Your content is stressing me out.

Every day I am assaulted with a barrage of content fighting for my attention. I don’t have to go any further than my email inbox to be reminded of it. If I step into any social feed, the battle for attention intensifies. Sometimes it can become a struggle to keep from being overwhelmed. We only have so much attention to give each day. I know I involuntarily become stingy simply to preserve my sanity. It's like going into survival mode. The funny thing is, it's becoming the norm rather than the exception. In the over-amped information deluge we live in, we have to aggressively guard our attention or we would go crazy. Here's what I mean. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I instinctively resort to shutting out those things that raise the anxiety. Realizing this made me want to understand the perpetrators. So I made a list of what it was about those messages that sent me lunging for the delete button. I discovered that there are some specific characteristics that cause my brain to go into lock-out mode. Here are those culprits.

  • It's vague - I can't spare the precious attention to wade through the murkiness.
  • It's self-focused - I hate to say it, but my stressed-out brain wants to know, "What's in it for me?" or it's moving on.
  • It's insincere - In this state, my BS detector is ultra-heightened.
  • It's uninspiring - If I have to figure out why I should get excited about what you're doing, well, I think we know how that's going to go.
  • It's salesy - I'm in a state where I could use some valuable help. Scream, "Buy! Buy! Buy!" at me instead, and I will delete, delete, delete.

Is my content adding to the problem?

It's cathartic to write down those things about crappy content that raises my anxiety. But it's quickly followed by a question I have to ask myself, "Am I adding to the noise? Am I raising someone's anxiety level?"

I'm pretty good at weeding out the vagueness. But sometimes in frustrating attempts to bust through the noise and clutter, it's tempting to resort to brute force. That's when things can get salesy, insincere, self-focused, and uninspiring. It takes vigilance not to go there.

I do have a secret weapon of sorts. It's story.

Telling a story makes me think about that person I'm hoping to serve. I find myself asking how I can make her the hero of this story. How can I help her overcome her challenge? And, most of all, what can I offer that will inspire her?"

We may not be able to stop the tsunami of content that we face. But as marketers, we can create these islands of sanity. Where those we hope to serve can escape. Where they can feel understood and a little less overwhelmed. And maybe, even a little inspired.