When you write to readers on the web, you have an opportunity to connect and engage with people globally. What an opportunity, and what a daunting challenge.
What can we learn about the human brain that makes it easier for us to write good content that works?
So far, I've stressed how important it is to compel people to read your stuff, including:
- Brain Based Blogging: Lessons from Neuroscience for Content Marketing
- Compelling Content: What Are Readers' Hot Buttons?
- Business Blogs Deliver Content Marketing: 4 Keys to Great Results
- How to Turn Your Blog into a Content Marketing Ferrari
The lessons so far are that you must:
- Write frequently
- Use your blog to deliver your message
- Pay attention to content but also to blog design, blog outreach and calls to action
- Write with emotion, appealing to people's motivators, drives, and emotions
- Powerful emotions are often under the radar, unconsciously driving us to act
- Telling stories about real people connect us to our own emotions
- Emotions drive actions
- Rationality and logic often come after the fact, after a buying decision is made
As you can see from this summarized list, there's a lot that could and should go into writing great content that does the job of turning readers into clients.
When this stuff coalesces to all work together, here's what you get online:
- Compelling headlines with keywords that attract readers through search engines & feeds
- New readers who find your content through various traffic drivers (search engines like Google, Yahoo, etc.), Twitter, Facebook, article directories where you have submitted articles, blog feed readers, blog comments and relationships with colleagues and peers on the Internet
- Readers who read your stuff and are stimulated to feel a desire to take action
- A body of content that showcases your expertise and works to build trust and relationships
- Content that markets your business and stays published on the Web for new readers to continually find you.
In other words, you attract, sell and profit using content on the web.
Easy, right? Wrong. There is nothing in any of this that is easy to implement with success. And yet, it's not brain science, either!
I am re-reading The Cluetrain Manifesto, by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger, published just 10 years ago. It's message is as relevant for all the content marketing buzz as if it were written yesterday!
Is it possible we're just waking up to these concepts of content marketing now? Has the train really been that slow? Or are we just wary and suspicious of all changes, including the use of the Internet as a marketplace?
I want you to read this fine excerpt by Christopher Locke (p. 2):
"We long for release from anonymity, to be seen as who we feel ourselves to be rather than as the sum of abstract metrics and parameters. We long to be part of a world that makes sense rather than accept the accidental alienation imposed by market forces too large to grasp, to even contemplate.
"And this longing is not mere wistful nostalgia, not just some unreconstructed adolescent dream. It is living evidence of heart, of what makes us most human.
"But companies don't like us human. They leverage our longing for their own ends. If we feel inadequate, there's a product that will fill the hole, a big of fetishistic magic that will make us complete….
"Of course, the new car alone is not enough. It must be made to represent something larger. Much larger."
Locke goes on to write about how a car presented by a pretty girl represents sex and sex as power and prestige. But he also writes about peanut butter, kids and moms, and triggering the desire to buy the best for your loved ones.
What's this got to do with the Internet?
A lot. In the beginning there were marketplaces where conversations took place.
(Personal side note: one of the reasons I love living in this village of Ajijic in Mexico is that we shop at the weekly Tiangis, a street market where you buy directly from the producer and have conversations with the guy who grows your strawberries. This has been lost in many modern countries.)
Television and supermarkets and huge discount warehouses changed all that. The Internet has put conversations back on the radar. People are talking about products and services (they never actually stopped), and they're talking to each other all over the Web.
When companies try to join the conversation they can't do so as companies speaking corporate lingo. Hence the birth of human to human content marketing.
The universal longing that Locke speaks of has made us wary and suspicious of advertising. We have huge hype antennae that are easily triggered and we hit the delete key.
Enter content marketing. But be careful. People know when you're pushing their hot buttons and they can figure out why. It's the 10% nuances that only a few get right.
Sure, you can appeal to your readers desires for sex, money, power and prestige. Good copywriters do it all the time. It works because strong emotions are closely aligned in the brain with the centers for action.
But if you don't deliver on your promises, then the conversations will turn against you. And everybody on the Web will learn about your inadequate content marketing.
The message is handle your readers with utmost care and understanding and respect. Companies can't do that. People can.