Does Your Content Leave a Lasting Impression?
“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”—Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate
Simon’s 45-year-old observation will resonate with any demand generation marketer today. Due to years of irrational content exuberance, the supply of content has surpassed customers’ demand. Yet according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 annual survey, marketers’ biggest challenge is producing engaging content. So while the deluge of substandard content has undeniably surpassed customers’ demand, the supply of quality content has a way to go.
Consider the stakes from a demand generation campaign perspective where the need for high-value, gated assets intended to drive leads is high. A poor content impression can affect the quality of responders, brand perception, and even get amplified in social channels.
This raises the question: How do you deliver a positive content experience?
Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, describes the need for an overarching content marketing mission statement. Why are you creating this asset in the first place?
“A solid mission makes it easier to produce content that does its job,” says Pulizzi.
But how do you define the mission of each asset? In this post, we discuss how to provide a singular focus for the content you create to form the impression you seek.
Your content needs a big idea
The content you create presents information and insight that, in addition to all interactions with your brand, leaves an indelible imprint in the minds’ of your intended audience. Yet demand generation marketers often neglect that imprint as an objective of their campaigns. When someone views your content, what do you want them to think?
Your content should be an ambassador for your brand. It’s a tangible experience that shapes the perception of your company and impacts buying behavior. Each content interaction should leave the recipient with one clear and compelling thought.
At Tendo, we call this the “Content Emotive Takeaway” (CET). It’s a single, compelling idea. While the CET is crucial to get right, it’s also easy to get wrong. It isn’t a headline or tagline. In fact, it should never see the light of day. Think of the CET as the impression that will give your content the best chance to succeed.
Keep it simple
Simplicity is the key to the CET. Someone should be able to hear it once and understand it immediately. The CET rises above all of the elements in the content development process: strategy, research, writing, editing, design, and so on. It acts as an umbrella idea that distills all of your audience research and industry insights into one succinct statement. It’s important that the CET is concrete, tangible, and not abstract.
Let’s use an example. Say you’re creating an eBook about the many benefits of migrating to the cloud. Your CET might read:
Integrate your business on our cloud and you’ll empower your employees, better connect with your customers and partners, all with the simplicity of dealing with a single vendor.
What’s wrong? There are more than five ideas in this CET. It hasn’t been boiled down to one single, compelling idea. A better CET would be:
Boost ROI with always-on access to information that your customers demand.
The KISS principle is in full effect here. The CET provides a focus for the content creators, stakeholders, and readers. You now have one impression you want to leave with readers.
The “Which Means Test”
It’s not easy to come up with a CET, but a former colleague had a highly effective method for consistently develop ones that were spot on. He called it the “Which Means Test.”
The “Which Means Test” is essentially a decision path for coming up with a CET that plays on readers’ emotions and rationale. Take AXE body spray, for example. For their commercials, they could have easily come up with a CET like:
AXE makes me smell good.
Simple, yes. Bland, absolutely. Now apply the “Which Means Test.” What does “smelling good” mean?
AXE gives me confidence.
AXE gets me noticed by the ladies.
BAM! AXE holds that CET as its North Star for all content creation.
Put your CET into action
Try developing a CET for the next piece of content you create. Better yet, look through your existing assets and try to find the CET behind them. If you can’t, your audience probably can’t either.
Take a look at this Printer Playbook video we created for HP. Can you tell what the CET is?