Content matters in today’s attention battle

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A critical thing that sets a company apart in today’s market is content. Whether talking about a website, emails, brochures, sales sheets, advertising, blogs or social media — every business is communicating more and more with current and prospective customers through the written word.

We all want to get our message out. The challenge is to engage people without them feeling they are being sold. Anytime we feel we are being sold, we go to what many call the lizard brain; the lizard is suspicious and in charge of watching for danger or confrontation.

This is like when you go into a store and someone asks, “Can I help you?” and you answer, “No, just looking.” When we are in a buying mode, we ask, “Does this come in my size?” and follow the salesperson happily. I call this part of the brain “my purring cat” or, for dog people, “a tail-wagging puppy.”

The trick is to keep people in the buying part of their brain. It is especially critical when communicating indirectly: websites, advertising piece, email blast, social media or blog post. Good content that keeps people engaged is what I call forward-able.

I coined this to mean someone might forward it to friends or business associates. If what is written is good enough to be forwarded, there is a good chance it will be read.

Ways to help make sure your content is relevant and interesting: educating consumers on your industry, and sharing something amusing.

When educating, it is not why to buy from your company, but sharing something about the industry. Think about what advice you would give to someone you could not sell to due to location or a conflict of interest.

When sharing something amusing, tell a funny story about what actually has happened. This content can come from your employees; don’t name names but ask about their craziest or funniest client in the past six months. Also, keep an eye out for any cartoons or funny sayings that fit your industry. I have a folder on my computer specifically for this purpose; when I need to include an item, I have it. Seasonal/holiday items are really good to save, too.

It is a good idea to keep a recorder with you or get an app on your phone to record content ideas when they come to you throughout the day.

Another way to create marketing content is to brainstorm with others. I call it Creative Content Collaboration. Set aside a few hours with another business person (they don’t need to be in the same industry — actually a different industry is often better). Split the time and work on creating, not editing, content.

We do this on a regular basis with different people to make sure our content is fresh. Because I am meeting with others, I schedule the time on my calendar and it actually gets done.

People tend to neglect keeping content fresh on static items: website, brochures and sales sheets. These should be updated at least every six months. When was the last time someone looked at your content?

Who do you think knows the most about why people buy? Is it the company, marketing consultants or customers? Most people agree that it is the customer. However, most companies get their content from their company or marketing consultants.

Customers are a great source of content. They not only know why they buy from you, but they have stories about how your product or service helped them and even interesting anecdotes.

Have a third party interview your consumers. It is easier for a third party to probe and ask questions, and consumers tend to be more candid. It is important that whoever interviews your clients asks for feedback and gets them talking; ask open-ended questions rather than yes/no or on a scale from 1 to 10.

Surveys do give data, but tend not to create content. Pay attention to your content and sales will come.

Teresa “TC” Clark, CMO at On Fire Media Online. TC also stands for Too Cute, Totally Centered and Terribly Crazy. She is known for creating unique ideas and content that get businesses noticed.

2 Responses to Content matters in today’s attention battle

  1. Great information to remember. A lot of us can get into the bad habit of avoiding creating new content because it takes time and can seem overwhelming at times. It’s worth it to do, though, and most of us have more interesting stories and information to share than we realize.

    Marti Liebowitz
    May 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm

  2. A lot of great ideas here. I particularly like your point about giving information as if you couldn’t sell to them. That puts your head in the right place to inform rather than persuade, and that in itself is very persuasive! Teach them that you are the expert through great information.

    May 20, 2013 at 7:01 pm