marketing content should not be bland

CONTENT OATMEAL

We are all drowning in oatmeal…content oatmeal…social media oatmeal. Oatmeal is BLAND content with no personality. It comes in large vats and is dished up easily to the masses. Oatmeal content is neither hot nor cold, but it’s easy. It doesn’t require much in the way of preparation or presentation. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a good bowl of oatmeal, with raisins or dried cherries and brown sugar…and a side of extra crispy bacon. Clear the arteries and then clog them back up. It’s a balanced diet. But oatmeal is for breakfast, not for our content.

YOUR BRAND'S VOICE

This week we were chatting with one of our social media management clients about trying to uncover more of her brand’s voice. We were sliding into the oatmeal zone with her content, which is easy to do when it is a common topic or an industry with lots of competition. I found it difficult to explain this concept. It was about as hard as trying to explain to someone how to speak with “passion” when presenting a technical topic. You must uncover the excitement or the frustration points in the topic, even if the topic is mundane. It’s easy to tell someone to do this, but hard for them to know HOW to actually do it. (The secret is actually to tighten your abs and then speak…Go ahead try it…instant passion!)

It’s hard to know HOW to create content that is unique and stands out. It’s often hard to formulate a personality for our brand that is truly unique. We look around at all the other brands in our industry and see “how it’s done,” and we settle into our bowl of oatmeal with them. It’s warm. It’s safe. It’s easy. If you get too crazy you might ruffle feathers and offend someone. People might think you are CRAZY and whisper about you as you walk down the halls.

GET A LITTLE CRAZY

If you want to see who is doing CRAZY content in a crowded space, look at Maria Cyza (aka Angie Castellano), creating video content in the direct marketing makeup space (which is extremely crowded). But look at the number of views this woman gets on her videos, and by the way, it shows not just in video views, but in sales dollars as well! Maria is BRILLIANT. MailChimp is another brand that consistently shows us their personality. (Of course, it’s easier to do when your mascot is a chimp named Freddie, but no one’s stopping you from creating a fun mascot who can do your dirty work.) Who stands out in your industry? Who do people whisper about when they walk by? What makes them stand out?

Being “out there” or crazy takes guts. We might lose business because people don’t get us, but perhaps that’s ok. The right people will. Years ago I had one of our large clients tell me that he thought I might want to change our company voice mail and contact page. He thought it didn’t have the professional image that he thought we should have (his humble opinion) should their other franchise locations contact us. I actually changed it and then a few months later realized that I didn’t want to be his kind of oatmealy professional. I wanted to stand out, be memorable, be myself. I changed it back and not only get regular comments on our contact page but have had people tell me that it was one of the reasons they wanted to work with us…because we stood out.

Maybe we all need to get a little crazier in our marketing. Maybe we need to loosen our ties and let our true personality come out a little more. Yes, it takes more time when creating content to think about how that should look, feel, or sound in each piece, but if we spend the time uncovering or rediscovering, who we really are as a brand and what makes us look, sound, or feel truly unique, it will be easier for our ideal clients and customers to find and connect with us.

YOUR BRAND STYLE GUIDE

If you have not identified your tone in your brand style guide, perhaps you can add a section in there showing the types of words or phrases that your brand would use and would never use. Outline elements of your brand’s style that you’d like to carry over into each area of your marketing, and if you don’t have a brand style guideline, or you have no idea what I’m even talking about (it’s not the same as Nordstrom’s style guide) download our resource guide on what to put in yours to keep your brand consistent!

How to Create a Brand Style Guide
Now let’s take care of that oatmeal you’ve got all over the place.
6 Places to Check for Oatmeal:

  1. Your VOICEMAIL
    Is it unique or does it convey the personality of your brand?
  2. Your EMAIL signature
    Do you have a unique signature line or is it the standard oatmeal signature line? Create a signature line that gives people more information about you and your brand. Be sure to weave your personality in there as well.
  3. Your website ABOUT page
    Maybe you don't even call it an “ABOUT PAGE.” Perhaps your brand is more about innovation and you have another way to let people know about you and your amazing team.
  4. Your website CONTACT page
    Are there more ways to get ahold of you than just via email? Your CONTACT page is a great place to get a little creative. Show off your personality since you actually have someone looking that is interested in your brand. Maybe you can add a lead magnet or put some interesting facts here.
  5. Your BLOG content
    This is probably one of the easiest places for you to highlight your brand's personality. Don't get all mushy and bland here.
  6. Your SOCIAL MEDIA channels
    Now loosen the tie a little more and BE SOCIAL. How does your brand behave on social media? Are you just regurgitating blog content or are you inviting people in for a conversation? Be sure to remember that personality here on your social channels.

5 Ways to Get Out of the Oatmeal Zone and Stand Out

  1. Ask yourself, “What frustrates me about our industry or how people perceive it?

    When you write about or create content about things that frustrate you (I’m not talking about just a rant post) your true tone typically emerges. Does it frustrate you when people waste time on something or are taken advantage of? Write to fix this problem.

  2. Ask yourself, “What excites me about our industry more than anything?”

    Tell the world about something they absolutely need to know. This excitement typically comes out in your writing or content creation.

  3. Point out the questions people SHOULD BE ASKING but they aren’t.

    Most content is created to answer the questions everyone is asking. We even recommend starting with your most frequently asked questions when creating content, but what questions do people NOT ask that end up costing them time, money or frustration?

  4. Look for the edge of topics that you are writing or creating content about.

    What is everyone saying already and what pieces do you have something different to say about it or what do you disagree with?

  5. Take time to identify your brand's PERSONALITY.

    If your brand were a person, would she be witty? Sarcastic? Empathetic? Filled with passion for justice? What would your brand wear to work? What would she drink? How would she speak if you were hanging out for lunch? Now create your content AS her!

 

Where else do you see oatmeal content? Have you discovered a secret to keeping your brand’s personality front and center of your content? (We want more secrets that involve tightening our abs –it’s the only workout some of us get.)

Share your thoughts with us and connect with us on our social channels…Let’s have breakfast together!

@GinaSchreck

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