Trying to hook a reader? Or a viewer?
Sometimes it works really well to craft a story, identify a moment of crisis, and start right there.
Because you can use that very first moment to get them emotionally invested in the story’s outcome.
Television dramas execute this all the time.
Someone in a dark room, frightened, trying to get out.
“Why is my favorite character trapped?” you think.
Cut to 5 days before.
You need to understand what led to this moment.
And how—if!—things get resolved.
Great writers do this, too.
They open a loop.
Bring you into the action.
Make you want the missing pieces filled in.
“But, Ashley, I create content for a B2B SaaS company. It’s different. There aren’t climactic moments in my industry.”
Sure there are.
How about that moment right before you hit send on an email going out to thousands of people and you’re not 100% sure you got the segmentation right?
What about the stress of presenting your idea to the CEO and Zoom requires an update to open?
Or the times when 2 conflicting priorities are vying for attention and you’re in charge of deciding which one gets cut, TODAY?
Use those moments your audience can relate to.
You don’t have to over dramatize them (in fact, that undermines things a bit).
Instead, create a short, relatable introduction.
Be concise, but set a scene that resonates and/or piques curiosity.
If it feels too “imaginary,” talk to a customer and get them to tell you about a situation they were in and use their words to explain the rising action.
And, here’s something you might not expect to hear from a woman who loves a good, slow narrative:
MAKE IT SOMETHING THEY CAN SKIP IF THEY’D RATHER GET RIGHT TO THE TACTICAL BITS.
Like this Prologue.
It’s not for everyone, and that’s ok.
If you’re here for the curated links, you know how to scroll.
It’s the same as landing on a blog article and scanning to see what the H2s are recommending.
If you start “in the action” and you make the introduction skimmable—“Ah, I get it. This article is about X.”—you’re providing an experience that lets someone navigate to what they want to get out of the engagement.
Don’t make them slog through exposition if they’d rather not.
It’s the same for podcasting.
I’d rather fast forward past the “tell me about your background” bit in most interviews and get right to the thesis: “Today, we’re talking about how to not waste your audience’s attention.”
This week’s round up includes some inspiration, intentional thought provoking, and a touch of AI (it’s coming, y’all). Let me know what you think.”
SEO And Thought Leadership Roundup
There’s a lot of chatter about both SEO and Thought Leadership in the content marketing world. Take a look at the roundup below for insights, questions, answers, and more.
SEO vs Thought Leadership
Jessica Malnik opens her Linkedin post with this question:
“When did SEO content become separate from “thought leadership content?”
She then explains why good content combines both, and offers a framework for building a “content moat” that involves: positioning, depth, POV, and search intent.
Influencer vs Thought Leader vs Subject Matter Expert
Ashley Faus is asking and answering questions of her own. When it comes to distinguishing between influencers, thought leaders, and SMEs, she advocates for using 4 assessment pillars: credibility, profile, prolific, and depth of idea.
Thoughtful and Leading Thought Leadership
How do you know if you’re creating “good” thought leadership content? Greg Levinsky offers a definition and shares 4 dimensions you can use to evaluate your content: Market context, audience insights, corporate alignment, and organizational readiness.
Investing in SEO
“Invest in SEO early and avoid the problems that could limit your growth tomorrow.”
Ross Simmonds’s LinkedIn post explains why businesses fail to invest in SEO and what the consequences can be.
What Makes Someone An “In-Demand” Writer?
There are a lot of good writers out there… but, what makes one highly sought after?
How can you become a content manager’s dream? And what do you look for if you’re that content manager?
This list of things the best writers do better than others from Diana Briceño is a great guide to reference (first 4 listed below):
- They’re not scared to ask a lot of questions
- They’re never shy to spot problems (or things they disagree with) and pitch solutions or alternatives
- They have a valuable network (and marketing knowledge) due to learning how to market themselves
- Their DMs and emails are as well-structured and effective as their blogs
Check out the rest here.
AI Writing Tools Can’t Do This
AI content tools are improving daily, so what can and should (human) writers do now to prepare? Tracey Wallace thinks a strong interview game will be a differentiator. Here’s why.
Would You Let AI Do The First Pass At Your Marketing Strategy?
I know, I know.
Little AI focus going on this issue.
But this is interesting.
On TikTok, Rachel Woods shared how AI created a marketing strategy for her using chat.openai.com and said it’s not a bad start. Now I kind of want to test it, too.
Is Your Marketing Budget Getting a Trim?
The results from a recent SALESmanago survey of 250 CMOs reveal you’re not alone.
Not only are 74% of CMOs facing cuts to their marketing budgets, but there seems to be a disparity in what CEOs and marketers find important.
“The findings revealed that despite what we have learned in previous recessions, 40% of respondents said they still struggle to prove the ROI of marketing to the CEO and moreover, 63% think marketing could be leaner (more optimised). A worrying prospect when – at the same time – 42% of marketers think customer loyalty will drop in the next 12 months.”
Read more results and insights from Duncan MacRae.
Discovered via Raisin Bread.
Audience Ops Insights
Supercuts Are Super
Guess what happens when you record video case studies / testimonials with happy customers?
You build up enough footage to create a “supercut.”
Seth Morris and Sara Robinson are working on something pretty cool for Audience Ops, and I’m looking forward to seeing the final product.
For now, I’ll explain the concept:
Take 4 or more interviews you’ve recorded with customers (ones they’ve agreed can be used promotionally, of course) and create a video that combines the best stuff.
It can be used on a homepage and purposed for social media, YouTube preroll ads, you name it.
I helped with some of the revision rounds for the prototype last week and we discovered that it’s really fun (and impressive) when you group the problems solved / results achieved bits from each customer together.
4 back-to-back quotes about high ROIs makes a strong case for the brand featured, and I’m betting you’ve influenced results that would stack well this way, too.
The best part?
If you’ve already recorded and produced individual videos, the content is already there, ready to be spliced, diced, and reframed as part of a larger whole... PLUS you’ve spent enough time picking the best parts to know which bits will resonate strongly in this new context.
Think of it as going from several albums to a greatest hits album.
Stay tuned for our first client supercut.
I’ll share it when it’s ready.
If you’re interested in video case studies / testimonials, the amazing team mentioned above at Audience Ops can help with that.
Opt In Challenge
Build In The Open
Ashley Amber Sava’s podcast “Unpopular Opinion”* launches soon and she asked for opinions on her cover art options earlier this week.
Curious how this translates to an Opt In Challenge?
Consider building in the open.
Share the journey.
Ask for feedback.
Share what’s working… and what’s not.
What are you creating right now that could use some pre-launch fans to amplify your work when it goes live?
What could you do to engage them and make them a part of the story before it even unfolds?
*Note: This podcast is being produced by Audience Ops and we’re stoked to be a part of it.