Your Market Thinks You’re Boring, and They Are Right
By Mae Scott-Schaefer I have always been an avid reader, and, as such, have usually excelled in most right-brained academic pursuits. Usually. In ninth grade, I was assigned to read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables. Prior to this, I had enjoyed almost all assigned reading. This was different. This was boring. My classmates shared the sentiment. Eight pages describing the gardens? Eighteen pages to play out the death of one of the characters? What 15-year-old kid is going to find this to be a compelling read? For kids who did not like to read to begin with, The House of the Seven Gables failed to inspire them to read. Rather, it reinforced their dislike of it. For me, a kid who loved reading, it engendered a lifelong suspicion of and distaste for 19th century dark romanticism in general, and of Hawthorne in particular. I am sure this was not the intention of the teacher, or of whoever designed the curriculum, but this was the outcome. When content fails to engage, it fails. This is a universal truth of content marketing, and apparently a universal truth of high school reading lists. If you are not providing your market with content that they want, that they find intriguing, and that inspires them to take some sort of action, you are failing. Back in the olden days of print, it was a bit easier to get away with being dull, simply because there was not as much content from which to choose. But in the Information Age, digital media has democratized influence, so that now anyone can be a content marketer. In the extremely crowded world of digital marketing, it is absolutely critical that you hook your audience quickly with compelling content before they decide to move on to the next thing. People want entertainment, excitement and empathy. Boring is a major turn-off. Boring implies a lack of relevance and connection. I am sure you do not want to be perceived by your market as irrelevant and disconnected from them! How do you create content that isn’t tedious and drab? By keeping it simple. Start with one platform, and do that really well. Remember the four pillars of content marketing, which are that your content must be relevant, interesting, timely and entertaining. Your followers expect that you will create content specifically for them, to solve some problem that they experience. This means that you need to have a deep understanding of your market’s pain. It also means that you need to deliver your content to the right people at the right time. Your content must have a human voice. Who wants to experience mechanical, drone-like content? That’s sterile and bland. Human-voiced content is sticky and engaging. Through careful contextual positioning, your content can be shareable, nourish relationships and create a sense of self-fulfillment with your audience. Your content should build trust, and not merely drive traffic. If you are producing content simply to drive traffic, you’re probably producing unexciting, or even stodgy, content. Another universal truth of marketing is that you cannot bore your customers into buying. If you bore them, they will look for someone else to solve their problems. Your content must focus on the market’s problems, not on your products. The former engages; the latter is both vapid and wearisome. As an aside, during a recent visit to Salem, Mass., I was plagued by a nagging guilt that I should really give Hawthorne another try. Thankfully, that feeling quickly passed. Mae Scott-Schaefer helps companies position their products and services in ways that resonate with the needs of their markets. She has worked in the publishing, consulting and software industries, and holds both a B.A. and an M.A. in English. Contact May at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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