The connotations of “quiet quitting” range from “heck yeah” to “heck no” depending on whom you ask. Though the term often refers to employees doing minimal work in protest of poor conditions or low wages, we thought we could put a positive spin on the concept and apply it to content. What norms are holding back our content? What marketing trends should we “quiet quit”?
So, we reviewed our work and the work of our peers over the past year to identify three trends we’re quiet quitting in 2023:
1. Using imprecise language in communications
It’s time to raise the bar for being precise with language. How often, for example, have you heard “audience-first” or “audience-centric”? Shouldn’t all content prioritize the audience and their wants/needs/goals? What do we even mean by “audience-centric”? Sure, it sounds nice in a presentation, but it’s more important to be precise. If you’re highlighting how a strategy or piece of content delivers on a specific audience need, say that. If you’re expressing how you’ve let the audiences’ goals inform every decision, say that.
Another example: the word “design.” Somehow the disciplines of illustration, print layout and production, photo editing, typography, data visualization, and brand identity have all been reduced to… “design.” This use of the word confuses design thinking with design execution. A project requiring a collaborative and creative process differs from one where only execution is needed (flowing copy into a template, or cropping photos, for example). Without specificity the word “design” trends toward the latter, which hamstrings overall creativity. If the goal is high-quality content, all creatives must have a seat at the table — and more precise language can help achieve that.
So, we’re committing to being more precise in our speech, and hope to see the content improve because of it.
2. Falling into the trap of false binaries
This trap often is rooted in good intentions: If you don’t set out to speak to the unique needs of underserved and/or underrepresented individuals, it’s easy to default to majority messaging. But the data proves what we’ve heard anecdotally and from qualitative research: Communities do not want to be lumped together. (Check out our conversation with Alma CEO Isaac Mizrahi on what it means to market appropriately and effectively to Hispanic audiences.)
Many brands have stopped using the word “minority,” which we applaud. But there remains a tendency to use language that suggests someone is either straight and white, or something else. The solve, in our estimation, is fairly simple: Speak to the universal needs of an audience (athletes, parents, students, real estate agents), speak to the needs of a specific audience (Hispanic college athletes, single white mothers, gay high school students, Trans real estate agents), or lend your platform to a member of that community and empower them to speak for themselves.
But this solution also may require a shift in tactics. Content marketers, like anyone in business, want to stretch their dollars. But addressing these narrow segments can require a larger investment. Instead of one video for “diverse college athletes,” it might mean several videos with unique messaging for the targeted sub-segments. You might spend more to reach the same number of people, but the content will be far more engaging — it says you took the time to understand their unique perspective.
In 2023 and beyond, we’ll be extra vigilant in helping our clients use language that resonates with the intended audience, and doesn’t inadvertently lump together distinct communities. In certain contexts (program titles, campaign tag lines, anywhere word count is limited) this presents challenges, but we’re committed to creating improvements wherever we can.
3. Contributing to shallow, status quo content
Do you want to host another 20-minute webinar on a tired topic, for only six people to attend? Or, are CTAs always best as three-word buttons?
Of course, webinars and action buttons have their place. But in a quest for eyeballs and attention, a lot of corporate content has become outright boring (a recent Adweek post agrees). In a time when many marketers continue to bang the drum of short attention spans and short-form content, a recent Google Consumer Insights post proves that audiences are ravenous for in-depth content. The short, quick, flashy stuff should be a gateway to deeper, more specific — and often longer — content.
Google’s latest “helpful content” update is further proof that audiences are sifting through a sea of 2-minute videos and 700-word articles to find something substantive that is engaging and specific to what they need or are looking for.
Granted, giving audiences the information they need in the right channels will continue to include short, grabby content. But in 2023, we’re committing to experimenting and taking strategic chances — actively on the lookout for opportunities to feed our audiences’ appetite for substantive content.
What are you “quiet quitting” in 2023?
What content trends are you resolved to resist in the coming year? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Send us a message or tag us on LinkedIn or Twitter. And if you have any content needs, whether it’s planning and strategy, production, or anything in between, please don’t hesitate to reach out — we’re happy to get on a call to learn more.