If you experience miasma from reading LinkedIn or other social media, or for that matter at trade shows or networking events, you may be experiencing bulldust. I started discussing this in a low-key, highly interrupted way last year on this blog, but it’s been difficult. I’m not as big an expert on this subject as I thought.
Vague, lazy messaging spreads bulldust
My initial thoughts around bulldust centered on dishonesty – crafty efforts by highly skilled practitioners to deceive you and separate you from your time and money. However, in evaluating some of my own efforts (and contributions to the amount of bulldust in the world), I have noticed a far more common source of it – vagueness. Vagueness is the coin of the realm on LinkedIn, where everyone is trying to impress the algorithm, not offend anyone (unless they’re trying to “build engagement” with a “hot take” on something that sounds rude but no one disagrees with…
Companies who lay people off at Christmas are mean! AGREE?LinkedIn Thought Influencers
and perhaps, if they’re being very intentional, seek prospects, new job offers, friends, a spouse, and vendors – all at once. By posting bland, general messages that are vague and lazy.
I attempted to support myself as a consultant in 2019, and because I was desperate to find work, I described what I could do in broad terms, trying to cast the net widely. I talked about improving business processes, growing your business, working on your business instead of in it. If you or a loved one were ever exposed to my messaging in those days, you may be entitled to compensation. But it didn’t compensate me any. It didn’t convert because there was no tangible result promised, no word picture associated with it.
But what if my specific, targeted message misses, uh, everyone?
My fear in those days was that if I said something tangible and specific, with word pictures (or actual pictures) that communicated a clear, tangible benefit, the audience would get smaller, or disappear entirely.
Here’s a great example of a clear, tangible message from Platform.sh (where I work). In less than a minute, it tells you what Platform does, how it does it, and why you would want to use it.
I’m not in marketing at Platform. Those who are did a great job of presenting a complex topic in a very brief period of time. If it doesn’t make any sense to you, it wasn’t aimed at you. Platform has done its homework, knows there’s an audience that will relate to this message, and believes it will convert onlookers into prospects, prospects into buyers, and buyers into accounts.
What I should have been doing a few years ago was converting a broad message:
Uh, I think I can maybe help, with your business and stuff?Gary Smith – 2019
into a more specific one, focused on a small audience with a tangible problem that I could definitely help solve:
You’re a plumber, electrician, or HVAC company losing customers because they can’t schedule your services online and you forget to call them back. There is software to help with this, and you looked at it a year ago but didn’t do anything about it because you (correctly) figured you’d mess things up when you started using it. I’ve spent my life implementing software. I can help, and you can afford it.Alternate Universe Gary Smith (rough draft)
It’s a bit longer, and it loses 99+% of the world right out of the gate. Because most of us are not in the licensed trades (as anyone who has tried to find a plumber in the middle of the night can attest to). But the remaining audience can probably relate to the message (filter out another 25% of the remainder in Huntsville, Alabama where I live because even the trades people are sometimes retired software engineers), and the ones who are still reading can see their own pain point and a possible solution.
Writing, and constantly revising, a specific message that speaks to a specific audience is hard work. But if it’s done right, it’s honest, non-bulldusty, and just might get results.