people were Givers, but some of the least successful were also Givers. I suspect that this would be the same if you tried your hand at being very focused on being useful and less on getting a return on your marketing.

The generous giving of useful content is exactly what content marketing is all about and if you do this successfully, there are enough case studies to demonstrate that the rewards will come. Although I suspect that if you miss the mark, if you don’t understand the audience as well as ignore the role which marketing plays in delivering a return on investment, you will fail spectacularly – content production and delivery can be an expensive experiment.

So, that’s my Tuesday 2 cents for this week – as a marketer, are you a Giver, Taker or something in between?

Ian Truscott
Ian Truscott has a passion for creating ART (Awareness, Revenue and Trust) for B2B software companies as a marketing leader and is a censhare alumni. Wanting to connect a like minded community and share something useful, he founded Rockstar CMO, a monthly digital publication, and is currently helping B2B companies create ART at appropingo.

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