Hello, hot stuff!
This essay in today's newsletter is shorter + sweeter + more tactical than most. Not because this week is Valentine's Day, but because I've been obsessed with Marie Kondo's Netflix show, Tidying Up. Marie has become my constant internal companion this past week or so.
You've heard of the show, right? It's a reality show in which the Japanese lifestyle brand-slash-person ransacks people's homes. She sifts and sorts, and she fills massive trash bags with stuff that doesn't "optimize joy."
Often, the people whose homes she invades are reduced to tears. So it's fun to watch.
I kid I kid... It's fun to watch because it's 1000% relatable.
We all have messy baggage that needs tidying up. Sometimes that mess is actual (sayonara, 2010's wedge sneakers!) and sometimes it's emotional or intellectual or imaginary or completely contrived and we just need to let that isht go.
One thing I've realized from hanging out with Marie is that in almost all the situations on her TV show... the mess has just piled up. It happened. And it often seems startling to the people on her show just *how much* baggage they've stuffed their lives with.
I get it. You think you're doing pretty well until one day you realize that you've got 47 coffee mugs in the kitchen cabinet and a colony of contractor-sized trash bags stuffed with plushies multiplying in the attic.
When. Did. THAT. Happen...?
And so it goes for writing, too. You know (more or less) the rules of good writing. You've read Everybody Writes. You have a copy of Strunk & White around here somewhere....
But still. The mess happens.
Earlier this week, I started noticing the writing baggage that's landed in my inbox—the needless words, the clichéd phrases. (That's the first step in my friend Marie's method, by the way: Noticing and committing to tidying up.)
I dug in (second step from Marie). I sorted and bagged up all of these 16 examples from the pitches and emails in my inbox this week:
"Unless you've been living under a rock"
"I'm excited to announce that"
"Ways by which"
"At which time"
"When it comes to"
"The majority of"
"The fact that"
"In the near future"
"If I may"
"In the process of"
"To be honest"
Just as no one sets out to have 7 dog leashes for 1 dog (holla! 🙋), no writer loves to use dumb and unnecessary words, either.
No writers wants to rely on writing cliché and bromide and shtick.
No writer decides to hoard buzzwords in 42-gallon trash bags.
But still. The mess. It happens.
"The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past," Marie writes in the book that spawned her career, celebrity, brand, Netflix show, and my pretend-friendship with her.
So: Abandon all those clichés and useless words! Pack them up and drag them outside to the Content Dumpster.
Stay alert out there, friends!
Keep your wits about you!
Write as the person you're becoming now. And shed the unnecessary words others have used in the past.
Don't make me send Marie after you. I know this much about her (and Netflix): She will make you cry.
P.S. Maybe you need to sweep those 16 examples of excess out of your own house, too? Or if not those... which? Hit reply and tell me what words and phrases you're dragging to the dumpster!
* * *
Here are 5 things I thought were worth sharing this week, packaged with a few favorite content tools and new books.
"Which ad won the Super Bowl?" isn't nearly as interesting a question as what the stories told in the ads collectively say about us. Like...
🏈 We're terrified of robots running amok.
🏈 Empowered women rule.
🏈 Retro is always a good bet.
🏈 Brands are desperate to hook up with Purpose.
👉 👉 👉 Go deeper: That last baller bullet point should be most interesting to all of us as people—not just as marketers. That's why it's in bold.
Those brands that do it well have the guts to galvanize their best customers and make the world a better place. Think:
- REI's decision to shut down its stores on Black Friday
- Microsoft's requiring that all US suppliers in its supply chain offer 12 weeks of parental leave
- Salesforce's auditing of its payroll to ensure gender and racial pay equality
- Maybe you, too?
Trends With Benefits 👫👬
This digital trends Fact Book is *bananas*. Researcher Simon Kemp at DataReportal serves up everything you need to know about the Internet in 2019—including strong, frog-kick deep dives into mobile, social media, and e-commerce in 230 countries and territories around the world.
You'll practically need an oxygen tank to explore the depths of the trends here.
Why it matters to marketing: This is one to bookmark when you need some data-backed guidance for your strategy, or when you need that perfect snapshot of just how much time we spend staring at screens each day (6 hours, 42 minutes), or when your boss asks, Is it true that people are giving up Facebook?
On that last point: Not really, it turns out. From Simon:
There are some signs that people are using Facebook less...but it seems that there may be a significant lag between what people say they're going to do (#DeleteFacebook), and what they're actually doing ("Oh! A Facebook notification. I'll just take a quick look...").
Reach. Authority. New perspectives. Joy. Tighter glutes. Those are all good reasons to buddy up with others to create content marketing assets.
Be My Valentine, Marketing Edition
It's Galentine's and Valentine's Day this week... so my two favorite marketing campaigns today center on the theme of matchmaking.
💓 Nothing spoils the mood more than Keto and Whole30 trying to agree
on a restaurant. I love how OpenTable helps you two find your perfect spot with its restaurant matchmaker
💓💓 Animal lovers in Lithuania have created a Tinder-style mobile app
to match up dogs in local shelters with new owners
. GetPet allows people to book a date with an attractive four-legged friend. The dog, of course, cannot swipe left. #robbed
This Week's Writing Tip ✍️
A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic,
goes the saying. (Who said it...? Stalin? Remarque? Unclear.)
It means: Numbers without human-sized context are unrelatable and soulless and a little boring. So are concepts—big, audacious ideas that are hard to wrap your brain around. I write about that this week, including a great B2B example. Get it.
🔧 This newsletter framework from NPR
walks you through the questions you need to ask/answer before you start a newsletter (or if you want to reboot a terrible one you're sending). (High-five to Dan for this one, too.)
🔧 The Stoop app
is specifically designed to receive and read newsletters—kind of like a podcast app, but for stuff you read. I love this idea, if your favorite newsletters (ahem!)
get lost in your inbox.
Chris asks and answers questions like What is AI? What questions should marketers should be asking of vendors? Is a robot about to replace me? How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood...? (👈 j/k on the last one)
💌 To Chasity Cooper at the Freelancers Union for naming Everybody Writes one of 8 Books That Will Improve Your Freelancing in 2019.
💌 To Ruta Puistomaa, for giving this letter a shout in 4 Practices to Include in Your Content Strategy.
💌 To Virginia Backaitis at CMSwire, who said some nice things about the MarketingProfs Happiness Report we produced with Mantis Research.
💌 To Brad Marley, who chatted me up about the state of writing, storytelling, and my recent favorite marketing campaigns (hey-yo, Wistia!).
💌 To Andrew & Pete, whose YouTube show is fun AF and who surprisingly gave me a cameo.
💌 To my buddy John Elsasser and PRSA, who asked me how exactly do we focus on the "letter" part of "newsletter"?
💌 To Financial Brand Exec Editor (and new subscriber—hi!) Steve Cocheo, who asked me what I thought about Wells Fargo's rebrand and then actually published it.
💌 And to Mat Zucker writing at Forbes, for calling this newsletter out as joyful.
We started today's letter writing about joy, so this feels a good place to stop.
Be well. Love you. Thank you for reading this far.