Bentley understands emotions more than anyone I know.
He’s ventured outside in the pitch black with me, walking ahead to ward off potential threats. In moments of pure anxiety, he’s laid his giant head on my lap, somehow knowing the weight would calm me. Then there was the time he first heard the cry of my newborn son and brought him a bone for comfort.
The truth is, even though Bentley is a 115 pound, brown-eyed bear dog whose paws are bigger than my hands, his emotional support knows no bounds. The immediate and long-lasting connections he makes with strangers and loved ones, alike, are real.
So, when considering emotionally moving content, I knew right where to turn — the master. Companies everywhere heard Bentley’s cry for improved content marketing. Over half (56 percent) of respondents in the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) 2019 B2B Content Marketing Research say they’ve increased spending in content marketing over the last year.
And that content is based on anything but consumer needs. In fact, an incredible 90 percent of top-performing B2B content marketers put their audience’s informational needs ahead of their company’s sales and promotional message.
Now, let’s take a moment to step back from quantifying content as good, great, or amazing. Focus, instead, on making an honest and genuine emotional connection with readers — as told by lessons learned from Bentley the Wandering Bear Dog:
1. Take them on a journey
Emotional connections take time. They’re journeys full of highs and lows, exciting discoveries, and life-altering decisions. When customers read your content, click the share button or even apply your helpful tips, you’ve implanted your company and product into a moment of their journey.
That tiny moment will grow. Each solution, life-enhancing tip, or even hilarious meme is a guided step to their desired result.
Envision your content as a stepping stone leading to that result. Give customers resources for every stopping point in their journey to make it easier and, most of all, memorable. Only by setting a full-content strategy and regularly maintained content calendar, can you map the journey that you’ll take each reader on. So plan ahead.
2. Channel your inner bat dog
Bentley the Wandering Bear Dog often morphs into a bat dog. This vantage point shakes things up so he can view the world from a unique perspective. Suddenly, his humans’ mouths are where their eyes should be and the grain in the hardwood floor looks like ripples running through a river.
It’s easy for him to accept these views, as they are, when in bat dog position. So why it is so hard for us lowly-humans to accept out-of-the-ordinary viewpoints? By nature, Bentley has something that we must work hard to gain — freedom. Freedom from ego and judgment.
Before writing your content, take a break from your own opinions. Assemble yourself in bat-dog position and start looking at the world through your customers’ eyes.
- What are their needs?
- What makes them laugh?
- What makes them angry?
- What do they value most in life?
- What are their biggest unsolved problems?
- What trends do they follow?
- What are their opinions on controversial topics?
Acknowledge the answers to these questions as your customers’ realities. Then, speak to these issues in your content. Discuss the harsh truths or add humor to customers’ specific situations. The more you open your mind to their truths, the more your content will genuinely connect with them in a targeted, personal way.
3. Be someone’s hero
Quality advice will undoubtedly help your customers. However, it won’t make you their hero. Emotionally-driven content is made of high-flying, superman strength ideas.
Your ideal target audience is out there searching for you. Take my first Thanksgiving as a homeowner, for example. I had always helped in the kitchen, but never touched the turkey. How was I going to host an entire family meal without the star of the show?
I scoured the internet searching for the ultimate (and easiest) recipe — looking for a super turkey hero. What I found was a recipe from the size turkey I needed to a 24-hour brine, cook time, rest time, and cutting style.
That Thanksgiving, I felt like the hero watching my loved ones devour that meal.
A special content creator knew I needed more than a few helpful tips. They knew for me to have a successful Thanksgiving, I needed an entire turkey how-to guide.
Find out what type of heroes your customers need. What types of content they need to feel safe and able to move on with a project, self-improve, help their company or create the ultimate meal.
4. Stop selling and start supporting
Bentley understands that every emotion needs support. Often times, that support comes in the form of simply being there for your customers and listening. There are other moments when they’ll need someone to laugh with them.
Listen to customers on social media and to your support staff. Discover where they’re spending time and their overall biggest challenges. Bentley, for example, went to the jungle gym to listen to Waylon’s concern of play exhaustion.
The goal isn’t to immediately fix the issue. Instead, use your content to let them know you’re listening. Reach out on social media to show you’ve heard their concerns and are looking for a solution.