October 19, 2017

The Zen of creating quality content your audience will love

how-to-create-quality-contentTony Bennett’s lifetime of creating art is a model for creating content marketing that touches hearts and has timeless appeal

Great marketing has always been equal parts art and science. That’s never been truer than with content marketing. You need to crunch the numbers and do the analysis to understand your market and your customers. That’s your left brain, the science.

And you also need to craft a message that touches the heart of your audience and creates an emotional affinity to your brand. That is an art. Art touches the heart in a way that makes a lasting impression. That should be the goal of content marketing.

I hadn’t really considered the similarities between creating art and creating great content until recently. The idea hit me from an unexpected source.

Earlier this year I picked up a copy of Life is a Gift: The Zen of Bennett. It is Tony Bennett’s most recent book about his life and work. I was expecting to read a retrospective of his recording career. It was that, and much more.

Most everybody knows Tony Bennett as an icon of American music whose career has spanned six decades. Not everybody knows he is also an accomplished graphic artist. His paintings have been displayed at the Smithsonian. He knows something about creating art that endures and that the audience loves. What he shares in the book is also inspiration for marketers who want to create content that does the same.

Each chapter of the book ends with his Zen principles for creating art and delighting fans. Here are four that apply to content marketing.

The Zen of Bennett for content marketing

A common piece of advice content marketers get is ‘create quality content.’ That’s only helpful if you know what quality means. Bennett’s simple Zen for quality is …

1. ONLY SING GOOD SONGS

  • Don’t compromise on quality material. Steer clear from novelty, art that is silly, disposable or forgettable.
  • People will reward you if you consistently produce high-quality work.
  • Fame comes and goes. Being number one is less important than being one of the best. Longevity is the key.

Bennett’s career has been marked by a relentless pursuit of quality work. “An artist should not put out a work of art or any other product that won’t endure,” he says. “By sticking with the good songs, I’ve been able to have top-selling records for every generation from the 1950s to today.”

Takeaway for content marketing

Quality content stands the test of time. Newsjacking trending stories and piggybacking on popular memes will get you short term recognition. But creating high-value, evergreen content is your key to longevity.

content-marketing-quality-content2. SOMETIMES TURN OFF THE MIC

  • Make your art authentic. Let your personality shine through.
  • You can’t get a good take from technology, or transform a bad take into something that’s good.
  • Capture a good, pure performance.

This Zen of Bennett is a reminder that performance is more important than technology. He ends his live performances by unplugging the microphone and filling the auditorium with only his voice. Doing this creates a thrilling, intimate moment with the audience.

Takeaway for content marketing

Technology is constantly changing business practices. Social platforms that are vital to reaching customers today can be displaced by something new. Search algorithms driving your content strategy will surely change. But content that creates an authentic connection with your audience will survive technology disruptions.

3. LEARN WHAT TO LEAVE OUT

  • Pare back to the essentials and leave in only the most outstanding elements. That’s how you do your best work.
  • Keep in mind that the great artist John Singer Sargent only used six colors to create his masterpieces.
  • If something’s not right, just get rid of it.

Often what you leave out of a work of art is as important as what you put in. “After years of performing, I realized it’s not how many notes you play that counts, but how you play them,” says Bennett. “I try to arrive at a pacing that’s just right for the audience, knowing what to omit so I don’t stay on stage too long.”

Takeaway for content marketing

The Zen principle for content creators is simple. Cut down your message to the essence of its main idea. Keep your focus on creating a valuable experience for your audience.

content-marketing-target-audience

4. ZIG WHEN EVERYONE ELSE ZAGS

  • Try to do the unexpected so people are never bored.
  • Don’t imitate another singer, because then you’re just one of the chorus.
  • The goal is to create a one-of-a-kind performance unlike anyone else’s.

Throughout his career Tony Bennett avoided following popular trends in music. Instead he focused on creating music that transcends them. In doing this he built a mutual trust with the audience. “You can’t go wrong when you recognize their capacity to understand what you are trying to express artistically,” he says.

Takeaway for content marketing

If you want to build an audience – or a base of loyal customers – you need to develop your own unique voice. Don’t imitate, innovate. Make your content a one-of-a-kind performance your audience can’t get anywhere else.

The art of content that builds a loyal audience

Creating quality content that audiences love is an art. Tony Bennett’s Zen shows the way to success whether you make art with music, pictures or words. At its core is love for your audience. Twentieth century painter Marc Chagall said, “Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing.” When you make content as art you’re giving your audience value and human connection that lives beyond trends of the day. That is content marketing they will always love.

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