Don’t be content to focus on function

Most business content is boring, writes Dominic Rodgers, who calls on companies to engage, entertain and inform

4 min read

Annual reports, press releases, white papers, even websites sometimes can be so dull they seem to be designed to actually stop people reading them. When you think of all the corporate scandals that are uncovered around the world these days, maybe some are.

Perhaps this stems from a desire to be taken seriously and be seen as professional? There is an objective after all.

But herein lies the problem. So much content is so weighed down by its objectives that it fails to engage, entertain or inform its audience. It is its functionality that prevents it from functioning.

It makes sense that no matter how clearly your message is communicated, no matter how comprehensively and correctly you craft your information, if it’s boring, then the people you want to read it won’t bother.

In a world where information is everywhere, you have to compete with so many more products and services that your content needs to be exciting in order to be successful. That’s not to say it should be exciting at the expense of communicating key points, but it would be better to inspire the audience and miss out important information than make people switch off. Either way they don’t get the information you want them to know, but if you give people a good experience, at least they might ask you some questions.

This raises a fundamental point about communication. It’s not really about you or your company. It’s about the audience, the person you’re trying to reach. If you focus on them, then not only will they enjoy the experience of interacting with you more, you will also tell them what they want and need to know. It will also help you stand out from your competition.

Content marketing is becoming more and more popular, but the key to great content is purpose and personality. It is so important to define who you are, and how and why you do things. The chances are that “what” you do is probably the most boring aspect of your business. The effect your business has on your customers, employees, partners, shareholders, and the wider community should be the most important parts of any content you create.

In fact, creating content should be one of the most exciting parts of your business. It’s your opportunity to engage with the different people you interact with. If you don’t care about your message nobody will. Apart from your competitors, they’ll be thrilled; they know what you’re doing and won’t mind that you’ve bored them because they’ll be confident your customers will have switched off.

Quickly imagine if Coca-Cola and other popular brands communicated in the same way as most businesses do. It’s so hard to imagine it would actually be hilarious:

“Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drink sold in stores, restaurants and vending machines in every country except Cuba and North Korea”

Wow.

It’s true that with consumer products there is a connection between the customer and the product and therefore it isn’t as important to describe the product as it is to focus on the lifestyle it might be part of. But surely, if there’s no connection between customer and product, then it would be even more important to create one and build an identity?

In this respect you could consider the word “content” more literally. Rather than seeing it as a press release, article on the website or annual report, actually look at the contents of the business: the people, the offices, the products and services. The more interesting they are the more desirable the business as a whole will be. Most importantly: the people.

Instead of squeezing employees for every last drip of efficiency possible at all costs, make work fun and simple. If you facilitate the culture that people desire outside work in the office, shop, factory or even building site, then you’ll achieve positive reactions and results from your staff. They will be more fulfilled and enjoy their jobs more and deliver better, more creative work.

Companies around the globe, such as world-famous Skype in Stockholm, and not so famous logistics company Cargo in Geneva, have demonstrated that this not only motivates employees, but also attracts the best talent and generates positive reaction from the media.

Creating meaningful, exciting and inspiring content can involve the arts in so many ways. Whether it is designing an exciting environment that employees want to be a part of and help improve, extending that further with engaging internal communications to bring people in an organisation together, or content that makes customers and people you want to be your customers happy, entertained and excited about your company, the arts are far more likely to inspire both your teams and your audiences than campaigns or projects that are too focused on function.

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