In The Office (we’re talking the UK version, just for clarity), the star of the show is the hapless, cringeworthy David Brent.
Believing himself to be super cool, Brent believes that he’s a super successful business maverick. His jokes are not funny. He is selfish, immature, and unpleasant. He’s so preoccupied with his position that he puts everything — and everybody — else kind of last.
The thing that makes Brent so almost-unfunny is his own sense of humour.
In Season 2, Episode 1, Brent is introduced as someone who is on top; and he destroys the moment by trying to be funny and making a quip (which falls flat of course) about being a homosexual.
Here’s the exchange:
Introducer: ‘I’m sure he’s looking forward to having a whole new group of men underneath him.’
The Office (UK). Season 2, Episode 1.
Brent: ‘Thanks. What he was saying about me being top of the pile of men- saying I’m gay. I’m not gay. In fact, I can honestly say I’ve never come over a little queer!’
He giggles and moves on.
It’s not even that it’s totally unacceptable in a business context (the context is why it’s amusing in The Office). It’s that he gets the measure of the situation so damnably wrong.
Brent works so hard to be the next in line for a promotion — any promotion — that he completely fails to be a real person.
And you know what? You absolutely run the risk of doing this in business publishing and marketing.
The language of your market applies not just to what’s inside your publication. It also applies to what you title it. It applies to the positive constraints that you give it.
Ries and Trout, in their 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing talk about how the audience (prospect, in their terms) is never wrong, not in their own minds.
Right? If you think about yourself, you know full-well that this is true.
So, if your audience thinks your publication is rubbish, doesn’t sit well, looks or sounds try-hard, or otherwise misses the mark, they are right.
That’s why just smashing out blogs about yourself is so limiting. Yes, you want to tell the world about you, it’s understandable. But your prospects want to hear about themselves and their own problems, not you and how great you are.
Case studies are one of the key ways you can avoid this problem, without having to stretch so far out of your comfort zone that your colleagues will slap you.
Speaking of which, our case studies deal is only on until 14 February, which means you only have a few weeks left to get it with all its extra consulting time.