Making Concepts Real: Emily Popson on the Power of Resonance

Making Concepts Real: Emily Popson on the Power of Resonance

Think back to the last time you consumed something. It could be anything – a meal, a movie, a TV show, a game – and it probably happened pretty recently.

When you were finished, how did you feel? Was it just okay? In that case, you probably wouldn’t even remember it a few days later.

Was it downright bad? Then, that experience might be on your mind for all the wrong reasons.  

Or, after it was over, did you lean back, smile, and exclaim, “Man, that was great”? That’s an experience you remember. You remember that experience when someone asks you the best meal you’ve ever had, or the best movie you’ve ever seen. It sticks with you – not just a couple days in the future, and not just a year or so. That experience sticks with you for the long haul.

Now, have you ever felt that way about a piece of content that you came across?  

Emily Popson, a senior B2B marketing manager at Blackbaud, knows that feeling, and she knows that there’s nothing better than making that impression.

As marketers, it’s imperative to aim for this feeling in every piece of content you produce, even in just a few people. It’s a tall task – one that requires hard work, creativity, and persistence. But accomplishing that task on a consistent basis is all one could ask for in content marketing.

We spoke with Emily to get her feelings on the most effective ways to resonate with an audience, where some brands go wrong in their effort to creating meaningful content, why it’s so hard for companies to resonate with their audiences, and more. Find out her thoughts below!

What comes to mind when you think of “resonance”?

When I think of resonance, I think, “YESSSSSSS!” I think, “EXACTLY!” I think of times when a word, or an idea or a concept sparks a mental and emotional “YES!” or “AHA!” reaction.

It feels like a lingering unanswered question or worry is addressed, or like you found the perfect word to explain what you need or what you’re looking for – that had been on the tip of your tongue. It just drops in your lap and you’re thinking, “YES!”

When I think of resonance, I think of words or ideas that leave lasting impressions.

What words would you consider synonymous with “resonance” or “resonant”?

With resonance, the biggest thing for me is that the piece of content hits home. Again, I want to have that “YES!” reaction. Something that resonates is something that leaves an impression.

Resonant content strikes a chord, and that content is very real for the person who is consuming it.

Where do you think brands go wrong with creating content their audience cares about?

I think brands go wrong when they try to address everyone in every piece of content, instead of speaking to very specific pains or gaps.

I think brands also go wrong when they let their end goal dictate every piece of content. Sometimes it’s more important to create relevant content that resonates with your audience segment than it is to create content with direct ties to what you’re offering. For example, I’m much more likely to gush over a flipbook of older doggies playing with young pups than I am to read a blog post on the different ingredients used in adult pet food.

Brands also miss the mark because they forget to ask – and when they do ask, they don’t always listen.

Customers will tell you what they need if you ask them. Then it’s up to you to really hear them. Sometimes, brands don’t make concepts real for people. They don’t bring concepts to life. I have found some of my most successful content hasn’t been the 30 page eBook of stats. It’s been the interactive self-assessment that encourages people to be honest with themselves, asking the right questions, looking at issues from a different angle. It’s been the simple time saving calculator that shows them make efficiencies real and tangible for them and leaves them wondering, “How can I achieve that?”

Why is it so hard to create resonant content?

I guess because it feels a lot easier to create one watered down magic pill piece of content, than it does to create more personal content that doesn’t always clearly map back to a product offer.

It requires risk, for sure. We recently took a risk in creating a new program that carries the tagline “always honest, always real” and promises a filter-off approach to topics and questions submitted by our customers. In our tip sheets, blog posts, webinars and podcasts we address real, specific issues and sometimes that has meant recommending solutions that have nothing to do with our SKU list.

But it is resonating. People are emailing us and thanking us, telling us this was exactly what they needed, and sending us photos of our content’s words printed out and hung up at their desks. In this case, the risk has most certainly been worth the reward. And it’s turning into revenue without ever mentioning a product name.

Can you think of one example of content that’s really resonated with you?

Sadly, very few things come to mind. If I had to pick one, I would say Tim Ferriss’s interview of Seth Godin from earlier this year.

Is there anything inherent to interactive content that makes it resonate better?

Absolutely. Interactive content, when done right, makes concepts real for people. It brings concepts to life. When those concepts come to life in front of the reader’s eyes, it’s a special thing that is tough to replicate. Again, I’ve found my most successful content hasn’t been the 30 page eBook. It’s been the genuine interactive self-assessment. Interactive content really allows you to ask the right questions and leave a lasting impression, and that’s what I love about it.

 

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