The Content Marketer's Dilemma: Finding myself between connecting and selling

Aly Osama.

By Aly Osama

6 min read
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Aly Osama

It’s not every day that I wake up with an unyielding persistence to change the world. Most days, like many of us, I fight the urge to get out of bed. It’s an everyday struggle, kind of. It’s also turning into a new normal for tech workers ever since the pandemic. Not that I am a tech worker of any kind; I write in the tech field. Accordingly, I’m often confused as to how I should treat myself. Am I a writer, or am I a techie? 

These questions breed more questions: What am I doing with my life? What are my contributions to the world? How can I make a difference? I’m sure it happens to all of us, these moments of diffidence or indecision. To those of us working in creative fields, we’d just call it a creative block. To be honest, I still don’t know whether creative blocks are real or imaginary. Other people may call it “burnout.” Perhaps we’re all getting sick and tired of all the LinkedIn influencers talking about the role adversity plays in the journey to success. What is success, anyway? 

If this train of thought is familiar to you, let me tell you this: it’s okay. Dissatisfaction with the current path is the first step towards a new one. You don’t necessarily need to do anything radical. Sometimes, it’s enough to take a few steps back and breathe through it. Or in my case, write about it. 

When I joined CEQUENS four years ago, I had these questions in mind. At the time, I had been working a job that had nothing to do with my major or my talents. I’d taken that job only to escape a previous work culture that wasn’t right for me. Then I got my acceptance email from CEQUENS, and I thought, “Great! Now I can go back to writing and being creative for a living.” My role at CEQUENS involves producing written content aimed at educating audiences about the communications field and generating interest in our products. What a mouthful! Turns out, it’s not merely enough to be good with words – or people – you must also be good at understanding the customer psyche, you must be able to dive deep in a product to extract its benefits, you must be willing to fix everything that isn’t yet broken. In this line of work, the line is super blurry between connecting and selling. I call that The Content Marketer’s Dilemma. But whether it’s blog posts, newsletters, email campaigns, or landing pages, the underlying purpose of my role remains the same: show people why this product will change their lives. I mean, that’s what all great marketing aims at, right? It might be difficult for you to form an answer. It might even be scary if you work in marketing and are unable to define your purpose. There is no one right answer, however. The truth is that no one will be better than you at your job; they’ll just have different perspectives that may sometimes make more sense. 

A while ago, I got into a debate on LinkedIn about the purpose of marketing. The gist of the conversation was that it didn’t matter how much of a vanity fair marketing got as long as the right consumer existed. I reflected this information on the company I work for. What do we sell: is it an all-encompassing customer engagement communication suite, or is it the simplicity of reaching and helping customers? What field do I work in: communications or tech? Who am I targeting? What’s their problem? How can I solve it? 

For a creative, a blogger, a marketer, or a working professional of any kind, things can (and will) get messy. The future holds more challenges than the present. Businesses will stay scared of losing, salespersons will always fear rejected pitches, content writers will spend lots of time worrying about SERPs, and humans will remain earnest in their quest to finding purpose – in life and the workplace. 

But sometimes a job will be just a job; means to an end. Personally, I believe in butterfly effects. After four years of working in tech, I can safely say I’ve learned the following 10 lessons by heart: 

  1. Brand awareness is the quintessential marketing goal, but it can’t be all there is to it.
  2. Consistency in content is more about why we post and less about how often.
  3. People are attracted to other people; they’re not attracted to digital products.
  4. Collaboration is key.
  5. The benefits always matter, the features sometimes do.
  6. Making a difference is a mindset rather than an action.
  7. Presenting ideas is better than having them.
  8. Focus first on feasibility and profitability will follow.
  9. Tech is the past, present, and future. Just by contributing, I am making a difference.
  10. Sometimes you’ll start with an idea and end up someplace else. This article was one of these incidents.

I still refuse to identify as a marketer (or a techie). Sometimes I don’t even like calling myself a writer. I have many issues with personal branding, but I don’t mind putting myself out there every now and then. What was originally meant to be a piece on “tech for good” and how technology sparks change ended up being a personal reflection on what it means to be a content writer in the tech field. Coming to think about it, it’s one and the same. CEQUENS, just like myself, is occupied with deeper human connections, and that is the ultimate level of “good” we can aspire to reach. When we introduce a product, we do so to make someone else’s life easier. And when we market the product, we care about the user experience, not the backend. Technology serves no purpose on its own; its effects are driven by humans – how they think and what they do. It’s the same with writing; what good is a thought if no one reads it? Innovation matters but getting too wrapped up in the details doesn’t. We can’t halt progress (see: the risks of AI, or Apple Vision Pro) but we can steer it. Today, we encourage you to think about your place in the future. We’re getting there soon, and hopefully together. For my next assignment, I’ll be writing to you about the social good of Communications-Platform-as-a-Service. For today, I am just a writer; not a marketer. 

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