Surviving a Content Marketing Meltdown? Stop Thinking & Start Listening

March 3, 2021
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If you are a B2B marketing writer and editor or a content strategist, you no doubt hit a dry well from time to time on what to write, how to write it, or to whom the information should be customized to help.

It certainly wouldn’t be from a lack of people sharing their tips on what works, what doesn’t, and how you can get free of the brain tangle. If that works to inspire you, I’d recommend swimming around with the likes of the Content Marketing Institute or Convince and Convert. @JayBaer is flat-out awesome and committed to a “help-not-pimp” approach to content (more on this in a future post). But for me, walking where others have been making me feel like I’m cheating.

If you’ve met me in person or taken the time to read anything I am even remotely satisfied with, you know that I feel like I’m failing if I don’t ignite fires in people and get them to do something positive with it.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to see people building mousetraps with better bait, but I still find myself wanting to incite a thought riot of raw emotion at the core of the content experience.

Yeah … I know blah blah blah on the last sentence unless you’re in my head, but here’s a tip to get at the hot molten center of what to write and why for any writing exercise. Stop thinking about content marketing or writing anything and listen to the music that gets you to dance like a fool, want to punch somebody in the face, cry the ugliest of cries or shudder at the thought of something horrible.

This, my friends, is raw emotion. Without it, your content is dead.

How does digging into your own emotional well ignite your content ideas? For me, it creates an environment of empathy for the plight of people with whom I’d like to begin a discussion.

Using music to tap into human emotion

Rather than spin my wheels too early on formats like videos, infographics, and the like, or channels such as email, social and other distribution vehicles, I push myself to think of the person I want to speak to and what they want, and how I can help them get it.

Here’s a process I go through to get a little more primal with content development:

  • How is my prospect like me?
  • How is he or she different?
  • What are they afraid of?
  • What are they absolutely fired up about?
  • What do they want coworkers and bosses to think of them?
  • What do they hate most about their jobs?
  • Who do they hate at their jobs?
  • What do they hate about them?
  • What does a good day at work look like?
  • What would they rather be doing than working?

For me, that usually cools the meltdown in progress and helps me focus on people rather than the blank page with a blinking cursor.

An immediate example as I write this, I’m listening to Burden in My Hand by Soundgarden. It is completely free of B.S., with nowhere to hide. I needed to feel this to get me to think aggressively and without restraint. This “audio content” makes me:

  • Angry at the status quo
  • Intolerant of platitudes
  • Eager to push people’s buttons
  • Hopeful that being an irritant can yield a few pearls

For the sake of discussion, however, if it was this haunting, rhythmic remix of Amy Winehouse’s “Stronger Than Me,” I’d be a mess of emotion:

  • A sense of profound loss; sad
  • Flat out awestruck and inspired
  • Ready to step out of other people’s shadows

If I ever feel the need to wet my pants in fear (rare), this cover of Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks by A Perfect Circle certainly does the job. Just a spooky song meant to unearth insecurities.

And, finally, if shuffle-play had managed to deliver Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, let’s say I’d be in my most comfortable pair of shoes if any at all. A ponderous moment with a declaration that, right now, just before the saxophone’s wail … is what I fight to get back to every time I feel scared, sad, or uncertain. It’s the time of sunshine and lemonade stands in my life. Easy breezy.

OK … before I reveal too much of my own psychological makeup … the point is music smacks the beehive in all of us. Use it! There is no reason your audio, visual, and/or textual content shouldn’t stir up the same emotions in search of some level of resolution. And, as we all know, resolution, sometimes, comes with the recognition that there are no immediate answers and a tougher fight ahead. For this, I highly recommend Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger.

You ready to kick some writer’s block butt now!?!?

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