By Ivan Meakins
What’s the key to creating memorable content?
- Is it in the storytelling?
- Is it the author’s expertise and profile?
- Perhaps it’s the hook that draws readers in right off the bat?
While these are all important ingredients, there’s one key factor many entrepreneurs who create content may be missing out on… simplicity.
The Rule of One
The Rule of One is a common favourite for marketers and email copywriters. Basically, it states that any piece of copy being created should have one and ONLY ONE core idea running through it. This means your content should have only one call to action, one belief, one major benefit, and so on.
But this rule isn’t just a juicy hack for writing stunning sales letters. It also comes in handy for other longer forms of content, such as podcasts, blogs, and even books. In this article, I’ll show you how to leverage this common marketing tactic to narrow your focus and create sharper, stand-out content that cuts straight to the core of what you really want to say.
Here is a little tale to highlight the value of The Rule of One:
The Absolut idea
1976, Stockholm. Gunnar Broman, the Co-owner and Creative Director of Absolut Vodka, walks into an old antique store looking for inspiration.
Amongst the dusty shelves and battered trinkets, he spots one thing that catches his eye. It’s a simple, elegant glass medicinal bottle.
In that moment, Gunnar decides to take a leap. And this leap would go on to be the best decision of his very successful career.
The simple bottle shape became the focal point for almost all of Absolut Vodka’s marketing for the next 25 years. It was more than just a container. It was a symbol – a beacon that set them apart from every other vodka brand on the shelves. Every advert Gunnar and his team ran after that was unique in its own way yet tied back to one initial idea – the bottle.
Photo credit: Absolutad.com
And it caught people’s attention.
By sticking to one core idea – the slogan and the shape of the bottle – they were able to create a memorable imprint in their audience’s minds.
The question here is: how can you do the same for your content?
It all starts with understanding the science behind it.
We are hardwired to prefer simplicity
When it comes to creating content, it can be tempting to pull out all the stops – throwing in all the details you can to give your copy that extra “zest”. Many people, in an attempt to stand out, offer more content, more detail, more value…
But you may have been doing it all wrong.
Psychological studies have proven that our brains are wired to look for things that break the pattern. This phenomenon is called the Von Restorff or the isolation effect, and it predicts that an item that stands out from the masses is more likely to be remembered than other items.
Seems obvious, I know…
But when you try to cram too many ideas into your content and give them all the same level of importance, you aren’t providing your audience with anything to stand out from the crowd. It’s more likely you will just overwhelm your audience, causing them to disassociate and glaze over. However, if you can highlight that one core concept, theme or benefit and let that run throughout your message, you’ll be able to create something truly memorable.
So, what does the Rule of One look like for a business owner??
Start with your intention
If you’re writing a blog, instead of reeling off a massive list of benefits or five different ideas on a topic which may only overwhelm your readers, try and find your one core intention. What do you want your audience to walk away with after reading the blog? What’s the ONE thing your content will help your reader or listener achieve?
Think about that one solution, problem, or belief, and let your content point towards that.
If you write blogs about financial advice and your goal is to help your audience retire early, what is ONE core thing that you can talk about that will bring them closer to their goal?
Tax tips? Investing strategies? Savings strategies? These are all great things to write about, but if you try and do them all in a 1200-word blog, you may get yourself in a bit of a mess.
This technique also comes in quite handy when writing a book or longer pieces of copy.
We recently had a client who felt lost about his draft and what direction it was meant to point towards. The content was fantastic, well-written and had a lot of potential. But there was one problem. He couldn’t pinpoint the core message he was trying to get across to his readers.
And he wasn’t alone. It requires a fair bit of brainstorming, soul-searching, and research to get clear on your book’s direction.
So, we decided to reverse-engineer the process. We started with his intention – the one belief he wanted his audience to walk away with when they finished the book. And after doing a little bit of research and some exercises, we finally hit the jackpot!
What’s really interesting is that the structure of the book took a whole new shape and became more purposeful because it was now clinging to one core concept and idea.
How to come up with your ONE idea
Let’s have a go at harnessing simplicity to create memorable content. For the purpose of this exercise, we’ll be using a bakery owner named Lisa as an example.
Lisa loves connecting with her community through baking, but she’s been struggling to capture that spirit in her online content. Does that sound familiar?
Let’s see how you (and Lisa) can find your core idea to shape your content.
1. Pour everything out onto paper
Think about what your brand or message is all about. Let the words flow out in all their various forms. Think about keywords, phrases, problems, solutions, and challenges. Just get it all out on paper and let it stew for a while.
In Lisa’s case, she starts writing down what her bakery is all about. Fresh ingredients, family recipes, the joy of biting into a warm muffin, the sense of community her bakery brings, the local ingredients, and so on.
That’s the first step.
2. Trim the fat
Once you’ve gotten all your ideas out on paper, you need to start trimming the fat and distilling it all into that one powerful idea or concept. The aim here is to cut it down into one sentence or a couple of sentences. You want to be as ruthless as possible.
While it may feel harsh to cut out all the clever little quips or elaborate concepts that you have developed over time, remember that there can only be one idea.
For Lisa, as she goes over her notes, she begins to see a pattern. The one thing that stands out is not just the ingredients or how tasty her pastries are. It’s the sense of warmth, comfort, and community that people feel when they step into her bakery or bite into each croissant.
She decides that her core idea now isn’t the product. It’s the experience – the feeling of comfort that the product gives. Her ONE idea is now all about comfort.
And it’s time for her to move on to the next step.
3. Create a content strategy
Once you have that ONE idea, you can start to brainstorm ways to communicate it through your content. Remember, it’s not about over-complicating things; it’s about finding creative ways to express that one thing.
In Lisa’s case, she begins to build a content schedule. She posts stories from customers who find comfort in eating freshly baked croissants, and pictures highlighting the cosy, inviting atmosphere of her bakery. She starts forming communities, little tea room sessions, art displays, and activities that will bring people together and focus on this idea of comfort.
As time goes on, all of her content revolves around this one powerful idea, and it becomes very specific and purposeful. People begin to associate her little bakery and all her baked goods with being a source of warmth and comfort.
Lisa has managed to cut through the noise and create more engaging, focused content for her audience.
And you can, too.
I hope this exercise has sparked some creative ideas (and ONE core belief) for you.
If you’d like to get more content ideas and tips to capture the hearts and minds of your audience, check out our podcast, Content Untapped.
If you’d also welcome the expertise of a professional team to create some truly memorable content, book a Clarity Call today to find out how we can help.