While I was minding my own business and innocently curating content for a client today, I came across two online articles that stressed the importance of writing “seductive” headlines and I probably saw even more articles that counseled bloggers to write “compelling” content.
Really? What’s the alternative – headlines that turn off readers and content guaranteed to put people to sleep?
Do we really need to tell people this about 27 times each day?
Frankly, the articles I saw that prompted this tirade were written by highly respected individuals in online marketing. So I’m wondering: If they can’t move beyond serving up the same old advice, will anyone ever inject some new thinking into the digital marketing school of thought.
Here are a couple of short definitions of the two offending words I mentioned above:
- Seductive: Tempting and attractive; enticing.
- Compelling: Evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way.
Doesn’t smell compelling to me
Let’s go back to the endless stream of articles stressing the importance of writing seductive headlines and compelling content. There have been so many articles written and published saying the same thing that they are by now – and by the definitions offered above – neither seductive nor compelling.
Aesop made this point in his fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf. As I’m sure most of you remember, the boy repeatedly tricks locals into thinking there’s a wolf about to eat their sheep. He falsely cries wolf so many times that they cease paying attention to anything he says. Consequently, when a wolf really attacks the village sheep, no one heeds his call.
The way to desensitize people to your writing or your message is to be saying the same thing everyone else is saying or saying the same thing over and over again yourself. There is an exception to this because new people get into blogging or content marketing and they need to be schooled in the basics. However, when you do this, be sure that you’re targeting the right audience and framing the piece properly.
The ironic thing is that it’s necessary to be both seductive and compelling to get read today but you have to find ways to do it on topics that aren’t centered on telling people to be seductive and compelling, or on topics that have been covered ad nauseam. There are two basic ways to approach this challenge:
- Offer thoughts and strategies that are entirely original, and
- Write in a style that is unique and thoroughly entertaining.
In all actuality, Led Zeppelin stole that riff
Frankly, it’s very difficult to be entirely original and I should probably tone that down a little. Along with being a writer and content marketer, I’m a musician. I live in Nashville where half the people are singer-songwriters.
The copyright suit against Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” has been a big topic here. Led Zeppelin won the suit, but had there been an actual jury of peers (meaning musicians) the band would have lost. However, you can go back to medieval music and find chord progressions similar to the famous opening of that iconic tune.
In other words, there is nothing new under the sun…seems like I’ve heard that before.
But with that said, we humans do occasionally come up with thoughts that are at least original enough to pass on as original. My advice to you is to be sure you have a method of capturing those original thoughts as soon as you have them. My most famous last words are, “I won’t forget that.”
Stop the presses: I get a white board
Let me recommend (very unoriginally) the handy app, Evernote. I’ve been using it for years and I have an extensive list of what I call “Pure Ideas” as well as ideas for blogs. I’ve recently added something to this. I’ve been Jonesing for a white board, but I don’t want to put one up in my home office. I decided that ideally, I needed an app that would – with one keystroke – turn my desktop into a white board.
After some suggestions from my son, I decided to find a good white board app and have it running on its own desktop. I’m experimenting with ink2go right now and it has the potential to meet my needs. It has a lot of other great features built into it, including video screen capture, which should come in very handy.
Let’s move on and talk about writing styles. One of the tragic things about the proliferation of blogs is that anyone who can click a mouse can start publishing. There are a lot of very bad writers out there. I occasionally hold one up to ridicule…for the greater good, of course.
I think it’s time for innovative writers to start shaking things up. Marketing bloggers need their own Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson invented “Gonzo” journalism with his coverage of the Kentucky Derby. While most journalists write well, the prose is mostly bland and intended to go unnoticed. Further, journalists are not supposed to become characters in their stories.
Thompson thought otherwise.
Thompson dove head first into the action and because of that became an integral character in his narratives. His writing style was also 180 degrees from typical journalism. He was in your face entertaining and offending you sentence after sentence.
Gonzo may not be your style. But, what is your style? Do you even have a style? Consider the tone you set and your willingness or reluctance to poke at the edges of acceptability.
Why should a reader prefer your article on compelling content over the thousands of other articles on the same subject?
Are you ready to do something different? I implore you to come up with some new ideas, or at least new ways to look at old ideas. And [bctt tweet=”…if you can’t think of anything new, at least think of a new way to write about it!” username=”rbmanley”]