Imagine the scenario: You’re on a first date. Wait. Let’s make that a blind date.
You’ve never met this person before (presumably), but you’ve probably got a good idea of what you want them to be like. Funny? Smart? Ambitious?
I’m willing to bet they’ve got their preferences too.
We all make assumptions. We all make snap
People look for desirable personality traits in others and make up their minds pretty fucking quickly.
Well, guess what?
It’s no different for content.
If a reader sees your content as simply going-through-the-motions - if it is without personality - the likelihood is they’ll palm it off in search of something better.
You might’ve written an in-depth, insightful, statistically sound blog post - but if it’s bland - if the reader doesn’t feel that ‘spark’ - you’re gonna get stood up.
So what makes
1. It gets the reader
Empathy is as crucial in marketing as it is in our personal lives.
The ability to sense and pre-empt how other people will feel and react in countless scenarios is an understated gift. It lays the foundations for most human relationships.
Understanding your target audience will get you far. So take the time to really think about how their pain points affect them, where they’re looking for a solution and what you can do to alleviate their situation.
Whether it’s auditing and adapting future content, asking the public or buyer persona research. Learning where your audience hangs out online and the types of content they digest relies on you putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes…
Brands that use empathy to this effect can devise compassionate responses based on what’s in the best interest of their audience.
Go the extra mile and get to know the people you want to consume your content.
2. It’s actually helpful
Because that’s why content marketing exists.
If it isn’t helping the reader, it’s defunct. Void of any reason to exist.
We know that inbound and content marketing
By answering the questions your audience is asking - and answering well - you’ll build rapport and trust. Because who doesn’t like a pal who’s great at giving advice?
3. It’s (insanely) honest
Let’s stay with that trust thing for a moment longer…
Barbra Streisand once said:
Do not risk alienating your brand. It should be obvious that falsities and white lies are not endearing content features.
But what if you could do more than simply telling the truth? What if you owned the truth - with total, naked, audacious honesty?
This Hubspot article takes on what has become known as Insane Honesty.
The idea that brands can build ultimate trust with an audience by laying every single last card on the table. Embrace your pitfalls. Admit your weaknesses. Laugh at yourself...
Amsterdam's notorious budget hostel Hans Brinker have been using Insane Honesty - with a no shame policy - to endear tourists for some time now...
...and it's worked!
This approach to content seems almost ridiculous to some, but it’s definitely human. It reassures people and brings them closer to your brand. Because trust is important and the truth breeds trust.
4. It’s jokes
First impressions are important. Boring conversations are easily forgotten, and - let’s be honest - a little bit awkward.
It’s true, there is an art to it.
Humour might be universal, but it’s also subjective. It’s not easy finding the balance between funny and offensive. But I’m not talking dad jokes, vulgar puns and badly bodged, so-last-week memes...
Check out these seven B2B brands doing
In marketing, brands who find their voice and, more specifically, their sense of
It’s easy to play it safe, but
5. There’s fire in the belly
If you can show your audience that you are truly passionate about what you do, they’ll know you’re damn good at it.
If you can show your audience that you’re as pissed off about their pain points as they are, they’ll know you’re ready to make change happen for them.
When creating content to promote your brand, your
Show that you’ve got fire in your belly.
Use your content to communicate the absolute belief you have in your solution. Identify yourself as an authoritative thought leader who actually gives a shit about your audience.
6. It’s gutsy
In a nutshell. You’ve got to have a bit about you.
You’ve got to be willing to take risks that others might not. Disruptive brands, brands that create unforgettable content are gutsy. They take controversial ideas to the drawing board and roll with them.
Remember you can’t please all of the people, all of the time.
It’s about finding your niche and honing in on what gets their attention. Creating fresh, unconventional content that has your distinctive brand stamp on it isn’t an easy task.
But it’s what sets you apart.
Humans are unique - with their own little tics and idiosyncrasies - and your brand should be the same. Be brave with your content and carve out your own space in the reader’s
7. It’s imperfect
Nothing’s perfect. There, I said it.
Following best practices will keep you on the straight and narrow.
Make it thought-provoking, keep it conversational and for god’s sake be human.
Your readers will thank you for it.
You’re not a robot, so don’t act like one
So, there it is. Seven signs your content marketing is human.
You won’t necessarily tick every box on the list - but you don’t have to.
Clarify your brand message, closely define your target audience, adapt your content to their needs - and you might just get that second date...