Nine years ago, I ditched the idea of paid ads for business. I just couldn’t take the inauthenticity of it. Loud, colorful billboards. Noisy, interruptive pop-ups. 15-second videos putting watchers on the edge of their seats waiting for the “Skip Ad” button.
Maybe this is you right now. Maybe you’re asking the question I asked back then. How can I connect to my audience in a world of intrusion, privacy concerns, and ad blockers? The answer is simple yet unexpected.
You can create a deep connection with your audience when you reach them through powerful, inspiring, emphatic content. Here’s how.
Too often, we’re tempted to drum up and publish a piece of content without giving it a second thought. We type up platitudes during our 40-minute lunch break and hope the piece gets noticed.
The problem is no one is interested to know that the weather is warm in the Asia Pacific. That digital marketing is the new marketing. That writers are the best editors of their own work. They already know that surface-level information.
What they crave for are stories, stats, and facts. They want the details of a luxurious Vietnamese holiday. The exact number of businesses using digital marketing. Which writers do their own editorial work, and if it works.
It’s not about loading your content with numbers until it looks like a stat sheet. It’s about diving deep into your topic and leaving readers satisfied.
Stop worrying that your lack of credentials will stop you from attracting an audience. People won’t read your content because of your degree in creative fiction, your ten New York Times bestselling books, or your 20 years of writing experience.
They’ll read it because you get them. Because you know what’s keeping them awake at 2 am. Their fears. Their desires. Their dreams. How they see themselves, and what they want to become. You know their capacity for love, madness, hope, infinite joy.
So do this: show your audience you understand. Step into their shoes. Look at the world with their eyes. Sit beside them as a friend and listen to their problems. Help them be what they want to be.
And remember, don’t hard sell anyone. Speak to people your brand can help. When you’re empathetic and doing business means helping and serving before making money, your audience will stick around.
Be Thought-Provoking, Pivotal, and Bold
Creating content shouldn’t be about swiping ideas from other writers and spinning them to avoid copyright and plagiarism laws. No one will stick around for opinions and ideas they’ve already heard somewhere else.
To be listened to, you need to challenge the norm. Present a different point of view. Give people new ways of thinking.
Note: this doesn’t mean be controversial and challenge every norm just to gain buzz. It means to be yourself. Take your unique experiences, worldview, and ideas into your content. Surprise people because you’ve often surprised yourself.
“Say what you have to say, and then stop.” Rudolph Flesch
Maybe your writing experience to date has been about hitting word brackets. Digging up astronomical words that made your professor consider giving you an A. Piling up paragraph after paragraph to prove your point.
But today’s modern reader is a multitasker. He’s scouring the web while chatting with ten friends on Messenger. His mind is pulled apart by pop-up ads, photos of his ex, emails from his boss.
To gain his attention, say what you have to say in as few words as possible. Three rather than thirty, if you can. Tell him what you need to say in the brief moment you have his attention.
There’s a post from BuzzFeed that was shared 131,500 times on Facebook, 62,200 times on Twitter, and 2,400 times on Pinterest. The title? “21 Pictures that Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity”.
“People aren’t always awful,” the post begins. “Sometimes, they’re maybe even just a little bit wonderful.” We all want to believe that. We want to feel hopeful and inspired. We want to feel, collectively as a human race, that we can do what we’re here to do.
So take a moment to instill this vibe into your content. Remember, the way you feel bleeds into your words. Tell your readers they can achieve that dream. They can reach that goal. They can hurdle that challenge, even if don’t have anything “figured out” yet.
Make your audience love the positivity you bring to their lives. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
If you’re like me, you dislike the inauthenticity of noisy ads. You don’t want your audience to buy your product because they were “sold” or “closed.” What you want is to serve. To make the world better with what you’ve created. To build a richer life for yourself because of the value you’ve given.
If this is you, it’s time to ditch the sketchy sales tactics and show up powerfully through your content.
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