In a world awash with content, it is the authentic connections we forge that truly matter. Next in his series on business asset management, the author takes on the shift from selling to connecting; what makes our content resonate and truly count?
The 20th century was a time marked by scarcity. People grappled with a lack of resources, money, technology, and much more. This century, on the contrary, is more about too much of everything. We have transitioned from dealing with scarcity to managing abundance.
We now have an abundance of content, data, information, knowledge, people, products, suppliers, platforms, and almost anything you can think of.
But abundance is not necessarily a good thing. It is not bad either. It just changes the equation differently. It has consequences.
While the abundance of products leads to commoditisation driving down the prices, the abundance of information leads to overload, misinformation, and confusion. It also leads to an expectation of ‘free’ stuff. That way, content is already free everywhere. It makes me believe that content isn’t the king anymore; it is now available for free!
But every abundance also creates a new kind of scarcity. Abundant content creates noise and confusion. It lacks differentiation. Therefore, mindful curation, commentary, branding, packaging, and filtering become important. The abundance of expertise results in a scarcity of trust and heightened confusion, underscoring the need for credibility.
The content is not about you
In one of my previous articles, I emphasised the importance of content in the whole scheme of things. But doing it in a normal way was not the idea. Essentially, the content is not about you.
Content is not about ads
Many businesses mistake content for advertisements or marketing copies. Sometimes they are plain and simple, at other times, they are disguised as opinion pieces or authored articles.
Eventually, these ads or ad-like content become invisible and so does the business. People keep posting on social media about the greatness of their products, but that is where it stops. There is nothing more to it.
Content is not only about collateral
Reports, brochures, podcasts, blogs, videos, photos, designs, books, or anything else essentially help people to get to know your business. It also clarifies your thinking.
Content is not only about sales pitch
Most businesses see content as a means to focus on selling products or services. Sometimes that is blatant, at other times it is a softer sell. But regardless, the value it offers or insights it provides are miniscule.
If a piece of content is easy to read, has the right amount of entertaining quality, and upon reading if it helps one solve a particular problem then it is useful. That makes it more relevant. It may not and does not have to necessarily sell something to someone. Being helpful without any expectations may seem too much but that is the key point I am making here.
What is it about then?
If the content is not about ads, marketing collateral, and sales pitches, then what is it about really?
I wish the answer was plain and simple. So, when dealing with such complex answers, we can go back to the principles and see what needs to happen.
Imagine that your customers are in situation A and they want to be in situation B. Essentially, there is always a difference between current reality and future aspirations. Whatever you do as an entrepreneur must help them bridge that gap. It is true for your product, services, or even for the content.
Now, let me describe a typical customer’s journey to highlight some keywords that will serve as anchors for all the principles we will cover.
Your customers want to go from A to B because they have some ‘desires.’ They are trying to attain a specific ‘goal’ by achieving certain ‘outcomes.’ And they are trying to do that because once they achieve that outcome, there will be a ‘payoff.’ There will be a ‘prize’ that your customer is yearning for.
But something is ‘blocking’ them from achieving their goal. There are some ‘inhibitors’ or major roadblocks your customers are facing or feeling. And this is causing them ‘pain.’ When they try to solve their problems, they face ‘hassles.’
You may be able to identify some of the ‘common experiences’ your customers have when their problem persists. Sometimes their problems are not actual problems. Instead, they are ‘symptoms’ of some real underlying problems.
At other times, the customers may not have an apparent problem. Instead, they have ‘objections’ because they don’t want to take a step further to achieve their goal. Maybe they have a ‘fear’ that is stopping them from taking a step. But you know the ‘upside,’ the benefit your customer will get by shedding that fear.
Now, you are an expert on that ‘topic,’ and you know a specific ‘tool’ to solve their problem. It is based on some ‘principle’ that you know of or your ‘new idea.’ Then, with those principles, tools, and ideas, you can help them get the ‘results’ they want. And you can do that because you have a track record, you have some ‘experience’ in that ‘industry’ or field.
With this scenario in mind, there are seven principle pillars to consider:
- Provide key insights. These are important insights and foundational principles about your solution, product, or service. It is an area of your expertise. So based on your experience, you can write about key insights you have gathered over several years.When you know what your customer is trying to achieve, giving them a high-level direction is highly useful. Unravel the topic a bit further, much like peeling the onion.Sometimes a comparison between two or more things can also help provide a well-balanced perspective. And by doing that, you will establish your credibility and highlight the gamut of experience you have.
- Diagnose headaches and pain points. It is about the combination of problems and symptoms. You should talk about the diagnosis of customers’ headaches or pain points.Sometimes, simply uncovering these issues and clarifying them or articulating them well can be quite helpful.
- Address common objections. Expose the resistance to change. Sometimes simply vocalising or exposing the resistance to change is relieving. People often feel that their objections are unique, and everyone else has got their stuff together. But when you vocalise them and expose them, customers can feel relieved.Now they know that they are not the only ones with those objections. That helps them open up further and seek help, most likely from you.
- Develop a useful resource map. A classic one could be providing a ‘How to’ guide. This type of content is abundant on the internet, and it talks about useful resources to do something.Think about this for a second, if two people have put out content on ‘how-to’ about something. Which one are you likely to follow? I bet you would prefer a more credible one, won’t you? So, how do you know who is more credible?I think, if someone knows and understands my problem well, their advice is likely to be more helpful. That’s where the previous two principles help to establish that credibility.
- Showcase the whole and its parts. Talk about your ‘Principal method.’ It is the method you use to solve someone’s problems and provide solutions. It is the principle on which your product or service is based. It is the science of why your solution works. It is how your ideas are implemented or can be implemented.You don’t have to elaborate on everything, but showing some bits and pieces is quite helpful. Provide enough high-level ideas to give your customers confidence that you can help them achieve their goals.
- Talk about common blunders. At times highlighting common blunders and mistakes your customers might be making can be a lighter approach. Explain mistakes and errors that slow their progress.When people see that you know what does not work, they tend to assume that you might know what works too. And that thinking gives your customers some more confidence to approach you.
- Highlight results and outcomes. Highlighting the ‘desired payoff’ is another way to provide insights about future scenarios. Payoffs are essentially attractive results and outcomes that your customers are aspiring for.When you highlight what people can gain by working on something or your ideas, it is more likely that they will take action to engage with you. Something like a cost-benefit analysis type of information that highlights the benefits of following your ideas.
The point is
Content is the window to your intellect. In one way, it shows who you are as an entrepreneur and why. In another way, it helps you build trust and highlight your uniqueness. Because eventually, when expertise becomes abundant, credibility becomes precious.
Content is not the king anymore. It is already free. But if you were to look beyond content, only as a means to achieve something else, then you can see it differently. It is the medium through which you can reach your target audience and build a reputation that precedes you. The good news is that there are many ways of doing it.
How are you doing it?