Content We Crave: The Untold Backstory and the Most Powerful Way to Use It

NOTE: Four years ago, I wrote a post for (CMI) called “21 Types of Content We All Crave.” It was so popular that they asked to repost it again as a “Back by Popular Demand” post.

That new post went live on June 24, 2016. At the time I am writing this, that was just 17 days ago. Since then it has already been:

  • Tweeted 1127 times
  • Shared on Linkedin 711 times
  • Shared on Facebook 343 times
  • And shared on Google+ 282 times

The post you’re about to read is an expanded version of the CMI post.

It reveals the untold backstory of how I came up with the “Types of Content We Crave,” gives explanations for some of the different types of content, and it will teach you the most powerful way to use these types of “content we crave.”

If you’re ready, then read on…

From | Crave: “to have a very strong desire for something”

Can it possibly be true? The great musician Johann Sebastian Bach was caught stealing?

You’d be surprised what someone will do when they really crave something! Can you imagine what it would be like to not just have people consume your content, but to crave it? To go to extremes to get their hands on it?

Well, if you pay attention and apply what I am about to reveal to you, then your content could become much more “craveable.”

Johann Sebastian Bach: Childhood Thief

Johann Sebastian Bach –

In an 1802 biography written about the great musician Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Nikolaus Forkel tells a surprising story the reveals just how much Bach craved great musical compositions. 

This is that story…

One day Bach found out that his older brother owned a book containing several musical pieces from the masters of his day. 

He was so excited. He had to have it! He begged his older brother for it, but his brother wouldn’t let him have it. Bach really wanted that book. He wasn’t about to let that stop him.

So he came up with a plan to get the book without his brother’s knowledge and copy it by hand. You see, his brother kept the book on a bookshelf which had a latticed front. So late one night Bach slipped into the room.

He slipped his small hands through the lattice, rolled the book up and pulled it through, then slipped away. But there was one problem. 

He wasn’t allowed a candle, so he could only copy it on moon lit nights and that’s why it took him six months before he finished copying the book. 

After he finally completed his hard-earned copy, he looked forward to using his secret treasure. But his excitement would prove to be short-lived.

His brother found out about the copy and took it from him. (Bach never got it back until his brother’s death.)

I don’t have any proof for this, but I wonder if the mere act of hand-copying the great works of the masters of his day helped Bach to internalize their techniques in creating musical masterpieces. 

I wonder if that bold, painstaking act of copying each note of their masterpiece is one of the things that made Bach’s music stand out and stand the test of time.

In the same way that great musicians consciously and subconsciously know the key ingredients needed to create powerful and engaging music, great content creators know the key ingredients that are needed to create powerful and engaging content.

I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a book of “content masters” that you and I can take a peek at. But I do have something to share with you today that I’ve seen the “content masters” use, which enables them to create amazing content.

Today, I want to reveal to you some key ingredients that are needed to create powerful and engaging content. These ingredients are the types of content that great content creators consciously and subconsciously use to create content we crave.

And if you can learn to harness the power of these types of content, you’ll have the upper hand on all the other content marketers who are in your industry. 

But first, before I talk to you about these types of content we all crave, I have to confess the very unglamourous way I came upon these content marketing ingredients.

One Night in April 2012

It was a regular night in April of 2012 and I was thinking.

I was thinking about how all the content that people love seems to have common themes, regardless of whether it is on TV, in movies, in books, or even a non-fiction blog post.

After thinking about all these content themes, I decided to try to come up with a list all of the types of content that people crave.  I looked at my final list and thought it was a really interesting list. I believed it could really be helpful to people, so I decided to get an infographic of the list made.

I then contacted (CMI) to see if they would be interested in using it as a guest blog post and they said they would. I really thought that what I had come up with was an important list, but I still wasn’t sure how the CMI audience would respond.

Well, I was about to find out and the response was better than I could have ever imagined. 

The infographic and short blog post that I wrote originally appeared on CMI back on June 5, 2012. It was simply called “21 Types of Content We All Crave.” As soon as it appeared, people began commenting and sharing the post. And they kept commenting and sharing it and commenting and sharing it.

It ended up being tweeted over 800 times and it received 102 comments before the comments were finally closed. Joe Pulizzi later gave me a testimonial that said that my post was one CMI’s most popular posts of the year. I couldn’t believe the response!

I’ve learned some really important lessons from the experience itself and also from using these types of content over the years since I came up with this idea. And as I’ve thought about the “types of content we crave,” I’ve also come up with a list of additional types of content we crave.

I’ll share these lessons and the additional types of content in just a minute. But before I do that, I think it’s important for you to see the original post and infographic, in case you’ve never seen it or you’ve forgotten what it was about…



21 Types of Content We Crave

If your content doesn’t resonate with your audience, then they won’t follow you where you want to take them.  For content marketers, this is a cardinal sin.

The key question is:
What kind of content universally 
resonates with people?

To help you, I’ve created a list of 21 types of content we all love to consume.

21 types of content we crave

You need to understand:

  • This is the kind of content we never get tired of.
  • This is the kind of content we always have time for.  
  • This is the kind of content we don’t forget.
  • And this is the kind of content we want to share with others.

This is the kind of content we must create if our goal is to influenceinspire, and move to action the unique group of people we have chosen to reach.

You don’t have to have each of these types in every piece of content you produce.  Sometimes one type is enough. For longer forms of content, you might want to use multiple types of content and move from one to the other.

My challenge to you

Print out this list and put it somewhere you can see it regularly to help you develop irresistible content as part of your content strategy.

Regularly pick one or more items from this list and ask yourself one of these questions:

  1. Does the content I am writing meet this criteria?
  2. What can I do to make the content I’m creating fall under this category?

*Do you have any more types of content that you’d add to this list? Post them in the comments.

Please pass this on to your friends, colleagues, and followers if you found it helpful.
**You are welcome to post it on your blog or site.  (A link back would be appreciated.)


10 More Types of Content We All Crave

From the very beginning, I’ve never claimed that my “21 Types of Content We Crave” are the only types of content we crave.

The twenty-one that I mentioned in my original list are just the main types that I came up with back in 2012, as I pondered the types of content that I had observed have a huge impact on people.

But as I was putting together this post, I thought a lot about other types of content we all crave. I began to really think again about the types of content that I’ve seen have a huge impact people. And I began to think about the types of content I might have left out.

After much thought, I’ve come up with ten more, powerful types of content we all crave. So here’s my new list of 10 more types of content we all love to consume.


Since people had some questions about some of the types of content that I had in my first list, I thought it would be good to explain some of the types in this new list so you understand what I mean by them.

Don’t worry. I won’t explain them all. I’ll just focus on the ones that I think might need a little clarification.

Content that allows us to reminisce 

I recently wrote a post here on called Have You Been Using the Most Powerful Content Marketing Tool Incorrectly? 

It’s about a mistake that many content marketers are making these days. In order to tell what that mistake was, I began by telling the little-known story about the origin of the 1970’s movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

People’s reaction to the post has been very positive. They really seemed to appreciate my insights. But the thing that’s been the most surprising to me is how many people (grown adults!) have responded with excitement and glee in their tweets to me because they love that movie!

That’s what I call “content that allows us to reminisce.” When you can create or curate content that will allow your audience to fondly remember “the days gone by,” then you’ve got them hooked. They will love you for it!

The next type of content is a little different. Instead of being something that allows your audience to do something they enjoy, it’s almost the opposite. Read on and you’ll understand what I mean.

Content about risk-takers

What is it about risks? Most of us are afraid to take them, but when we hear a story about a risk-taker then we are drawn in.

As I thought about this weird phenomenon, I was struck by these thoughts:

  • I wonder if we’re attracted to content about risk-takers and people who have risked it all, because we want to be inspired to take the risks we know are holding us back?
  • Or are we attracted to this type of content, because we want to live our lives vicariously through them and not have to ever take a risk ourselves?

Whatever it is about content that is about risk-takers, we eat it up. When it is harnessed, you’re sure to be taping into a type of content we all crave.

And that leads me to the next two types of content I’ve come up with.

Content that tells a rescue story & content that is about redemption


Let me explain these next two types of content with a story…

One night, I decided to be a good husband (and father). I took my three sons out, so my wife could have a night at home on her own.

When we got back home and walked in the door, my wife was laying on the couch watching TV, totally engaged in what she was watching. And when I looked up at the screen, I was totally caught off guard!

She was watching a show we had never watched before, one that I could never imagine her liking. It was a show on Animal Planet called Pit Bulls and ParoleesI looked up at the screen, and then at her, and then I said, “What are you watching!?! I never thought you’d watch this show!”

She looked at me with emotion in her eyes and said, “I love it! It’s all about redemption. They are rescuing Pit Bulls and Ex-cons and giving them a new chance at life!” So we all sat down and started watching. And she was right.  It was a great show.

You might think that being rescued or redeemed are the same thing, but they’re not. You can be rescued and not changed. You can be rescued and not given a new lease on life.

Think about it. Tia Torres, the founder of Villalobos Rescue Center, could rescue pit bulls and put them right back on the streets where they came from. But instead, she feeds them, finds them a new home, and ultimately gives them a new lease on life. 

Anyway, these are two other types of content that people are can’t resist. We all love a story that tells us about someone being rescued or about someone’s life being restored. This is the kind of content that gives us all hope for mankind and for ourselves. When you use this type of content people will be instantly drawn in.

Now let me explain the last type of content that might need some clarification.

Content that tells tales of sacrifice

The best way to explain the power of this type of content is with a story. I heard a powerful story of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, that I think you’re going to love.

He once captured a prince and his family. And when the man and his family came before Cyrus, the great ruler boldly asked the prisoner, “What will you give me if I release you?” The man replied, “Half of my wealth.”  

The great ruler was intrigued, so he continued his questioning by asking, “And if I release your children?” The prince stared the great ruler in the eyes and said, “Everything I possess.”

Cyrus the Great couldn’t resist asking one more question, so he finally asked the prince, “And if I release your wife?” With his wife standing nearby, the man answered immediately and passionately, “Your Majesty, I will give myself.”

It’s said that Cyrus was so moved by this man’s devotion that he did something unexpected. He freed them all. 

As they returned home, the prince looked to his wife and said, “Wasn’t Cyrus a handsome man!” And with a look of deep love for her husband, she surprised him by saying, “I didn’t notice. I could only keep my eyes on you – the one who was willing to give himself for me.”

Powerful men and women are intimidating. Educated men and women are impressive. But men and women who sacrifice it all for someone or something are inspiring. There’s something incredibly attractive about them.

We can’t take our eyes off them. And we can’t take our eyes off of content that tells tales of sacrifice either.

The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned About the Types of Content We Crave


I’ve learned many lessons from this accidental discovery I made back in 2012. But one of the biggest and most basic ones is this. I learned that my initial hypothesis was correct. There really IS content that resonates with everyone. 

I emailed Michele Linn, Vice President of Content for CMI, and asked for some stats on “21 Types of Content We Crave” that I could use to show its popularity. She revealed that that original post is one of the top performing posts on CMI. And she said that on Pinterest alone, it’s been pinned 44,600 times!

I love that it has a universal appeal. The infographic has been shared by marketers, writers, speakers, and by everyday-people from all sorts of industries. “21 Types of Content We Crave” seems to be a concept that is not only universal, but it’s also evergreen and will never go out of style.

But the question you’re probably asking is this, “But how can I tap into the power of these types of content?” 

Ok. I’ll leave you with the most powerful way I know.

The Most Powerful Way You Can Use These Types of Content We Crave

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”

Image from Wikipedia

– Leo Burnett, Legendary Advertising Executive
He created some of the greatest ad campaigns of the 20th century (Tony the Tiger, Marlboro Man, The Maytag Repairman, and more)

The thirty-one types of content I’ve given you can be used in many ways and in many forms (stories are just one way we can harness their power). When I speak about these types of content, I share the different forms and ways they can be used.

But I don’t have the time or space to go into that today. So instead, I’ll simply share with you the most powerful way you can use them.

And that way is this: use them to frame your content. What I mean is this. Use these types of content to create the lens through which your audience perceives the rest of your content.

Let me use this post as an example.

Instead of just telling you about the story behind these types of content we crave and sharing the new types, I began with that story of Bach sneaking away his brother’s book that contained musical compositions from the masters. (This is content that reveals secrets, or in this case, is about secrets.)

I told you that I wondered if the act of just copying the works of the masters helped him internalize their techniques. And I told you that I wonder if that’s what gave him the upperhand over the other composers of his day.

I then said…

“I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a book of “content masters” that you and I can take a peek at. But I do have something to share with you today that I’ve seen the “content masters” use, which enables them to create amazing content.

“Today, I want to reveal to you some key ingredients that are needed to create powerful and engaging content. These ingredients are the types of content that great content creators consciously and subconsciously use to create content we crave.” 

From that moment on, the rest of my content was seen through the lens of that original story of the book of the masters that Bach would do anything to get his hands on. Using this type of content in that way gave this post a special, emotional punch that it wouldn’t have without me using it.

Just to be clear, I didn’t just use that story for hype or emotional manipulation. What I said is true.

When I speak about this subject, I use examples of two best-selling authors, one who is in uninteresting field and the other who regularly writes about “boring” topics. They both use the “types of content we crave” in the way that I teach people to and they have been propelled to fame in each of their arenas.

I have another example I use of a top content marketer who used the “types of content we crave” in the way I suggest and he has built a thriving business. (You’d know his name.)

You see, I didn’t use the story at the beginning for hype or manipulation. I used it to grab your attention and speak to your heart, so that you would take what I was about to share with you seriously. 

I used it to grab you by the collars and wake you up to how important this is.

Because I believe that if you learn to employ what I am calling the “types of content we crave,” then you’ll be able to create content like you never have before.

It doesn’t matter whether that content is words on a screen (or on paper), content in the form of audio that can be listened to, or video that can be viewed. These types of content work in any/all of these forms.

And who knows?

Maybe one of you reading this will one day master these types of content in such a way that you will lock away what you’ve learned in a book that contains your “secrets.” And maybe someday someone will sneak a copy of your book just so they can take a peek at it and copy your methods! 🙂

Source: I found the story of Cyrus the Great in the book The Speaker’s Quote Book: Over 5,000 Illustrations and Quotations for All Occasions by Roy B. Zuck

Scott Aughtmon

Scott Aughtmon is the author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. He is a regular contributor to and he is the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave. He is a business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist, and speaker. He’s been studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline) since 1999. He has a unique perspective and ability to communicate ideas and concepts in a way that can help you climb to new heights. Read more of Scott's insights on his blog. Follow Scott on Twitter @rampbusinesses.