How To Make Content Real Good [Slides]

That was the original title of the presentation I gave recently to a group of communications and marketing professionals.

But I just couldn’t do it. My english degree just wouldn’t let me.

And so I presented How To Make Content People Actually Want.

The worry I had was that I had met so many people in my career who had no interest in creating content people actually want!

They create content because their boss asked them to. They do what they’ve always done. They create “stuff” because they resigned themselves to just creating “stuff.”

Create Content That Matters

My Dad passed away 5 years ago. We found out he had lung cancer two days after Father’s Day. I starkly remember kissing his bald head and wishing him a great Father’s day, not knowing it would be his last. He was gone less than 8 weeks later.

My father spent his life making stuff. He never complained. He provided for all of us – my Mom, and I, and my 3 siblings. We knew he hated going to work and loved coming home to us. I recall how happy he was when  I helped him plot the economics of his retirement to occur as soon as heavenly possible.

My parents never went to college. They never really pushed us to go either. They could hardly afford to help my oldest brother (now ranked one of the best college professors in America!) with his first few years in school. And yet, away we all went, with ambition to succeed, to get a degree, and to chase our dreams.

While the encouragement was never spoken, I think much of the ambition I’ve felt in my career has been based on the quiet sadness of seeing my father toil away doing work that he didn’t particularly care for. Those were different times. And I know he felt lucky to be able to provide for his family.

When I graduated from college he told me to get a good job. I knew he wanted me to find something that mattered to me. To contribute something meaningful.

Why am I offering this rare and maybe a little strange glimpse into my childhood? Because I believe that life is too short to just do what you’re told. To do what your boss asked you to do. To do what your company has always done. Life is too short to stay in a job you don’t love, doing things you don’t care about.

I really enjoyed presenting “How To Create Content That People Actually Want” because so much of the content we create is wanted by no one. Promotion. Propaganda. Tech Sheets. Brochures. Talking head videos.

I like challenging marketing and communications people to dream bigger, to create content people might even love to consume, and content they love to create. I enjoy showing them examples of how to do it.

But Everyone Creates Content

One of my favorite defense mechanisms by traditional marketers and curmudgeonly executives is “Content marketing is just the latest buzzword. Everyone is creating content. But to rise above all that noise, we need to present our unique point of view.”

But here’s the problem. I am interested in your unique point of view, said no one, ever! Your customers are looking for solutions to their problems. They are looking to be informed and entertained. They are looking to laugh and to feel something human.

“Content today must compete with pictures of babies and kittens!” [Tweet This!]

That’s the bar. And yet I told the audience last week that it’s not that hard. Just answer your customers’ questions. Remember that behind each one of those likes and tweets and pageview stats is a person like you and me. A person with a job, maybe a mortgage, or some kids. Probably a boss they don’t love. Or a job they wish they didn’t hate. Just help them!

All it takes is a little bit of empathy. But . . .

How do you explain empathy to an executive who has none?

This was the question that came up in a conversation I had recently with an accomplished storyteller. The answer: Fear!

  • Hey boss, check out how our competition shows up first on Google.
  • Hey boss, check out all these high-volume search terms in our space that don’t drive our content plans.
  • Hey boss, check out all these influencers and publishers and competitors who are better at attracting our audience with great content. Because they made it their mission to do so.
  • Hey boss, check out how much money we spend on paid search for brand search terms because we don’t rank organically.
  • Hey boss, check out how much money we spend on unbranded search terms in our category because we don’t create content to answer those queries.

If you can’t attract an audience with content people actually want, then show them how your competition is doing just that.

3 Tips For Creating Content People Actually Want

I left the audience last week with just 3, relatively simple, yet surprisingly challenging tips for creating content people want:

  1. Create content for real people based on questions they ask
  2. Create the types of content people want and search engines love. Provide great answers to important questions.
  3. Have some fun. Be human. And maybe even a little funny. Try it. Who knows, your audience might love it.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.