A clue to success in today's more crowded thoroughfare of content marketing is to entertain while you inform. It will give your content a distinctive quality and provide an even richer conduit to convey your story.
Entertainment values need to match the nature of the content it accompanies. Many subjects aren't appropriate for light-hearted treatment. But great photography or emotional storytelling can deepen the understanding of viewers.
The presentational qualities of almost all media — from billboards to videos — have improved hugely, so most people are accustomed to, and expect, outreach with more dimension and pizzazz. You no longer can afford to communicate in 2D to a 3D world.
This adds to the daunting challenge already presented by content marketing. It is hard enough to think of content. Now you have to conceive of it almost like a Hollywood producer.
However, before you start making calls to outsource your content development, gather your own team members and brainstorm ideas. Sit on bean bags, eat popcorn and draw stick figures on a white board. You will be surprised at what pops up that can inspire engaging and authentic content concepts — and clever ways to convey them.
You don't need slick TV-like commercials to entertain — remember, a lot of people go to the kitchen during TV commercials. But you can take a page from how commercials are developed and produced. They tell a story in 30, 60 or occasionally 90 seconds. They simplify the message and focus on the information they want you to know. They use words, numbers, images, video and music. They are designed to leave an impression and call for action.
These aren't easy to duplicate, but they don't require a Hollywood production crew. You most likely have or can get the software on your laptop to convert your bright ideas, stories and indelible impressions into reality. Even if they are rendered in stick figures.
Sometimes brilliant content can land in your lap. The ineluctable move to approve same-sex marriage received a booster shot when a 19-year-old University of Iowa engineering student electrified the Iowa legislature with a stirring defense of his gay parents. Zach Wahl almost singlehandedly demolished the argument that gay parents weren't capable of bringing up a normal child. The video of his testimony went viral twice and some observers credit it with accelerating a national change of heart on same-sex marriage, especially among younger adults.
There are lots of ways to entertain. Videos can be fun to produce and watch. Ditto for infographics — those diagrams that trace a chronology or explain how something works. A gallery of photographs with clever captions can be captivating, as can good old-fashioned stories told with a little flair. Sometimes all you need to do is tell your own story.
Breaking through into your target audience's brain demands more than a solid meal of content. It also requires a little seasoning of entertainment.