The Chippendales concert
Friends: suspend your disbelief and come with me to a Chippendales concert.
We’re sitting in the front row. Everyone’s had a few pina coladas and the air is heavy with lewd anticipation. The lights go down. The music starts, raunchy with a grinding beat. You can feel your hips start to move.
Then in the dark, a single spotlight picks out the centre of the stage and standing before us in a grey suit and polished shoes, is a data analyst. A five feet five, nine and half stone, brief case wielding data analyst who goes by the stage-name of Mr Rational.
Why most content sucks
OK, not what we expected. But take a moment to process that image, I know I will, and then lets hurriedly move on. We’ll return to the scene of this crime later, but right now I want to talk shit content.
Most content on the Internet in 2022 has zero calories. It contains nothing of any nutritional value.
What do I mean?
"Most content on the Internet in 2022 has zero calories. It contains nothing of any nutritional value."
It doesn’t challenge you. It doesn’t amuse you. It doesn’t shock you, or in any way disrupt your flow. It doesn’t even require you to think.
Look around. Everyone’s doing what everyone else is doing
Brian’s over there blogging his brains out, for his imaginary audience.
Kirsty’s all: "Comment below and I'll PM you my super-secret formula."
Tim wants to give you his ten top tips, and Harriet is on a How-To binge.
Too many people are diving in and indiscriminately blogging, videoing, podding, snapping, tweeting, or posting. All in the name of content.
But all this creating value, demonstrating expertise, and giving away free stuff doesn’t work. Why? Because it doesn’t move you in any way. It doesn’t challenge you. It doesn’t amuse you. It doesn’t shock you or in any way disrupt your flow. It doesn’t even require you to think. Sure it’s all rational, but rational is boring.
Messaging that has all the appeal of a warm Portaloo
OK buckle up, we’re just getting started. Here comes the important bit.
Shit content is inconvenient, but shit messaging will kill your business. Everything we do wrong with content, we also screw up with messaging.
Tech founders are so heavily invested in their product, it’s all they want to talk about. They write detailed descriptions of their features and pass it off as messaging. And when they launch and it fails, they assume it’s the product, so they double down and add more features and write about those too.
But I’ll let you in on a secret. No-one gives a shit about you or your product. Why? Because it’s rational, and rational is boring. People care about themselves and their own problems. So if you want to get their attention, you have talk about them.
No-one gives a shit about you or your product. Why? Because it’s rational, and rational is boring.
You have to move them. You have to make it sexy.
Rational isn’t sexy. It’s boring.
Rory Sutherland hit the nail on the head. Product is rational, but it’s not exciting. Rational is not sexy.
Think about it. In purely Darwinian terms, rational and sensible should be attractive. But it’s not. If it was, then Mr Rational, our data analyst Chippendale would be sexy. But he isn’t. Male strippers don’t dress as data analysts, tax inspectors or actuaries, they dress as firemen, policemen, and cowboys. Why? Because bravery and courage is sexy.
P.A.D. Hot Cowboy Stripper by Sara_Coffey is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.
That’s the lesson we need to learn for our messaging. Product isn’t sexy. Rational isn’t sexy. Bravery and courage is sexy, and bravery in this context is being willing to be bold and different.
Humour is sexy. Make someone laugh, they’re yours.
Shock value. Make someone gasp and you have their attention.
Pattern disrupt. Make someone think, and they’ll think about you.
In fact, anything that breaks out of the narrow confines of what everyone else is doing; anything that knocks you out of your stride. Anything that is different to the mass of rational fucking product led messaging that pours over the Internet like rampant bindweed, will not only get you noticed, but it’ll also start conversations.
How to get noticed