Do you want to seduce readers with captivating content that will leave them wanting more?
Of course you do. After all, the reason you create content is to get readers’ attention, stand out from competitors and build your following. It’s not enough to simply put your blog posts, articles or white papers out there. To get lasting results, you have to make sure people actually want to read what your business or organization has to say. But this can be a challenge. Especially if your topic is, to put it bluntly, boring.
Take it from me. During my career as a writer and editor, I’ve had the pleasure of working on a variety of topics, some of which are generally perceived as dry subject matters. A few examples: math textbooks, transportation research, sewer system reports, technology how-to guides, manufacturing training courses…I could go on.
But today I’m here to tell you it’s possible to make even the dullest of subjects interesting. No matter your topic, you can leverage your content to communicate what makes your business, product or service exciting and relevant. Use the five strategies outlined below to make sure readers will not only enjoy your content, but will come back for more—and share it with others.
1. Start by asking a question.
Open with a question that will pull readers in, catch them off guard or make them think. Ask a question that immediately draws their attention to the importance of the topic or speaks to their needs.
For example, an accounting firm’s blog post on the importance of choosing the right business structure could start with the question, “Did you know that setting up your small business under the wrong business structure could cost you thousands of dollars?” Since no small business owner wants to make a mistake that could cost them thousands of dollars, they will be compelled to read on. And, subsequently, they are likely to contact the accounting firm for a consultation to ensure their business is using the correct structure.
2. Make the topic relatable.
As Dale Carnegie said, “People aren’t interested in you. They’re interested in themselves.” When readers can relate to a topic, they recognize why it’s important and they feel invested in learning more about it. Rather than simply listing the facts, make sure readers understand why a topic matters and how it impacts them. No topic is too boring to be relatable. Think about the “why,” and go from there.
Let’s say a local hospital is publishing an article about their recent implementation of a patient-centered care model. In the article, it’s important to get the facts across by defining the patient-centered care model, citing statistics that back up its efficacy and explaining how the hospital is transitioning to this new way of doing things. But how will the new model benefit the community? What’s in it for patients? And most importantly, can it save money? To ensure readers make the connection between the hospital’s new model and their own lives, emphasize how patient-centered care results in improved patient outcomes and fewer hospital readmissions. Explain what patients and their families can expect from their future visits under the new model. Readers will immediately think about their own hospital experiences, or those of their loved ones, and will feel emotionally invested in the article.
3. Tell a story.
Everyone loves a story. Stories bring content to life, they’re entertaining and they aid memory. Telling a story will instantly make your content more engaging—it’s scientifically proven. You can tell a story from your personal experience and relate it to the topic at hand. You can share client stories (with their permission, of course). You can relay a story you’ve read or heard somewhere else (citing sources and giving credit where appropriate). A story is like glue; it will help your content stick in readers’ minds. If it’s a good story, it will speak to readers’ emotions, which is even better.
So, a nonprofit organization produces a biannual magazine that is sent to everyone on their list of donors. They hope this publication will result in continued or increased donor gifts. What should they do to make it interesting and increase engagement? You got it! They should share real-life stories of the work they’ve done in the past year and all the positive impact it’s had on their cause.
4. Connect your topic to current events or trends.
How does your topic relate to what’s going on in the world? A great way to establish relevancy and interest is by showing readers how what your business is doing is correlated to a current event, hot topic or popular trend. Look at your subject matter from all angles and don’t be afraid to present opposing viewpoints or spark a little friendly debate.
For example, if you’re a manufacturer who would like to keep the public up to date on your green initiatives, use the public’s interest in environmental issues to your advantage. In your content, emphasize the measures you’re taking to do your part in addressing global warming. Share your results so readers understand the difference you’re making.
5. Inject humor.
When appropriate, spice up your boring topic with humor. The duller the topic, the more effective humor can be, because readers won’t expect it. Take a tip from comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David: they created one of the most popular TV shows in history based on the concept of making the mundane funny. Jokes can come in the form of witty metaphors, humorous similes, puns, sarcasm or a funny story. You could also include an image that uses humor to relate to your topic. In addition to making your content more engaging, humor provides relief when addressing a serious or otherwise bland subject matter.
If you’re creating corporate communications content, for instance, you can use humor to get employees’ attention so that they’ll be interested in the information you’re providing. Poke a little fun at corporate, 9-5 life by including a funny quote or reference about cubicle life or expense reports. Tell a funny story or include a cartoon that illustrates your point.
With a little creativity, any topic can be interesting—and even meaningful or funny. Next time you have to create content around a tedious topic, liven it up and hook your readers using these five strategies.