The Curse of Trying to Be Profound

Nothing is worse than staring at a blank screen

In working with my graduate and undergraduate students in the Northwestern Medill IMC program where I teach social marketing, as well as with clients through Marketing Synergy, one of the most challenging problems business leaders have is how to approach blogging.  And it is a daunting challenge.  When most executives think about writing a blog, they envision their readers waiting breathlessly for their next brilliant insights and profound thoughts.  And the pressure of being profound is too much to even get started.

The problem is profound rarely happens

While this problem may seem daunting, there is a simple, proven way around it.  Don’t attempt to be profound.  Now, by saying that, I don’t mean you can just write anything; but, if you start by thinking about your potential readership, you will see they are not seeking profound…they are seeking something an expert they can trust.  And, once you realize this, it makes writing frequent blogs actually FUN and a great way to grow your expertise and your business.


Writer's Block

Writer’s Block can drive you crazy!

Your readers want expertise and insight…not profound

Regardless of your industry or your area of expertise, technology and new innovations are changing the way we do business.  The problem for your readers is this – they don’t have time to identify the things they should be watching and determining what they should do tomorrow in their business.  However, there are experts out there everyday who are writing blogs and articles or producing videos about specific subjects. You, as an expert in your area, can read these blogs and determine if they are worthwhile for your target readers to read.  Or you can write your own blog.  And, therein, lies your strength and “mission” as a blogger.

Filter & Focus is your blogging “mission”

When I teach aspiring bloggers at Northwestern or Marketing Synergy, rather than starting with a blank screen and trying to be profound, we use an easier and – surprisingly – more effective way to create a blog.  I call it Filter and Focus and it is easy to do.  Here are the steps we use:

  • Find Expert Articles – Find two articles you think are relevant and reputable on the same subject.These can be found through a Google search or from reading trade journals.  I find most of mine on Twitter from the experts I follow in social and integrated marketing.  The more current and timely…the better.
  • Find Their Relevance – Read the article and define its relevance for me – your target reader.  Develop what you like about each author’s approach and findings.  You will summarize them for the reader.
  • Create Actions for Me to Take – Finally – and most importantly – give me 3 actions to take from your analysis of these three articles.  Not 5, not 2 but 3.  Why 3?  Because it is enough to make reading your blog assessment worthwhile but not overwhelming.

Pretty simple and very effective.  It shows the reader you are an expert in an area of interest and your analysis and action items gives ideas on how to better their careers and their company.  You are helping them filter through the bewildering volume of media to focus them on something that will benefit them today.

See Filter and Focus in Action

Not sure it will work?  One of the requirements for my social marketing class is students must write a series of Filter and Focus blogs and then advertise them using social media.  While we will discuss the marketing aspect in other blog articles, go to our student blog site and see for yourself.  Each of the blogs is written from a template built around the Filter and Focus concept.   They are fast, focused, and really establish your expertise….AND WITHOUT BEING PROFOUND!  

Does it work?

If you look at some of the blogs on our class website, remember these are being written by students with little or no social clout.  They are just starting out on their careers.  However, from one blog, they often get hundreds if not thousands of readers.  And this is from a class assignment!

One of my students last year wanted to focus on attracting package goods C-level managers to her blog.  She wrote a blog on a new technology with huge advantages for packaged goods companies.  She used the Filter and Focus methodology, created great recommendations, and then marketed the blog to her target community.  In our next class, she excitedly related that her blog was read by 2 senior managers at P&G and she was contacted by one through Twitter with additional questions.  All from one blog.

In summary, don’t attempt to be profound.  As a blog reader, I don’t want profound but I want a way improve myself and my company.  Filter and find me some great articles and then tell me what to do with them.  Filter & Focus is the way to get my attention, my respect, and establish yourself as an expert I want to follow and use to build my business.  So, get going, find those 2 articles and get your first blog published and out by the end of this week!

Please feel free to comment on my blogs.  I am interested in hearing your thoughts on social marketing and social engagement.  Also, feel free to contact me on Twitter or LinkedIn.  Thanks for reading!


Randy Thumbnail 1Randy Hlavac is CEO and founder of Marketing Synergy Inc – an integrated and social marketing company located in Naperville IL.  Founded in 1990, Marketing Synergy works with companies to build measurable, highly profitable marketing programs and the database and analytical systems to drive them.  Randy works with B2B and B2C organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 firms.  In addition to Marketing Synergy, Randy has been a Lecturer Professor of Integrated and Social Marketing at Northwestern’s Medill IMC program for the last 21 years.  His graduate and undergraduate courses focus on the development of high impact Social IMC marketing programs and many of the course “graduates” work in social marketing today.  Dialog with Randy on Twitter @randyhlavac or discuss social issues with this hash tag #NUSocialIMC.  Randy can also be reached through Marketing Synergy website.

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Randy Hlavac
Randy Hlavac is a marketing futurist who – since 1990 – has worked to integrate new technologies into the marketing strategies & tactics of B2B and B2C companies.

January 2013
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