Content marketing. We hear about it. We talk about it. But then, we actually have to do it
If you’re in a business-to-consumer industry with attractive or interesting products or services, coming up with topics might not be that big of a challenge. However, for the rest of us who are trying to create engaging content for lawyers, plumbers, business software providers, and property maintenance companies, it isn’t as easy.
After years of writing for various industries, We have gathered a few tools or techniques that will make it easier for you to create content that engages your audience, no matter the subject. It all boils down to three things: storytelling, inspiration, and practicality.
Before you roll your eyes at yet another person preaching the power of storytelling, understand that there is science that supports its impact. Stories allow us to create an emotional experience for the reader and/or listener.
A study published in NeuroImage, a Journal of Brain Function, used an MRI scan to monitor brain activity while participants listened to a story. They discovered that the participants’ heart rates fluctuated as they listened to emotionally intense parts of the story (Wallentin et al., 2011). What was even more interesting is that there were responses in the participants’ amygdala, the part of the brain that experiences emotions and is responsible for detecting fear (Wallentin et al., 2011).
What does all of this neuroscience mean to you? When a story moves us or connects with us, we will remember. Taking it deeper, we will live the story.
A story can be told by written words, videos, or even images.
The goal is to put people into the character’s shoes, as they will project themselves into the story. They might empathize with the character and/or experience the same emotions.
Focus on developing stories of how past customers or clients have used your product or service. Think of it as a testimonial, but more in-depth with details and feelings.
You’ll create more engaging content when you aren’t scrambling to think of a topic at the last minute. Taking a proactive approach to content topics will save you and your team countless hours of time and frustration.
We are exposed to thousands of marketing messages each day, not to mention the amount of headlines we hear or see. Pay attention to what’s around you and determine if there is an angle you can take with that topic or message that would apply to your target audience. Ask yourself: “How can I translate this information into something useful for my audience?”
If you need some help in the inspiration area, consider using BuzzSumo and Google Trends. When you come across intriguing content that you want to use for inspiration later, use a tool such as Pocket to store the articles or pages.
Google Scholar is another great resource when it comes to getting some inspiration. Regularly look for research and studies that pertain to your business. You can use them to create interesting blog posts and even infographics. Just be aware that you might have to pay to have access to the published articles, but it could still be worth it.
Practicality is one of the many keys to engaging content. Consumers are inundated with content online. How can you make it personal and practical to them?
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”, provides a great illustration of the power of practicality. In the book, he shares a story about a college that was trying to encourage students to get their tetanus shot.
Initially, the college put out flyers that used fear as an approach. It didn’t work.
So the college took a different approach with its next flyer. They provided the location and time to get vaccinated. Suddenly the information became practical and it worked.
Practicality is crucial to engaging content. Content becomes practical when you can show your audience how they can apply the information.
Explain how your store is located right off the freeway, making it an easy stop on the way home from work. Describe how you can answer someone’s questions by simply clicking/tapping a link.
Practical and personal go hand-in-hand. Your content needs to speak to people on a personal level.
What questions does your target audience have? What concerns should you address?
When people are searching online and end up on your website, they will be looking for a few things:
- What problem do you solve?
- Why should I care?
- Can I trust you?
Addressing the common questions of your audience and showing empathy will go a long way in conversion.
There are various tools that can help you pinpoint common questions, including Answer The Public and BloomBerry. BoardReader can even give you some insight into what people are talking about, which can help you find topics that can become personal and practical.
S.I.P. Your Way to More Engaging Content
Credits – Mindy Weinstein.