I want to begin by telling you a story about a secret formula and a battle for royalty payments. It’s a story that Melanie Radzicki McManus tells in an article on HowStuffWorks.com called, 10 Trade Secrets We Wish We Knew.
The Marketplace Advantage of a Secret Formula
“In the 1880’s, Dr. J.J. Lawrence invented the antiseptic liquid compound Listerine, then licensed its secret formula to J. W. Lambert and the Lambert Pharmacal Co. Warner-Lambert Pharmaceutical Co., successor to Lambert and Lambert Pharmacal, dutifully made royalty payments to the Lawrence family over the next 70 years, despite the fact that Listerine’s formula was revealed along the way.”
“But in the 1950’s, Warner-Lambert (now Pfizer Inc.) decided it had shelled out enough money — more than $22 million, to be exact — for a secret formula that wasn’t even secret anymore. So it sued for a judgment that it was no longer on the line for the licensing fees. Unfortunately for Pfizer, the courts sided with the Lawrence family, ruling that the contract makes no stipulation about stopping payments if the trade secret is legitimately discovered by others, which it could have done. And anyway, since Pfizer had obtained the formula in the beginning, when it was still secret, it had received a decided marketplace advantage.”
You see, there really is a powerful marketplace advantage in knowing a formula that others aren’t aware of. People are scrambling to create content to harness the power of content marketing. There is one problem: content has become a commodity. It’s everywhere in all shapes, sizes, and types. If you just create, average, “me-too” content, then don’t expect to see any significant results.
That doesn’t mean that content marketing isn’t effective anymore. It just means you need to know a special formula for creating engaging, entertaining, and powerful content.
Today I want to reveal to you a special formula for creating irresistible content:
1. Create an intriguing title
E. Haldeman Julius was a man who discovered the power of titles. He did it by doing what other publishers only dream of: by publishing over 100 million books. Actually it was more. Much more.
During the 1920′s and 1930′s, he published over 200 million books. But that’s not all. He is famous for some experiments he made with titles. You see, he continually experimented with titles to see which ones sold better. And do you know what he discovered? He discovered that a change of a single word literally could mean thousands more in sales. That’s how important titles are. And it’s not just true of books you want to sell. It’s true of any content you want consumed.
2. Use a powerful “opener” to grab your reader’s attention
Did you notice that I didn’t just begin this post by listing these 12 ways to create irresistible content? Instead, I first made sure that I had your attention and interest. Without grabbing your attention, all my work writing this post would be for nothing. But once I grabbed your attention, I knew that you would be willing to read this list.
3. Use transitions
Notice that I didn’t just tell the story and then give you my “12 Most” list. Instead, I created a “bridge” from the story to the list. It was my transition to help you see and feel the parallel importance of that secret Listerine formula and the formula I am sharing with you right now. This simple thing is what many average content creators leave out of their content.
4. Use personality
There was a day and age when formality was the normal and expected way of communication. Well, that day is long gone.
Today people want you to communicate with authenticity and personality. This is also important, because it’s the one way to flavor your content in way that helps it to stand out from the rest. People might be able to steal the same idea, but they can’t steal your personality.
5. Use images
We live in an “A.D.D” era. Many people are easily distracted. Using “pretty pictures” and other graphics can help draw your readers in. MDG Advertising once shared a great infographic which revealed these statistics about the power of images. It stated these facts:
- Articles that include photos have 94% more total views than articles without images
- Online views for press releases increase 14% if photos are included
- There is a 19% increase in social engagement on Facebook when an image is used
Does that convince you that images might be good to use?
6. Use relevant quotes
This is a great way to capture your reader’s attention or validate one of your points. Just be careful with the quotes you use and how you use them. They are a great way to season your content, but don’t overdo it. As Joseph Roux said, “A fine quotation is a diamond in the hand of a man of wit and a pebble in the hand of a fool.”
7. Use relevant statistics
Statistics are another great way to capture your reader’s attention or validate one of your points. The difference is that quotes tend to use the power of “social proof” to validate your idea and statistics tend to use what I would call “logical proof” to boost the validity of your content. You might have noticed that I used statistics to prove my 5th point above. I used them to help take away any doubt you might have about the power of images. Using statistics stops you from thinking, “Well, that’s what youthink!”
8. Use stories
This is my absolute favorite way to create irresistible content. I love powerful stories. I believe they are a powerful way to influence people and touch their hearts.
Ken Burns, the famous American director and producer of documentary films, said something very powerful about stories. He started by quoting an old saying from Jean Luc-Godard, “Cinema is truth at twenty-four frames a second.” Then he responded to it by saying, “Maybe. It’s lying twenty-four times a second, too. All the time, all story is manipulation.”
Then he said this surprising truth about manipulation, “People say, ‘Oh boy, I was so moved to tears by your film.’ That’s a good thing. I manipulated that… that’s part of storytelling. I didn’t do it disingenuously. I did it sincerely.”
Story is the most powerful force you can use to do this. I don’t believe there is a more powerful way.
9. Use short sentences
I love reading. I am constantly reading multiple books at the same time. But most people aren’t readers anymore. Did you know that 42% of college graduates never read another book after college? Or did you know that 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year? (Source: Jenkins Group)
Short sentences are one way to make sure that you don’t frighten them away. It gives them your thoughts and ideas in “bite-sized” pieces.
10. Use short paragraphs
This is another way to encourage many of the “non-readers” to keep reading. Do worry about the rules you learned in English class. Worry about all of the “non-readers” out there. When they see a long paragraph they think, “Work. Pain. Effort.” But when they see a short paragraph they think, “Ok, I’ll just read one more little chunk.”
Then they come across another short paragraph and take another bite. Before they know it they’ve finished your article!
11. Use lists
If you’re a regular here at 12 Most, then this should be an obvious way to create irresistible content. This whole site is based on the idea that people love lists.
Why do they love lists? I don’t know. I think it might be that they are easy to skim and digest. I think it might also be the fact that, by default, they implement the usage of short sentences and paragraphs. Whatever the reason, don’t neglect the power of using lists!
12. Leave the reader with a “call-to-action”
This means that you have to end your content by giving your readers something to do with the information they just consumed. Like “transitions,” this is another part of the formula that most average content creators leave out. But can I tell you a secret? This is the way to make your writing automatically more engaging.
Why? People get bored by even the most powerful information if they don’t apply it. But they will never become bored of even the most simplistic information that they apply and see results from. And guess what? When they see results, your content will automatically become more meaningful and engaging to them. (Watch how I close this post and apply this element.)
The Problem with Formulas
There is a common problem with formulas. The problem is that people learn the elements of the formula, but they don’t learn the right implementation of the formula.
I don’t know if you have noticed it or not, but I used each and every part of this formula within this post. I did it to show you how to implement and apply these elements. But don’t think that I am expecting you to use each of these elements in every piece of content you create. I’m not. That wouldn’t be wise.
There are elements of this formula that you’ll use regularly (i.e. powerful titles, attention grabbing openers, transitions, and CTAs). But there are other elements that you’ll use as your “special ingredients.” You’ll sprinkle some of them in to improve the taste of your content (i.e. stats, stories, quotes, etc.). You won’t use every one of them every time. You’ll pick and choose one or two depending on the content and your mood. Think of them in the same way you’d think about little-known techniques or ingredients that top chefs use to make their food stand out.
Print this list and keep it where you can see it when you write. Implement two of these elements the next time you sit down to create some content. Watch the difference they make. Then try some of the others.
Keep practicing and perfecting the implementation of this formula. Make it your own. And who knows? Maybe one day someone will ask you to reveal your formula!
Source – [12most]