Is Your Audience Fast-Forwarding to the 30% Point of Your Content?


FFLet me know if this has ever NOT happened to you.

In your own reading you’re tooling along until you come across a headline that promises instant benefits – say, “7 Tips on Vacationing in Hawaii for Less Than $1000.”

Yes! you think. Tell me how! And then you start to read the lead:

“Emily Smith works a stressful job as a nurse in Blytheville, Mo. Rarely does she get a chance for a getaway vacation, what with her job; her home responsibilities; her husband Gaylord; her three children Vera, Chuck and Dave…”

Huh? you think. Who cares about Emily Smith?

You’ve just been struck by the superfluous lead – the personal anecdote many journalism consultants have espoused as a way to “humanize” a (what they might think to be boring) story. In other examples you might be offered a juicy little bon mot – a witty bit of sociological or historical observation to open things up. In this case you’ve also been had by author-throat-clearing.

When I come across leads like these I want to pull out my red grease pencil, slice an “X” through the first three paragraphs and bark at the unseen author (from under my editor’s green eyeshade, of course): “Just get to the point!” Not that these little openers are always mind-drags, mind you. In the right situations they might be just the thing to pull the reader in. But more often than not, you’re probably better to cut to the chase and deliver on the headline’s promise quickly.

By the way the propensity of content types to be long on the windup is not isolated to text, as has been noted by online trolls and digerati. In video the Wadsworth Constant is based on the phenomenon that the first 30% of most videos are perfunctory and of little value. Such leather-lunged videos are perceived to be so widespread, in fact, that there is a “bookmarklet” that jumps a viewer straight to the 30% point of any YouTube video.

Are our audiences skipping to the 30% point of our content? Let’s hope not. But the next time I’m nipping-and-tucking a story into a small space, I won’t necessarily start at the end of the story or even the middle. I’ll start at the beginning.

(And maybe I needed to have done that with this very post…)


The Content of Our Marketing


Content-MarketingWhile some in media fear competitive encroachment and a fuzzying of the editorial/advertising line, I for one am encouraged by the spike in spending on content marketing. We in b-to-b media long have known that potential business buyers don’t always fall sway to the image marketing and emotional appeals that dominate consumer marketing; that instead they seek concrete facts, actual-use scenarios and testimonials about products and services.

Hallelujah, then, for content marketing (which by the way is more than ably promoted and defined by the Content Marketing Institute). Content marketers aid business media in informing our audiences while simultaneously relieving us of some of the pressure for favorable editorial coverage of our advertisers (who long have valued relevant content, clearly). Advertisers, incidentally, also frequently need our media platforms to drive traffic to their content — so hallelujah for us too.

The career prospects for we content types also clearly aren’t diminished by this development.

A Bright Future for Content Marketing?

But not all is paradise in the content marketing garden; in fact there even seems to be a contentious state in the field owing to a lack of buy-in from the “C-suites.”

Is content marketing a fad or does it have a bright future? I personally think it does. But take a look at this infographic (courtesy of Marketo; click to enlarge) and decide for yourself…