How to Write Content People Care About
People don’t care.
The wild success of the DVR and the ever growing popularity of ad-blockers are evidence that people no longer care for advertising. People are using mechanisms to shut out advertising from their lives. These mechanisms aren’t just technological, they are psychological as well. People tune out sales pitches faster than a politician’s stump speech. They just aren’t interested anymore. As a business owner or marketer, how do you get people to care about what you have to say?
When You Talk, Do People Listen?
The simple yet profound way to get people to care about what you have to say is to say something they care about. This is the entire concept behind what has come to be known as content marketing. There is an old ad campaign from the 70s and 80s for the brokerage known as E.F. Hutton which explains this idea further. The campaign was based entirely on the phrase “when E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.” The commercials usually have someone giving their take on the stock market to which their companion will reply “well my broker is E.F. Hutton, and E.F. Hutton says…” at which point everyone will stop and listen.
Your brand needs to be the E.F. Hutton of your niche. Whether you make cupcakes or change car batteries, be an accessible expert for your predefined target market.
What Is Content Marketing?
If content marketing is about using your expertise to say things people care about (so they will care about what you say), then, at its core, content marketing is not about word counts or viral videos. A slightly more technical definition of content marketing would be “the activity of connecting with a predefined people group by providing useful information in a noninvasive manner.” It’s great to be the first result to show up in a Google search, but you won’t gain much by it if you aren’t providing, useful, meaningful information to assist the searcher.
What Content Marketing Isn’t
Since we covered what content marketing is, I think it would be useful to cover some of the common misconceptions of content marketing. While there are many, here are a few of the most common ones.
- Meaningless fluff to fill out your page
- An introduction to a sales pitch
- A place to drop SEO tags to boost your website
These are essentially the shortcuts to content marketing. The problem is, people see through them quickly. Additionally, content marketing isn’t giving away the shop. You’re answering a question, not training the general public to take your job.
How to Write Content: Answer Questions
The easiest way to develop quality content is to answer questions. When people have a question, they go to Google. They read the first few articles which pop up that look credible (or which confirm their opinion if they are trying to win an argument). Finally, keep in mind, it’s easy to get impatient with results (or lack thereof) of marketing activities. A 10% off coupon is the short play, and has its place. Content marketing is the long play and it will take a while to see results. However, it’s the best way to build trust with individuals who are actively trying to shut out advertising messages.