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Does the trend to digital mean that traditional communications are effectively… dead?  That all of your traditional communication tools (newsletters, magazines, brochures, booklets, etc) are destined for the trash heap?  One only needs to look at the sorry plight of the newspaper business to see that the future doesn’t look rosy. The world has changed.

Or have we so bought into the inevitability of technology that it has blinded us to what we are giving up?  And have we left many of our key target audiences frustrated, disengaged, or abandoned?  Consider your own behavior:

  • Do you really love receiving email blasts, or are you swimming in email overwhelm and rarely open everything sent to you?
  • Do you always remember the password to every website?  And are you super-enthused about keeping your accounts and profiles up-to-date?
  • Do you really engage in everyone else’s Facebook page, Tweet chats, LinkedIn groups, and other social media efforts, or are you generally indifferent to their efforts to engage you?  (Or maybe you actively choose not to use Facebook or other social media sites, for reasons of privacy.)
  • Do you really love using a mobile event app, or do actually prefer a printed program so you can easily write notes.  (And not worry if your smart phone runs out of power.)
  • And finally, has your vendors and partners rush to digital actually improved your relationship with them?

For many people, the answer to many of these questions, sadly, is no.  Digital is not the solution to every problem, and sometimes it creates completely new issues.

  • In the 1970s, the advent of computers heralded the age of the paperless office.  Today, we have more paper than ever.
  • In the 1980s, the advent of email heralded the end of traditional mail.  Today, 86% of all email traffic is spam (Cisco, 2016.)
  • In the mid-1990s, the advent of social media heralded the age of digital connection and personal empowerment.  Today, many are spooked by their loss of privacy.

Most sophisticated organizations understand it is the synthesis between digital and the real-world that creates connection and opportunity.  And for this reason, any digital initiative needs to be planned not just from an “implementation” perspective, but also a “process integration” perspective as well, with the key audiences at the center of every effort.

While today’s hot topic might be Digital Transformation with a capital D and capital T, some of the heavy lifting is surprisingly easy, and just plain common sense.  Consider the evolution of a simple monthly “print” newsletter or magazine:

  • Stage One – Traditional:  Print version sent via traditional mail.
  • Stage Two – Early Web:  Print version translated into an “e-zine” and blasted to everyone on the list.  (And posted on the website, sometimes as a PDF.)
  • Stage Three – Process Change:  Print version cancelled, and replaced with content delivered as individual blog posts, social links, and an email summary of the month’s posts.
  • Stage Four – Measurement and Awakening:  Hey, not many people are reading this stuff anymore, let alone “engaging” with it.
  • Stage Five – Audience-centered:  Continue as above, but blog posts repurposed into alternative formats.  This may include white papers, books, events, and other digital and non-digital formats.  (And it might also mean a print version sent via traditional mail.)

This week’s action plan:  Has your rush to digital been centered on the desire to reduce internal costs, the desire to be on the tech bandwagon (eg an event app, social media, a shiny new website) or on the requirements of your key audiences?  This week, go back five years, and re-look at the traditional communications that you no longer do.  Has anything been lost? (And if so, welcome to stage four.)

Marketing insights:   Stage Three – Process Change is special because it improves internal efficiency, in this case changing the editorial process from a batch mode to a continuous one.  Stage Four – Measurement and Awakening is important because it speaks to the importance of market research, measurement, and alignment.  Stage Five – Audience-centered is important because it puts the focus on delivering value to key audiences.  Digital Transformation is not about websites, mobile apps, or databases: it is about using these tools to achieve the benefits of Stage Three and Stage Five, with an always-on Stage Four.

 Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

{ 1 comment }

Have you ever seen a mistake in someone else’s blog or social media post?  Or maybe you’ve been a victim of this yourself?  It could be a simple typographical or grammatical error, a case of misattribution, or a more serious case of factual error.

Unfortunately, it happens far too often, for some very obvious reasons:

  1. Some content is dictated and the speech-t0-text software sometimes gets it wrong.
  2. Editing is done in a cursory fashion, or sometimes, not at all.
  3. Fact-checking, a staple of traditional publications, is rarely done for online content.  (And it is rarely done for traditionally published content either.)
  4. A post relies on a third party for facts, when, in fact, the third-party’s content may not be correct, or worse, the third party site may have relied on yet a different non-corroborated third-party source.

A few examples:

  • In a post entitled Six Top Thought Leadership Articles, there was some text that incorrectly said, “Here are sex posts that explore these concepts.”  The feedback was instantaneous (and a bit embarrassing).
  • In a recent Facebook post, I “quoted” the very prolific Albert Einstein, who said “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”  Unfortunately, Einstein actually never said this.  (Hat tip to Larry Goldberg and others who pointed this out.)  In this case, we relied on third-party sites, who relied on other third-party sites within the world web web echo chamber.

Mistake repair strategy:

  1. When quoting a person, whether they are alive or dead, double-check the accuracy beforehand. is a great place to start.
  2. Edit the post if possible.  If not, add a comment acknowledging the error.
  3. If the post is of lower value, and there are no comments attached to it, delete it entirely.
  4. As a courtesy, circle back to the source of the error and advise them of any necessary changes.

This week’s action plan:  The fact that errors do creep in begs the question of the quality of your content editing and review process.  This week, consider whether any of your errors were random or can be traced back to a systemic issue:  is it time to upgrade your editing process? Or add some fact-checking?

Can you find the error in this post?  Yes, there is an error in this post – did you happen to see it? Look for “speech-t0-text” within the post: the word “to” is spelled with a zero instead of an “o”.

Finally, a hat tip to the talented Daniel Wolgelerenter, a professional editor and copywriter, for going through earlier versions of this post.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Bloated Websites: Transparency vs. Accessibility

by Randall Craig February 10, 2017

How often are you frustrated by websites that have so many pages, it is impossible to actually find anything? Unfortunately, this is all to common of a complaint.  Websites are often used as corporate dumping grounds for every bit of information from every new initiative, often spanning backwards into the decades.  And every time the website is […]

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13 Resources for Writers

by Randall Craig December 9, 2016

Do you wish that you could be more effective with the written word?   Have you always hated writing, from the first time your grade three teacher insisted you write two paragraphs on what you did during the summer?  Or maybe you enjoy the idea of writing, but you don’t enjoy the reality of writer’s block. Written communication […]

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Inclusive Communications – Avoiding the Uniformity Trap

by Randall Craig November 4, 2016

As a speaker or writer, one of the most powerful techniques is to look for common cause with your audience.  This may mean using words or imagery that conjure up something from a shared past, or play to a shared cultural experience. Unfortunately, this very same technique is unwittingly used to the exact opposite effect: it excludes.  And when […]

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How journalists improve reader engagement

by Randall Craig October 21, 2016

What is the one lesson that appears in every newspaper article, every magazine article, and for that matter, every bestselling book?  Journalists and editors realize that they have to work exceptionally hard to get people to actually read what they write. And unless you actually do so, their work has no value – so they have become experts […]

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Eight email marketing letters

by Randall Craig September 9, 2016

Do you use email every day for marketing and outreach?  Not every email is the same – there are a number of different types, each with a different goal.  How many have you used?  Great marketers know that using the right stimulus at the right time will yield the desired results.  Using marketing emails inappropriately will only annoy the recipient – […]

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The Sharpest Point (2)

by Randall Craig July 8, 2016

Have you ever listened to a presentation, and felt the signal-to-noise ratio could have been improved?  Or have you ever delivered a critical presentation, and felt that you could have done better… but you were not precisely sure how? Too often we add debris into our presentations.  These are those filler words, unrelated sidebars, and administrative notes that […]

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Is Content Dead? (Yes… and No)

by Randall Craig June 3, 2016

Many marketers have recently “discovered” content marketing.  The theory is that if you put more content out there, prospects (clients, job candidates, members, etc) will find it, self-identify, and then beat a path to your doorstep. The benefits of investing in content are legion: an easier education and sales process, better quality leads, better conversion rates, reduced cost of […]

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14 great reads on building influence and impact

by Randall Craig January 22, 2016

Do your readers read beyond the first sentence or two?  And do they care enough about your ideas to actually act on them?  Writing is a critical engagement skill, so a small investment in time can make your words make a bigger impact. Here are 14 great reads that can increase your effectiveness – and your influence: Link Bait Headlines: […]

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Viewpoint: The decay of personal responsibility

by Randall Craig December 24, 2015

In his 2003 Australian best-seller Death Sentence: The Decay of Public Language, author Don Watson rails against lifeless, plastic corporate-speak.   He complains that too often, organizations hide behind their words, instead of connecting with their audiences with an authentic voice.  While he was writing about traditional communications, his point is doubly true in today’s digital […]

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Link Bait Headlines

by Randall Craig December 4, 2015

Have you ever been “gulled” into reading an article, blog post, or viewing a video because of the headline?  Not the descriptive type of headline (such as Link Bait Headlines), but the kind that reels you in, like a helpless fish on a line.  If you’re not sure you’ve seen this type of approach, some […]

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Choosing your Marketing Voice

by Randall Craig August 21, 2015

Have you ever considered why some emails resonate, and others seem just a bit off? While the general topic of copywriting has been handled here quite well, too often emails – especially ones that for part of a marketing automation sequence – fail because of one thing: voice. Consider these four examples: 1) Passive Voice […]

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Marketing Fluff: Increasing your value per word

by Randall Craig August 14, 2015

When you write, does everything that you put down on paper deliver exceptional value? Or is there a certain amount of low-value filler that invades your communications? There are three strategies that can significantly upgrade your value in the eyes of your audience: Target: right audience – right message: What is high value to one group […]

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Three keys for a website that converts

by Randall Craig August 7, 2015

What makes a web site great? What might come to mind is great design, easy-to-find information, and intuitive functionality. These may have made the top of the list in 2003 (or even 2013) , but are, at best, merely sufficient today. Many professional marketers now understand where the web fits into the mix: it is […]

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11 killer copywriting techniques

by Randall Craig July 17, 2015

Here’s a question you don’t get asked every day: how much do you really know about writing?  And more particularly, the craft of copywriting?  Unless you do this for a living or had extensive training , the answer is likely not very much. Yet no matter your particular role or responsibilities, copywriting is an exceptionally important skill: it educates, […]

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Insight: How not to sell

by Randall Craig June 5, 2015

Marketing and sales are at the core of almost every organization. Whether it is writing a proposal for a prospect, encouraging a person to join your organization, or selling an internal team on a concept, the act of gaining alignment and commitment is critical. More evidence of the importance of sales can be found by […]

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Top 10 Content Marketing Posts

by Randall Craig January 16, 2015

How is your content planning for the year coming along?  Or, perhaps the plan is in place, but you are now looking at a blank page, with an old-fashioned case of writer’s block. Fear not, as we have collected the top ten posts on content creation and inbound marketing. Blog Content Creation: Idea seeding:  How […]

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Ten tips for when the media calls

by Randall Craig December 26, 2014

The phone rings or an email arrives (or a Twitter direct message appears) from a journalist, asking for your opinion on a particular topic.  What should you do? a) Panic b) Answer their questions c) ??? Journalists are half sleuth/half expert communicator:  they are paid to find out what is happening, and then make it […]

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Three Blog Archetypes: Writing for Results

by Randall Craig August 15, 2014

Have you noticed that each magazine, newspaper, and TV news show has its own style?  They do so because style builds brand equity with their target audience.  But look underneath the glitz of style, these pros have structured each story almost exactly the same. They understand the power of the archetype. If you haven’t thought […]

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