I spent the weekend doing research…well, not entirely, I played tennis, went to the movies, watched HBO and laughed a lot with my hubby. But work wise, I've been visiting a lot of blogs and sites lately, researching what makes for good content marketing and bad.
Newt Barrett does a terrific job of highlighting sites that get Content Marketing right as well as those who miss the boat over on his Content Marketing Today blog. I always learn better when I can see samples of what works and what doesn't work. I'm sure you do too.
However, I am a little stymied in my quest to find bad samples of content marketing on blogs. Why? It's not that there aren't bad sites and bad content on the Web. There's a lot of garbage. But mostly what I find is mediocrity.
Many bloggers are writing reasonable content. And they're probably getting some results. Most blog writers are just barely scraping the surface of what needs to be said. I believe most of you can do better than that.
I hate mediocrity, because you can't really disagree with it or get excited, or anything. It's just a waste of my time to read the same old things. With mediocrity, you can't quite put your finger on it, but you know it stinks.
Okay, let me be frank. I think there are a lot of boring blogs that could be much better. People are regurgitating what others are saying. Sometimes they add their own perspectives, sometimes not. But mostly they're trying to post as much content as possible, without really saying anything new.
Boring, banal and bull–shitake, is what I'm really thinking. In fact, I know for sure that one professional is merely copying and pasting posts from other people (me!) and republishing them as her own. Besides being borderline illegal, and not very Kosher, it's boring. Been there, read that. Please don't bore me with old news.
I won't give you any real samples, because I'm too embarrassed for her and for others who think they can pass this off for content marketing. Furthermore, I wouldn't want to give her any free publicity, even negative.
Instead, I prefer to give you some advice and tips on how not to be boring. And don't tell me "it's hard coming up with new stuff to write about," or, "I'm so busy, I don't have time to figure this out for myself," or, "What's wrong with copying and pasting if I change it around and make it new?" Bull—shitake…
One Easy Way Not to Be Boring
Go on a rant. Just like I'm doing in this post. Can't think of something to rant about, that has anything remotely to do with your business? Oh come on. What would make your customers and readers rant and rage? You want more readers, you want more comments? Let them know you know what makes them mad.
Here's someone else's really good advice about this. Vicky Sullivan is a long-time speakers' expert. She's written a fabulous piece on how to tap into this deep and profound well of meaningful content. Here's an excerpt:
Uncover Your Brilliance: How to Write So That People Take Notice
By Vickie Sullivan, Contributing Editor, RainToday.com
If you're not talking about the elephants in the room or about the games played in the heat of battle, well…you're coasting on your clever storytelling. And stories are not enough to brand you; stories support the insight, they don't replace the insight.
My favorite way to create new content: start ranting. If you have strong opinions that you are not shy about sharing, this is the way to go.
Step one: ask yourself, or a thought partner, what is my take on _______ situation? (Choose the most relevant issue — the more specific the situation, the better.) Just go for broke. No censoring. You have permission to pontificate for two minutes.
Step two: step back and think about what you just said. Ask yourself, "Did I just repeat what everyone else is saying? Was there anything in that rant that could open the door to redefinition or new understanding to the situation?"
It's very normal to not find anything new at first. So, if you can't find that nugget of wisdom, don't despair. You just need to drill down, which is step three.
Step three: you can discover nuance in a broad sense by asking, "What's the point?" or "So what?" Or, you can narrow your thinking with questions like "Why?" and "How?" My favorite question to narrow your focus: "What is the barrier that prevents people from doing what I suggest here?" Write down your answers to those questions.
Step four: rinse and repeat. Step back, look at your second round of answers and ask yourself again, "Is this point overstated in the market? Does it shed new light on this situation?" If not, that's okay. You're getting there. Keep asking the broad or narrow questions until you can honestly say that your point uncovers the elephant in the room.
Remember, any relevant issue is being discussed to death. You can quickly acknowledge conventional wisdom and move on to your insights.
I love this tip. It's well written, it does a good job of establishing credibility and expertise of the writer (just in case you don't already know who she is), and shows that Vickie really knows how to help people dig a little deeper, to bring out the best in them.
What do you think about using a rant as a means to connect with readers and to avoid mediocrity in your content marketing pieces? Have you tried it, and what kinds of results, reactions have you achieved? Hit the comment link and share.
Related Post: Get Mad and Get Writing!