The Cowboy and I just returned from Florida where we had the privilege of visiting the Navy SEALs Museum in Ft. Pierce. To say we were in awe would be an understatement. I wish every American could visit this museum and get a glimpse of the sacrifices these men make in order to defend our country. It is simply incredible.
Why do they do it? For freedom, honor, for love of country, to test one’s mettle, to drive oneself beyond what he thinks he can do… I imagine these and more are the reasons a man wants to become a Navy SEAL.
I found the following code at http://navyseals.com:
The SEAL Code
• Loyalty to Country, Team and Teammate
• Serve with Honor and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield
• Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit
• Take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates
• Excel as Warriors through Discipline and Innovation
• Train for War, Fight to Win, Defeat our Nation’s Enemies
• Earn your Trident everyday
As I reviewed the code, I realized that those of us who want to produce quality content each day would do well to observe their principles and customize it for our own use.
Loyalty to the team and the brand
When you create content, sometimes you can get caught up in your own world. It’s easy to look out for #1 (that would be you).
But a Navy SEAL never thinks of just himself. He thinks about his team and the mission. An admirable interdependence the SEALs have with one another allows them to do the dangerous jobs they do.
When you understand what your brand’s message is (or the “mission”), you then can work together with your team to create the type of content that will consistently communicate that message.
Loyalty means that one’s ego is left behind and the greater good of getting customers to the table is made a priority. It also means watching the back of your team members, catching potential problem areas in the content before they cast your brand in a bad light.
Serve with honor and integrity
Sometimes a brand makes a mistake. The way they respond to that mistake can make all the difference in the world.
I’ve spoken before about Dave Carroll, the musician who had his guitar mishandled and broken by the luggage handlers at United Airlines. He was so fed up after getting the runaround that he wrote the viral hit song, “United Breaks Guitars.”
If United Airlines had conducted themselves with integrity, they never would have allowed the situation to reach such a point. They would have made things right with Dave by paying to repair his guitar.
Make sure your content leaves a good taste in the audience’s mouth. In other words, don’t bash the competition. Speak positively about others whenever possible. Do the right thing. Admit you’re wrong when it’s appropriate. Keep your promises.
This sort of behavior will earn big points with your audience. Over time, they will trust you above and beyond your competition because you proved to them that you’re a man or woman of your word.
Ready to lead, ready to follow, never quit
Content marketing is a never-ending task. Companies are starting to realize that this isn’t just a “one and done” type of marketing activity. There are now content marketing mission statements to create, editorial calendars, and a slew of individuals who need to keep this marketing tactic afloat.
Each member of a content marketing team must be both ready to lead an initiative, ready to follow one, and to never quit trying to improve. This requires a focus on the brand’s message and a commitment toward making sure the message is communicated clearly and effectively.
Take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your team
I used to work with a manager who joked about a former employee who would often say, “That’s not my job, man” when asked to do something. Needless to say, he didn’t last long as an employee.
There will always be certain types who shift the blame onto someone else. Or they’ll throw their fellow employees under the bus to save their own skin.
Neither attitude is acceptable to a Navy SEAL. With developing content marketing, it’s important to own it completely. This means owning it if it doesn’t work out as planned. The good news about content marketing is that it will always be a “work in development.” There is no silver bullet or cut-and-dried method that will work for every organization.
The only way you’ll discover if a specific approach works is to try it and see what happens. And if things don’t work out, admit it and move on.
Excel through discipline and innovation
Content marketing is hard work, period. Anyone who tells you different hasn’t tried producing ten different types of content in a week’s time.
It takes time to plan and develop content for videos, blog posts, white papers, webinars, etc. But the more often you do it, the better you’ll get at creating it.
Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens because you discipline yourself to do the work, observe your successes and failures, and then streamline your approach with an eye toward creating content that resonates.
Train for excellence, fight to win
There are many resources for creating great content. Everything from writing headlines that get noticed to creating epic content.
Content creators must constantly stay on top of industry trends. There is a “battle” going on to win our audience’s attention. Those who realize this and work hard to cut through the noise in order to capture their interest will be far ahead of the game compared to those who throw out a blog post once a month and little else.
The secret to effective content marketing is consistently creating it. This takes time. There are no “overnight successes” with content marketing. Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger, started it in 2006. For three years, he toiled in relative obscurity before slowly; people began to notice he was cranking out primo stuff.
You get good by practicing your skills until you are highly qualified. Then when you need to produce something quickly because a news story just exploded in your industry, you’re ready.
Earn your Trident everyday
The Trident is the Navy SEAL’s badge. It’s beautiful. An eagle is clutching an anchor, a trident, and a flintlock pistol. It represents freedom (eagle), the Navy (anchor), the mythological character Neptune (or Poseidon, whose scepter was the trident). He was King of the Ocean, where the SEALs feel most at home. Finally, the pistol represents a SEAL’s capability on land. It is cocked and ready to fire, which symbolizes a SEAL’s need to be ready at all times.
The badge is especially cherished because each SEAL knows that during their grueling training that sifted out about 80% of their class, they went the distance and earned their Trident.
How does this relate to content marketing?
It’s important to know your purpose. This is when your content marketing mission statement comes into play. What does your brand represent? What are the traits of the brand and how can you communicate that to your prospects and customers?
The Navy SEALs understand they are fighting for freedom. Their areas of engagement are in the water, the air, and on land.
What are you fighting for in creating your content? You’re fighting to be noticed, to be chosen instead of your competitor, but the reason why has to go deeper. This takes some thought and won’t be easily identified without the involvement of an organization’s leadership.
It is said that men who are big and bulky don’t necessarily make it through SEAL training. The SEALs rely on men who have a certain “mental toughness.” They also look for those who have team spirit. Both seem to be appropriate goals when pursuing a content marketing strategy that works.
You won’t be required to dodge bullets or sit through freezing surf waters during your company training sessions, but you can learn about dedication and commitment from the Navy SEALs. As they say: We demand discipline. We expect innovation.
Sounds like an excellent credo for any content marketer in the highly competitive marketplace we live in today.