Homogenized Content: Content Fail

Transform Your Homogenized Content Into Customer Magnets

Homogenized Content is a content fail Homogenized content is spreading across business websites and social media faster than spilled milk.

Homogenized content is like the containers of milk mass packaged for your supermarket.

If you’ve never had farm fresh milk, you may not know what you’re missing. (I’m lucky. One of my friends married a farmer.)

The delicious thick cream floats to the top of the milk bucket.

Unlike your bland content, it innocently lures you to take spoonful after spoonful without giving a second thought to its fat-rich calories.

Meanwhile below the cream, the milk waits quietly until you’re ready for it.

By contrast your bland homogenized content never gets viewed. It settles below your audience’s attention horizon.

Your homogenized content is a #ContentFail.

  • Homogenized content slides off their social media streams without notice.
  • Homogenized content quietly slips from their inbox into the trash or junk without a click.
  • Homogenized content is invisible on mobile devices.

Don’t take my word for it. Most web visitors stay less than 10 to 20 seconds according to Jakob Nielsen. YIKES!

Dear Web Content Sorry But I Must Be Going!

 

How can you stop creating homogenized content?

First we’ll define homogenized content. Then we’ll show you how to transform your lookalike content into customer magnets.

Homogenized content defined

Homogenized content is information that fails to set your business apart from everything else vying for your audience’s attention.

In addition to your competitors, your content marketing competes against updates from family, friends, bosses, work colleagues and social media contacts.

Not Straight From the Cow-Homogenized Content Defined

Not Straight From the Cow – Homogenized Content Defined

Homogenized content:

  • Doesn’t give target readers a reason to care. All content must answer: “Why is this information worth my time?”
  • Can easily be ignored without consequence. Inundated with information, people use any reason to delete messages. Therefore, you must give them a reason to read or it’s gone.
  • Looks hard to read (TH;DR). Blocks of dense text get ignored.
  • Looks cookie cutter. Your content must stand out or die. Avoid forcing content to fit into corporate or vendor templates.
  • Is written for robots. Have you optimized for search at the expense of content quality and voice?

Homogenized content masquerades as quality content marketing. But, your audience views it as unappealing. It wastes budget without yielding results.

RECOMMENDED READING: 

Why homogenized content exists

Marketers face challenging content problems (Source).

  • 60% of B2B marketers have trouble producing engaging content.
  • 57% of B2B marketers have trouble producing content consistently.

2016 B2B content marketing challenges-chart

On the surface, homogenized content appears to solve these problems.

  • Speed up content production. Instead it uses undifferentiated content templates.
  • Be contextually relevant. Use same content across businesses or divisions without enhancement or change.

Without a unique voice or content bling, this information is lackluster. It can’t deliver anticipated results.

 

5 Ways to transform your homogenized content into reader magnets

Here are 5 ways to transform your homogenized content into quality, attention-getting information your customers actively seek and read. Homogenized Content is a content fail

1. Create customer-focused content to meet their needs

Provide answers your prospects, customers, end users and their influencers actively seek related to your product or service. Often before you know they’re in market for your product.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Don’t guess! Find out what they want.

This is easy-to-create content. Ask customer-facing employees to help you. If they blind copy your every time they answer prospect and customer questions, it skips TFUD (aka The First Ugly Draft).

Give your target audience the product details they want. Don’t make them beg. Research shows many B2B marketers miss this opportunity.

3 B2B customer-vendor disconnects

Among the customer-focused content options are:

  • Review products. Do it yourself or ask customers to help you.
  • Compare products, substitutes, and competitors. Use the word “versus” or “VS”.
  • Go behind the scenes. Show your audience how you work. Ask employees to participate. It makes your business human.
  • Explain your pricing. If you don’t answer this question, prospects won’t buy. Give them a range. (Check out how Marcus Sheridan generated $2 million by telling his price.)
  • Offer customer stories. Include case studies.
  • Show successes and failures. Don’t be afraid. This qualifies your product for your customers and builds trust.
  • Tell prospects who you don’t want as a customer. This qualifies prospects. It converts because people want to belong. (But don’t single out specific classes of people.)

2. Give your content personality

No one wants to read homogenized content. It’s sanitized. I get it. I had to remove all personality from the information I wrote at Citibank. It couldn’t sound like anything resembling a human being.

This means voice and branding. As Copyblogger’s Pamela Wilson noted in a LinkedIn conversation, voice can be difficult to teach.

For example FreakerUSA has attitude and it shows in their writing. (Hat tip to Ann Handley.)

“Established in 2011 and located in Wilmington, North Carolina, Freaker USA quickly grew to be the global leader of preventing moist handshakes and sweaty beverages with high quality American-made products. They aren’t just selling you their fit-everything product, they’re giving you an invitation to their party – a starter kit for a new lifestyle.”

Peak into FreakerUSA's company Peak into FreakerUSA’s company

By contrast, your eyelids get heavy when you read most B2B content. This is partially attributable to the need to fit B2B content into a template.

Figure out how to inject personality into your B2B content. Cisco’s Tim Washer is an example of how to succeed at B2B content with personality.

For small businesses this is an opportunity to stand out. You have the freedom to be different. Of course, you need brand standards to ensure consistency over time but avoid becoming formulaic.

3. Make your content contextually relevant

Your content must appeal to your target audience regardless of when, where, how or why they consume it.

  • Make your content mobile first. Make it findable and readable on a mobile device. Many executives use “found” time, waiting and commuting, to catch up on email and reading.
  • Atomize your content strategically to reach your maximum audience. Plan for and create on-going content distribution across owned, social and third-party media when you develop content to minimize cost. It ensures your content stands out in different presentations.

4. Add content bling

Nothing transforms homogenized content into attention getting reader magnets like content bling.

To maximize your content investment, vary your content bling. Avoid turning content bling into content wallpaper by making it one-size-fits-all.

Content eye candy includes:

  • At a minimum, use an attractive photo at the top of your content. Skip the stock images. Make people stop to find out more. Include captions since they get read more. Optimize visuals for search.
  • Other content formats. Add video, audio (or podcasts), presentations, infographics and charts. Give readers more than one way to consume your content.
  • Research or data. Show that you’ve done your homework. Back up your statements with facts. Link data to its original source. Where appropriate, include a chart.
  • Spotlight thought leaders and others that your audience respects. Use their words, not yours. Therefore, it’s not just your word. This adds credibility to your content.
  • Credit others where appropriate. Don’t steal other people’s ideas.

5. Optimize your content for readers

Format your content to attract potential readers, get them to read it, and take action (including sharing it.)

The best content in the world is useless if no one reads it.

Therefore:

  • Add sex appeal. Appeal to your audience’s eyes and minds. Use a great visual and have an attention getting headline.
  • Draw readers in. Follow your headline with an interesting introduction. Make readers want to find out more. Ask questions that pique their interest. Keep the sentences very short to lull readers into thinking your content is easy-to-read.
  • Make your body content easy-to-scan. Write strong sub-heads. Add non-text content. Use simple words and grammar. Think subject-verb-object. Use 8th grade language. US Adult Reading Level Is 5th Grade
  • Encourage readers to act. Don’t stomp the writing brakes. Remove reader objections. Include a call-to-action.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Homogenized content is a #ContentFail.

By not attracting readers or providing the information they need, homogenized content fails your target audience. It’s just content filler.

Without getting read or shared, your homogenized content can’t yield results. While it keeps employees busy, homogenized content is a waste of precious budget and resources.

Instead halt your homogenized content.

Break away from the content creation hamster wheel.

Invest resources and budget in quality content that engages your target audience. Extend your content promotion to keep it top of mind longer.

How do you avoid creating homogenized content?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

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  • Heidi,

    I love your take on homogenized content. Comparing it to milk is just cool!

    Way too often I talk to clients about their boring content that makes me want to take a nice long nap…or a long walk off a short pier. Most bloggers are way more interested in being professional than developing their own voice.

    As you mentioned from Copyblogger, developing your own voice is tough. However, it is needed for any successful blogger today.

    It was interesting because I had a roundup post on my own blog last week I had a quote from Vahe Arabian on how everyone just “regurgitates” the same content over and over again.

    Come on people! Let’s think of something new and fresh!

    Anyways, awesome post!