As a leader in business, it’s important to harness your humanity so you can listen, explore, and evolve both personally and professionally. When you use your personal history and stories to create content that forms an undeniable connection with your customers, you build your brand and grow your business. But Human Content doesn’t work just because of something you say. Human Content truly needs to shine from within you and your organization. When you activate Human Content, you give your business an edge.
The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” – Hunter S. Thompson
The most innovative businesses use this edge in their marketing to endlessly reinvent themselves. For example, look at the innovative car service company, Uber. Just like Uber, Human Content is evolving the way the world moves. It seamlessly connects humans to make words (and the world) more accessible. This opens fresh, new opportunities for business. Human Content, like Uber, makes personal and professional life more fun and efficient.
Content with an edge allows you to:
- access knowledge for your readers so that you bridge gaps
- tell meaningful stories that bring value to your audience
- create a forward-thinking culture
- gain a competitive advantage without simply checking a box
Why is an edge important in business?
Let’s keep going with the Uber analogy and imagine the internet is a place with traffic that you drive through. You can either drive yourself and be stressed out over traffic (and parking), or rely on a human driver to take you where you need to go.
The thing is, your human driver usually creates an engaging experience. He or she will provide an iPhone charger, a bottle of water, and maybe some good music (if you’re lucky).
With Human Content the experience of “driving” through the web suddenly feels like home. It’s inviting, and it enables a powerful new form of organization and efficiency to emerge. You can kick back and let the knowledge of your human driver take you to where you need to go. You’ll talk, laugh, and tell stories while still making a business transaction.
As Ram Dass said:
Just kidding. Ram Dass didn’t really say that all of that. I added the laughing and skipping and drinking part. The thing is, with Human Content, we’re having a good time while doing business. Why not?
Human Content is the edgy “Uber” of the online world. It picks you up from where you are and takes you where you need to go.
Tips to get an edge:
- Have no secrets. In the 1999 book The Cluetrain Manifesto, authors Rick Levine and Christopher Locke stated: “The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.” Marketing today means being transparent and open about your product or service so that you can evolve in an innovative way that creates connections with your customers.
- Enable conversations with customers in a way that’s not possible in the vehicle of mass media. Many businesses still broadcast their messages as if their audience is consuming their content via traditional television or radio. This is not edgy or human. It’s boring, basic, and it’s likely to send customers away. To be more accessible, ask questions and be real in your online conversations.
Those who strap on the label of “thought leader” often do it to prey on those who are impressionable. Examine their content. Does it come across as fake and uninspired with recycled quotes and lack of context or story behind what they share on social media?
Real Human Content is written by leaders who deliver value. These leaders share how their readers’ skills or behavior will transform as a result of using their product or service. Human Content makes it clear that there’s a before and an after. It makes the service or product come alive on the website, in a book, or in a face-to-face conversation.
Let’s go back to the Uber example. Customers know that when they book a trip, they will seamlessly get from Location A to Location B. The same transformation happens when you use Human Content on the web. You take your readers on a journey of transformation. You show them, “If you use my product, your life will be different.”
The experience is based on delivering value.
Tips to deliver value:
- Describe the before and after. If your product or service is good, you will deliver a “before and after” experience. When you describe this before and after, you create value and deliver a solid experience for your customer.
- Make a connection between what you offer with the personal priorities of your customers. In an Uber you know that you can relax and recharge between meetings. If you run a content marketing agency (as I do), you may want to explain or demonstrate how your content marketing services can entertain and educate your customers online to bring in more business. Explain how starting with Point A (entertaining and educating) will get your customers to Point B (more business!).
It may be scary and new at first. But as Seth Godin writes:
“The best artists and leaders seek out [the feeling of fear]. They push themselves to the edge, to the place where the fear lives. By feeling it, by exposing themselves to the resistance, they become more alive and do work that they’re most proud of. The fear doesn’t care, either way. The choice is to spend our time avoiding that fear or embracing it.”
It takes determination and a lot of self-awareness to let go of fear and give the world what it needs. After all, it’s not about how the world shapes you, but rather how you shape the story.
Tips to rising above the status quo:
- Embrace your fear. Avoiding fear contributes to content that is status quo. It’s no secret that status quo and static start with the same two letters: st Fear makes us stuck (another st word) thinking we need to check a box with our content. But when we embrace fear, we can tap into human emotions that are rarely static. Emotions evolve based on the thoughts and beliefs of you and of your customers. When you embrace fear, it’s easier to access the shared emotions and experiences of your customers and see the bigger picture of their story, so you can tell it like it is.
- Relate to something your customers care about. The old ways of marketing were about creating an urgency around the message that was based in a static, fear-based mentality (think infomercials and commercials of the 1980s and ʼ90s). This creates fake urgency. Instead, adjust to the tone of today by being more positive and inspirational. Truly care about your customers, and then you create from a place that’s real.
- Step away from the computer. If you find it hard to come up with ideas, step away from the computer (and put your phone in airplane mode). Tune into nature. When personal energy aligns with the Earth’s natural rhythms, we can evolve our ideas more easily to shift our mindset.
You don’t need to be Hunter S. Thompson to go over the edge, but you do need to use the edge to create content that connects. Pride yourself (and business) on delivering value so that you can create Human Content to have more influence, impact, and sales.
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This post originally appeared on studioD.