I came across a story on The Guardian of a man with the strangest condition I have ever heard of.
I wasn’t expecting this, but after I read his story, I realized that his story reveals something you might be concerned about: why your content marketing isn’t working.
I’ll explain what I mean in a second, but first you’ve got to hear this man’s shocking story…
Living in a Right-Sided World
Alan Burgess’ life changed forever on November 5, 2007.
It was the day he had a stroke.
I know that many people have strokes, so that might not seem unique.
But how his stroke changed his way of perceiving the world is what make this such a unique story.
You see, his stroke left him with a syndrome known as hemispatial neglect.
His stroke damaged the parietal lobe on the right side of his brain, which is the part of our brain that handles our ability to pay attention or be aware of certain things in our world.
That means that his stroke had a strange effect on his attention.
It caused him to ignore people, sounds, and objects on his left. It’s like the world on his left doesn’t exist at all.
Now you need to understand something. He is NOT blind in his left eye.
His brain is just ignoring one side of his world.
Before his stroke, Burgess was working as a driver. But now his “visual neglect” makes driving impossible, so he had to retire early.
Since his retirement he has taken up painting, which he really enjoys.
But if you took a look at his paintings, you’d notice something unique about them.
Half of the picture is missing.
He has a painting that he has done of two robins, which he copied from a Christmas card.
The robin that is on the right is done in full detail, but if you look at the one on the left, you’d noticed that it is still unfinished.
A doctor who studies this condition, named Dr Paresh Malhotra described this condition in this way, “Vision is most strikingly affected because we are visual creatures, but hearing, touch, representation and sense of self are also affected.”
The sad thing about this condition is that people who have hemispatial neglect are many times not even aware of their condition.
And because of this, many people like Alan Burgess don’t seek out help.
What does this have to with content marketing? A lot.
And it all begins with multitasking.
Let me explain…
The Short Order Cook and the Myth of Multitasking
I actually think I am pretty good at multitasking. (In fact, I’ve stopped writing this multiple times to do other things like check my email.)
Don’t you feel the same way about your awesome multitasking ability?
Well, according to an NPR article on multitasking, we’re wrong.
“Humans, they say, don’t do lots of things simultaneously. Instead, we switch our attention from task to task extremely quickly.”
The example they use in the article to show us this reality is the example of a short order cook.
Short order cooks have to juggle all sorts of small tasks. Tasks that enable them to make: Chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs with sausage, an order of french fries, and even rye toast.
Cooking pancakes or eggs might not seem like that big of a deal. But on a busy day, when you need manage all of their small details at the same time, then they become a really difficult job.
You might be thinking… “Who cares? I’m not a short order cook!”
Well, as the NPR article reveals, we’re ALL living lives where we have to juggle all sorts of small details simultaneously.
We all have emails to answer, calls to return, errands that need to get done, meetings that we need to attend, family responsibilities that are on our calendar, etc. And many of these things are things we need to do all at the same time.
And so, just like a short order cook, we are forced to juggle it all.
But here’s the problem. We’re living in a fantasy world.
Neuroscientist Earl Miller says it like this in this NPR article…
“People can’t multitask very well, and when people say they can, they’re deluding themselves. The brain is very good at deluding itself.”
We don’t realize this, but we all have a condition that we are unaware of. And it’s the result of living in a world where we have to multitask in order to survive.
I call this condition “Information Neglect.”
Our brains haven’t experienced a stroke that has caused us to ignore a certain side of our world.
Instead, our brains have been overloaded by so many tasks and so much information that we’ve begun to block out the flood of information that flows our way each day.
And some of that information we’re blocking out is very important. But it doesn’t matter. We’ll never see it.
This leads us to the problem I mentioned at the beginning: why your content marketing isn’t working.
You see, you aren’t the only one with this Information Neglect condition.
Your prospects have Information Neglect too.
This leads to three problems that content marketers need to overcome:
- That means that some of that excess information that your prospects are blocking out is your content.
- They don’t even see your content. It’s not even on their radar.
- They don’t even know they’re doing this.
This is the world we now live in.
This is the condition we all have, even if we don’t realize this.
So what is a content marketer to do about this?
How do you create content that people will actually consume?
I’ll tell you…
How to Create Content That Doesn’t Get Ignored
You know, I didn’t tell you everything that I discovered when I read Alan Burgess’ story.
There was something I left out. It’s something about Dr Malhotra that was mentioned at the end of the article.
It’s this surprising fact: Dr Malhotra figured out a way to begin to REDUCE this problem in hemispatial neglect patients.
“His most recent work has looked at how patients might reduce this bias to the right. Previous research suggests that people with normal vision perform better at visual attention tasks when they are rewarded for good performance and Dr Malhotra and his team have found the same thing in neglect patients.”
This is amazing.
By offering patients with hemispatial neglect rewards for noticing and paying attention to what they are normally blind to, he is helping them to overcome their perception blindness!
And guess what?
I believe that that is the answer to solve your problem too.
Here’s what I mean…
If you want to create content marketing that is not ignored, but is actually noticed and happily consumed, then you must do the same thing.
You must reward your prospects for consuming your content.
When you reward your prospects for consuming your content, then they will gladly pay attention and consume the content you create.
I call this type of content “rewarding content.”
Three Ways to Create “Rewarding Content” That Your Prospects Will Want to Consume
There are many ways to create content that rewards your prospects.
I don’t have the time to go into them all, so let me just focus on three basic types of “rewarding content” that you can create:
- Create content that answers your prospects’ questions.
If you create content about topics no one cares about, then guess how many people will consume it? That’s right. No one.
Instead you want to create content that answers your prospects questions and is focused on topics and subjects that they care about.
I did that here. I wrote about a topic that you probably care about: “why your content is getting ignored”.
You need to do the same thing and create content that answers your prospects’ questions.
This type of content will teach your prospects to pay attention and cause them to want to consume your content, because they know that it rewards them with answers to their actual questions.
- Create content that is enjoyable to read.
The other way to create content that your prospects will pay attention to is to create content that is enjoyable.
I firmly believe that even the most boring topic can be made enjoyable to consume, if you use the right methods to create intriguing content.
I just did that in this post. I wrote about the topic of “multitasking,” which isn’t necessarily the most exciting topic. But I used Alan Burgess’ story and the analogy of a short order cook to make it more interesting.
You must do the same thing.
This type of content will teach your prospects to pay attention and cause them to want to consume your content, because they know that you provide content that not only answers their questions, but is enjoyable and intriguing.
- And sometimes you can actually create content where you literally give your prospects some kind of real reward.
The above two types of “rewarding content” are based on rewards that are IN the content itself. But this last one is a reward that exists outside of your content.
It is something that your content points to.
That means that you create content that leads to, or reveals, a reward for your prospect in the form of a special report, a discount, a video, or maybe a contest of some kind. (These are just a few examples. You need to get creative and come up with others.)
This type of content will teach your prospects to pay attention and cause them to want to consume your content, because they know that it answers their questions, is enjoyable to consume and even (sometimes) leads them to actual rewards.
A Daily Bouquet of Love
“Attention is like a daily bouquet of love.”
-Bob Keeshan aka “Captain Kangaroo”
I love the above quote about attention from Bob Keeshan.
I think it’s a great way to think about the value that someone is giving to you when they give you their attention.
And with all of the distractions we have these days, I think that “attention” has become the treasure that all businesses are desperately searching for.
If you really want your prospects to cover you in “daily bouquets of love,” then you must learn how to create content that rewards them.
That is the only way that you can overcome the modern condition of Information Neglect.
P.S. Just in case you were disappointed that I didn’t show you an example of how I used the third type of “rewarding content,” you might want to look through the above post again. I included a reward hidden for you in one of the links above. (Hint: It’s towards the top.)