Have you read an article about marketing or copywriting this month?
Chances are, you got some tips, tricks and advice on how to do your job better.
You know: Strategy. Structure. Technique. Best practices.
The article probably kicked butt. I mean, let’s get real.
You wouldn’t have read any old sucky content.
Because you sniff out janky crap from more than 300 feet away (read: you avoid useless content because there’s nothing in it for you to improve your life.)
Practicality vs. Creativity
Let me ask you: as you chowed down on that latest article, did you feel more like (A) a professional reading it, or (B) a creative artist indulging yourself?
No, really. Think about it. What’s your answer: (A) or (B)?
You probably felt both like a professional, gleaning useful advice to perform your job better, and also like a bit of an artist. After all, writing’s a creative field, right?
Stick with me here.
Seriously, did the article activate more the copy critique in you, or did it fire up your creative soul? The pendulum swung more in one direction than another, I’m sure of it.
As all you content marketers find convenient ways to pump out useful, actionable content on a regular, frequent basis, your content becomes pretty technical and academic (I love academics, by the way. I scored a Master’s in Teaching 3 years ago for some odd reason, so I’m no stranger to library nostalgia.)
What hogties your attention?
The problem with this content, and its academic tone, is that bleeding-heart artists (i.e. writers like me) are reading your stuff.
We realize it’s useful while we’re reading it, and we know it’ll help us become better writers and entrepreneurs. And look, sometimes I don’t want fun stuff. I just want good information and that’s it.
But it’s darn difficult NOT to wander off to more visually stimulating content somewhere else, sometimes, like YouTube, BuzzFeed, our favorite app or Netflix. Hence, our writing breakthrough that could’ve happened goes on hold.
How can you grab my attention better, starting now?
Look, as a writer, I’m not keen on creating my own infographics. I’d like to change that, but…
Same goes for videos. Am I motivated to create my own videos? I’ll get there someday. I’d love to learn how to produce video…
Use your natural abilities to capture your readers.
However, one thing I know how to do is draw. I’m freakin’ great at it. Not to brag. Just recognizing an asset I could tap into to grab more attention and make readers feel more like artists when they read my stuff. I’m no longer speaking to copy-chewing drones.
I’m reaching my readers on a brain-intimate level. They’re gonna love me for it: drawing them pictures, giving them more metaphors than they can swallow, and so on.
This is why I’ve drawn some of my own blog post images.
I also draw because I haven’t seen anything like it in the content marketing space yet. Exceptions: Mike Davenport and Henneke Duistermaat, and Neville Medhora. (Please let me know of others, and I’d love to glean ideas from them.)
I see a lot of great minds in the content marketing space, wonderful people who are just dang incredible at what they do, to be honest. Thank you for your relentless awesomeness.
But the content marketing space sometimes feels academic as opposed to creative.
Am I right or am I right?
There’s nothing wrong with it, you know, as long as you’re confident and able to attract all those brilliant, creative minds before they don’t get bored and drift away.
But why don’t you break the mold a little more? It could do your creative readers a lot of good.
That’s not to say you should break — or go against — templates, tactics and best practices that’re just proven to work.
No. I mean, come on, who is this guy…?
What I mean is this: Use those best practices, but just get more creative more often. Find other types of potentially high-converting content to experiment with.
For example, why don’t you see more of the following in content marketing?
So here’s the meat.
7 creative practices your readers wish you’d just get on with already:
- handwritten blog posts, scanned in, to give readers a more intimate, emotional, personal experience
- hand-drawn infographics and other simple images to help illustrate a concept or data
- posts with built-in music players to texture and supercharge posts
- posts with guest-submitted any of the above to supplement content (read: if you can’t do it, get a content marketing creative genius to create your hand-drawn elements)
- more predominately image/slide-based content
- ideas told through a personal story, fictional scenario or personality (so the content is equal parts creative writing and actionable tips)
- video/audio clips of you reading out your blog post if people don’t want to read (to get visitors to stick around longer and understand your content better)
Therefore: think about injecting your content with more varied elements. You’ll come across as relevant and trustworthy, and Google’s SE will probably like it, too.
Poets vs. Killers: Which are you?
David Ogilvy distinguished two types of writers: poets, and killers.
We all want to be killers. We want to sell. We want to convert.
But you can’t be a killer all the time, beating your readers over the head with all your great ideas. Where the heck did your childish, devil-may-care creativity run off to? Get more sensory elements into your content and get out of the stuffy college conference room.
We seriously need to have more fun. At least I do. I’ve read tons of content about copywriting since 14 months ago when I changed careers to become a copywriter.
Okay, I haven’t read that much. But it feels like a lot to me 😉 And now I wish you would just take a chill pill and answer me this:
Why did you become a marketing pro in the first place?
Was it possibly that you…oh, I don’t know…
…fell in love with the art?
And I know art involves technique, and templates, and structure. But why not take what we’re already doing and just spice it up a little? See: my 7 suggestions for improving content above.
Lastly, here’s a list of content marketers I admire because they have a real love for the craft, and they’re not just technicians about it. They’re just artists:
- Jon Morrow (subscribe to this man. I forgot to mention his Writer’s Recipe Box. Super immersive. Super what-everyone-else-should-be-doing.)
- Henneke Duistermaat
- Kenneth Burke
- People who write articles like this on Copyblogger
When you launch into creating content, think about ways to make your pieces more interesting to readers. And you’ll grab the fleeting attention of those more creative, whimsical types in the process. And I suspect everybody else, too.
Because there’s nothing wrong with loving pictures, audio and creative solutions to a problem. It just takes a little more effort on your part to destroy the marketing status quo and pull this off.
Get creative again. You miss it.
You’ve lost Ogilvy’s poet. Get it back.
Too much of your inner critic whispering in your ear. Time to unhinge the stifling restrictions you trap yourself with.
Get excited about marketing again. Get obsessed with content creation again.
Let’s tear down the rule board. Just for a day.
And play in the wreckage.
Animate your craft, friends.
And hop to it!
(Feel free to comment or email me if you felt inspired reading this. I’d love to hear your thoughts. firstname.lastname@example.org)