This is a reprint of one of Paul Myers’ newsletter issues.
I have his (exceptional) permission to do so. 🙂
Useful. Relevant. Interesting.
Hammer those words into your head and recite them like a mantra every time you sit down to write anything that’s meant to instruct or entertain.
If you know your audience, you’ll know what they’ll find useful and relevant. You’ll never get it right for everyone, of course, but you don’t have to. If you’re close enough often enough, you’ll earn a reputation with your subscribers or visitors that will carry you through the misfires.
Some definitions might be in order, especially for the folks who wonder how this applies to entertainment.
Useful: It accomplishes a purpose for the reader.
Relevant: It matters to them. (Yes, it’s that simple.)
Interesting: It engages them, involves them and makes them want to know more.
Simple, yes? Yet the word “relevant” has become a buzzword.
That says something very bad about the state of the Net.
I’m going to assume that what you have to say helps your reader accomplish something. If not, why are you bothering them?
Relevance is very much a matter of your situation. There are three primary ways to ensure a high likelihood that your content is relevant. In descending order of preference:
Pre-qualifying is just a matter of making the subject matter clear to people before they start reading. For subscription- based content, that means having an actual, identifiable theme, and letting people know what it is before they subscribe. For open web-based content, that means making sure your links and ads target your market, so you get traffic that cares about the subject.
If you offer information on a clearly defined topic and then give it to the people who say they want it, you’re going to hit the mark more often than not. This, by the way, is generally called “targeting.”
Some people don’t like that word, because the think it has a hostile tone. Can’t say I blame them, really. Yes, I use the word myself, but only because it’s such a useful bit of shorthand when speaking with other people in the business. I regularly remind myself not to take it too literally.
Words like that tend to foster attitudes that aren’t really healthy. I mean, think about it…
Do you like the idea of being a “target?”
Asking is always a good idea. If you ask people what they want and give it to them, you usually won’t miss by much. You just have to know how to ask so that you get accurate answers.
For a really good example and process for this, based on a survey I ran recently, check out …
Read more in Are you really that boring? Part 4.
Oh, and if you’re really smart, you sign up for TalkBiz News
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