Three attributes of a successful content creator

Content! It’s awesome!

If you create it, they will come.

Content is KING!

Content for President.

This seems to be the general consensus in marketing and everyone is concerned about Getting It Right. How do we craft the grabbiest title or subject line? What is going to be Sticky? What Knowledge will we share? Are we Engaging?

Lead gen, fer realz.

If you hadn’t noticed the pseudo-sarcasm above, let me point it out for you…. ^^

Before I continue, I’ll say that I do believe strongly in creating content to build brand loyalty, achieve business goals and provide a tool for lead generation to support sales.

So, why does it sound like I’m poking fun at the idea of content marketing? I’m not actually. I’ve lived and breathed content for well over a decade. I’ve also studied content marketing since the early days – before it was truly en vogue and de rigeur* — when marketers were starting to get the feels about unbranding and unmarketing, and starting to put into words what this meant to the profession.

Here’s the thing. Calling it content marketing doesn’t change what it is or how you do it. Content is content and should be crafted with the same skill, precision, focus on the audience, and awareness of market factors – whether it’s an email, web content, brochure, or blog article. The platforms and measurements are different. How you use each tactic in a plan or campaign will be different based on the role each content type plays. In this respect, content creation really is a blend of art and science.….and psychology……and ninja moves…..

However, there are some noticeable attributes that seem to make the results of some content creators more readable and relatable than others. And I’m going to suggest that this translates into content that has a greater chance of meeting the goals of whatever campaign or project it is connected to because it doesn’t feel like Marketing.

Three attributes of a successful content creator - blog post by Roshan James, content marketing and communications

What are these attributes?

Empathy

A defining characteristic of the human race is our ability to empathize with each other. Some of us do this well….others, not so much.

A solid content marketer will be empathetic to the core. Why? Communicating with an audience requires you to step into their world, regardless of your own upbringing, system of belief, what you like to eat for breakfast or what music you listen to on your commute home. You need to suspend “you” if you want to create content that genuinely reaches “them” in their space, using their voice and with their concerns guiding the articulation of your solutions.

Three attributes of successful content creators - empathy

For instance, visualize one member of your audience and start to fill in the picture of what their world looks like based on the information that you have about them – demographic data, where they work, what job they have and what their concerns are. Speak to that – speak with them in that place – and notice how it transforms your message.

Logic

Logical writing is a joy to read because it’s easy on the brain. It can be funny, warm, caring etc. even though the idea of being “logical” sounds clinical. Quite simply, logic creates a clear path from point A to point B.

Logic in communications is the process of knowing your thoughts, organizing them and then putting them into words to share with others and motivate them toward a specific goal. I’ve always said that good writing is actually more about clear thinking than anything else. What makes something polished and publishable in a traditional sense is attention to spelling, grammar, etc. – this can be learned, or worked on through the editorial process. The crucial piece, though, is writing something that fundamentally makes sense broadly – not just to you, but to the people you’re communicating with.

Three attributes of a successful content creator - logic

If you’re a business writer, here’s an exercise to try when you’re developing the outline for your next writing assignment. Start with a blank document. Type the audience at the top, leave a few lines of space and then write out the goal of your communication – what do you want people to do when they’re done reading? Next, fill in your corporate or marketing key messages in the blank lines. Finally, look at the outline – does each statement lead your audience to read the next? If not, think about it and revise the content so that it does….so that you can walk someone through to the end goal of the message without sounding coercive. If it helps, visualize trying to get baby ducks to walk from one side of the street to the other. A delicate touch and a focus on the end goal are critical.

Humour

I have a friend who groans and rolls his eyes every time I try to be funny, but he laughs his butt off at some of the things I say without trying. And every time I say something like, “I wanted to do something a little different with this video script so I wrote comedic elements…” – he tunes me out completely. It’s because you can’t really fake humour or slide it in as an ingredient to your content.

Humour as a characteristic of a writer is so much more than “writing funny”. It’s a lightheartedness and a sense of self-deprecation that means your writing doesn’t take itself too seriously. You’re not trying to be perfect. You’re trying to be human and show that you can relate to whatever ridiculousness the person on the receiving end is faced with.

If empathy is understanding where someone is coming from, then humour is the hope that carries them on the back of logic. It is a comforting, reassuring tone that helps them digest what you’re saying in your message and it invites them to follow you from the first point of need (and why they’re reading your content in the first place) to the point of taking action confidently (because you’ve helped them along the path).

What does this all mean?

There are a couple of applications that come to mind. You may have more to add and I hope you do in the comments below.

If you manage a content-focused team, I would highly recommend coaching your team members to fine-tune their empathy, logic and humour sensibilities, as well as looking for new team members who naturally embody these qualities. Since these are characteristics that can be nurtured, but not necessarily taught, you’ll want to find at least the seeds of these qualities in the people you bring into your organization.

If you are a content creator, slow down your writing process, particularly in the development stage – no matter if you’re an expert or a newbie. Practice the art of flipping your brain around to see things from your audience’s perspective. Write out your thoughts in “if-this-then-that” sequences to crystalize the flow of your message. And, lastly, bring some fun and playfulness to your audience when appropriate, and a calm confidence when you need to handle the serious stuff. Your audience will appreciate it 🙂

 

*Douchey italics are intentional

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