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Audiences are desperately saying, “Stop Boring Me!”—so much so that I chose it for the title of my latest book, published in October of 2016.
Boring your audience is not just a mere marketing inconvenience. Sure, we all want to rock presentations, talks, and marketing and have people riveted. We’re told, “Don’t be boring,” and yet there is a ton of boring stuff out there. (I am looking at you, B2B.)
How can any company engage an audience if their content isn’t engaging?
The good news is this: It’s fixable. You decide. Boring is a choice, and it’s time to write boring a “Dear John” letter. For good.
The “Boring” Tax
Boring is more than a minor thing. There is a premium to be paid: an insidious, high-priced boredom tax. Boring says to audiences:
- We don’t care as much as we could about your needs.
- We aren’t willing to try new things to reach you, so we’re falling back on what’s comfortable and easy.
- Our time is valuable, so you must bear the burden of creating meaning and relevance from what we put out.
Audiences aren’t buying it, and they shouldn’t have to. It’s time to break the habit. Today, all communicators are like contestants on Survivor, and your inability to adapt gets your butt thrown off the island of customer relevance. Customers are voting.
And I know from experience that, yes, there are boring industries and products. But boring is still a choice, regardless of whether you are a bank, a sheet fitter manufacturer, or other “scintillating” service or product provider. There is always a way to take what you do and present it in a way that is un-boring, and everyone can do it!
The Transaction-Based Mindset Needs a Reset
“Boring” is shifting the burden of messaging clarity to the audience. Most audiences simply won’t—and shouldn’t—pay that tax. They have too much vying for attention. If we’re not willing to work harder, be better, and engage in a more meaningful way, than we will be filtered, as we should be. The bar has gone up, which, I think, is good news. The worst thing to happen to marketing today is, well, marketing!
Great communication is always in service of your audience: their learning, entertainment, inspiration, and optimism. The burden of clarity is always on you—shifting that tax to your audience is off-putting. When you lose your audience, you often don’t get them back. (highlight to tweet)
Boring happens because we don’t take on the burden of slashing content, doing less, finding the best way to present great information, and experimenting with new ideas. We fall back on old ways that don’t tax our creativity and habits because we don’t want to work too hard or risk too much. We don’t want to fail.
That mindset doesn’t work. Like augmented products, at some point, everyone is using the same approach—so much for differentiation. Busting easy fallback ideas may be a bit of work in the short-run, but the long-run boring tax is a heavy price to pay. The burden of change is on companies and communicators. It’s time for us to bear the tax, not audiences.
Ten Ways to Ditch the “Boring Habit” Script
So what do you do? Even a more conservative brand doesn’t have to be boring in how to delivers information. By thinking differently about how and what, we can connect more meaningfully. Here are a few ways to banish boring by thinking differently about what you create and how you deliver it.
1. Create Less Content, and Go for Higher Quality
Stop the content mill mentality. It’s time to get off the hamster wheel for your own good, and for your customers’ well-being, too. Mindfulness matters here. Repurpose, reuse, and take something evergreen and update it. Keep it simple.
2. Focus Less on Transactions
Create more meaning in everything you do. Make and tell stories focused on making people’s lives better. People want emotional resonance, and an informational-only approach does not cut it.
3. Find What’s Unexpected for Your Company
Go there! Surprises break monotonous patterns that make audiences tune out. In Australia, an organization created the unexpected Human Walking Program making the dogs the clients. Why not? It worked! It disrupted the expected pattern. You can do it, too.
4. Focus on Audience Passions (That Aren’t Your Stuff)
Maybe it’s surfing, music, pets, or environmental issues, or writing. Find their personal passions, and speak to them in these metaphors and concepts. Mash up a passion you care about as a company with a passion of your audience—ride-sharing for dogs, anyone? Imagine the fun and relevant content to come out from that approach!
5. Give People Hope and Optimism When They Engage
Entertain, inspire, and educate. You can wrap information in a fun layer for easier delivery. Every touch can be an experience that makes people smile.
6. Be Playful
A laugh brings down the filter wall so your message is heard. You don’t have to force the funny; go for more fun. Playfulness is something we all have in us. It’s in our inner child DNA!
7. Share Personal Experiences
Take down the company wall and create shared personal experiences between audiences. Whether it’s video, VR, or interactive stories, invite people to be part of something bigger. Want a great example? Check out Tough Mudder.
8. Experiment with New Media
Be willing to meet audiences where they’re at. Ditch the marketing script here! Show them you’re willing to show your imperfection as you learn. It’s unexpected, approachable, and relatable.
9. Let Your Best Internal Storytellers Loose
These are the ones closest to the customer, not the C-suite. Prepare, trust, and let go. Many of your employees (and customers and partners) are doing cool stuff—let them tell those stories to your audience. Personal stories are fabulous because audiences relate to “people like me.”
10. Focus on the “We”
Deepen the relationship with your audience by asking your audience to create content with you, for you, and with each other in a way that helps them share their lives. GoPro, anyone?
Kicking boring to the curb is something we can all do with a little experimentation, openness, and playfulness. You got this. You’re wired for it.
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