Have you ever been to one of those restaurants where the kitchen is on full display?
From the other side of that wall-to-wall window, we watch as be-toqued chefs perform the choreographed dance of preparing our meals. A dash of this, a sprinkle of that, a careful splash from a dozen unlabelled bottles. We may not know what all those ingredients are, but we do recognise the feeling of anticipation as one dish after another is whisked out into the dining room.
Is that one mine? What about that one? After half an hour of watching and waiting, we are perfectly primed to fall in love with whatever dish arrives in front of us.
On the other hand…have you ever dug into that first bite and been disappointed? Wait a second, you think, chewing, confused. The menu said chili peppers, but there are no chili peppers in this. It’s got no kick.
Flagging down the server, you ask about the missing ingredient, but he waves away your concern. “We ran out of those this afternoon,” he might say. “Hope that’s okay.”
If you think about it, your content marketing strategy is a bit like this restaurant. You have to keep all kinds of ingredients on hand to prepare what your customers want, and running out of chili peppers isn’t an option. What’s worse, if you do run out, your customers probably won’t even ask about it. They’ll just leave. And chances are, they won’t come back.
So what are the chili peppers, you ask? They’re the personality in your content—the kick that elevates all the other ingredients, transforms an otherwise ordinary dish, and ensures that your writing is memorable long after the meal (or reading period) is over.
While you might be able to get away with removing and replacing some of your other ingredients from time to time, personality isn’t one of them. Without it, your entire content strategy will fall flat. Taste buds everywhere will revolt. Your business will suffer.
We don’t want that to happen to you, so in the interest of letting you get back to your busy kitchen, let’s cover a few non-negotiables about how and where to inject some chili peppers into your content.
It’s all well and good to tell you to put personality in your marketing, but that’s easier said than done, isn’t it? If you’ve never tried before, it’s kind of like cooking without a recipe. So here are four things to think about as you plan your next piece of content:
Write Like You Talk
Talking with friends and family may come naturally, but many of us become too stilted when trying to market our businesses. If it feels safer or more “professional” to use corporate-speak on your blog, know this: safe is dangerous.
People want to do business with other people, and the more they know about you and your personality, the more likely they are to trust you and buy from you.
If marketing yourself in writing feels too intimidating, try this: press record on your phone, and just start speaking. No rehearsing, no scripting. Pretend you’re talking to a friend, and simply share what you know about a topic.
Cut yourself off at the 3-minute mark, hit playback, and listen carefully for the wisdom, quirks, and patterns in your own speech. Do you like to crack jokes, challenge myths, give step-by-step tutorials?
Make notes about what you hear, and when 3 minutes are up, surprise: you’ve just created the outline for your blog post. All you have to do now is fill in the blanks.
Lose The Cliches
Cliches are a great way to sound like everyone else—including your competitors.
Particularly in the content marketing world, cliches are dangerous crutches because they’re so forgettable. You write them without thinking, and your audience reads them without acting. Does it get any worse when you’re trying to convert readers into customers?
If we’re using the kitchen analogy again, cliches are a few shakes of salt in your recipe. Familiar, worn, and expected. You add salt only when you’ve forgotten about the chili peppers.
Use Lighthearted Visuals
Last month, we used a banana peel to help you visualise slippery landing page mistakes. Today, an industrial kitchen shows you all you need to know about adding personality to your marketing. What’s going on?
There is a bit of method to our madness, we’ll admit. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, so we’re aiming for quicker understanding by giving you strong visuals to accompany our written content. The two work together to give you an overall sense of our brand and the actionable information you need to grow your business. (Also, we’re clearly on a food kick lately. Can’t be helped.)
Here’s a tip for choosing great images: whatever picture comes most immediately to mind for your topic, don’t use that one. You want your hero image to inspire a little curiosity in your readers’ minds—just enough to encourage them to click through, connect the dots between image and text, and read the article. It works, we promise. After all, you’re still reading.
It’s easier than ever to add video content to your company blog these days, and as the web gets more visual, you will start to notice an uptick in demand to see your face and hear your voice.
What kinds of videos should you record? That depends on your industry expertise, but it fortunately does not depend on your video expertise. More than fancy equipment, all you need to get started is your phone and a willingness to learn as you go.
In fact, we dare you to hit record, share 3 quick tips about a topic in your niche, and then upload that video with no editing at all.
Work with the feedback you receive, and commit to getting better from there.
Share your videos down below, will you?
So now that you’ve discovered several ways to inject more personality into your content marketing…where should you inject it?
Let’s pretend for a moment that your website is a fancy restaurant, and it’s supper time. The diners are arriving, and they’re eagerly perusing the menu. Here are the four places they’re going to be looking—also known as the four places to add some chili peppers.
The About page is the second most-visited place on your site (after the homepage), and according to some sources, it’s also the one you’re most likely to ignore. That’s a dangerous discrepancy from a marketing perspective. You can add personality to your About page by telling your company’s origin story, sharing family photos, and getting personal about why you do what you do. Use the tactics above to ensure it sounds like you.
Here’s an About page from Backlinko.com that does a great job on all counts.
Adding an automatic welcome email is free in most email marketing platforms, and it’s your first opportunity to make a really personal connection with new subscribers. Think outside the “welcome to my list” box, and consider unique ways to make your welcome email sound like a letter between friends.
Remember how David use images in his welcome email funnel.
Some content marketers will embed a video into the welcome email. And we like the story Paul Jarvis tells new subscribers about how he just got a new tattoo of their name “to commemorate the day you joined my list.”
An onboarding series helps you build a sense of trust and consistency with new subscribers, both of which are key to quality customer conversions. An onboarding sequence full of personality will help your readers to recognise that they’re in the right place, and that they belong in your community. How about a 5-email miniseries that reveals the secrets to success you learned the hard way, or a 1-week guided tour of some of your most popular blog content?
An onboarding series often concludes with an offer to buy something, so consider what you may be leading to with each email in the set: an e-book, a course, perhaps a spot in your membership community? There are loads of opportunities to invite your subscribers up to the next level of working with you.
ConvertKit set onboarding to a new level. They show interest and offer help at immediate stages during onboarding. They are sent a short video to their customers. Matt sometimes makes 50 a day!
This is an ideal place to practice the art of distilling your words down to their essence. An author bio is just a few sentences long, but it needs to sell your expertise, authority, and personality if you want it to convert.
The easiest way to make the most of your author bio is to update it regularly: give a sentence about your unique expertise, link to your latest lead magnet or client offer, and tie it all together with a current photo. Bonus points if the photo is something other than a corporate headshot.
(May we suggest a chef’s hat?)
Here’s an example form Carl’s Author Bio.
We are aware some companies don’t like to remind their customers of recurring charges. Even membership site owners don’t like sending reminders as they often see people cancel their membership.
But who said you can’t make a receipt a bit more interesting than the regular old invoice looking style?
Another example from ConvertKit.
Now go and add some personality to your own marketing!