Learn from the Seanachaí
Everyone has a story to tell but not everyone has the ability to tell or write it. Storytelling is an art in Ireland and the Seanachaís, or storytellers, played an important role in Irish society. They traveled around sharing gossip, sharing warnings and cementing folktales and legends that remain part of Irish culture today. You don’t need to be accomplished, important or famous to deserve having your story told by a skilled story teller. The Irish know how to tell a story regardless of whether the topic by their methods of delivery. Good stories are still currency in parishes and villages around the country and storytellers are skilled at holding the attention of a diverse crowd. Approach your marketing strategy like a folktale or illicit piece of gossip. You don’t want to spread tales or become part of a legend you can’t outrun unless you write it.
Tell your personal and professional story in the manner it deserves and hire a storyteller, not a social media ‘expert’. Save your money and time for social media marketing until you have a great story and strategy. Anyone can promote a great brand or content strategy so hire someone who has the skills to turn your story into folklore and engage your target community with a writer.
Have you heard of St. Olaf?
No, no one has. Do you know of any other island nation with less than a 5 million population that the entire world celebrates on the same day each year? I spoke to a customer in the US Virgin Islands who is in the tourist industry and she told me unprompted that St. Patrick’s Day is their highest grossing day of the year. I shouldn’t have been surprised.
The Irish have developed a global brand that is unrivaled. I met a man who taught himself the Irish language on a small Malaysian island, visited an a ‘shibeen’ in township in Cape Town and watched a local ‘seisiúin’ in a surf town in New Zealand. Irish pubs are some of the busiest venues in American cities. While certain companies like Diageo have admittedly played a large role in creating this brand though advertising, it is more about the Irish people’s ability to engage communities around the world through their music, stories and strong sense of identity.
Be inspired by the high kings of branding and use your personality to create your brand rather than relying on metrics to shape your business.
The Diaspora is the Original Social Network
The brilliant Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan does a skit on Irish immigrants slyly taking over towns and cities across the world with their unique style. He says that the Irish have never invaded; they have infested. An estimated 80 million people worldwide claim Irish heritage. This is an impressive network that shared information and created relationships long before the internet existed. It is also a network with higher than average education, earnings and creativity.
An Irish lad can arrive in Boston and have an apartment, job and a local pub (and no visa) all by having a pint with the right connection. Want access to this network that has embraced social media to stay in touch and share pieces of home? Hire a writer who has a natural connection (or cousin) in markets around the world and thinks in terms of being an owed a turn rather than an advertiser.
SEO is the Blarney Stone of Marketing
More than 200,000 people travel from all over the world each year to the small town of Blarney in Country Cork. Visitors climb the steps of the Blarney Castle to hang from the ancient castle backwards in order to lean down and kiss the famous stone. The origin is debated but the message is clear- millions of people believe that the Blarney Stone will bestow their bumbling tongues with the gift of eloquence. It was about 20 years ago when I visited Blarney Castle and there was no way in hell I was being dangled by my legs 30 feet in the air by a man who inspired no confidence. He was hunched and surrounded by what looked like burlap rags. I was convinced he slept up there. I believe the hunchback of Blarney is gone and there is a safer operation in place now but I won’t be visiting anytime soon to kiss a rock covered in saliva (and rumor has it urine).
I feel the same way about the importance placed on SEO positions and skills in marketing strategies. SEO has become the Blarney Stone of sales and marketing. Companies want writers to be SEO specialists but really there’s little proof that SEO drives sales (or requires skills). Hire a skilled writer who can research and produce engaging content and repeat. Publishing the write content is SEO. There is no huge skill required to track web metrics and there’s a plethora of programs to do it for you. Stop leaning backwards dangling from your legs over a castle wall hoping for the gift of the gab.
“I have you now.”
The Irish know their audience. In order to effectively sell a message, product or service, marketers need to know who they are trying to reach, where to find them and what their relevant interest are. When having a chat or a meeting in Ireland, the crowd will be cagey until someone can place you, your people and your interests. They might still be cagey after they place you depending on what they learn but you should be cagey about investing resources in targeting the wrong audience too.
“Ah, I have you now” means I’ve placed you and now I can proceed with less caution now that I know you’re not related to the tax man. This need for connection and information is claustrophobic and intrusive but it’s also marketing best practice. You want your content to be written for the butcher whose mother is a nurse from Tipperary and father played hurling for Waterford so go ahead and hire a nosy writer.