The truth is, I could happily watch a movie every single night of the week. Not the same one, of course, that would be tedious.
But a good movie, on a comfy couch, with my feet up on the coffee table and a hot cup of herbal tea in my hand … to me, that is a perfect evening (sorry ladies, I’m already taken).
Luckily, my wife Linda enjoys movies as well – granted, she’s quite a bit more discerning regarding the type and quality of film she’ll endure. But even so, we still have plenty of overlap in our respective interests.
And so from a “What should we watch?” perspective, all has gone well these past 20+ years together. Even when we began having kids, we would just wait until they went to bed and then watch whatever we wanted.
That’s all changed, however, now that we have a 16-year-old daughter.
First of all, Emily never goes to bed, so waiting on her is a lost cause.
And second, because Emily’s taste in movies fits neatly within the narrow confines of “Romantic Comedy” (or “Rom-Com,” as we like to say), that’s pretty much all we ever watch when she’s around.
I have to confess though, I’ve kind of grown to like Rom-Coms (must be all that herbal tea). Even though, at a high level, they are all nearly identical:
- Two exceedingly attractive (but bafflingly lonely) people meet and instantly dislike each other.
- The two people continue to bump into each other over the next movie hour or so, in a variety of humorous and serendipitous ways.
- Each one has a funny, but cynical, side-kick friend whose sole purpose in life seems to be the offering of extremely bad romance advice.
- Ten minutes before the movie ends the two realize they are in love and, time permitting, they get married.
So here’s the question I’ve been struggling with: How can these movies be entertaining (or any movie of a well-worn formula, for that matter), when we all know, right from the beginning, how they’re going to turn out?
The answer? It’s not the structure of a Rom-Com that matters. That’s just the framework within which the dialogue, characters and circumstances live.
We don’t watch to see how it turns out – we know they’re going to get married – we watch to see how it unfolds. The value is in the telling of the story.
I mention this because when it comes to creating content – whether newsletter, special report, presentation, or whatever – many of the professional service providers I work with are overly concerned with breaking new ground and uncovering new insights at every turn.
Those things are fine, but they are few and far between and, most important, not necessary for creating compelling content. It’s like saying we can’t make any more movies because all the storylines have already been used (which they have).
Rather, and like a good movie, the elements that make your content a box office hit with your audience are:
- Dialogue. Write/speak in a normal, conversational tone. Like this. See how easy it is?
Avoid all that corporate blah blah and explain your ideas simply. That alone will differentiate you from 95% of what passes for business writing.
- Characters. I could have eliminated the first 400 words of this newsletter and gone straight to the “business lesson.”
But when I instead take the time to communicate that lesson as part of a story about my wife and daughter, it’s more understandable, more interesting and more memorable.
Plus, sharing some personal information makes me appear more likeable. It’s an illusion in my case, of course, but a necessary one, nonetheless, if you hope to get hired as a professional service provider.
- Point of view. Expert positioning (another prerequisite for being hired) isn’t only a function of unearthing new facts or having an idea that nobody’s ever had before.
It also comes from weighing in and taking a position relative to what’s happening in your industry, what’s wrong (or right) with the way “things are done,” and offering suggestions for how to make improvements.
Figure out what you believe in, stick your flag in the ground and harp on it. That’s not redundancy, that’s called marketing.
Bottom line. If what’s keeping you from creating and publishing content is a concern that you’ve got “nothing new to say,” you’re worrying about a problem that doesn’t exist – and ignoring a much bigger one that does: you’re invisible.
Find a way to consistently voice your personal, interesting, opinion-filled spin on what matters to your prospects and clients and you’ll have a blockbuster on your hands. I’ll save you a seat at the Oscars.