July 7, 2016
by Jeff Julian
Content marketers love writing content. It’s almost like we made Content Marketing up just to fool our managers into letting us write and get paid for it. Just in the segment of content dedicated to help marketers, thousands of pieces of content are being produced and distributed daily but most of it is, well, not good. Your content needs sensational aromas, presentations we snap a photo of, and the combinations of different flavors that make those who consume it wish they wore a pair of pants with more give in the waist. Your content can offer this experience; it just takes your commitment to not offer anything that would be on a kid’s menu.
I remember when life was simple; you know that period before kids. I would go to work, come home, take a break, and then do something fun. Then I got married and we had kids. As the kids grew up, our energy stops regenerating at the same rate it used to. After a long day at the office and hanging out with the kids after school, my wife and I just have to give each other a look and we immediately know, we are going out to eat.
For our family, we like everything. Mexican is a personal favorite, but we venture out to BBQ, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, the list goes on and on. When we arrive at the restaurant, the first thing we are delivered is two large menus, two coloring sheets, and two boring colors of crayons.
Traditionally we would see other parents point their kids to chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, a hot dog, grilled cheese, or some form of personal pizza. Once it was settled, they would look over the large list of flavors, textures, and smells that are brought together to produce something unique and delicious. The kids are left eating only what they know, without any challenge to their senses or their appetites.
We vowed early in our journey that we would not do this and it has paid off in dividends. Our kids have a wide variety of tastes and we get to explore the country trying new things and never once consider another grill cheese sandwich for the young ones.
What is kid’s menu content?
“Oh, I can have someone just whip out a blog post in a few hours,” or, “We can just put out a quick PDF for that and share it via social.” These are two comments I heard from different individuals this week at a marketing event I was attending. Neither of these individuals were pleased with this approach, instead both were in search for something else and I believe that is the same feeling their readers would have after consuming the content.
Now don’t get me wrong, these types of content can be effective. Just like you can go to a nice restaurant and get an amazing 5-cheese blend homemade macaroni and cheese that will blow your taste buds away. The problem arises when you look at the content type as just another piece to meet your quota. This is what I consider kid’s menu content.
How do you identify your kid’s menu content?
To find the content that will leave your audience looking for something else, you need to identify what is unique about your business and the audience you are attracting.
For me, I love technology and we are looking for customers who want to embrace next generation approaches to drive customer experiences. Since most marketers have not embraced these technologies, I have to find new ways to incorporate them into our marketing strategy to show how effective they can be in causing disruption and delight.
To do it, we must embrace the senses like sight and sounds and embed our content into their environment. For example, if there is a way I can make your drive time more pleasant, I could provide an educational tip or tell a story that you can listen to in the car and it will end right around the time you get home. Or for you getting out of the office and sitting with like-minded people might be the cure for the lack of ideas or strategy you need to move forward. Whatever type of content I create, the purpose needs to be to satisfy a hunger, while providing a delightful experience.
Steps You Can Take to Remove Your Kid’s Menu Content for Good
Here are a few steps you can take to remove your plain and generic content and start to look at providing more than the minimum.
- Create Personas – You will never know what is unique and special until you know what people like and how they want to consume their content. Take the time to learn more about your customers and target audience to understand their goals, not just your own.
- Location, Location, Location – Understanding where your ideal consumer most likely will consume your content can change the type of content you deliver. Do you expect people to listen to your show during their commute or at the gym? When I consume content during these occasions, the more “snackable” the content is, the more annoying I find it because I have to focus playing several items instead of sticking with one. Know the audience and set up a consistent delivery they can count on.
- State of Mind – Will your persona have a tool in one hand and a device in the other, trying to solve a very particular problem? Maybe they just walked out of a meeting where someone said we need an Account-based Marketing Strategy and they are frantically searching for what that means. Knowing what the problems might be that are paired with the value you are offering can help you provide the insights you need to leave a lasting impression.
- Be Unique – Do something that makes heads turn and the competition think you have lost your mind. These looks mean there is time for you to stand out in the crowd and provide a very unique way to present content. I still vividly remember explaining to marketing teams what a blog was. Those were the days.
- Be Willing to Fail – So many marketers never take chances, and in turn, never see the ROI their executives were looking for. Be bold and test your ideas. When you fail, and you will fail, learn from the experience and try something new.
Your menu is not for you, it is for the customer
Our goal as marketers is to make our companies stand out in uncertain times within uncertain markets. Understanding what the interests are and what your audience will find valuable is at the core of success in content marketing.
It is easy to be tempted by the success of others, but you need to know who their audience is and if they had a different set of interests and problems they were solving. Make sure what you present to your audience was made specifically with them in mind to provide a sensory experience that leaves them wanting to try more and never going back to that plain old option on the other kid’s menu.
Photo credit: Jeff Julian
About Jeff Julian
Jeff Julian is the Chief Marketing Officer for AJi, a digital agency based in Kansas City. Jeff has been helping companies, such as Microsoft, develop content strategies for over ten years after he launched one of the largest blogging communities, Geekswithblogs.net. He has been a web developer since 1994, a best-selling author of a book on content management system development, and a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional in XML and SharePoint. Jeff has recently finished a book titled, Agile Marketing: Building Endurance for Your Content Marketing Team that was released in early 2016.