Almost 100 years ago, in April, 1912 during the sinking of the Titanic, the ship’s radio operators sent out distress calls begging for help. They intermixed “CQD” and “SOS” distress calls, hoping someone would respond.
French was, and still is, the official language for international postal services. The letters CQ, when pronounced in French, “sécu“, resemble the first two syllables of sécurité, and were therefore used as shorthand for the word. It is still used in this sense in international telecommunications. In English-speaking countries, the origin of the abbreviation was popularly changed to the phrase “seek you” or, later, when used in the CQD distress call, “Calling all distress”. CQD appears to have died out shortly after this event, but SOS has lived on into today in popular culture.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the letters SOS were chosen because they are easily transmitted in Morse code; a continuous sequence of three-dits/three-dahs/three-dits, all run together without letter spacing. They were not an abbreviation, acronym or initialism for “Save our Ship”, “Send Out Succour”, or “Save our Souls”. These were ‘backronyms,’ and came into popular use after SOS went into effect.
Today, marketers can rescue their business from its distress by intelligently applying content to their blogs, websites or tweets. Their key to success is as simple as S.O.S.: Solve Or Share.
But leave out the “sell”
Your blog should focus on your customers. Solve their problems; share your resources. Don’t sell. As tempting as it may be to force yourself on your customer once you make a connection, resist!
In the movie War Games, Mathew Broderinck’s character needed to ‘break into’ a computer (the WOPR) in order to prevent WWIII. The generals all stood by and watched as he chatted with and coerced the computer to play a game with him. As soon as he accessed the game, the generals jumped in and tried to manipulate the WOPR and it immediately shut them out. He had more work to do to get back int he good graces of the WOPR, which he did, and saved the world.
Like those generals, marketers are anxious to force themselves and ‘news’ about their company, products and services as soon as any tenuous connection is made with a consumer/customer.
But that won’t engage prospects or attract customers. You need to write about what they care about.
What should you include? Ask your sales force or customer service staff about the problems or questions they frequently encounter. What search terms are popular on your site? Think like a customer, or a reporter, not a salesperson.
When the Titanic was sinking, customers wanted to know where to get a life-jacket and how to find a lifeboat. They were not interested in the total tonnage displacement of the ship, or how many years of brilliant service the captain had under his belt.
Give your customers what they want and need, and it’ll be smooth sailing.
A new truth about the sinking of the Titanic?