Is your content like the “snooze” button, putting your audience back to sleep?
Or is it like a rock concert? Waking them up, nearly making their ears bleed, with no chance of being ignored.
Hmm, which camp are you closer to?
Are you currently a “snoozer” or a “rocker” with your content marketing?
This brings us to a conversation I recently had that demonstrates how you can end up as a “snoozer”…
I was talking to a client that was looking to invest in content marketing.
But the problem was everything he knew about content marketing, and wanted us to do for them, was destined to disappoint him (and bore his audience).
I had to cut him off and ask him:
“Why do you want to go in this direction?”
And his response was:
“Because that’s what all my competitors are doing lately”
Whenever copying a competitor’s tactics is the reason a client wants to do something, without a bigger strategy behind it, I have to pause and figure out how to let them down easy before educating them on why mindlessly copying the content marketing of others will practically guarantee horrible results for their investment and neutralize his efforts.
I’m sharing this with you because it’s a problem that I’m hearing about a lot lately, since businesses small and large are beefing up their content marketing to avoid getting left behind.
There’s an issue, and it’s the way content-virgins are looking to approach content marketing that’s bound to lead to boring, unread content.
This problem also won’t get their audience any closer to taking the actions they
want need them to take, because the content isn’t valuable or interesting to the people whose attention they want. This is because…
They’re looking to create content for the sake of creating it
Which is never the right reason.
Let’s be clear, your audience will not read something that looks and sounds exactly like what dozens of others are promoting on their blogs, social media and to their email lists.
The key to getting your stuff read (watched, shared, listened to, etc…) is making it different.
Let that sink in. It must be different.
Creating different content doesn’t guarantee it’ll do well, but it gives you a fighting chance and greatly increases your odds of success from something like 1% to around 80%
(I wish I had actual numbers to share with you, but businesses aren’t very willing to share their data when it’s about failures they want to brush under the rug, so this is based on my own informal research).
Different content marketing doesn’t have to be crazy, wacky, cheesy, ‘out-of-the-box’ or wild
It can be about something normal with a slightly different twist, angle or perspective, while covering a topic your audience is already interested in.
This difference can come from being a little controversial and letting the personality of you, your employees and your company make it’s way into your content.
Unless you’re a zombie, this ensures your content marketing doesn’t sound like what everyone else is writing about. It becomes unique, it’s got a piece of you and your employees in it, it gives your audience a sense of your businesses culture, which creates a closer connection with your audience.
Your audience is your audience—and your customers are your customers—because they already like something about you and your company.
You have to keep giving them that, and resist the urge to over-research to the point that you’re copying others—sometimes without even knowing it.
Of course, you’ve got to do some research, to get an idea of what your audience is interested in, what’s going on in your industry, the world, your community, what other types of content do well, but you should keep that minimal and then get into brainstorming a few ideas that are slightly (or very) different, and then look over your ideas to see which jump out at you.
From there it’s about developing that idea for a piece of content further by using a process for your content marketing:
- Creating an outline
- Building up your outline
- Re-Reading & Re-Writing
- Editing out the boring parts (vigilantly)
- Re-Writing (some more)
- Writing a few headline variations till you find one that really pops!
Don’t worry about what the “professionals” say about having to post every single day (or even week)
It’s better to publish unique, quality stuff that gets read (and actually remembered) once every two week or once a month, than publish “snoozer” content every day that gets no attention, isn’t memorable and doesn’t help you with your bigger business goals.
Another content marketing insight…
Your content doesn’t have to be short
Pay little attention to what the “experts” say about word count, since they’re probably part of the majority that’s used to pumping out the regular garbage that doesn’t get read much, their thinking goes something like this:
“If it’s bad at least it’ll be short so some people will actually finish reading it”
This is ridiculously bad advice that’s shared widely—and mindlessly—that you have to think twice about before following.
If you’re reading something interesting, that you value, you’re probably not going to stop reading it because it’s longer that 500 words. Ignore the crowd. Don’t worry about writing long content with a word count that’s too high, worry about having good content.
Take a little longer, invest a little more, try a little harder
(Many little things snowball into great things)
Your (growing) audience will notice and appreciate it, and it’ll pay for itself many times over when they’re ready to open their wallets and buy.
If you’re not familiar with Warren Buffett (the world’s greatest investor!), he regularly speaks about something similar in business, where companies mindlessly copy each other and usually end up with bad results because of it, he calls it the “Institutional Imperative”.
Warren’s not talking about little mom and pops, he’s talking about the majority of companies, some of the biggest in the world, and here are some things they’ll copy:
- If they see their peers making acquisitions they’ll start doing the same
- If their competitors are “Going Green” they’re going to Green it up too
- If everyone in their industry is investing in email marketing they will mindlessly follow the crowd out of fear—and to avoid having to think
There’s nothing wrong with doing any of the things above, but it has to be for the right reasons and fit into your companies “bigger picture”, and not because “everyone else is doing it”.
Own your—content marketing—successes and failures
The key that can put you way out ahead of the competition is thinking for yourself and being different if you want to reap the rewards with content marketing.
Great content can be your competitive advantage and help you stand out in a field of “vanilla” and “blah blah blah”, since not many are trying very hard, or even “Get It”.
It’s not easy, but your other option is to go and do what everyone else is doing and blend into the background, but this probably won’t get you the results you’re aiming for, since it’s very “crowded” online with disposable, bland, valueless content that’s clogging up your prospective customers attention.
You need to get serious with your content marketing or choose not to play this game at all (because if you don’t have good content you’d have similar results investing in a lighter and burning your hard-earned cash).
Content marketing is still alive, effective and a great option for businesses and owners that are willing to take it seriously and invest their time (and brains). It also requires not making assumptions about this stuff being easy or different from anything else in life with a big payoff, and to recognize it takes skills and work.
Here’s a recap of the major points (or a summary for those that didn’t read the whole piece):
- There’s lots of boring, bad content littering the internet
- This content is bad because most content marketers are lazy and mindlessly following the advice of every self-proclaimed SEO and social media guru that’s preaching to “just create content and blog posts” to satisfy Google, with no thought given to their customers, brand and the actual results (since most of them aren’t properly measuring or tracking online results)
- Practically everyone is copying everyone else and none of the content is truly different
- People online just filter this bad content out, since it’s all the same
- To get results and attention your content has to be different, but not necessarily ‘out-of-the-box’ or wild
- You can use a process to come up with different content, that doesn’t equal plagiarism
- You don’t have to publish every day, you can post irregularly if that leads to the stuff you publish being higher quality, interesting, useful, memorable
- Your content
canshould be longer than 500 words (you can still occasionally post shorter content, but you need to regularly give your audience longer stuff that gets them thinking and keeps them engaged)
- This content marketing stuff isn’t easy, but nothing is that has the potential for a big reward
Let’s hear what you think about the state of content marketing with a comment below (discuss, ask questions, call me crazy, vent, share).
[75 Bonus Points (optional): If you’re already doing content marketing review some of your previous content while hunting for the stuff that’s sleep-worthy (Or if you haven’t started yet the same can be done with a competitors blog, social media account or YouTube channel).
If you find something that you’re embarrassed of you’re on the right trail. Pick a piece of content you wouldn’t want to touch with someone else’s ten-foot pole and try to come up with a few different twists to the title or main theme.
Review the first 2-5 sentences (or the first 10 seconds of content) and see if you catch yourself tuning out. If you do, this probably means you need to pump up the beginning of your content to really grab your audiences attention (the beginning of your content is know as “The Hook”, this is because it’s purpose is to hook you and get you reading more).
Try coming up with a new first sentence that ties into your new title/theme, something that gets your audience thinking or makes them curious. If you’re stuck sometimes the trick is to get rid of the first few sentences, since there’s good stuff usually buried a little further down (past the boring introduction we’ve learned to write from school).
This is the effort that’ll turn you into a content marketing superhero, with a Masters in Snooze Detecting. You must fight the enemy every…single…day if you want to produce content that actually gets read and that helps you reach your business goals.]