When NOT to be the Smartest Person in the Room

In the best-selling book of 1979, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by science-fiction author Douglas Adams, one of the oddest and most unique creatures exists which is also the most useful creature in the universe: the babel fish. When you insert it into your ear it instantly translates any alien language for you.

 

This, of course, became incredibly useful while hitchhiking through the galaxy. In fact, this novel creature even inspired a website-translation service (Babelfish.com) and Google has already launched a product that can instantly translate in real-time up to 40 languages through earbuds. It’s amazing how science-fiction suddenly becomes reality.

 

But what does this have to do with content marketing?

 

One of the core benefits of content marketing is that – over time – you gain exposure for the company and transform company executives into thought-leaders. This, of course, takes a lot of work – especially in the beginning.

 

First and foremost, an audience must be driven to your content and find it attractive. Then that audience needs to grow. The audience grows because the message resonates with them and/or helps them.

 

Once that audience has grown large enough, the whole process looks like a snowball that rolled down a hill and became an avalanche. Not so much work. However, those content marketing efforts still need to engage and connect with your audience.

 

And, on that point of engaging and connecting with your audience, when it comes to content creation, one common downfall I find is that, when trying to stand out, people can be too smart for their own good!

 

Hey, I love smart people. But no one likes to read something they simply cannot understand. You don’t gain any audience by being too smart. You may be the foremost expert in quantum physics. But, if you talk to a regular person on the street about that topic in the same way you would to another expert in quantum physics, you may as well be speaking a different language.

 

If all your audience hears is babble, and they cannot understand or comprehend the data being relayed, NO MATTER HOW VALID OR GOOD IT IS, they tune you out and stop listening.

 

There is a lot to be said for the maxim, “Keep it Simple Stupid” (KISS).

 

The best thought-leaders realize that any content (whether it’s video, audio or written) needs to be articulated at a level the majority will understand. If your executives wish to create a thought-leader position through content marketing, they need to understand and address their audience in layman’s terms. If they don’t, the message is meaningless… and I don’t believe any translation device (or fish) exists that can translate knowledge… yet.

 

While the knowledge you wish to convey may be extremely important and valuable, the audience will not connect with you unless it is at their level and interesting to them. Please don’t bore your audience with a message that is simply too high brow, beyond their level of understanding.

 

To win at this game, try not to be overly clever. Don’t simply blow over the head of your audience. Instead, communicate at their level of reality and understanding.

If you were selling a vehicle to the average customer you wouldn’t talk about internal combustion engines and overly complex vehicle technology. You would find out what features are most important to them, and talk about that.

 

Of course, you should be creative with your topics, make your headlines stand out and use eye-catching images. Once you consistently provide interesting content of value to your audience, you will find you quickly rise in popularity and your audience grows through increased views, syndication and word-of-mouth. Eventually, if you’re lucky, and follow a consistent strategy, the focus shifts away from establishing an audience to growing and maintaining it.

 

And that is the best problem that you could ever have.

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