People savor straightforwardness. These stories are actionable, easy to digest by overworked, content-laden brains, and delivered neatly through personalized content.
Other times, we’re more obtuse than Carter Pewterschmidt. We ponder the role luck plays in content marketing. We declare that content creation deserves to be cool. Questions are posed along with solutions offered. And that’s okay—as long as the story inspires curiosity.
Curiosity just might be the most important desire a content marketer has to elicit in a story. Without it, today’s knowledge-empowered consumer is finished with your brand before watching the first five seconds of your video or reading the first line of your story. People have had their fill of bland stories—there are plenty to be found on the Web. They will find another trough for the next feeding without ever thinking of you again.
It’s a harsh reality.
Asking how to inspire curiosity in content marketing might not seem to have much value—it’s like asking how to make food that tastes amazing. The simple answer is that it’s like most things in life: You do it a bunch, in many different ways, you screw up a lot, you succeed, you learn, you persevere, you persevere, you persevere, and then you’re Head Content Marketing Chef at a sought-after brand. Something like that.
But between the cracks of hard work and passion lie elements of curiosity content marketers can fish out. As Carnegie Mellon professor George Loewenstein famously put it, curiosity comes when we feel a gap “between what we know and what we want to know.”
Content marketers must patrol that gap.
One thing is for sure—curiosity almost always begets a new customer, and a customer is more likely to become a repeat customer (a repeat customer has a 60 to 70 percent chance of converting, according to Marketing Metrics—much higher than the field). Curiosity is the first step to fostering loyalty and brand advocacy, and without that first step, there are no steps that follow.
A marketer’s number one job is to inspire curiosity, to urge the consumer to act. How can marketers effectively wield curiosity, yet remain clear in message and purpose? How can they learn the tricks of the trade?
By creating personalized content for the right audiences, content marketers can carve curiosity into their craft. Let’s take a look at a few brand examples.
Some brands’ campaigns are so weird they’re unforgettable. Though I wish I could banish all Old Spice commercials from my memory, they’re forever burned into my mind.
Old Spice’s bizarre content allows for massive brand exposure that reaches their target demographic—young men—all while generating curiosity among viewers. What the hell did I just watch? Might this deodorant affirm me as a man? Hm.
Curiosity is born from an incomplete picture of the unknown, which is perhaps more powerful than the known. It allows us to form opinions before ever experiencing the real thing, in turn creating permanent effects on whether we perceive the product positively or negatively.
Take Apple events, for example. During these much-anticipated events, the tech giant commonly unveils new products. However, long before Apple does, the Internet is awash with speculation around what the newest products will be like—phone specifications, variations in screen size, computing power and price, when Apple will release them, and many more theories about everything Apple.
For the latest event that occurred on September 9, Apple invited media outlets by emailing the headline “Hey Siri, give us a hint.”
Brands that regularly release product line updates can build anticipation by strategically withholding details and generate buzz by teasing the market with product-specific content. “Expect a big announcement,” Siri replied.
As long as it’s mostly excitement, let the crowd speculate. Hyperloop is another great example. Just last week, Fortune published an article titled, “Could the Hyperloop soon be a reality, or are we getting taken for a ride?”
SpaceX founder Elon Musk (also Tesla’s CEO) has gotten so much publicity around Hyperloop, it might seem like he’s paying major media outlets to cover his venture, but he’s not. Though you can’t buy its stock, SpaceX was recently valued at $12 billion.
The lesson here? Create curiosity with innovative ideas, and embrace the power of user-generated content. Free stories? Daily coverage from publishers? Done deal.
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