By Stephanie Stahl published November 14, 2016

A Simple Trick to Make Your Content Magnetic and Memorable

trick-content-magnetic-memorable

When visiting my twin sister’s office recently, I pretended to be her and chatted about five minutes with her assistant. It was hard to keep a straight face, but until my sister walked in, he had no idea I was Stephanie and not Melanie. Yes, we’ve pulled that trick a number of times in our many decades of twin life. Most of our close friends can easily tell us apart, but for others it can be disarming. But it’s all in good fun!

There, I’ve told you something personal about myself. There is a lot I could tell you about me that goes beyond my standard corporate bio, and I think B2B content writers need to consider going beyond the corporate template more often.

B2B #content writers need to consider going beyond the corporate template more often @EditorStahl. Click To Tweet

Telling you my twin story doesn’t distinguish me as a subject-matter expert, but it does make me human. And relating to an audience on a more personal level often leads to greater trust (even if I like to trick people).

Creating content isn’t just about marketing, notes John Hall, CEO of Influence & Co. “It’s about affecting behavior.”

Creating #content isn’t just about marketing. It’s about affecting behavior says @johnhall. Click To Tweet

Spot on. My sister, who also happens to be a professor of psychology and neuroscience, shared a few studies with me about communication and trust that reinforce that point. Consider this insight from Robert Hurley, author of The Decision to Trust: How Leaders Create High-Trust Organizations. In this interview he speaks to the people who receive the communication (your audience):

You need to make sure the degree of trust you offer matches the degree of trustworthiness in the other party. How aligned are your interests with the other party? How similar are the parties’ values, how predictable is the behavior, and how transparent in communicating is the trustee?

Now, adapt that perspective for your content marketing program. How does your company use content to gain that trust? Do you share how your interests align with your audience? Do you share what you value? Do you share consistently? Do you share openly?

That can be a challenge, particularly if you write strictly from an organizational perspective and don’t reflect the authenticity of your content creators (or their subjects) as humans.

In my previous role at UBM, I saw many drafts of well-written executive Q&As that provided thought leadership on technology topics, but also a strong human element — the software exec who runs marathons, the networking SME who used to be a pastry chef. But in so many cases, that info was stripped out once the content made its way through the various review cycles because it “wasn’t on-message” or it was “not pertinent to the discussion.”

Wrong!

Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, noted in a recent Content Marketing World wrap-up, “Too often, B2B stands for boring. We write and create content as if buildings are reading them. As if buyers who completely lack emotion are engaging. This is more than just adding emotional triggers to your storytelling. It’s about humanizing your brand, humanizing your people.”

Jill Metzler Patton, senior editor at Life Time Fitness’ Experience Life website, reveals a lot about her character in this post.

 I relish friendly conversation, whether deep discussion with friends or breezy banter with strangers. I’m energized by social situations where connections spark and ideas fly. If I’m relaxed, I’ll strike up an easy exchange with almost anyone; if I’m excited or nervous, I’ll keep talking, only faster . . . and maybe louder. (Sorry.)

Then she gets to the point of her post – how to truly listen to assure that the other person has been heard — and shares expert insight on how to make that happen.

As Heinz says, “Sharing details about what makes you tick outside of work isn’t irrelevant. It’s magnetic. It creates connective tissues between people that carry over into business contexts. Old-school sellers called this relationship-building. Today it’s that plus a critical competitive differentiator that puts something unique and irreplaceable between you and your buyer.”

Sharing details about what makes you tick outside of work isn’t irrelevant. It’s magnetic. @HeinzMarketing. Click To Tweet

A few years ago, an Oracle executive (and former UBM colleague) wrote a blog for Forbes BrandVoice® in which he talked about his mom’s passing and the great advice she bestowed. In 10 Things My Mother Told Me, Bob Evans writes:

I ask your indulgence in stepping outside the realm of business and technology because over her 95 years on this Earth, Rita Evans accumulated, generated, and shared great wisdom – and wisdom is an asset that should be shared again and again.

There was no official Oracle messaging in the piece. No mention of Oracle technology. Oracle’s only identification is next to Bob’s name in his byline. But Bob told me that he received an outpouring of thoughtful responses. That’s a great sign of building a loyal audience.

I can only imagine the powerful effects experienced by Brendan Connolly after he wrote (When It’s Not) the Most Wonderful Time of the Year for National Life Group’s blog. Brendan, who works for an affiliate of the group, offers four tips to help people grieving the loss of a loved one manage the holiday season. But he shares why he is writing the piece, detailing how he needs that advice too because he lost his wife and unborn child nine months earlier.

If this example sounds familiar, it’s because Heather Levy included it in her recent post, How to Create the Ultimate Branded Style Guide. And while Bob and Brendan personalize their writing by sharing so deeply from their hearts, Heather personalized her post with a simple confession: “I’m a sucker for first-person content.” That drew me into the article because I could relate — I love first-person content too. Then I learned what Heather really wanted me to know — how to create a style guide for your brand.

That’s the key. Your audience needs to know you’re a person too — not a corporate bot only programmed to write from the perspective of a monolith organization. They are far more likely to trust you if they know you’re part of the real world — of their world, too.

Your audience needs to know you’re a person too — not a corporate bot. @EditorStahl Click To Tweet

In a recent Twitter chat on 2017 website trends, Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media, said, “A personal, human touch will never go out of style. Be a person. Be yourself!”

A personal, human touch will never go out of style says @crestodina. #contentcreation Click To Tweet

Enough said.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Stephanie Stahl

When UBM acquired the Content Marketing Institute in June 2016, I became the General Manager. As a long-time consumer of CMI content and a multi-year attendee of Content Marketing World, I was thrilled to welcome this amazing and talented team to the UBM family. Previously, I served as VP of Content Marketing for UBM’s technology portfolio, providing strategic guidance on content development, content optimization, audience engagement, and go-to-market platforms for our technology clients. I’ve worked for UBM for more than two decades, helping shape new multimedia content and event offerings. I also served as editor in chief of InformationWeek for many years. I live in the Washington, DC area with my husband, two teenage daughters, and many pets. You can find me on Twitter @editorstahl and LinkedIn.

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  • Aleksandra Vasilieva

    Thank you for the great post, Stephanie. Extremely engaging. I agree with every word.

    Unfortunately, if you write for a corporate blog, your bosses may demand to be as formal and robot-like as possible. There’s a weird stereotype that you need a poker face to write deep, high-quality content. It’s not right and it’s boring, but sometimes it’s hardly possible to change this attitude.

    • heidicohen

      Aleksandra–To be effective, corporate writing must be human. You have to sound like a real person. Get rid of the corporate-speak. It’s your responsibility to make the case to your boss to change the voice. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

    • Stephanie Stahl

      Thanks for the comment, Aleksandra. As @BrennerMichael recently said, “Behind every piece of bad content is an executive who asked for it.” Sometimes it can be an uphill battle, but keep trying to change the attitudes!

  • heidicohen

    Stephanie–I love how you started with a personal story and pivoted to the reader’s need. (Especially since my not-twin sister and I’ve done that a couple of times.)

    Before Matt Heinz and Bryan Kramer started talking about being human (aka H2H), Heather Meza made the point of talking P2P (person-to-person) at Content Marketing World 2012.

    The key point: You have to talk in specifics, not generalities.

    I’ve found that the more personal details I add to my writing, the more readers react positively.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi

    Heidi Cohen
    Actionable Marketing Guide

    • Stephanie Stahl

      Glad to hear you’ve had a little fun with that, too, Heidi. Thanks for the feedback. I couldn’t agree more!

  • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/author/roger-c-parker/ Roger C. Parker

    Dear Stephanie:
    Fine post, quotes, and comments, below, to begin the week!

    Thanks for sharing the link to Heather Levy’s October post, How to Create the Ultimate Branded Story Guide, which I reread with great interest.
    Roger

    • Stephanie Stahl

      Thanks for the kind words, Roger. Glad you enjoyed the post. I really enjoyed Heather’s piece too. Happy Monday!

  • Mohammad Zaher

    I enjoyed your article and agreed with Henz “Sharing details about what makes you tick outside of work isn’t irrelevant. It’s magnetic.”
    In my thought in marketing/sales meetings: is to turn the win-lose situation to win-win situation, by gaining the first impression and have the attentions needed.

    Have a nice day
    Mohammad Zaher

    • Stephanie Stahl

      Thanks for the comment, Mohammad. First impressions truly matter. Hope you are having a nice day, too!

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  • Thomas Bohan

    Stephanie, excellent article

    I often get hung up on getting the technical aspect of my article. Starting out with a personal story and then turning to the specifics is a good want to go.

    Thanks again

    Tom

    • Stephanie Stahl

      Glad you enjoyed it Tom. I hope it helps with your own articles. Have a great weekend!

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