Creating content that captures your market’s attention is a sound tactic but far from a small undertaking.
Doing so means gambling a huge amount of time and resource in the hope that what you say resonates with your target audience and attracts them to your business.
The biggest problem you face, is the sheer weight of content that already exists out in the world.
To compete you’ve got to do something special and that’s where TV talent shows can offer some useful hints and tips.
In this article I’m going to take a look at the lessons that can be learnt from the BBC’s flagship singing contest.
Up until recently, The Voice was way off my radar.
I remember watching series 1 and turning it off immediately after the blind auditions. Disregarding it as just another X Factor clone.
Having given up on Simon Cowell and Co many moons ago, The Voice didn’t stand a chance.
I wasn’t going to waste my time.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself watching the Battles.
My wife and I are imminently expecting our second child. So we’ve been at home quite a bit on Saturday nights.
With few alternatives, we thought we’d give The Voice another go.
To my surprise, I really enjoyed it.
I’d been led to believe that these musical duels were nothing more than shouting matches, where the Battlers tried to out screech each other.
Not the case.
Many of the duets were so good, they surely could’ve been chart toppers.
So it was, with some enthusiasm, I sat down, a week later, to watch the Knockouts.
If they all sung like they had the week before, it was going to be a very entertaining night and the captains would have a desperate job culling their teams from eight to three.
But as each act came and went, it occurred to me that when it comes to engaging an audience, talent is not necessarily enough.
It’s how you use that talent that counts.
And it’s the same with content. Here’s what I learnt that night.
There’s a Lot of Very Talented People Out There
There’s no doubt that every contestant in the Knockouts was talented. They’d proved that the week before during the Battles.
However, as I watched each act, I could feel my attention ebb and flow.
When the performance engaged me emotionally, I was hooked. The hairs would stand up on my neck and my skin would flush with pimples.
It wasn’t the song choice per se. I was connecting with the person, with the emotion they brought to the words and the passion they wrought from their performance.
When it didn’t, my mind wandered. I’d go and get a drink or check the fridge for something to snack on.
Good Copy is Just Not Good Enough
The same is true of the content environment.
There’s not just a lot of good content out there. There’s an abundance of great content.
So if you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ve got to find ways to emotionally engage with your audience.
Well written, informative copy is good. But copy that comes from the heart, that reaches out and touches someone, is great.
You have to Find Your Voice
The problem with a multi-billion dollar industry like music is that it doesn’t like to take risks.
Creating something new from scratch takes a huge amount of time, resource and money. Worse, it’s risky.
So it stands to reason that music moguls and heavy weight producers will err on the side of caution.
The result is a lot of music and artists that have a similar sound. Hey if it sells once, it will sell a thousand times.
So it’s not really surprising when contestants on The Voice try and emulate their musical idols.
Who wouldn’t want to be the next Beyonce or Justin Bieber? Well maybe not Bieber but you know what I mean.
Problem is, when you get a load of people trying to give it their best Beyonce or Whitney, it all starts to look and sound a bit boring. No matter how talented they are.
Worse, there’s an emotional disconnect with the audience. We want to buy into the individual but when they try to imitate someone else, they risk losing that connection.
It’s why Vikesh really stands out.
Putting aside the fact that he looks nothing like your archetype pop star, he has a very unique voice, a touching back story and a wonderfully authentic personality.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be You
When writing business content, it’s easy to be seduced into thinking your copy needs to sound businessy.
Problem with businessy content is its usually dry and difficult to digest.
People don’t connect with businessy. They connect with people.
You have a unique way of seeing things. Of explaining them and of connecting with the world.
Yes you need clarity and focus on topics that appeal to your audience. But when you bring an authentic voice, you draw people in to your unique personality.
As Rita says, “Be you and the be the best you can possibly be.”
Keep it Simple
During the back stage rehearsals, a number of the contestants were told off by their mentor for trying to complicate their performance with musical trickery.
Whether it was for dramatic changes in key, style or trying to warble up and down the doh ray me scale, all received a slap on the wrist.
Because when you make things complicated or too self indulgent, you risk losing your audience.
Complicated Copy Risks Disconnection
The same is true of your content.
Shoot for interesting topics. But keep your writing simple and straightforward.
Don’t use a number of words when one will do. Don’t use complicated words when there’s an everyday alternative and don’t try to cover too much ground or be too clever.
The Hemingway App is a great tool for checking the readability of your prose.
Just drop your content in and you’ll not only be graded but also offered some great ways to tweak your copy to make it more readable.
Make an Impact Quickly
Each contestant had just 90 seconds to get their judge’s vote. When you consider what’s on the line for each of them, it’s a miniscule amount of time to impress.
In reality, the actual amount of time they had, was even less than that.
Watching from the comfort of my sofa, if a performance didn’t grab me immediately, the act lost me and had to do a great deal to win me back.
As Will said of Newtion after his rehearsal, “He’s got to come out with a cape, throw it down and it burst into flames!”
You have Mere Seconds to Make an Impact
Attention spans are on the wain.
With so much stimuli to divert your audience’s attention, you’ve got a lot of work to do to keep them focused on you.
You’ve got to grab them from the word go and pull them in with promises of entertainment, excitement and relief from their daily struggles.
If your opening paragraph doesn’t burst into flames on the page, all that hard work will likely be for nought.
Write as if You’re Reaching Out to One Person
Personality, authenticity and passion. These are the things that hooked me into my favourite acts.
Not how good a singer they were but how much they revelled in the amazingness of the occasion.
How much it meant to them and how well they conveyed that emotion through the words of their song choice.
They weren’t just performing. They lived their performance, meaning every word, with all their heart.
How did they achieve this?
Will said it best when he gave Jake some advice to help boost his confidence, “Sing to one person. Sing to your girl.”
Your Copy Should Feel 1-2-1
When you pick one person to reach out to with your writing, you create a laser like focus. A beam of pure energy that has the power to penetrate the buzz that surrounds your target audience.
Choose someone meaningful to you. Someone that your truly want to help and to whom you words can make a real difference.
When you do this your copy is infused with an electric energy that transfers from page to reader.
A seductive energy that tells the reader that you really care and your copy is worthy of their time and attention.
When you do, they won’t just read it, they’ll feel it.
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