I’m Kevin Costner, standing in a corn field, and a mysterious voice is telling me “if you build it, they will come”. I have no idea what this dude is talking about, but I go on ahead and build it anyway, and all of a sudden it’s the bottom of the 9th and shoeless Joe Jackson is running bases like it’s nobody’s business…
Field Of Dreams is a classic, what my kids would call a “mommy movie”, because, like me, it was made eons before they were born. The message is magical, inspirational, and a even bit prophetic in today’s content-driven society. Just look at the blogosphere, look at Instagram, look at the pipeline of Netflix originals. Content is king, and if you create it, and if it’s good, people will simply flock to it. Right?
I always thought that was the case. But I’m learning- the hard way- that it takes a heck of a lot more than a good topic or a fancy title or a titillating image to draw in (and enrapture) an audience.
Just look at this blog. It‘ s great stuff, isn’t it? Why haven’t I signed the book deal, not to mention the made for TV, Reese Witherspoon produced movie deal already? I mic drop my thoughts on the vast WordPress community with no regularity whatsoever, leveraging my wit, my perception, and my way with words, hoping to worm my way into the hearts of millions of other would-be bloggers for life. I’m proud of the approaching 200 of you who haven’t bailed on me (isn’t auto delete a great feature?), but the past 2 years have hardly been overnight success. I can’t quit my day job just yet.
Speaking of my day job, it also happens to be content driven in the sense that 2000+ investors rely on me to provide insight on stocks on a daily basis. I want- no, I need- as many of them as possible to not only open my email, but read to the end, reply with feedback (or pushback, I’m an equal opportunity recipient), and choose to reward my firm with monetary compensation. I need to be provocative, relevant, punny, and controversial to get people to feel compelled to act. That’s a lot of pressure, and sometimes it’s still not enough, and I find myself talking to no one.
As my role has expanded, and I’ve taken on more leadership at the firm, that’s come with increased responsibility to provide support and assistance for the employee base. I’m asked to put together programming like panels and speakers on topics that will appeal to the masses (women, parents, and other affinity groups). When I deliver a premium product complete with experts and even free cocktails– why in the world does NO ONE show up? Why do I feel like I’m the one asking- no, begging, for help and support?
It’s because simply putting it out there is not enough. In today’s environment, no one feels compelled to “show up” anymore. We don’t need to respond to emails or texts in real time (or at all). The phone really isn’t ringing, so there’s no need to answer a call to action. We actually don’t have to “talk” to anyone because we can find out what everyone we’ve ever known is up to this morning by scrolling through Facebook or Insta stories. We don’t have to make it home for our favorite TV show because the DVR has our back. Almost everything in our lives today is passive, there is no urgency. And we’re absolutely inundated by content, so for those of us providing it, it better be so outrageous or offer an incredible value proposition, otherwise the eyeballs are not stopping for a second glance.
It’s heart wrenching when you build it, and they don’t come. But we can’t let that leave us standing at the pitcher’s mound on a baseball diamond in the middle of a Iowan cornfield. We have to continue to work hard, dust those bases, water the turf, and rake the dirt, and eventually, with that relentless effort, the seeds we’ve sown will sprout. It might take more self-promotion, more shameless pleas for friends to spread the word, more jumping up and down while screaming “look over here!”. I truly believe we cannot be deterred. They will come, we just may have to drag them there.
Don’t lose hope! And like this post gosh darn it!