Sooner or later, we will have a great idea worthy of sharing with someone else. When marketing products or services, it’s called content. People presenting themselves to potential employers construct a resume. When educators instruct, it’s called curriculum. Expanded ideas become a platform. Call it what you will, creating compelling content is all about simplicity, clarity and enough inspiration and relevance to inspire authentic ownership and purposeful action.
I’m a strategies consultant, but as a former teacher, my heart is in curriculum development and content creation. In my practice, I frequently have the opportunity to help people express their ideas in a variety of ways. Proposal and project planning; program and curriculum development; writing copy, resumes and cover letters; small business promotions and marketing campaigns are only a few of the ways theoretical ideas are translated into tangible constructs.
Really good content is universal — that is, it speaks to the broadest possible audience with ease and importance. When it’s done right, people adopt our ideas and become inspired to take meaningful action. In other words, a phenomenal resume with a stellar cover letter can influence someone to offer me a job. Captivating copy on a website encourages people to follow my site and support my cause. Students who enjoy my curriculum are most likely to incorporate learned material in a meaningful way. Skilled grant writers are masters of persuasive content.
No matter what the subject focus, there are four strategic steps to content creation, where our ideas help stimulate a chain reaction of desirable events.
1. Simplicity is essential. Breaking down concepts into their most basic element helps people to understand what we’re talking about. If x plus y equals z, then people need to understand what values are being represented. When ideas are complex, people tend to get distracted and lose interest. Keeping the elements of our concepts clearly defined in practical terms helps achieve clarity.
2. Clarity directly impacts how effectively the message is delivered. In the information age, people are constantly overwhelmed with confusing content. Simplifying our material into an organized configuration helps shape the potential for more effective methods of communication and delivery.
3. Compelling content is brought to life with vibrancy and style. Delivery using inspiring visuals, rich text and an invitation to engage with the material helps to encourage ownership. We want audiences to experience our content in a dynamic way that compels individuals to internalize our ideas on a deeper level. Inspiring constructs are brought to life with undeniable significance and profound personal meaning. When people feel a connection to content, it inspires them to embrace it and make it their own.
4. When teachers look at their students they often ask, “Upon completion of this lesson, what do we want our students to know and be able to do?” This is a common starting point. Unfortunately, teachers often forget to ask why their students should care in the first place. Simon Sinek presents Start with Why in one of TedTalks’ most viewed videos, explaining how some of history’s most influential leaders leveraged their impact simply by helping people to take ownership of the ideas. Companies like Apple and Patagonia thrive in large part because of their innovative marketing strategies that answer the question — why consumers should care.
Whether writing copy for a website, developing instructional materials for a program, marketing goods and services, or constructing a new resume — content creation is all about selling our ideas to a desired audience. To get started, use Intentional Solutions’ 3-step method: simplify, clarify and inspire. Our intended audience is most likely to respond favorably when we help them to understand why they should care in the first place.
While things tend to shake out in the process, the more we can simplify, clarify and inspire ourselves, the more successful we will be in conveying our important message to others.
Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant of www.MyIntentionalSolutions.com, delivering hands-on strategies consulting for households, businesses, nonprofits, students, and life transitions. For more information about simplifying your stuff and organizing your life, call 366.2532 or email Evan@MyIntentionalSolutions.com.