Stop telling everyone else what to do: content marketing

I think we are all getting a bit preoccupied with telling everyone else what to do.

When content marketing clicks it’s all about creating stories/information/perspectives that are worth talking about and sharing. Let’s be a bit more specific, today marketing is about creating useful interaction around human experiences.

Fortunately, there are firms which excel in providing services to clients with various marketing needs. You can learn more here. All you have to do is follow the link.

What becomes a very common path for businesses to go down when it comes to the creation of content is the bestowing of knowledge by directly telling people what to do. Here’s what’s happening on Twitter, such as:




And on LinkedIn we can even do it in bold:



While the world has now taken the position of encouraging content creators to become teachers, before we take to the front of the classroom with the light pen and gesticulating our arms and punching our fists at passionate beliefs, after watching Dead Poets Society the night before, I think we should get to know ourselves a bit better first.

We have effectively graduated ourselves to an educational role before we have done the groundwork. I’m not saying this is a bad thing as the affordability of technology allows us to have a voice to different audiences on various platforms, but in order to have a point of view we can’t be the same as everyone else and throw in the lists, ‘must haves,’ ‘how tos’ and ‘reasons why.’

The proviso today to being able to be in the position to list and tell people how they should behave is the laptop (or desktop). We all now have the same tools to project our message to others, but we don’t have a shortage of ‘lists’ and ‘FREE networking’ anymore to make ourselves better at our respective crafts.

We now live in a world where we pretend to know more about a subject than anyone else.

It’s a bit like my neighbour. When it comes to DIY and manly expectations, I think  I am devoid of testosterone. The shed I have tried to assemble, the garden table I have attempted to construct have been part of a catalogue of limp projects that I have either taken ages and given up on. However, my neighbour has always been ready to give advice over the fence for what I have been doing wrong, what I need to do or acknowledging that I am making a shambles of what I have taken on. There has always been this barrier between us ie. the fence and is a lot easier to comment and tell what to do as opposed to advising someone who is in unfamiliar territory.

This is what is happening within the social web or in particularly from our original sources (our websites and our blogs), where we have the virtual fence where businesses are looking over and saying the equivalent of ‘there’s 10 ways you should be putting that paint on’ without acknowledging how they have faced the problems themselves, had to take a step back, figure out what wasn’t working and share in a way that is their own voice with humility, authenticity and above all else, being normal.

In studies, the majority of people overestimate their IQ, according to psychologist David Dunning. For instance, in a study 94% of professors rated themselves above average when related to their peers and also found that people overestimate how charitable they will be for future donation causes, but accurately guess their peers’ donation traits.

If we’re now getting technical the terms this relates to is ‘illusory superiority’ this causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and underestimate their negative traits. I know we are all here in business to stand out from the competition, sell to an audience and to drive profitable action, but the above average effect is prevalent for many businesses who create content and advise others on how to do their job better without necessarily acknowledging how they found a problem, deconstructed where they went wrong and then shared how the problem was solved, rather than providing a bland list of reasons to be ‘better at x.’

One of the issues that I have with ongoing content creation is that it is the equivalent of looking at ourselves in the mirror every time and say ‘I reckon I’m a seven out of 10.’ What I am saying is that it becomes a bit tiresome to be faced with a …..


My view is that we can’t ignore our failures and to then have the ability to share this with others with how we found a resolution. Generosity leads to trust and if we care and persist by acknowledging that we all face problems that need to be tackled, then we are in the business of connecting and not dictating.

There is nothing wrong with highlighting what we have done wrong and helped make things better. Lets put the ‘I talk, you listen’ mentality to one side. The most valuable thing we can do is to create experiences that other people (and businesses) share and take on board. To be seen as successful we need to share our perspective with an audience who are ready to stick by us and leave the gate open for those who aren’t interested.

Setting ourselves up as experts is wrong, we need to create a community that share our involvement with the real world and get others to ask the right questions so they can find the answers for themselves.

This goes right back to the days of the caveman. No one stood in front of a group of hairy people and said ‘this is how you light a fire.’ The first person who ever managed to light a fire was from trying and failing and once they had achieved success, able to pass on what had been learnt.

Telling others what to do is an empty tactic in an ocean of noise clambering for our attention, every minute of the day. The answer is to become better at educating others so they can find the solution for themselves and to build your level of trust as an influencer and not a self-proclaimed expert.

To move from …..


We need to change our core set of beliefs from disrupting, self-importance and product promotion to becoming more open and sharing our experiences from the world around us, that has particular relevance to the marketplaces that we operate within.

We can’t set ourselves on pedastals and tell everyone that we’re better, but what we can be are people (and businesses) that has the ability to take a stand back, look at things that we consider as broken, find solutions and share with our audience.

The whole intention is for others to come to you as an equal and elevate to a person rather than the days of school and the lessons you became totally uninterested in when the learning was dictated from an old set of principals and theory and you sat there with heavy eyes and waning attention spans. This is what is prevalent at the moment on the social platforms we use and the spaces that we create, where the dictation and instruction of message can become tiresome when it isn’t compelling and makes a connection with us.

It’s time to stop telling others what to do and become more open to share within a community our failures, our viewpoints and also how to help others see the solutions to the problems that arise in a professional (and personal) arena.

Mark Masters

Mark Masters is the owner of The ID Group, a content marketing consultancy focusing on helping businesses stand for something, find their own voice and build an audience.