by Don F Perkins
An accountant was walking in the country when he happened on a sheep farmer.
Accountant: “Hey farmer, I bet I can guess exactly how many sheep you have. I guess right, you give me a sheep. If I’m wrong, I pay you $100.”
Accountant: “There are exactly 1,354 sheep.
Farmer: “Incredible! I have exactly 1,354 sheep. Choose the one you want.”
Accountant: “Ok. I’ll take this one.“
Farmer: “How about another bet? If I guess what you do for a living, you give me back my sheep. If I’m wrong, you can have another one.”
Farmer: “You are an accountant.”
Accountant: “How did you guess?
Farmer: “First, give me back my dog, and then I’ll explain it to you.”
Many well meaning businesses bet the growth of their business on content marketing and end up with a dog. Why? It could be that while they may be real good at what they do, haven’t really thought about the dynamics of human behavior as it relates to their industry and their business.
It’s why many businesses are reluctant to invest in content marketing at all; because they still can’t tell the difference between a sheep and a dog; IE. they haven’t figured out how to hedge their bets and realize any revenue from content marketing. While they may be really good at what they do, it’s a challenge to try and think like their customers and create content that gets noticed and causes customers to take action.
Everybody’s talking about buyer personas these days. Without a doubt, human behavior can be pretty complex, especially when it comes to spending money. We live in such a diverse culture with lots of personal preferences. What influences us plays a huge roll in content marketing and a very specific persona map should be part of any content marketing effort, but it’s amazing how much about what motivates us has little to do with our age, sex, race or favorite sports team. Here are 10 inescapable facts about the human condition that should get baked into any content marketing strategy:
1. We’re Skeptical
So much lazy canned marketing gets thrown at us each day in an attempt to make us buy something. People have heard it all before. They have wasted lots of time and money on shiny objects that disappoint and so any attempt at marketing is suspect out of the gate.
2. We’re Busier Than a One Armed Paper Hanger
The modern age with all it’s conveniences, instead of making life easier, seems to have turned up the treadmill and we’re all running like rats in a maze. No one reads anymore. We skim. We spend 80% of our time online looking at information above the fold of a website. If we don’t see what we want, we click away instead of scrolling. Ain’t nobody got time for dat. Content marketing needs to get to the point and right quick.
3. We Don’t Like Pain
With a few exceptions (kinky types acknowledged) most of us shy away from pain. If something is really worth it, or we have no choice, we will endure it, but we generally don’t like to be hurt. Content marketing with pain rarely works. (Example: “LAST CHANCE!” Really? Go spank somebody else a while.)
4. We Want to Have More Fun
Who doesn’t want to have fun? All that we do is so that we can enjoy the ones we love, doing the things that we consider fun. Forever. Content marketing needs to play to the playful in us.
5. We Want to Work Less
Again, with few exceptions, most of us will take the easy route, all things being equal. We want to save our time and energy for having fun! Content marketing needs to make it easy for us to understand three key messages: “What is it,” “Why should I care” and “What can I do about it.”
6. We Want More Leisure Time
They used to have this thing called a weekend. It was cool, because you could stop working, and like, just have fun. We all want to be able to decide how and where we will spend our time. If your product can help, your content marketing needs to demonstrate how it gives customers back some of their dwindling time.
7. We Feel Underappreciated
Let’s face it: big companies, no matter how much they try to convince you that they care, they really don’t. They are in business to make money, and you are a means to an end. Most of us feel so under appreciated. We know we are capable of so much more, and we work so hard. Sucks right? Content marketing done right can give people back their dignity. It can help them feel that what they do matters and that someone noticed.
8. We Need Hope
You can live for 3 months without food, 3 days without water, 3 minutes without air, but only 3 seconds without hope. We all need to feel like there’s something ahead that’s worth striving for. Content marketing can open our eyes to possibilities and bring us a fresh perspective on the future.
9. We Fall Down Sometimes
There’s good days and there’s bad days. Sometimes we really mess things up. nobody’s perfect. We can all relate to that, and we all are looking for ways to do better. Authenticity in content marketing, tempered with solid improvement strategy is way more attractive than blowing smoke and getting caught.
10. We Love a Good Story
Stories are how we understand life. Books and television are evidence of this. Almost all of us would rather hear a story than be presented with a list of facts. Great marketing tells a story that we can relate to, see ourselves in and remember. We may even retell it to our friends, the holy grail of content marketing.
Before you create another blog post, tweet, white paper, infographic, call to action, or any content piece, remember these universal principles of being human. You’ll be surprised how speaking to these ten facts about us can increase your influence and the consumption of your content.