Bored in front of the computer.

You probably won’t read this article. Here’s why.

By — Ola Linder
06.09.2021

In the wake of COVID-19, marketers and salespeople are facing a grim truth: we’re running out of ammo. Marketing has always been about creating a behaviour in your target group, and in a normal marketing strategy, you will have many tools at your disposal - events, paid advertising, sponsoring etc. When COVID-19 struck, a lot of those tools were no longer there. Who in their right mind would set up an event with the risk of it being a COVID hotbed and maybe even breaking the law in the process. Even physical sales meetings are pretty much impossible. 

What us marketeers were left with was a single (although impressive) tool - content marketing. And while it might have been the best one we had from the outset - the same thing is true for everyone else. And now we’re facing a bitter truth - the bombardment of all companies going “all in” on content marketing have led to what we’d like to call Content Fatigue. Or to be plain - most people are dead tired of reading articles (like this), or attending webinars. Content Marketing might still be the favorite tool in our box, but it’s becoming harder to use as competition for the reader’s attention is intensifying.

So - we all need to up our game. We must find keys to becoming better than our competition. And this means a long, hard look in the mirror, and at SQLI we rallied our troops on all markets to learn from each other and set down some of our best tips to each other, on paper. Looking at the result, we decided - why not share? So, enjoy.

1 - Be brave

brave
In order to make content with an impact you really must stand for something. And that takes bravery. In the long run, everybody will remember the person standing up in front of the class to sing, but no one will remember the bully of the class in the audience mocking that person. Or you might, but not for the right reason. To earn visibility you need to accept your imperfections, and stand up for what you believe. It’s absolutely OK to say  “While we don’t have all the answers, we really believe that…”. It’s actually even preferable to do so over staying in your safe zone. Because if it’s safe - it most likely has already been said. If you combine that with a wish for feedback and comments, you can take a bold stand while still inviting people to join the discussion.

“Standing out without standing for something
is quite frankly - an impossibility”
Ola Linder, Star Republic, SQLI Group (Sweden)

2 - Be Inspiring

inspire
Can you think of a book that you read that really touched something deep inside you and made you look at life in a totally different way? Well, this is exactly what you should have in mind when you create content. 

Inspirational content articulates a compelling course of action and provides a memorable vision. A goal such as “We aim to double turnover in the next 12 months” is not inspiring. But “We aim to provide education for every girl in India” is.

Always remember: It’s not about you, it’s about them. And you can achieve this by explaining how you can make your audience’s daily life more fulfilling. 

“By inspiring your readers, you will become the kind
of brand people keep coming back to.”
Jane Irwin, SQLI Group (France)

3 - Be Valuable

valuable
Imagine how you would feel in real life if you meet someone at an event who said: “I’m awesome, I’m so amazing, aren’t I great? As a business, this is most likely what you are doing with your content, every day. 

If you don’t want to be that obnoxious spammer who only talks about themselves, what you need to do is to provide value. So educate, inform and inspire.

What is that valuable insight that you can share with your audience so that they can learn from it? Do your research, include data, be thought-provoking and challenging. Share your experience, knowledge, process and techniques. 

“You only get back what you give out”
Anastasia Lisitskaya, SQLI (France)

4 - Be interactive

talking
Content can be presented in different ways, allowing you to interact with your audience. For example ask questions that readers can answer in your comments section. Make sure to follow up on them. But be prepared for some uncomfortable criticism. 

Or turn your readers into viewers. Present your content in ”snackable” videos linked to your full content piece. Also, livestream an event and invite viewers to chat, and respond to quick polls. 

And try some of the great tools out there to learn what your audience is feeling and thinking. Doing this will help you understand how compelling your content is. 

”Make interacting with your content an experience,
not just words on a page.”
Frederik Claessens, SQLI (Belgium)

5 - Be close

time
Remember to "Send the right content, to the right person, at the right time". This can be achieved with "the laws of proximity", based on the principle that information is considered more important when it shows proximity to the reader. Here are five laws of proximity:

  • Geographical. What happens in my neighbourhood is more important than what happens in my region or my country... or in the world. 
  • Time. Today's (or tomorrow's) event is more important than what happened yesterday. 
  • Affective. If I like it, I will be attracted to a subject - no matter what it is. 
  • Practical. Remember K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)!
  • Usage. Feed the subject with figures or statistics, or real experience.

“Ideal content will combine all, or parts of, the five laws.
You have to find the right mix.
Alix Howard, SQLI (France)

6 - Be present

podcasts
As long as you portray yourself in a good light, with high quality content, there are only rights and no wrongs. Experiment with new media that shows promise. If it seems like a waste of time further down the road, simply stop doing it.

Take time to find out what channel is good for what and what type of content works and performs best.  Use your full palette - articles, webinars, video, podcasts and infographics -  and repeat to see what sticks. 

And partner up with customers, suppliers and other organizations to bring a shared message. With third-party endorsements, getting your message across in their feeds is much more compelling than it could ever be on your own. 

“Need to shout out your truths?
Use all of your rooftops - and borrow those of others.”
Tracy Postil Redbox Digital, SQLI Group (UK)

The short-short version
No one will pay attention to you if you don’t give them reason to. And as a company, just as with humans, you need to have personality to create interest. Stand for something. Inspire, educate. Be close, present and of value to your readers. Do you need help getting started? Stuck? Get in touch with us and we’ll help dig you out!

Authors:

Ola Linder (Star Republic SQLI, SE)
Jane Irwin (SQLI, FR)
Anastasia Lisitskaya
(SQLI, FR)
Frederik Claessens (Wax Interactive SQLI, BE)
Alix Howard
(SQLI, FR)
Tracy Postill (Redbox, UK)