6 Things That Bad Content and a Bad First Date Have in Common

May 24, 2017 Candi Williams

A bad first date is no one’s friend. But a bad piece of content is even easier to run away from and never return. And it turns out the two things have more in common than you might think – we’re not talking terrible pick-up lines and awkward silences either…

1. Selfishness

Of all the epic date fails, self-indulgence has to be up there with the very worst. You know the type; the ones where they sit there and divulge every humble brag, subtly drop in how many properties they own and the model of their car. Forty minutes in and they still haven’t asked a single question about you. Chances are, you’re already planning your escape route and definitely won’t be going back for date number two.

Just like a good date, good content is a two-way street. We’re spoilt for choice with it today and if you’re expecting someone to invest their precious time, effort and attention, you better make it worth their while. Every interaction you have needs to share value, be relevant and not just all about you – whether or not the person does business with you or sees you again. We talk about this as return on attention.

The moral of the story: Get to know your audience and what makes them tick. Sharing common ground, being entertaining and talking about things that interest them is much more likely to elicit a good end result.

2. The yawn factor

Endless small talk. Monotony. Repetitiveness. Ick, a boring date is no fun and the same rules apply for content. Now, I’m not saying you have to moonwalk your way in or start your content with a haiku-rap but being interesting goes a long way. The ideal outcome of a date is that you leave super excited for the next one – and great content is no different. You want people to click the subscribe box because they loved what you had to say, not because you forced them to give you their details.

The moral of the story: Would you share your own content? That’s a good test of interest. Whatever the subject, there’s no excuse for snore-worthy content in today’s attention economy. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it!  

3. It leaves you out of pocket

Don’t be that guy/gal. You know the type that waits for your round at the bar and then orders a triple-shot martini with 24ct gold-infused vodka and saffron sprinkles. You want to leave your date with a full heart not an empty wallet. And, contrary to misconception, producing great content doesn’t have to cost the earth either. You only have to look at the rocketing rise in popularity of vlogger content – most of which is taken on smartphones in their rooms – to dispel that myth. The truth is: your content doesn’t have to be of Spielberg proportion. It doesn’t have to break the bank or take forever to produce. But what it does need to be is relevant. Engaging. Valuable. And born from a deep understanding of what people want at every step of their buyer’s journey.

The moral of the story: You could spend millions on content but if it doesn’t align with your customers’ context, it won’t hit the mark. Focus on relevance over riches and quality over quantity.

4. A one track mind

Imagine you’re on a date; you’ve just sat down, taken your coat off and the first thing they say is: ‘Hello, I’m Jon. South West Lacrosse champion circa 2009. Ranked 3rd in my area for B2B sales. I’m innovative, future-focused, driven, ambitious too. Forbes once awarded me 7/10 for my value-added growth potential. My shoe size? 11. I have strong values of authenticity, diligence and did I mention that my hair is naturally this colour? Now that you know a bit about me, are you interested? Go ahead and invest in me, let’s build a long-term relationship.’

You’d probably run away, right? In a similar vein, those old school ‘buy me! I’m the best! I’ll change your life!’ content messages just don’t work with today’s super savvy audiences.

The moral of the story: Your content needs to be less about ‘what can I sell you?’ and more about ‘how can I help you?’ A little trick I like to use is that when you find yourself slipping into Marketing Jargon City, think about what you’re actually trying to say – and say it, in a clear and human way. It’s about building trust, after all.

5. Not picking up on the signals and cues

Picture this: your date’s downed their drink, they’re giving one word answers, looking longingly at the door. Twenty minutes in, they answer their phone. It hadn’t even rung. Their body language is speaking volumes and you wouldn’t respond by going in for the kiss – you really shouldn’t anyway. You need to follow cue with how you produce content too. With every interaction online, people are giving you signals. Signals about what they like and don’t like, what they’re interested in and how they like to engage with brands. Take their lead, listen, understand their needs and you can serve up content that they really care about. Content so good that they might just come back for more. 

The moral of the story: Here’s where having a humanistic data and martech ecosystem is a must-have. Using small data, it enables you to pick up on people’s digital body language to refine contextual, human-like responses to each and every interaction.

6. You don’t want to experience it again

If you have a bad initial date, chances are you won’t be running back for a second one. First impressions really do count – and they’re even more important for content. It’s no coincidence that ad blocking is a million-dollar industry. And while there’s no magic button people can press to block comms on all channels from someone they’ve unsuccessfully dated, it’s easy to ‘unsubscribe’ and block content from a brand. Hence why it’s so crucial that every piece of content whether it’s an advert, article, video or email – has purpose and value.

The moral of the story: If you think creating content is all about selling stuff, think again. It’s about supporting and surprising, educating and entertaining, triggering an emotional reaction and inspiring action. Think beyond just making a sale and focus on providing value with your content. You’ll soon reap the rewards.

Keen to create content that catches attention in today’s super busy world? Check out the three types of content that’ll resonate with your customers and win you a second date.

About the Author

Creating content that captures the audiences’ attention and helps brands engage people in the most powerful ways – that’s Candi’s job. Leading the copywriting fold in our Bristol creative team, this Senior Copywriter is as enthusiastic about conjuring up big, bang-on-brief ideas as she is writing thought leadership articles and creating snappy but super effective social posts. From crafting concepts to polishing paragraphs, she prides herself on getting to the heart of even the most complex topics to make sure every piece of copy shines. When she’s not waging the war against boring content, you can probably find her adding to her ever-blossoming stationary collection, cooking up a storm in the kitchen or testing our her recent wine qualification.

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