During the summer, there are few things I enjoy more than listening to live music. And there are few places I’d rather enjoy it than Fenway Park in Boston. And there are few musicians I’d rather see than Jackson Browne and James Taylor.
So when tickets went on sale this past February for those two, in that place, my wife Linda and I were all over it. After six months of waiting, the day had finally arrived. It was pretty much a perfect evening from start to finish.
Business lessons and opening acts
Beautiful weather, easy parking, short lines, lots of friends, great music. Indeed, with the possible exception of having to endure 30,000 middle-aged white people dancing at once, I can’t think of anything I would have changed. There was one person there, however, who I felt bad for: Jackson Browne.
I know, that’s kind of hard to believe. On what basis could I feel sorry for a man who has made – and continues to make – a fabulous living by travelling the world, speaking his mind, playing his music and doing what comes naturally? But last night was a special case. And that’s because Jackson Browne, despite all his fame, accomplishments and talent, was the warm up act. James Taylor was the show.
Jackson started playing at 6:30 on the dot. It was still light out and the place was far from full. It had the feel of a free concert at a local park; I half expected him to read off the license plate numbers of illegally parked cars and tell us what to do with our trash on the way out. James Taylor started at 8:00 in front of a packed audience in a darkened stadium.
And while James Taylor had any number of other “advantages” with the audience – he’s a Massachusetts resident, a huge Red Sox fan and has sold five times as many albums as Jackson Browne – absent all of that, the opening act would still have felt like the JV squad.
The fact is, positioning matters. You can be the most talented musician in the world, but if you open, we assume you’re not as good.
Positioning your content for success
It’s the same with the content you create – it’s not just about the quality of what you do. How you put it out there matters too. With that in mind, here are two positioning-related content mistakes I see all the time:
1. Relying solely on curated content
Whether you’re buying industry-related content and slapping your name and logo on it, or letting other people guest post on your newsletter or blog, when you feature somebody else’s insights, you’re taking a back seat to “the real expert.”
Publish your own, original content. Whether you write it yourself or get somebody to help you with it, be the star of your own show.
2. Sharing content without commentary
Using social media to share interesting content or even curating a newsletter or blog is fine. But here as well, if all you’re doing is pointing people to the work of others, you’re still the opening act.
When you share valuable content, always try and include a comment or two along with it. Even within the constraints of Twitter, you can add something like, “Great insight here,” or “I don’t agree with most of this,” or whatever. The point is, you’re not just passing it along, you’re weighing in. You know, the way experts do.
Here’s the bottom line.
We could talk all day about who’s “better,” James Taylor or Jackson Browne. And while there’s all kinds of data available – both subjective and objective – to support either argument, at some level, none of that matters.
All it takes is one glance at the show schedule to form a fast opinion about who’s on top. So while I encourage you to create the best content you can, don’t forget that ‘how’ you put yourself out into the world matters just as much as ‘what’ you do.
This article has been edited.
Michael Katz is the founder and Chief Penguin of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes in developing email newsletters for professional service firms. Sign up for his free newsletter, The Likeable Expert Gazette, here. Connect with @MichaelJKatz on Twitter.