Old man bar fight
Yo! Welcome to the next episode of The Content Strategy Reeder. Today you're getting a story and advice for avoiding a metaphorical bar fight.
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My success has always come down to one thing: knowing my audience better than my competition.
Not just who they are, but what they want, feel, and need. It’s the “secret weapon” behind my content strategy and growth.
If you want direct insight into what YOUR audience cares about, you can use Vouch to collect short, personal videos that surface insights that inform your marketing strategy, then share the content as social proof.
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Earlier this week I was coaching a marketer friend of mine on a project he’s working on.
We’ll call him Brice.
Brice was feeling stressed and overwhelmed because no matter how much he tried, no matter how much creative juice he squeezed on it — like a juicy lime atop a fresh fish taco — he couldn’t get it right. It was just… off.
So he called me to get some direction.
A bit more context:
Once he gave me the run down, I could tell this project was doomed to from the start. The medium didn’t match the audience, and the messaging was meh, which made the whole thing feel forced and irrelevant.
Put simply, it was not a good idea.
No one could “save” this thing.
But it was an idea handed down (read, demanded) from his CMO and he simply couldn’t get out of it. He asked me what he should do. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: This’ll make sense in a second.
Do you know why you never get into a bar fight with an old guy?
Brice: Ummm… no. but something tells me this is about to get interesting.
Me: You never get into a bar fight with an old man because even if you win, you become the a-hole who beat up an old guy. Not cool. Or you lose, then you just got your ass kicked by an old guy. It’s lose lose.
This project is an old guy bar fight. You’re screwed if you do, screwed if you don’t.
Brice: (through laughter) OK, thanks for that.
So… what should I do??
Me: You’re not going to like this. Hell, I don’t even like what I’m about to say.
This is one of the very, very few times where the best route is to “phone it in.” Just get the job done then move on to the next thing.
Brice: Yea but I can't just not care...
Me: I feel you. But it's not about not caring and more about being detached. Decouple your success with the success of this project. That'll remove the stress you're feeling.
If you have one takeaway from Brice's predicament, let it be this:
Recognize when you’re in an old man bar fight
If you’re on a B2B marketing team, you can’t always get out of these. They happen.
Someone with a big title insists their bad idea happens. And sometimes, unfortunately, it falls in your lap.
This has happened to me too. More times that I care to admit.
And I’ve done both routes. I’ve poured myself into projects, sure that I could find an angle or fix the concept to make it work. After doing everything I could and still failing, I realized there’s no "winning" — just getting through it and shaking it off.
That said, if you’re an entrepreneur or solo creator, you should never be in a bar fight to begin with because you call the shots.
One more thing...
I decided to share this with you because you might be like me, where your career trajectory and success at work has a big impact on your identity, self esteem or mood (despite your best efforts).
I hope today's episode helps you stay confident in your abilities and confident because you can only control what you can control. (Cliche but a good one, eh?).
So control your effort. Control your response. And don’t let yourself fall into an old man bar fight.
Holler at you next week,
PS: Next week I'm going to share how I plan my quarterly content deliverables to reach strategic goals and multiple stakeholders. If you have questions or something you want me to include, hit Reply and give me a shout.
Digital resources for creating memorable content
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