Do you have big plans for the weekend? I do.
Beginning tonight at 6 pm and running through mid-day on Sunday, I will be reunion-ing (unless there is no such word) with my old business school buddies.
It’s not just any reunion, either. It’s our 30 year reunion.
And what a great time we had back then. Going to classes, drinking beer, staying up late, going out dancing, and doing the things that unmarried 25-year-olds tend to do (don’t make me spell it out).
I helped plan the event, so I took a look at the guest list. Overall, reunion attendees tend to fall into one of three categories:
People I’ve never heard of,
people I talk to regularly; some as often as once a week,
and others I haven’t seen or heard from in 30 years.
I figured that my conversations with the people in each of these three groups would be quite different. In general, the better we know each other, not only would the tone be more personal and casual, the conversation itself would focus on more recent events.
If, for example, you and I speak once a week, I’m not going to walk over, shake your hand and say, “Hey, guess what happened to me in 2004.” On the other hand, if we haven’t laid eyes on each other in 30 years, anything since the end of the Reagan administration is fair game. Without question, familiarity and recency are highly correlated.
What reunions and content strategy have in common
Now let’s talk about your marketing – content marketing, in particular – and the role that recency can play.
You want your audience to feel comfortable with you. . . trust you and like you. Not just because it’s nice – these are all important steps along the path to getting hired.
Comfort, trust and likeability aren’t necessary in all selling situations. If you can throw a baseball 100 miles an hour, nobody cares about your ability to relate to other people. But in most cases, if whatever you’re selling is perceived as nearly identical to the competition (did somebody say “professional services?”), it’s what sets you apart.
That’s why when you create content, in an effort to create that comfort, trust and likeability, you want to pay close attention to time frame (a strategy not to be confused with creating evergreen–a.k.a. timeless–content). When you talk about things that happened or will happen within a short time frame, we feel more connected to you.
Is it an illusion? Pretty much.
But effective all the same.
Look at the beginning of this article, for example: “Beginning tonight at 6 pm and running through mid-day on Sunday, etc.” That’s the time frame of friends.
What if, instead, I said, “This past spring, I attended my 30 year business school reunion,” and jumped into the story from there? Same information, but now it has switched from a story you share with a friend over a cup of coffee, to something you tell to a stranger.
That one, small difference changes the tone entirely.
Here’s the bottom line.
The best advice I could ever give you about creating authentic content is simply this: Write to your audience as if you already know them well. When you include specific references to recent events, they’ll feel like you actually do.
Those reunion beers ain’t going to drink themselves…
This article has been edited.
Michael Katz is a Boston-based marketing consultant and founder of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes in helping professional service firms stand out from the pack by positioning them as Likeable Experts. Get a free copy of his report, “The Professional Service Provider’s Essential Reading List – 11 Recommended Business(ish) Books,” here. Connect with @MichaelJKatz on Twitter.