Designing Content That Engages & Grows Your Business

branding, content

October 6, 2014 by

Content is at the core of everything in marketing and sales today. Understanding the types and “flavors” of content that drive action, engagement, and new customer acquisition will help you craft the content that will drive your business forward.

There are three “flavors” of content that you can employ:

  • Content that focuses on gain, pleasure, or aspiration
  • Content that lays out a logical argument or perspective
  • Content that highlights fear or pain that your audience is, or could be, experiencing.

Guess which of those flavors is the MOST effective at getting action? If you guessed the first, which focuses on gain, pleasure, or aspirational – that comes in at #2. So of the remaining two, which do you think works the majority of the time? It’s the third one: Fear and pain.

Content Marketing typewriter

So are we saying to go with scare tactics with your marketing content? NO! Here’s the big takeaway:

Your content must be emotional. People make decisions and take actions from an emotional context. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, emotions play a huge role in decision-making.

Appeal to Emotions

Let’s look more closely at B2B sales. People are typically risk-averse. When you are making a decision for your organization, your butt is on the line. Speaking to pain doesn’t mean you are a fear-mongering jerk. It means you understand what’s on the line for your target audience and the issues they are facing, and you are empathetic about those issues.

Fear isn’t about painting a horrible scenario. Rather, it’s about how you can help get your lead past their risk aversion. And your content can set the foundation for that.

But you can’t only look at fear – yes, it works the majority of the time, but you’ve got to mix it up. People need hope. Appealing to the potential gain, or pleasure of aspirations is also an emotional appeal, and it is the second most effective at eliciting action.

Be Practical and Logical

Let’s not leave out logic, though. Logic must be right there to support the choice that is made from the emotional context. If it’s not, you will leave your target audience questioning themselves. Once we make a decision, we immediately draw on logic to support our choice – and make it look like we made the “best decision.”

I recently listened to the new book “Decoding the New Consumer Mind,” by Kit Yarrow. It’s a terrific book that I highly recommend that all marketers either read or listen to. One of the points highlighted in the book is that with technology and the internet, consumers (both B2B and B2C) are more disconnected from each other than ever before. Emotion connects people to each other, and we’re just not getting as much as we used to. Think about texting. It’s not emotional. Even with emoticons, it leaves a huge aspect of emotions out of the mix. We are left “in communication,” yet detached.

This is where you have a HUGE opportunity to connect with your buyers – by bringing emotion into your content. Empathize with them. Tell stories that allow people to identify with and trust you. Ask them to take actions that will make a difference for them (and for you).

Related Class: Measuring Your Content Marketing Success

Fit Content to Your Brand

The second thing to remember when forging engaging content, and balancing the “flavors” you leverage, is to understand that the content you create must be congruent with your values. If you’re an aspirational brand (Apple comes to mind), you’re not going to use fear much in your content in the typical sense of making them afraid. Instead, you might potentially use a fear approach suggesting that you understand the fear they are experiencing already, and can identify with that fear, and guide them to a more hopeful place.

Want an example of when content was not congruent with the brand? A recent Fiat commercial had Jennifer Lopez driving a Fiat 500 through the Bronx. Huh? It was a bad mismatch. J-Lo’s brand doesn’t really fit with her choice to drive a Fiat. That content/ad didn’t help Fiat or J-Lo, and it just looked funny. It was a disconnect for both brands.

content with branding

You need to pick emotions that resonate with your company values. To use Apple as an example again – if you think about their content, eighty percent or more of their content is aspirational.

To be successful with content marketing, you’ve got to let go of your personal preferences and understand how to leverage and work with the three “flavors” of content to achieve real engagement and interest from your target audience.

What have you had success with in your content marketing? Which “flavor” has worked for you? And how have you blended the flavors with your audience to enhance engagement and action?

To take this conversation further, the next step is exploring how to use different shades of content marketing to attract customers, such as:

  • How to use your blog to drive interest and leads that match your “perfect customer” profile.
  • How to leverage social media to build an asset directly tied to growing your customers and revenue.
  • How to follow up with leads in a way that builds trust and results in more customers, and
  • The ONE ingredient that is missing from 97% of all marketing campaigns and how to include it for maximum results.

Want to follow up with a class that covers content marketing strategy and more? Check out The Business Marketer's Secret to Content Marketing Success, a class that will teach you how to create a content map, how to create content that converts, and many  other valuable takeaways.

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