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The role you play in your own content (You’re not the star of the show)

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 20 Nov, 2018
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Content marketing that converts was created to help differentiate your brand from the others and help you achieve your business objectives

Have you ever found yourself trapped in a conversation where you’re talking to a self-absorbed person, almost doing a monologue about themselves, not caring what you think and feel?

Your readers could be feeling the same thing when they read your content.

There’s a misconception among marketers that content marketing should make them stand out. While there is a truth to this - after all, content marketing that converts was created to help differentiate your brand from the others and help you achieve your business objectives - it’s not meant to position you as the hero of your own story.


Because your customers are the heroes of the story. Not you.

Content marketing is about shining the spotlight on their needs, desires, wants and aspirations, which naturally transitions into how you can help them get from point A to point B. They are the stars of the show, not you and not your products.

In fact, according to a study conducted by consulting and advisory firm Deloitte and Touche, companies that have a customer-centric culture enjoy 60% higher profits compared to companies with a product-centric mindset.

The same sentiment is echoed by Building A StoryBrand author Donald Miller. He explains: “Imagine your customer is a hitchhiker. You pull over to give him a lift, and the one burning question on his mind is simply, “Where are you going?” But as he approaches, you roll down the window and start talking about your driving philosophy, or the fact that your grandfather built this car with his bare hands, or that your road trip playlist is all 1960’s rock. This person doesn’t care. All he wants to do is get to San Francisco!”

So, if you’re not the hero, who are you?

You are who Yoda was to Luke Skywalker. Who Dumbledore was to Harry Potter. Who Haymitch was to Katniss in the Hunger Games.

You are a guide.

Yes, it may sound less glamorous compared to the hero, but if you want content marketing to do what it’s supposed to - generate traffic, engage leads, and increase sales - then you have to embrace this role.

Proof of this is the success of the Under Armour “Rule Yourself” advertisement for the Rio 2016 Olympic ad spots. It featured Michael Phelps preparing for his last Olympics.

According to Adweek, the advertisement is the fifth most shared Olympics advertisement in history. When people were asked what they felt watching the film, inspiration, amazement, happiness and pride were the top answers. Surprisingly, while there was very subtle branding in the ad, almost 80% of those who watched remembered Under Armour.

If Under Armour positioned themselves as the hero of the story and merely used Michael Phelps as a talking head or an endorser, it wouldn’t have been successful in eliciting such powerful emotions.

Positioning yourself as a guide in your content is crucial because you’re the one paving the way for the positive transformation of your customers.

So, how do you position yourself as a trustworthy guide to your customers? There are two major characteristics that you need to have.

1. Empathy

 “I feel you.”

This is arguably one of the most powerful things you can tell your customers. People trust brands that can understand them. Oprah Winfrey once said that the three things human beings crave the most are to be seen, heard and understood. This is exactly what empathy is all about.

How do you communicate empathy in your content?

First, use emphatic statements such as:

“We know how you feel…”

“I, too, was frustrated…”

“We understand your pain…”

When you empathize with your customers, you earn their trust. Don’t assume that by reading your content they will automatically get this. You have to clearly tell them using cues such as the examples above.

Secondly, you need to communicate that you share something in common with your audience, that you’re just like them. This increases your likeability and according to famous behavioral psychologist Robert Cialdini and his 6 principles of persuasion, people respond positively to those they like.

A great example of empathetic content is JetBlue’s “How Not To: Get Too Comfortable” flight etiquette video.

While the video does use the verbal empathy cues mentioned above, it clearly shows that JetBlue understands the common problems airline passengers face. The use of humor in the presentation makes the content even more relatable and engaging.

This is probably one of the very few times that you get to talk about yourself in your content. By telling your own backstory, you are able to establish empathy.

2. Authority

It’s not enough that you have empathy to show that you are a trustworthy guide; you also need authority.

This is the part when your customers are asking themselves: “Why would I jump over a cliff with you?”

Imagine approaching a gym instructor and telling them “I want to lose 50 pounds.” Now, imagine if that instructor responds with “Me too!” Would you enlist their services? Probably not. The instructor clearly expressed empathy, but there’s no authority. At the end of the day, a guide is there to steer you in the right direction, not to get lost with you.

How do you build authority in your content? There are several ways, here are some ideas to name a few:

  1. Have a unique plan or mechanism that will help your customers achieve their goals. A great example of this is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which branched out to other versions of the same concept.
  2. Invest in proprietary research if you can. Having numbers and statistics to prove your point is a great way to demonstrate authority, more so if the data came from research or a study that you did or commissioned.
  3. Testimonials and awards. When you’re using content to close the sale, citing a few of the accolades you received and featuring customer testimonials is a great way to solidify your authority. Just don’t overdo it.
  4. Take a stance on issues that affect your audience and related to your brand. Are you a weight loss expert and you don’t believe in supplements? Go ahead and express your views. Sometimes, you need to be a bit polarizing to demonstrate authority.
  5. Respond to invitations to become a resource person for other people’s content or events.

Take a look at this blog post from Digital Marketer.

Digital Marketer campaign

If someone can generate close to 36,000 leads in 60 days, they must be really good at what they do. Will you follow a guide with such authority that can lead you to achieve great success? You will, right? Your customers will, too.

It’s Time to Relinquish the Spotlight

It may sound counterintuitive to not position yourself as the star of the show when you do content marketing. But the reality is, your audience doesn’t really care about what you’re going to say about yourself apart from how you can help them solve their problems or make their lives better.

After all, your success as a content marketer ultimately depends on how you help your audience reach their goals. It’s a win-win situation.

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