In many different industries, professionals sometimes overcomplicate things when it’s not necessary. Content marketing is no different. Keeping things simple lends itself to more scale - and in many cases better results.
After serving over 10 years in the US Army, one of my greatest professional takeaways was the 'K.I.S.S.' (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle. It has never failed me, and it’s been used in many different scenarios - so much so that I’ve incorporated this principle into my writing, and have even used it as the basis for teaching seniors at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business on how to blog for six semesters.
When it comes to writing and content marketing, the K.I.S.S. principle breaks down into four parts –
- Tell them what you’re going to tell them
- Tell them what you told them you were going to tell them
- Tell them what you told them
- Tell them what to do next
It’s the basis of over 1,000 articles written in my career.
1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them – “the introduction”
This is the opening of your post, where the writer needs to quickly grab attention after hooking them with the title. If a reader can’t make it past this stage, it’s likely they won’t fully engage with the content. This is the most critical of the four parts of the content marketing K.I.S.S. principle.
It’s in this introduction where the writer needs to make an argument that makes readers want to read. What problem is being solved? What’s in it for the reader? If the writer can answer those two questions, and it’s compelling to the target audience, the first part of this principle is satisfied.
Remember, businesses are in the business of solving problems - fundamentally, that’s what every business does. Your content should reflect this.
2. Tell them what you told them you were going to tell them – “the body”
Here’s where the writer wants to deliver on the promise that was made in the introduction - if the writer fails at fulling their promise, the reader won't be happy, and that sentiment may be projected onto the brand.
This is also where the writer solves the problem, and/or proves the argument from the introduction. This section requires evidence, facts or clear, poignant logic.
If this is valuable to the reader, that person will continue to consume the content. This section must provide value based on what was promised.
3. Tell them what you told them – “conclusion”
In this section, the writer needs to remind the audience of what's in it for them.
The content should directly reference the argument, or the problem mentioned in the introduction. This doesn’t have to be a long section, and is generally reserved for one or two paragraphs.
4. Tell them what to do next – “call to action”
It’s always the writer’s duty to tell the readers what to do next. If they take the time out of their busy schedules, the writer owes them a next step.
Writers can’t just expect a reader to consume an article and start clicking around the website to purchase or download something. Readers need direction and guidance on follow-through elements.
We know that in many of our offices some our colleagues like to overcomplicate things, including content marketing. It doesn’t have to be complicated. The K.I.S.S. principles outlined above are a good blueprint for content production - whether that be blog posts or more advanced content.
A version of this post was first published on the InPowered blog.