Look at these two maps. They’re based on the same data: population gain or loss by county. But they tell vastly different stories.
In the first map, the graphic artist started with the two extreme values in the data set (-6.3% and +28.7%) and divided the color scale into 5 equal pieces. As a result, all of the counties losing population are lumped together with counties that had no change or that posted slight gains.
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
The map tells us that a lot of counties lost population or held steady, several counties added population, and exactly two (one in the top middle and one near the bottom middle) added a lot of population. Frankly, it’s not much of a story.
Now look at what the Washington Post‘s Christopher Ingraham did with the same data. Ingraham changed the color scheme: blue counties gained population and red counties lost. The color intensity changes for counties that gained or lost more than 1% or 2%.
This week in his Power of Connection chat (#PoCchat), on the topic of email marketing, Bobby Umar asked this question: How did you feel when you sent your first e-mail newsletter or announcement?
My first email newsletter didn’t exactly look like this – but it was a long time ago.
How did I feel? Wow! My mind flashed back to the late 1990s and the moment I hit Send on my first email newsletter. I remember feeling this insane hope that my newsletter would be different. That I’d succeed where all those around me were failing. That my recipients would read my newsletter because somehow, magically, they’d recognize that it was a cut above all the others.
You might say I was a dreamer. And undoubtedly I was. But I wasn’t the only one.
Bobby’s question also brought me up short as I recollected how little I knew about content marketing at that time. I didn’t fully understand that my content needed to focus on the reader and not on my products and services. I didn’t understand the importance of developing relationships with my readers before I started lobbing content at them.
It all seems second nature to me now. But, looking back, I can see that I had the keys to this marvelous marketing machine — with barely a clue as to how to run it.
It occurs to me that there are people like that today. In fact, judging from the contents of my inbox, there are a lot of people like that.