CMWorld 2020 - How to create content your audience wants to consume

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher November 5, 2020
There is a proliferation of content out there - but that doesn't mean it's working for your brand. Fresh formats like podcasts and videos are also getting crowded. Where do content marketers go from here?


Content Marketing World 2020 is packed with useful advice on creating better content. Here are two of those sessions. One is a keynote by Jay Baer, the other, a session in the Creative track from Jay Acunzo. 

The talkable advantage

Jay Baer, the founder of Convince and Convert, spoke at the 2020 CMWorld Conference with the keynote, "Courageous Content: Six Ways to Get Noticed Amongst the Noise." Customers are actively seeking alternatives even though it's harder than ever to choose, Baer said. He shared the following statistic:

20% of B2B companies have switched suppliers for most goods and services since the pandemic.

Content has always been a way to help customers make decisions, but things are getting worse. For as much content as brands create and share, content marketing success remains elusive. That, Baer said, is because we are trying to content today using yesterday's success formula. 

There are three prior formulas, according to Baer.

  1. Topical Advantage (first to cover a topic thoroughly)
  2. Algorithm Advantage (search engines, social network love)
  3. Format Advantage (the latest format in the industry, like video, podcasts)

The format advantage isn't over yet, but Baer said it would be soon. What success formula is coming in its place? Baer calls it "The Talkable Advantage."

If you have a talkable advantage, it means you are creating content that your audience wants to spread for you through word of mouth. Baer said people decide what content wins, "the audience is the new algorithm." 

If this is the next content advantage, then the question becomes, how do you create content your audience wants to talk about? Baer said to rip up your content marketing playbook and start new, providing six "talkable" ways for your content to get noticed.

  1. Talkably Definitive - your content is so comprehensive people are compelled to talk about it
  2. Talkably Relevant - your content is specific and tied to the needs of the audience
  3. Talkably Resonant - your content touches an emotional nerve
  4. Talkably Useful - helpful content (what Baer calls "utility" content)
  5. Talkably Consistent - content delivered via a standardized cadence, like Netflix that sucks you in, waiting for it
  6. Talkably Surprising - content that is out of character for your brand

Talkably resonant content is the hardest to create, Baer said, because we are all wired differently. What is emotional to one person is not to another. 

Make a difference by changing how you begin

Jay Acunzo is the founder of Marketing Showrunners. His session at CMWorld was called "How to Make a Difference By Changing How You Begin." He talked about the need to rethink two things:

  • the goals for your content and 
  • why anyone would care

The point of our content is to make a difference, Acunzo said. But when we think about our content goals, we typically think in terms of metrics like "we want to grow the blog x percent." That's the wrong way to think. 

Acunzo talked about Goodhart's Law: "When a measure becomes a goal, it ceases to be a good measure." When we focus on metrics as the ultimate goal, it incentivizes us to take the wrong approach to get into people's lives. The growth of any metric is how we measure a goal; it's not the goal itself.

So what does that mean exactly? It means we need to think of better goals. 

  • "We want to create the industry's most helpful blog about podcasting."
  • "Let's improve our podcast's ability to hold attention."

The goal of our content should be to earn trust, inspire, make things better. To know how to do that, we first have to talk to the audience. We need to understand the motivation for someone to subscribe, which means we have to figure out ideas, the journey, and the experiences we create that drive that motivation.

But there's more we need to understand, Acunzo explained. Think about content production. We start with a premise - the initial idea that shapes the rest of the experience. Then we define the topics as well what how you explore them.

The problem is, when we start this process, we don't go all the way, he said. We typically stop at what we plan to explore - the topics and don't think about how we do it. 

We need to rethink the premise. The premise is the story of your content, Acunzo said. It convinces people to seek out the stories in your content. To help you define the right premise, Acunzo provided a formula called the "xy premise," where x is the topics (what you explore), and y is the hook (how you explore it). 

"This is a project about x, where we y." or "unlike other projects about x, we y."

Anyone can do the "x" part, but it's the "y" that sets your content apart and makes people want to consume it. Acunzo said it's hard to do, but it matters. 

My take

There is a lot of content out there in the world, and some of it is pretty good. But a lot is basic, almost mediocre. That's because brands are still in a rush to produce something, anything to get their audience/customers' attention. We continue to think about content development as something we do to get people to pay attention to us. And that's the wrong approach. 

We need to create content that makes people feel, motivates, and inspires them. But that content isn't always tied directly to the brand's products and services, making it challenging to get buy-in because it's harder to see the bigger picture (and prove the bigger picture is important). 

You don't have to hit all six of Jay Baer's talkable content techniques, but you should hit a few of them after deciding what content you need to create. Then you can think about the premise of one of your content tactics - will you start a blog, podcast, or a video interview series - using Jay Acunzo's premise formula.

The key is to create something your audiences will love, will want to share, and will continue to return for more. That's a really great way to make your brand's content stand out amongst all the content that lives out there today. And remember, if people are subscribing to your content, you never know when they might cross over to become customers.

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