TED-inspired rant on good stories and great content

by Asta Kurulyte on May 13, 2017

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Having worked with brands that still practice the interruptive way of marketing and brands that put the customer first, I’ve grown to appreciate consistently good brand content as opposed to great content every so often. It may sound like good and great are iterations of the same, but I think there’s a slight distinction and I’d like to share the reasons behind that.

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So, content is king, the bots are onto us, and we’ve switched over to the inbound lane. Sounds like a great deal so far – producing content that is genuinely useful to our audience is what we set out to do from the get-go, right? Right! However, there’s still some difference between content that’s ‘one-off great’ and content from a brand that’s consistently good. Great one-off content possibly gets you conversions, but more than likely is a one-hit-wonder. Good content that people can rely on helps you create raving fans – your advocates and evangelists. tweet this.png

 

As a project manager working with amazing artists around the globe, I am privileged to learn from them and contribute to the creation of content for our clients and for Wings4U. Collaborating with talented professionals, I’ve learnt to follow golden rules when it comes to creating content – word, design or video – it all comes down to how well it’s distilled according to three main principles, outlined below. Our aim is to create content that has goodness to it and resonates on a personal, human level. Check out the TED talk from the man behind the Good Country Index for an insightful definition of what it means to be good.

 

Principle 1: Everything is a story

Not to be inspirational or anything, but people prefer stories over instructions. If someone tells us to go fishing, we raise a fuss, state that we’ve got better things to do and point at our list of to-do tasks.

But if someone tells a story about a man who was an awesome fisherman and caught fish left and right, when one day a businessman came along and said “boy, you could totally commercialize this, buy boats, get crews on them – you know where the fish swim, you’re like a fish whisperer, you could have millions, do whatever you want, why don’t you go big?” The fisherman replies, “because I don’t want to.” The businessman is confused, “but what do you want to do then?” And the man simply says, “I want to fish.” And now you wouldn’t be so opposed to joining that man, would you?

I love the way Andrew Stanton describes stories in his TED Talk. We are all keen to hear stories and we like to work for our dinner, putting two and two together. Creating content isn’t just about pushing our message out there. We begin with something we’re enthusiastic about, and we want to share this with the world – whether it’s a marketing campaign around a new product or a good old newsletter – there’s a story to tell around everything.   

Principle 2: ABC of writing, or anything really

 

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There’s a fine line between being clear and vague. There’s a finer line between providing details and turning the story into a data sheet. The perfect middle ground is an ongoing balance act between details and a leap to “the princess was saved” stateChip Kidd’s designs have been an inspiration to me, initially and without knowing, because I’m a book lover, but eventually because great design drives most of what I do professionally.

You may come up with the best solution, the best content, or the most optimal process, but it all boils down to how easy it is to consume. Accuracy, brevity and clarity may take slightly different connotation in medical or marketing industries, so it’s highly important to keep in mind the audience. Websites and software have UX designers, while written content has editors. The squint test works on more than just web design. It’s always good to follow the “take one out” rule – you take one, say, paragraph out and see if it’s still clear enough. Rinse and repeat.

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Principle 3: Explain why it’s cool

Being enthusiastic about stuff that you do is great, because if you’re enthusiastic enough about it, it may just be contagious. Case in point - Cheese Doodles Guy (subtitles in the video).

 

Daily, I get to work with people around the world who are passionate about what they do and they do it well. There are no supervisors to stand over our shoulders, but everyone gets their part done and then goes the extra mile to think about what more we can do and how we can innovate. Once I understood this, it was clear that joining Wings4U team may have been my coolest professional decision.

 

I also work with our clients and some of their stories are so fun, purely because of the unabashed enthusiasm of the teams who worked together to achieve great things! This enthusiasm and passion always seep into the content we create – it would be impossible to hide it. And that’s the content that I go back to read a few times over, just because it’s genuine. To some degree, we’re willing to hear any story, so long as we’re emotionally invested in it. And what better way to get people to invest in your story than tell them why you genuinely believe it is cool?

 

At the end of the day, we're doing business with people and content is another way to convey character - and goodness - to other people. TED talks are a wonderful source of inspiration to me, not only because I can apply the learnings and ideas to my life and work, but also, because it iterates on the point of good content for its own sake - spreading ideas worth sharing. With good content at the center of marketing, your brand is on track to take your messaging to a new level.

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