How the hell are you supposed to get any cut through with your content? I mean, there’s the shock and awe, clickbait kind of route, but that doesn’t build you credibility or long term customer loyalty.
It might be surprising to know that this is not a new phenomenon. Here’s some ancient history on cutting through, and what you need to do:
“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly.”
Problems with content cut-through is nothing new
That quote is from William Bernbach, one of the founding fathers of modern advertising in the US. He wrote this in the 1950s, in a media landscape we’d consider completely uncluttered by today’s standards.
Try telling your teenagers this is a time with no internet, no streaming, no social media….I told you it was ancient history!
But he’s absolutely right about the need to be imaginative, original and fresh if you’re going to have any chance of being interesting enough for them to stop and pay you even a moments attention, let alone give you their trust. But that isn’t the only 1950s insight from Bernbach that still holds true today, 70 years on.
Your story is nothing without feelings
Still not sure? Here’s what he had to say on that one:
“You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. But you’ve got to say it in such a way people will feel it in their gut. Because if they don’t feel it, nothing will happen.”
Basically, don’t be beige. No one ever cared about bland.
What do you need to make people feel?
As a starting point, it doesn’t matter so much what they feel as long as they feel something. And it doesn’t need to be something positive. Those that feel negatively are not necessarily your tribe, so you don’t need everyone to love you. Let’s face it, Marmite, Yorkie and others have made businesses out of not being afraid to put some people off.
What would you aim for? How about these for starters.
Most people like to feel they belong somewhere and that they’re included in things. You can feel included because you like the feel of a group, what they stand for and what they do.
To get that feeling, your stories can share what you’re up to, and the core values of what you do and how. You might also talk about what you won’t do. When you’re really clear about what you’re up to and what you stand for, then it helps someone know that you’re for them.
It doesn’t mean you have to include everyone. Some people can feel excluded, probably because your story won’t resonate with them, their values are not your values. As long as you’re not appealing to an audience of one, then you’ve probably got a business.
This is a bit of a move on from included, and it’s when your stories make people want to get involved, and know how. It could be national campaigning, or a local issue.
It could be looking out for your company van out and about and posting pictures of it for everyone else to see. You might share video of your production lines or office antics. It doesn’t have to always be serious stuff, it just has to get people involved.
I think the team at Yorkshire Tea are great at this less serious stuff, and can think of brands like Lush doing the big campaign stuff. Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you can’t be “inspired” by their activity.
I don’t mean in a VW emissions scandal kind of way. You’re after good kind of surprised.
Do the unexpected, share something that other businesses like you don’t. It could be personal, it could be an update on how your business is doing. People are looking for more and more openness, transparency and humanness from the brands they want to keep putting their business with.
Send a customer a bunch of flowers. A box of your products. Just because.
Learning is a lifelong journey. Help people feel like they learnt something. Could be useful to their everyday life, or just to be something interesting to add to the conversation down the pub.
It could be that you talk about the things you’ve learnt from setting up your business (I particularly like Rupert’s blog over at Conker Spirit). You might do something that isn’t directly your business but would seem to be a good fit. For example, Seasalt has a great post and video on arm knitting.
It’s not directly their business (although they have creative workshops from time to time) but it fits perfectly with what they do in terms of you’d expect to find these in their stores, or the homes of other customers like you. Or someone you’d aspire to be.
Heard and Seen
One of the worst things to feel?
You can make sure that your customers never feel ignored. You can answer customer questions or even emails of love or complaint. Don’t just push out content, respond to any reactions you get. Find out where people are talking about your business and get in the conversation.
Listening and conversation are the order of the day. Not broadcasting. Hear what they have to say, and see what they do.
Storytelling is not a one-way street.
There’s a scale here, and it’s okay to be anywhere on it. From a smile to belly laughs, adding amusement into someone’s day is a good thing. It doesn’t have to be a full-scale Hollywood production, just the right word or image at the right moment might be just what people didn’t know they needed.
No action without feeling
When you’ve stirred an emotion, then just make sure people are clear what you’d like them to do. Is it join something, sign up for something, or just let you know that they felt it.
Of course, sometimes you’ll want them to buy something, and it’s okay to ask for that too. Just not every time. No one wants to feel like they’re only seen as a walking wallet!
Do and Feel
So, I hope that you might be feeling inspired to think about your content differently, and what you want customers to experience when they read it. I’d love you to drop me a comment, an email or a tweet, to let me know whether I did or didn’t.
Hit the buttons below and let me know. Thanks!