The fun part about having a “content brainstorm meeting” for writing “lead generation content” is that you can come up with something as crazy as you want. “How to tell if your cat is sexually attracted to you,” or “Does the 5 seconds rule also apply to soup?” is considered a good start.
We collect these odd curiosities and then we narrow them into the gist, then a series of legitimate marketing content.
At one of our content meetings, someone at the back of the meeting room shouted. “What about; how not to die alone?” The man had got a good laugh from people in the room for his other topics, but what made this stand out was that it was followed by a dead silence from the entire meeting room. The man looked down and breathed out heavily as if realizing he had said something he shouldn’t.
As his question hung in the air, I remembered a stranger I met at Starbucks earlier that morning. The man looked like he was around my age—early twenties and had a Nike cap placed on the shared table in front of him. He looked busy, everybody in Starbucks always looks busy, frowning as if reading an email about his father adopting a Syrian kid while he was away in Bangkok.
Perhaps what I was doing on my MacBook Air looked interesting to him, people always assume people with the silver laptops with the Apple logo emblazoned on it are doing something interesting—changing the world even, even if on their laptop screen is just an Instagram feed.
He said, “Are you making a movie?”
I could hear him through my earbuds while I was editing a short video for an advertisement for a brand new product. His tone was foreign, not an English Native Speaker, with an air of aloofness. Spoiled perhaps.
“I want to be able to make movies. Can I ask you what program do you use?”
I took off my earbuds. He took a sip of Starbucks Teavana Hibiscus tea and studied the footage on my iMovie. “So you’re a movie maker?”
“No, I’m a content marketer.” I hid my real job title to make this conversation shorter and easier for someone who didn’t know that the program he was looking at was iMovie. Someone like him.
“So what do you do?” I asked. I am a regular at this Starbucks but have never seen this guy before.
“I am a student.” Then he felt the impulse to add, “Before this I worked as a flight attendant for four years.”
I didn’t like him to begin with and, I thought, the ‘before this’ was contributed to nothing except for the self-aggrandizement.
“That’s cool!” I said, adding some sweetness into this bitter conversation. “I’ve always wondered if flight attendants are afraid of plane crashes…”
He face turned serious all of a sudden. That didn’t stop me from continuing. “Like the odds might be higher than regular passengers don’t you think?”
“Listen.” He said, calmly. “I was not. And you know why? Because I was living the dream. I knew that if I died, I’d die happy. You must have dreams.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Is being a content marketer your dream?”
“I want to be writer, actually. A novel writer.”
“See, you’re not following your dream. When I was a flight attendant. I loved EVERY MINUTE of it.”
“What made you quit then?”
“Four years was too long. What are you doing now if you’re not following your dream?”
“I am writing a novel, but it takes time to be a published author.”
“Some dreams take more time to actualize than other dreams.”
Journalists say writing lead-gen content is just as low as you can get in the writing profession. Your work has a short shelf-life and is likely to become digital garbage.
It’s hard to be the youngest person to lead such meetings. We create buyer personas we can refer to as our target customers, so everybody can easily put themselves into the semi-fictionalized buyer personas and generate hundreds of content ideas.
“‘When we were young’ could be a good topic.” A woman in our team said. “Would be interesting to stir some nostalgia and create a buzz for people over thirty. Do you remember what we did when we were Sam’s age?”
This idea received some nods.
“Sam, it feels like yesterday, no?”
It was, of course, for me. I’m the only one in his twenties in this room full of people on the verge of having a mid-life crisis. How was this meeting turned into a convention about how to deal with a mid-life crisis? Then I wrote ‘Mid-life Crisis’ on the board and set it as a topic. It fits to one of our buyer personas.
‘How Not to Die Alone’ sounded extreme at first. But when you think about it, this is the primal fear of basic human beings. This is why lovers hold hands when captain announces that the plane will enter turbulence, or a stranger sitting next to me would lean his body to my side. It’s why we are all have an instinct to make a family—for life to mean something.
At the end of the meeting, I reached the last page of the black hard-cover Muji Notebook I’ve been using for years and starting to write the first bullet point for the topic. My solo attempt to making sense of the absurdity that simply begins with “Find Someone You Love.”