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Is Your Brain Hard Wired To Ignore Irrelevant Content?

Date published: September 30, 2014
Last updated: September 30, 2014

The popularity of content marketing continues to spread like wildfire among corporate marketing departments. Every year, the amount of content available online is growing exponentially. A lot of potential buyers today feel like they are drowning in it.

This presents a problem for marketers. The more content that gets produced, the harder it becomes for them to gain and keep the attention of the readers we want to attract.

So what’s the lesson for content marketers? Relevance matters.

No, scratch that. Relevance is critical. If you are going to win readers’ (your potential customers) interest in spite of the tsunami of content on the web, you must grab their attention by being relevant to them.

A Formidable Content Marketing Obstacle

We face a lot of obstacles on our journey to content marketing success. One of the most formidable is posed by the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS helps you focus your attention on certain things, while helping you to ignore others.

This is the part of your brain that acts like a switch or gatekeeper for relevant information. It filters out information you deem to be irrelevant. On the other hand, it immediately focuses your attention when it becomes aware of something that’s important to you.

When you are trying to appeal to your target audience, the RAS can work for or against you. Use it to your advantage. You do not want to bombard your potential readers with irrelevant content. You want to get their attention with valuable information that resonates with them and is important to them, or else risk be filtered out completely.

Do You Know Your Audience Well?

It’s imperative to understand your audience intimately. Conduct extensive research and put together a profile of your “ideal reader”. What’s his world view? What does he like? What does he dislike? What does he respond to? What does he ignore? Tailor your message to appeal to your readers. Use this detailed profile to guide how you write your content and the way you market to your audience.

Remember that people are profoundly interested in themselves, so use your content to talk to them about their problems and circumstances that relate to your product. Offer them solutions to nagging problems they are struggling with, persuade them that you can help them overcome these problems and you’ll have their attention. Their RAS will let you in.

Avoid Marketing Narcissism

People don’t want to hear marketers talk in a self-centered fashion about their products and their company. If you use your content as a platform to do nothing but talk about yourself, you may very well be guilty of an objectionable practice that has been referred to as marketing narcissism.

If your audience thinks this is the case - if they think you only care about your company and telling everyone how wonderful your products are - your credibility with them will plummet. To them, your content will feel as relevant as an old, beat-up minivan is to a single guy in his twenties who is itching to buy a new sports car.

Instead, focus your message on your reader, not on you. This will help you in your quest to remain relevant in your readers' eyes once they are engaged with your content.

First Impressions Count

How do you stand out from the crowd and capture the reader’s initial interest considering the overwhelming content deluge he is faced with?

One way is with your content’s headline or title. Your title is critical for grabbing your reader’s attention and focusing them on your message. Make your title stand out in a big way. Keeping in mind that your readers care about their needs and wants, use the headline to boldly promise, or at least imply, some kind of benefit.

Solid titles are important. You can have the world’s greatest, most value-packed, compelling white paper or case study, but if your title doesn’t strike a chord with your intended audience and if they don’t see it as being relevant to them, your content will be ignored.

Content marketing is challenging. And it’s getting tougher because our audiences are being bombarded with more and more content offerings. In an effort to prevent sensory overload, the RAS works to filter out such stimuli viewed as unimportant. Use it to your advantage by appealing to your audience in a relevant way to win their attention (and hopefully the sale).

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