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4 Keys to Creating Compelling Marketing Content


Sasquatch small business sign

Ask a crowded room of online marketing experts and bloggers what’s the best way to get your website noticed and 10 times out of 10 the answer you’ll get is “compelling content.”

But although the advice might sound simple enough, actually putting it into action is almost always a different story.

When you stop and think about it, compelling content is a lot like Sasquatch—most people have a hard time explaining exactly what it is or telling you how to find it although everyone can usually agree on what it is once they actually see it.

So what makes content compelling? Let’s take a look.

1. Be on target

Compelling content all starts with being on target. Gary Halbert, the late direct mail expert extraordinaire, once said “being on target is much more important than being facile with words.”

As he points out in the clip below, if you were to write a world-class letter about knitting and the audience you’re targeting has no interest in the topic, it won’t matter how clever you are or how well written your content is—your message won’t be heard. The same applies when you’re trying to find the right social networks for your small business.

2. Have an opinion

Once you have a target in mind, the next thing you need is a clear and coherent point of view. After all, your view on a particular topic is what’s going to put your stamp on it.

Whether you’re for or against whatever you’re writing about, you should always have an opinion. Do you think knitting is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Do you think some new-fangled technology will spell the end of knitting once and for all? Do you think people are interested in reading about knitting?

Beyond just forming an opinion, you also have to be ready to back it up. One of the byproducts of compelling content is the opportunity to actually create a dialogue with your readers.

That means there will be times when you’ve got to be able to defend your position in case someone challenges your perspective. That’s when the real fun (and engagement) begins.

3. Find and embrace your "voice"

Equally important as having a point of view is having a unique voice. Voice doesn’t come from all of those writing classes in high school where you spent countless hours fretting over prepositions, transitive verbs, and run-on sentences—compelling content should jump off the page (or iPad) and make the reader feel as though he or she is actually having a conversation with you.

Sure you want your content to be well written grammatically, but you also can’t get all up into your head worrying about every last detail.

If you’re looking for a great resource to help guide you through the process during your quest to create compelling content, be sure to check out Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content. After more than five years of blogging, the book really helped me uncork new ideas and refine my approach to writing.

4. Don't be afraid to show some personality

Above all, compelling content should showcase YOUR personality.

If you’re cynical, be cynical.

If you’re a jokester, be a jokester.

Identifying and embracing your unique personality is often the hardest part for many writers and therefore is likely to take some time. It’s also something that will continue to evolve as you continue to write.

If you watch the Gary Halbert video above, you immediately get a sense for his personality and his passion—and that’s what helps make him and his content so compelling.

How do you define compelling content?

Is it like Sasquatch—you know it when you see it? Or are there specific attributes that are easy to identify and repeat?


[Image: Flickr user MiK Watson]

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