Stop talking about the hammer

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Do you feel like you’re writing the same blog post over and over again?

Do you feel like you’ve got nothing left to tweet about, nothing left to post about, nothing new to put into your newsletter?

There’s a good chance that you’re stuck because you’re only talking about the hammer. What in the world am I going on about? Imagine you had a hammer. There are lots of different kinds of hammers, to be sure. Some are shiny, some are dull, some are large, some are wood and stone, but if your job was to create content about a hammer, there’s only so much you could say about it without going into re-runs, without feeling like you’ve said everything there is to be said.

Too Many Hammers

The trick is that once your audience is familiar with the hammer, once you feel bored describing the hammer, stop talking about it and start talking about what you can do with it. You can build a house with a hammer. You can shatter diamonds with a hammer. You can climb icy mountain cliffs with a hammer. Suddenly, there’s a lot more to talk about. Talk about how your customers are building neighborhoods for the poor with hammers. Talk about how carpenters can use hammers more efficiently or safely.

There are 2 things missing in this photo

As a side benefit, anyone who doesn’t have a hammer will probably want one after you’ve shared your amazing stories about what you can do. Anyone who doesn’t know how to use a hammer will probably want to hire you to teach them, or possibly just hire you to use your hammer skills in their stead.

Of course, I’m not talking about just hammers here. I’m talking about any tool, from Twitter to Google+ to pay per click ads to… you get the idea, don’t you? If you’re stuck as a marketer, you’re focusing too much on the hammer and not enough on what you can do with it. Being a Twitter expert isn’t nearly as interesting as being an expert who has built money-making campaigns using Twitter. Talking about Google+ is exciting only for as long as you can describe the tool. At a certain point, you’ll have said everything there is to be said and you’ll need to start talking about what you’ve built using it.

If you feel bored or stuck trying to create content about whatever product or service you’re responsible for marketing, focus instead on the nearly infinite ways you can do interesting things with it and you’ll never be bored again. As an added bonus, your equally bored audience will suddenly find new and interesting insight from you, too – and maybe buy some hammers from you in the process.

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5 responses to “Stop talking about the hammer”

  1. Thank you for this post!  In the earlier days, when I was trying to chase Bukisa and Factoidz money, I found myself writing the same article over and over again.  There’s just so many benefits that you can find in X.  I like your way of thinking — and becoming a cycle breaking superhero is the way to go! 

  2. Great point Chris. People don’t by hammers for the sake of buying hammers. Just like folks don’t buy power drills, they buy quarter inch holes.

    As my friend Jack Monson says when talking about so called social media experts, “Don’t be a hammer guru”. Just because you understand what a tool is doesn’t make you an ‘expert’.

    Demonstrate how you can leverage the tool to accelerate business results. AMEN.

  3. Very good reminder Chris. Too often we can get caught up with the awesomeness of the hammer, and get bogged down in how to better communicate it. In reality, it is ALL about the application of the tool.

    I really like what ‘stanphelps’ says below “folks don’t buy power drills, they buy quarter inch holes” … brilliant …

  4. Barbara | Creative Culinary Avatar
    Barbara | Creative Culinary

    Though I could lament the effort of doing a food blog occasionally when the work requires making a dish and photographing it, guess the good news is that there is a never ending source of topics!

  5. Liz Pullen Avatar
    Liz Pullen

    This helps me understand why I can no longer write blog posts and feel bored and uninspired. 

    What I like about your advice is you are just taking a new approach, talking about what you can do with hammers. So, if you LOVE hammers, you don’t need to stop talking about them. Just talking about them functionally (how they work) and potentiality (what they can do) and not just descriptively (what they are). It’s a change of perspective, digging in deeper, you’re not abandoning the topic that you once loved writing about.

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