The presidential primaries are dominating pretty much everything these days, and content marketers should be paying attention. Whether you lean right or left, liberal or conservative, this political season is delivering incredible “value bombs” that have the potential to direct and improve your content marketing strategy… if you’re willing to pay attention.
So, hold your nose, stomp your feet or scream at your favorite news anchor if you must, but don’t stop watching. America’s response to this group of presidential candidates — regardless of how you feel about them — reveals far more than just the political landscape of our country. It provides insight into what audiences want, what they pay attention to and how Americans make and stick with brand choices.
1. Do not underestimate our demand for entertainment
If the presidential primaries have taught us anything, they’ve reminded us that the only cardinal rule of content marketing is this: “Thou shall not be boring.”
It’s possible Trump has insulted or offended nearly everyone in America at one point or another, but he’s entertaining, and so we stay tuned. The opposite side of this coin is Hillary Clinton. While she’s all but locked the Democratic nomination, her campaign is lacking energy because she’s doing exactly what the political pundits are asking Trump to do — she’s sticking to the issues.
Of course, what people say they want and what they’re willing to pay attention to are sometimes two different things. And you need them paying attention.
Is it fair that politicians and entrepreneurs have to be amazing at what they do and entertaining, too? Probably not, but the reality of the “entertainment factor” is what it is.
Regardless of your target market, their political leanings or their demographics, be sure your content is entertaining as well as compelling and educational. It’s not just appreciated, it’s expected. Boring them with a “just the facts, ma’am” approach will ensure that your message is interrupted, upstaged or ignored.
So, after you plan the main points of a particular piece of content, go back and infuse it with humor, sarcasm or a few pop culture references to “up” the entertainment value of your message and earn the attention of your market.
2. You must adjust your content to our attention spans
Acknowledge the scary truth that your market — yes, even yours — has the attention span of a gnat, and adjust your content accordingly. Regardless of whose political camp you’re in, you can find examples of fans and foes who took a headline, believed it and shared it with all of the confidence and fervor that naturally accompanies Twitter-sized explanations to complex and long-standing problems.
You may find it shocking (and maybe a little scary) that real political issues are now openly detailed and debated in 140-character blurbs… not by our teenagers, but by respected journalists, our presidential candidates and even our sitting president.
Save yourself some time and reserve passing judgement here. Your job is to capture the attention of a specific market, generate demand for your product or service and nudge prospects closer to “yes.” To that end, our short attention spans become revealing and valuable, if you know how to leverage them.
First things first: Don’t make the common mistake of moving exclusively to short-form copy. While we live in a world of dramatically shortened attention spans, long-form blog posts still outperform abbreviated versions. So, do both. Create longer content and then “chunk it up” using the following strategies:
- Use multiple subheads throughout your article
- Pull out your favorite quotes, statistics or headlines and make them into images using a free graphics tool like Canva, and then share them via social media (always link to the full article when sharing)
- For videos, pull out the best parts of the video and show viewers where they can find it. For example: “Fast forward to minute 2:13 to hear my best strategy for overcoming a price objection.”
Promote your free content the same way you would promote a sales page. Don’t assume because it’s free, people will pay attention. You’ve got to stop them in their busy tracks, grab their attention with something “tweetable” and pull them in for the full article.
3. Captivate your audience with stories & personality
It’s not enough to just share facts, figures and policy. Most of the candidates who took this approach, you’ll note, are all now “also rans.” Instead, captivate your market’s attention by leading with personality and telling stories.
All three of the candidates still standing are master storytellers. But, while most companies are quick to tell their own story, these candidates offer us more insight into successful campaigns: In addition to telling their own story, a more critical component to their success is telling the story of those they represent. Clinton told Trayvon Martin’s story, among others. Sanders and Trump both tell stories of various forgotten and angry middle-class citizens.
The “a working mom from Indiana” references are deliberate campaign strategies, woven into their prepared speaking points — and for good reason. Not only do stories entertain, they also achieve an emotional connection that a straight “how to” article never could. As a tangible bonus, people share articles about themselves, so you get promotion baked right in.
If you’re not doing so already, immediately begin showcasing the stories of those you serve with your business. Make the stories of your fans, followers, customers and clients the cornerstone of your marketing. Weave their comments into your education-based content. Write out a case study once a month. Do the same for your preferred vendors.
Many business owners tell their own story, but a critical component of all content marketing campaigns should be telling the stories of your key stakeholders.
Market matters not
Nothing I’ve mentioned above is market-specific. Your audience isn’t so sophisticated they don’t want to be entertained, they’re not so savvy that they don’t appreciate being highlighted on your blog, and — above all — they’re not so enthralled by your content that they don’t need to be enticed. So, learn from the candidates still standing and let’s take new ground with your content marketing efforts.