Does Your Content Take a Stand?

If there’s one bit of advice that will immediately improve your business content, it’s this: Make it stand for something.

The vast majority of business content out there is regurgitated information — surely some good, useful stuff, but it doesn’t add anything to the discussion because it has no point of view.

Content that has not point of view has no impact. 

Your business might be taking the “safe” approach, not wanting to offend anyone with your perspective, or maybe your business really hasn’t thought enough about its point of view to be able to articulate it.

Either way, being safe is killing your content marketing efforts.

Joe Pulizzi from the Content Marketing Institute hit a home run in his recent newsletter article about Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton:

“While Hamilton was the founder of our country’s economic system, and whose face appears on the $10 bill, Aaron Burr is known for little more than being responsible for Hamilton’s death. In fact, it’s actually difficult to find much information about Burr at all. Why is that, you ask? Well, Burr rarely wrote anything down, because he often said that ‘writing was permanent’ and people could use the writing against him in some way. At the same time, he never wanted to take a position on any issue because he felt if someone knew what he believed in they might dislike him, hurting his reputation and/or political career.”

Yes, Mr. Burr, writing is permanent, and people just might use it against you, which could hurt your reputation or career. But consider the opposite, as Pulizzi points out. Because you didn’t write down your brilliant points of view and perspectives, all we remember about you is that duel.

Pulizzi continues:

“If we want to build a following and a loyal audience, we actually have to take risks in our positioning. This is not encyclopedia content. We are not giving a history report. You actually have to stick your neck out and risk alienating some people in order to win others over. Of all the businesses out there, 99% don’t take a stand. Their content is middle of the road; it doesn’t take a chance. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t work.”

The next piece of content you create, take a risk. Have an opinion. Not everyone will agree. And that’s exactly as it should be. Not everyone is your customer. The ones that get it will have a much greater chance of actually becoming fans.

 

It’s time to make better content

“Is the content you are creating and distributing for your customers any different than anything else out there?”

When Joe Pulizzi asked this of the room full of small business owners who were complaining about their marketing results, he was met with stunned silence. And no wonder. We’ve been trained to push a stream of stuff out into the world. But is your content any different from your competitor’s? More importantly, does your reader care?

Joe’s article is definitely worth the read if you are committed to making better content for your business. Make better content. It’s worth it.

 

How Brands Get B2B Writing All Wrong

I was giving a workshop this past weekend for would-be authors looking to publish their books. The vast majority of the attendees were writing business books, with the goal of helping them build their brand and establish credibility in their particular field…two things that business books are really good at doing.

The conversation turned to writing in an authentic voice, and we had a lively discussion of what that really means. I shared some great resources, including Jeff Goins and his “10 Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice.”

As Goins says, “The bottom line is that there’s a lot of noise out there in the world. If you’re going to get heard, you can’t just raise your voice. You’ve got to set yourself apart, showing you have something special to say, and that you have a unique way of saying it.” 

So many B2B writers are stuck in the land of starch when it comes to their blogging. Stiff, straight and a bit uncomfortable to read, even if what they share is important information from a credible source.

Why do so many B2B content creators fail so badly at engaging? Because B2B is not how we operate. The business may be putting out the content, but it’s a human who consumes it. Writer to reader, regardless of industry, position or level of starch in the collar.