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As online marketers, the bulk of the information we convey is in the form of, “How to…” How to get more traffic, how to make a product, how to use social media to sell more stuff, etc.
And this goes for most every other niche as well. How to grow bigger tomatoes, how to bake a tastier bread, how to take better photos and so forth.
This is the stuff our information businesses are built upon, yet it isn’t the stuff that is going to stick in your customers’ brains. If you want to be remembered, you’re going to have to go beyond the ordinary “how-to” into entirely different realms of writing and speaking.
So what do people remember?
Stories. This is the most obvious alternative to the “how to” genre, and it’s also a great vehicle for teaching. If you can incorporate your “how to” information inside of a story, you will make your lesson highly memorable.
Humor. They might not remember exactly what you said, but they’ll remember how funny they thought it was. Anytime you can add some humor, by all means do so. And if you don’t think of yourself as being naturally funny, find a book that teaches you how to use humor in your writing and speaking. “Finding the Funny Fast: How to Create Quick Humor to Connect with Clients, Coworkers and Crowds” by Jan McInnis is a good choice. So is “The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You’re Not” by John Vorhaus.
Emotion. Upset about something? Rant on. Particularly emotional on a certain topic? Let your feelings show. The more emotional – positive or negative – your writing is, the more memorable it becomes. Think of it as spilling your guts and you’ll get the idea.
Opinion. Read a newspaper cover to cover and what are you likely to remember the most? Usually it’s an opinion piece. If you don’t have strong opinions about what’s going on in your niche, get some and then write about what you think. Don’t worry about annoying some of your readers – if you’re trying to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one. And those who agree with you will rally around you and follow you to the ends of the Internet. Some of my very best writing originated from a strong opinion I held – and these are also the pieces for which I’ve received the most positive feedback.
Problems. So you write a blog on camping, and on your last trip you did something really stupid? Write about it. The last thing people want is to read about your perfect ANYTHING (perfect is BORING). What people do want to read is what problems have you faced and how in the world did you overcome them? First, it shows that you’re human. Second, it demonstrates that if you can overcome an obstacle, then so can they. And yes, reading or hearing about someone else’s problems is highly memorable. So go ahead and pull back the curtain to reveal the real, human, vulnerable, fallible you.
Inspiration. Can you write a piece that inspires others? Can you record a video that motivates others to reach their goals? Inspirational material is highly memorable because it touches the heart, and you can combine it with storytelling for an even more dramatic effect. For example, telling the story of a little girl who overcame her handicaps to go on and become a world class artist/musician/athlete is truly inspiring.
Yourself. There’s the kind of writing we do to try to impress our teachers and editors. Then there’s the kind of writing we do to impress our readers. And both of these kinds of writing are to be avoided. Why? Because all you want to do is write from the heart. Be yourself. Let who you are shine through in your writing. Don’t put on airs, don’t use big words. Little ones will work just fine.
Write as though you’re speaking to a friend and your writing will not only be more memorable, it’ll also be enjoyed and passed around a great deal more often as well.