If you want to effectively connect with your audience, there four things you should not be doing with your content. Here at HEARD Media, we see them often out in the wild, through our customers’ content, and sometimes in our own work.
It’s just human nature to fall into these traps, so exposing them and figuring out what the fix is will help all of us.
#1 — Unexpected self-promotion
This is the idea that a customer comes to your content to have a problem solved and is instead served a heaping plate of product benefits they never asked for.
This is the article titled “Four Ways to Fix Your Front Porch” and then you come and it’s just product benefits about some cement they’re trying to sell to you. Apply that to your content and think about how you can mistakenly fall into that trap.
Instead of trying to sell your product, simply talk about your customers’ problems. This will acquire broader attention and allow you to build trust over time. Eventually, your prospect will wonder how your specific product can help them. That’s when you can come up with that answer.
Until then, focus on their problem. Every time you go through your content, ask yourself, “Am I talking about myself? Or am I talking about my audience or my customer’s problem?”
If you decide to do a self-promotional product-centric piece, tell them. Be clear. Tell the audience in the title: “how to solve X problem using Y product.” Don’t just talk about their problem, explain why your product can fix that problem and offer that value in return.
#2 — Non-actionable writing
This problem comes when writing is only descriptive. If there’s no actionable advice available for the consumer, then the article ends up being worthless and will likely cause them to bounce without further engaging.
Ask yourself “why” over and over and over as you are creating the content. Why is it wrong? How do I fix it? Offering that in a nugget is actionable advice.
When you continue to ask yourself “why” and make sure you address “how” in the summary, you can give the audience some practical advice.
#3 — Over-reliance on data
Data is our friend as marketers. It justifies our jobs. It allows us to show objective growth towards a goal, but we can sometimes have a tendency to rely too heavily on data.
Much like being overly descriptive, being overly reliant on data can prevent you from answering the “how” or “why” question for your audience.
First, do the legwork to follow the data to its logical conclusion. Go down the rabbit hole. Figure out the actual meaning. What is the intent of this data? How do I use this in a way that will actually fix a customer problem?
Then share that conclusion concisely. Only use data to salt and pepper the point rather than be the entire dish.
Also, don’t forget that all of your content should be persuasive in nature. The story is still the key, even if you’re using data to help tell it. Be careful with that.
#4 — Overly critical
Content marketers are not usually experts in anything except creating content, and that’s okay. That is your job. You’re great at it, and hopefully this series is helping you get better at it, but there’s a tendency to become overly critical in content.
Whether that be about how things outside of our circles are done, the current state of the industry, some hot take on a current event, or how certain people are doing certain things, a lot times that criticism isn’t backed by actual operational experience.
First, avoid giving negative criticism to drive clicks. While criticism will help you drive clicks in the short term because negativity sells, the relationship you build with your audience won’t be one of value.
Instead, you may be viewed as an outsider who naively criticizes people that they don’t understand, or worse, an insider who’s overly pessimistic about the world you all share with your audience.
Second, get some skin in the game. Get your hands dirty. Do some operational tasks. Get into the business and then provide your opinions when you are informed enough to do so based on actual experience. This will go a long way with your audience.