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How To Write Content That Matters

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How To Write Content That Matters

Writing can be tricky and combined with the challenge of having to come up with epic ideas that will engage the masses and wow an audience. Even the toughest of writers can be sent into a panic resulting in – as Homer Simpson so eloquently put it – hiding under some coats and hoping everything will work out.

It’s funny the effort that copywriters will put into honing their craft. Getting better at sculpting a lovely prose and studying what style will best engage an audience when most don’t focus much on the ideas themselves. Who cares if you’ve got a great list, perfectly presented, if the information itself is lame?

So let’s discover some awesome ways to combine ideas and content to create something that your grandchildren will speak of and which will be celebrated globally on the anniversary of its creation! Or, at least something your readers will like.

1. Begin with the problem in mind

Imagine you’re a banker looking for a new suit. You wander into a shop with a mannequin in the store window wearing a suit you like. Once you get inside, a young boy in jeans and a t-shirt greets you.

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“Hey dude, looking for a new skateboard?”

“No, I want a suit like the one in the window.”

“How about a new bike?”

“Suit.”

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“We only have that one suit, you can have it if you want.”

“Why do you have that mannequin if you don’t sell suits?”

“We didn’t want to stop anyone from coming in.”

Every copywriter has been told to keep things “friendly,” or “impartial,” because “We don’t want to offend anyone.” Thing is, the guy looking for a suit would rather keep his attention away from a skate shop than be drawn in by impartiality. If you sell skateboards, you’re never going to sell one to the suit guy – so focus on your core customer. I mean really focus, walk in their shoes and think as they think. You’re trying to get to a point where you understand what they love and hate; either of those two things will do because inherent in both of them is a powerful problem – giving them more of what they love, or less of what they hate.

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2. Turn that problem into a concept

Just telling someone you know why they’re angry isn’t going to make them feel good, so it’s important to take the problem and turn it into a concept, not a solution, a concept. To do this, take their issue and explain to them what will happen if they solve it, and the implications if they choose not to.

“Old suits can make you look haggard, like a scarecrow. You’re probably sick of people throwing things at you and screaming hateful phrases – people hate scarecrows. However, there’s nothing like a new suit to get that promotion, meet the girl of your dreams and take over the world.”

3. From this concept comes the central idea

Draw a circle on a piece of paper, then another circle around that, then another. In the outer circle write the problem, in the second circle the concept, and then look at the center circle.

What you’ll find are several awesome ideas for solving the problem. It won’t come to you straight away so get outside with a notebook and preferably a skateboard, and let the ideas flow. Write everything down – even the stupid stuff – and watch as it takes on a life of its own, morphing into revolutionary ideas that will change minds and transform the world.

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Because that’s why we’re here, right? Writers do this through creating content that matters.

Featured photo credit: War, by Igor Miske via unsplash.com

More by this author

Rhys Knight

Head of Content at www.knight.global

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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