Boston, Sunday, January 5, 2020
Hi and Cheers to you in the New Year! (*ting!*)
A feature of Goodreads, a social networking site for readers, allows you to set a goal for the number of books you want to read in 2020. So far, 1.1 million people have publicly challenged themselves to collectively read 51 million books.
I'm one of those 1.1 million.
After I'd opted in and set my 2020 book number (42—which is 6 more than I read in 2019), I realized how arbitrary that number is: 42 books isn't a lot. But it is a new book every 8.7 days. I have to either read shorter books, or read faster, to hit my goal.
But is reading faster what I want to do?
I read slowly. Because I like to. Some books take me forever because I mark them with a pen and fold their pages and re-read parts I love. I chew them slowly. I use them up.
* * *
Technology makes it easy to attach a number to just about every aspect of our lives and our businesses. And when we can measure it, we can optimize it, right?
We can optimize our websites for more traffic; our landing pages for more conversions; our bodies for more steps; our couch time for more books.
That's all fine. It's often fun. Except when the optimizing is focused only on the milestone (the number of books read) and not the appropriate momentum for getting there (like the ritual of reading).
In business, focusing only on the milestone and not the momentum means we often make decisions that are short-sighted—and maybe even all wrong.
We see it in Marketing all the time: Wade into your Spam folder for a refresher on what it means to focus on short-term outcomes and to be a business that doesn't give a fig about long-term relationships.
That's the result of aiming for milestones instead of building momentum at the right pace.
And then all of Marketing gets a bad rep. Someone I met at a holiday party a few weeks ago said, after I told her what I did for work, "Oh, you're one of those people whose calls I block."
* * *
Earlier this year I optimized my personal website for newsletter signups by adding a pop-up signup form over the content. You've seen a billion of them; you know what I'm talking about.
And you know what? It worked fantastically (more "books!"). But it was also aggressive and relentless and a few people asked if I'd had an aneurysm because that's how off-brand it was for me.
Pop-ups and chatbots work fine for some brands—no judgment. But I realized that's not how I want to build an audience.
* * *
The milestone (what you did) might be the result you want. But in the end the momentum (how fast or slow you did it) is often the more important part of the equation.
And so, in this glorious new year of 2020... sure, let's set goals.
And optimize the heck out of whatever actually needs optimizing.
But let's also optimize momentum: Creating space for things to develop more slowly over time is ultimately more fulfilling—and effective.
Let's ask: Are we applying the right measure of momentum for more meaningful results?
P.S. I adjusted my Goodreads goal back to last year's number of 36 because I decided I don't want to read faster. Instead, I want to optimize my life to always have a good book nearby. That's enough.
P.P.S. If you want to participate in the Goodreads 2020 Book Challenge, you can join in here
* * *
Here are a few things worth sharing this week, all loosely connected by the idea of creating more meaningful results in 2020.
1. Case in Data Point
"[Data] can be deceiving. It may lead you in one direction, when in fact the right answer may be completely in the opposite direction."
I love this detailed case study of how Restaurant Furniture Plus needed to look a little closer at its metrics to figure out what was really going on. It's a good reminder of two things: (1) Slowing down often help us to go faster; and (2) Data matters, but marketing is very much an art
. [h/t Daily Carnage newsletter]
2. Stop or Adopt?
Marketo offers up what to stop/what to adopt in 2020. Most relevant for content marketing:
Stop: Stuffing your content with keywords for SEO.
Adopt: Focus on natural keyword density and intent for SEO.
Most relevant for social media marketing:
Stop: Social media as a place to pitch.
Adopt: Social media as a place for engagement.
3. Powers That Three
It's 2020. Every other company already seems to be customer-centric and data-savvy.
Everyone else seems to be stacking their martech stack higher than yours.
Everyone else seems to be opting hard into omnichannel when you're still trying to do something great with... well, uni-channel.
Breathe in. (Deep inhale.)
Breathe out. (Cleansing exhale.)
4 Write Angle
"It's easy to misread tone in writing."
Or is it?
Author Gretchen McCulloch argues that the Internet is changing the way we write, making tone way easier to convey. Texting, Instagram captions, emojis... all of it is allowing us to play with language in new ways and giving us new tools for tone + nuance.
"[We've] been learning to write in ways that communicate our tone of voice, not just our mastery of rules," Gretchen writes here
. [h/t Katie Martell]
👉 FREE STORYTELLING TEMPLATE
(JUST FOR NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS) (DAS YOU)
Now, you can access the framework via this brand-new free template. The inspiration for it might be seasonal, but the framework applies all year round. (Click to enlarge.)