What the Pylon Appreciation Society can teach us about creating great content 3 September 2015

Image of pylon for Nottingham copywriting blog
The Pylon Appreciation Society… no, it’s not an oxymoron. The Pylon Appreciation Society is one of those groups bound to inspire a giggle or two, purely due to the unfair perception that having a passion for large metal grids in the ground is an odd thing. While I’m not a member of the society, I do think that it (and other similar niche groups) can teach us something about the value of great content. It’s a reminder about the importance of changing how we look at so-called “boring” or “uninteresting” subjects. Like the perception of those pylon fans, how can you excite people about less conventionally “interesting” topics?

From pylons to prized content

During a recent conversation about blogging, a new client expressed how dull they thought their own products were to write about. So strongly did they believe this that they used a word which would not be right to share on a (mostly) polite copywriting blog. This client believed that their blog would be dull because they see their own business topic as dull. Not so, I hastened to tell them. That’s precisely why it’s helpful to work with a copywriter or to look again at how you view a topic.

Like the Pylon Appreciation Society, the truth is not just that everything is fascinating to someone, but that everything is fascinating with the right angle. Life – and content – is all about how we look at it. Copywriting is the process of reframing and drawing out the good stuff. To all the business-owners who sadly declare that their business is “boring”, I say this: there’s always something interesting to it and there’s always an interesting way to write about it.

Thriller not filler

As I’ve written before, effective content isn’t just content that is grammatically correct, with every apostrophe in place, important though that is. Powerful content does not simply fill a space, but is packed full of words on a mission. Every single sentence needs to be targeted towards the goal of stating the right message… not just fluffing around the edges. Each word needs to be put together to build and sustain interest, rather just saying your piece. Then you need to build in a twist to create energy. That’s why my very first blog post was called “The writing surprise”.

Put your angle before your topic

Which marketing straplines stay with you? Not the more mundane ones, I’m sure. While it’s important to remain appropriate in your marketing content, it’s less about the topic and more about the angle you choose to take. This of course needs to be added to a tone of voice that sizzles rather than drizzles. I’m going to say a couple of obvious things here:

Content which surprises is more memorable than content which stays within the boundaries of our expectations.

Content that shows some (appropriate) personality is more likely to be remembered.

Content with a touch of the contrarian about it can help to address the arguments a prospect might have against choosing your product or service.

Defining a topic as boring is seeing it in a conventional rather than a creative light. Just as with the pylon aficionados, it’s human nature to think that because something is less conventionally appealing it is entirely without fascination. I actually get excited when a new client declares that theirs is an unexciting business to write about because I know I’m going to enjoy working on finding a new way to look at and write about it.

Great ways to bring out the fascinating in your business topic:

  • Think about the most common questions your clients ask you

  • Consider the most unusual questions you’ve had from clients or prospects

  • Look at your business product or service from the angle of a prospective buyer and really think about what they might want to know

  • What are the more unusual uses people have had for your product? Within reason, is this something you could share in your blog or newsletter, for example?

  • As with all your content copywriting, go back to looking at the benefits rather than just listing features. Your topic may seem very everyday to you, but it’s something that people need and value, so what can you pick out to share about it?

  • Carefully applied humour can be very powerful: what ideas can you generate in a more light hearted way? Taking a lighter approach to a topic (where appropriate) can help to generate all kinds of approaches. Don’t be afraid to have fun with a subject. You might be surprised at the response you get. But do make sure this humour is all part of a consistent content plan so that it doesn’t end up sounding like a gimmick!

  • Take a good look at how your business-type is represented by your competitors. How can you do it differently? What little edge of interest is going to make your content more engaging?

  • Consider how to make a link between your so-called “dull” topic and the burning topics of the day and those which matter to your audience. This will certainly make it more immediate and relevant.
  • Look again

    As they point out on their website, the Pylon Appreciation Society are constantly judged for being “mad or geeky” yet those same critics often contact them for more information! In my view, every topic is fascinating if you look at it closely enough. Doing so will help you create content which brings your business to life memorably and credibly so that people remember and respond to it. And there’s nothing boring about that.

    Image by mjtmail (tiggy)
    Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, September 2015

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