The command to publish practical advice (if we’re to be successful marketers) often leads to a glut of similar stuff: how-tos, tips-and-tricks, ultimate guides, and lists. In the race to get “practical,” we’ve become “instructional.”
But “practical” doesn’t actually mean “instructional.” It just means that it helps others do something, ideally better.
Know what else helps others do something better?
Stories that inspire them.
Concepts that improve their thinking.
Reminders of the fundamentals.
Research into what matters.
Frameworks for navigating complexity.
Anything, really, so long as it’s informed by the reality of what others are trying to do.
When we’re in charge, and we hear that someone else will be writing something for us, or giving a speech, or hosting a show, or creating anything for our audience whatsoever, it’s tempting to say, “But is it practical? Reminder to make it practical!”
That’s fine, so long as we mean, “Make it informed by what those we serve are trying to do.” It’s not fine, however, if we mean, “Make a list of instructions.” It’s too limiting.
When we say practical, we usually mean instructional. And because we’ve lionized the notion of “practical,” we’ve really created a world where instructions reign supreme. What we publish and what we consume both narrow in on whatever can be packaged as a list, instead of whatever can make a difference to what we or what those we serve are trying to do. And it’s the non-instructional stuff which can have deeper impact our work and our lives than any step-by-step lists ever could.
When instructions are all we seek, we not only create a glut of similar content in the world, we limit ourselves and those we serve. We limit how well we can do something.
That’s not very practical at all.
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