There was an interesting commercial on the other day. It was a commercial for a local furniture store. The owner comes on and says, “You may know us for our funny commercials, but what we should really be talking about are our great products and our low, low prices.”
There’s a lot of talk out there right now about creating content that stands out. You hear phrases like “People don’t like interruption marketing.” You hear that your content is competing against, well, against pretty much everybody else’s content. The reaction to all of this advice seems to be heading towards, “Oh, ok, let’s make content that will get people talking about the content.” This methodology may get people to talk about your product or service, but then again, it may not. Do you want to risk it? Sure, last year’s Betty White commercial got a lot of press. Do you remember what the ad was promoting?
What this means for you
If you are a blogger, the same challenge applies. You want people to find your content interesting, and hey, it’s great if your blog creates buzz. But ultimately, more than anything, you need your blog to work for you.
How can you accomplish both of these goals? Here are some ideas.
1. Write headlines that are enticing but not spammy. Especially in the world of Twitter, this is a good way to preview what your post will be getting at while also adding some intrigue. For more about this, check out The 8 Most Greatest Tips to write Unstoppably Killer Headlines Guide Ever, by Eric Cummings and Michael Cummings (guest post on ProBlogger).
2. Use hooks wisely. In writing, the opening paragraph is comparable to the punchline of a television commercial. It’s your “aha” moment. Your time to shine. But it’s also your opportunity to tell your readers what you are offering – whether that is information, a soft sell, or something else. For more information about how to make hooks effective and “sticky,” check out The Spectactular Post Formula #2 by Stanford Smith.
3. Don’t out-clever yourself. If you want your content to work for you, your readers have to get it. That means that you don’t want your content to be filled to the brim with jokes, asides, hyperboles, and other stuff.
4. Content should be memorable for the right reasons. Look at what happened to Groupon and their Super Bowl commercials! A lot of people say that creating controversy is a great way to create traffic for a blog, and that’s probably true. But does it help your business? If your stance has a point and it’s tied to what you want your content to do for you, awesome. Have at it. If not, well, maybe another path would suit you better.
5. Don’t over-emphasize the “useful” part. A lot of bloggers can come off as awfully didactic. In fact, sometimes I read a blog post and I find myself quaking in my boots as if I had just heard a fire and brimstone sermon. Other times I feel like I just left a used car dealership. Don’t feel like you have to hammer your point into your readers’ skulls. They’re smart. It’s okay to leave some things to their imaginations, too.
6. Try not to talk like the smartest person in the world. One of the most popular ads during the Super Bowl was the Chrysler commercial. Why? Well, one of the main reasons is that everyone got the fact that the commercial was not just about Chrysler, it was about Detroit, a city trying to pull itself up from the boot straps. It was about the American Auto Industry. The ad didn’t show charts and graphs and statistics. It made viewers feel that message. How can you achieve that with your content?
7. Leave a hole for your readers to fill. Reading is pretty passive. Interacting is, well, interactive, and that makes the whole experience more memorable. If you can guide your readers into contributing to the conversation, everyone benefits.
8. Create new ways to think about your business. If you look at some of the greatest blogs going right now, there is one thing that unites them. They get you thinking in new ways. Chris Brogan’s blog gets you to think about business in new ways. Stan’s blog over at pushing social gets you to think about Social Media in new ways. Lisa Barone certainly gets you to think about SEO in new ways. Stretch your readers’ brains and see what they come back with.
9. Use stories when the time is right. Sometimes the best way to illustrate something is to bring it to a place where almost everyone can relate. Create a meeting ground where you can start out with your readers, and then take them where you want them to go.
What’s number 10?
Now it’s your turn. How do you create content that is both entertaining and useful, either for your readers or for you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Image by Shannon Pifko. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/SEPpics