Looks Good, Reads Mediocre? How to Make Content Marketing More Influential

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Vince Bitel

VP of Creative Services

Proof that marketers aren’t always sure how to get there

Mktr2Mktr author Garrett Mann and I recently had a lively banter about a marketing piece: he commented that it was compelling. I said, nope it’s not, but it’s appealing. Compelling, he insisted! Appealing, I snapped back! Compelling! Appealing! Compelling! Appealing! Fight! Fight! Fight!

fight over content marketing influence
Fight image via Shutterstock

After pinning Garrett down to the carpet and proclaiming victory amongst the cubicles, I realized there were no common definitions for the two terms and that we should resolve this immediately before either of us (I mean Garrett) gets seriously hurt. So, what exactly is the difference between these two common terms?

The difference between appealing and compelling

The piece that forced my colleague to yell “uncle” showed clear evidence that a graphic designer was involved, yet the content was hopelessly focused on describing the features of the solution. It looked good, but read mediocre. Garrett supposed that in the least, it’s professional graphic design made it compelling. My argument was that when you involve a graphic designer your marketing becomes more visually appealing to your audience. You’re likely to get more people to consume it, but it’s no guarantee that it’ll be compelling to them. Conversely, if you write very a compelling story but don’t incorporate strong visualization, the level of appeal will be minimal and it will be challenging to get your audience to consume the content. What happens when both appealing and compelling intersect? The hottest buzzword in marketing: engagement. And if we look beyond the buzzword, what’s the end game? The ultimate marketing goal: influence.

Plotting the path to content marketing influence: Where do you measure up?

To make it easier for you to achieve this end goal, we have come up with this index to help you map out where your content marketing influence stacks up. Click the image to enlarge:

Content marketing influence index

Moving your content to the upper right-hand quadrant

Not all of your marketing efforts should require the time and effort required to get into the upper right-hand quadrant. Realistically, a lot of your marketing will end up in the other quadrants. But if you want to influence customers and win more deals, you need to be certain you have strong storytelling efforts in your mix.

Getting there can be tricky since most of your content contributors will naturally think they’ve already arrived in the upper-right hand quadrant. Getting them to understand and accept where they really are and how they can move to the most influential quadrant doesn’t require an office wrestling match. Instead, plot all your company’s current and planned marketing efforts on the quadrants as if you were playing a game of pin the tail on the donkey. Then share it with content contributors and provide those whose efforts fall shy of influential with the following checklist.

Checklist: 6 ways to ensure your content is most engaging and influential

  1. All aspects of your engagement efforts should follow this simple but often disregarded mantra: This is what our customers care about.
  2. Gain consensus from constituents about how features of the solution not only solve a problem, but also benefit the business of the customer.
  3. Understand and clearly emphasize the nuances of the story that will influence your audience.
  4. Involve and collaborate with a graphic designer before you begin writing so that you can build engaging storytelling by engineering the appealing and compelling aspects in lockstep.
  5. Write headings so that if someone scans them, they’ll be drawn into the rest of the content by clearly stated benefits. That means no headings or subheadings that start with the word “About…” or focus on the product name.
  6. Have at least one very strong visual that brings the business benefit to life.

When content contributors follow the checklist, you will see remarkable movement towards influential and avoid the content wasteland. That in turn will lead to be better marketing ROI, which will lead to more deals and revenue. This is, by the way, the part of the story that emphasizes the benefit to your business which I know you will find engaging and influential.

If you have any thoughts you would like to share or would like to share how you fared with plotting your efforts, please feel free to leave a comment or connect with me on LinkedIn.

content, content design, content development, content engagement, content influence index, content marketing, content visualization, graphic design

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