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boring content

The original version of this article, “Why is Your Content Boring?” ran at the Vertical Measures blog.

“Our content isn’t producing the results we want.” As a content marketing consultant, I hear this one often.

As a content consumer, I see why—all day, every day. Most content is flat out dull.

And as a content creator, I hope to help you understand why your content is boring and how to avoid spraying more snooze-inducers into the atmosphere.

Content marketing strategy is only part of the battle.

Perhaps you get the general idea of content marketing. On most fronts, it boils down to delivering useful advice. You focus on helping prospective buyers make informed buying decisions, but resist the temptation to stuff your products in their faces.

However, adopting this type of “education first” approach won’t take your marketing to the promised land. Engaging the prospect will.

Face it, with “content is king” being shouted from the top of every mountain, the masses have joined the parade. Content is coming at us like a tsunami now, but most fails to make waves—or even ripples—because it’s boring.

“If you have the biggest budget, you can afford to be boring,” says Sally Hogshead, author of Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. Sally’s “Fascination Advantage Assessment” helps you understand the qualities that make you fascinating. Hogshead submits, “You don’t learn how to be fascinating. You learn how to be UNboring.”

UNboring content is the key.

You need to call attention to your content. You need to make it so good people would pay for it—even when you’re giving it away. And yes, you should be giving your advice-heavy content away.

You need to ask yourself, will this thing I’m attaching my reputation to be memorable? If your content is bland or boring, it’ll be instantly forgotten, as will you.

Let’s take a look at what makes so much content so dull.

1. You’re taking “content” too literally

Don’t get trapped with the idea your goal is to create content. Content can be anything. Your goal is to tell a great story.

2. You’re taking “marketing” too literally

Strike two for the term “content marketing.” The most boring content falls into the traditional marketing trap, that is, you’re selling with each and every piece of content. No one likes to be sold to. It’s a one-way brand-to-consumer monologue. You’ll get shut out fast with this approach. Ditch the pitch and strike up a conversation.

3. You’re going with content templates

Nothing is more boring than the same-old-same-old. Starting with a template is fair game and a cool quick-starter. Ending with one is ludicrous. Make your content unique.

4. The tail is wagging the dog

You see this in blogs, videos, slide decks, and every form of micro-blogging. Don’t treat every media the same. In fact, don’t treat it at all unless you can connect the dots between what you have to say and the reason you’re saying it in any given space.

5. There’s no personal touch

Your content needs a heaping serving of you. If you’re sarcastic, bring on the sarcasm. Relax. Lighten up. Have some fun. Don’t barf up data. If your stuff sounds like anyone else’s on earth, bag it and search inside yourself for your voice.

6. Playing by the “rules”

Did you read somewhere a blog post should be 500 words? Baloney. Rules reek. Your content’s too short if it didn’t make a strong case and it’s too long if you’re inflating it with hot air. Make every word count and there’s no need to count ‘em.

7. Bitten by the curse of knowledge

My friend and content marketing expert, Marcus Sheridan (aka The Sales Lion), says “the curse of knowledge” threatens your content. This is his plea to avoid jargon and technical nonsense that’s guaranteed to make your stuff boring.

8. Wrong place, wrong time

A common content marketing mistake is treating everyone, everywhere the same. A good content marketer listens closely to the needs of different types of customers and tunes into where and when the message is appropriate.

9. You’re afraid to speak your mind

In a great post, “Here’s to the Haters,” Sally Hogshead explains your content works when it polarizes the audience into “haters” and “lovers.” The “middlers” waste your time. Sally writes, “If your company wants to influence purchase decisions, you must provoke strong and immediate emotional reactions.” If you want to be boring, go ahead, serve milk toast.

10. Amateurs are writing your stuff

The irresistible pull to distribute a steady stream of content leads countless companies to take a DIY approach or worse yet, price shop for writers and designers. File this in the “waste of money” cabinet. As a content marketer, you’re a publisher. You need to hire creative talent who can bring the goods. 

Dullness is a leading cause of death.

Whether you’re pitching yourself, your product, or your ideas, with any form of communication, the conservative approach is generally the risky one. The middle of the road is a danger zone. It’s where you find road kill.

Fight for your life. Don’t do dull.