By Ivan Meakins with Simon Coulson
Have you ever wondered what it takes to write content that truly strikes a chord with your audience? Content that can persuade your audience to follow your CTA instead of hitting the ‘exit page’ button?
When we create content we want people to remember it. We want them to share it with their friends, and shout it from the rooftops.
Not unlike those pop songs you just can’t stop listening to…
On the Content Untapped podcast I recently chatted with Simon Coulson. Simon is a tremendously successful internet marketer (founder of the Internet Business School), author and co-founder of The Songwriting Academy.
We sat down to chat about how creators can leverage the art of songwriting to create content their audiences just can’t stop consuming.
Here are the highlights of our chat, but you can listen to the full conversation on the podcast.
The link between memorable content and emotions
What’s the most memorable song you’ve ever come across and why do you think it stuck with you for so long? It’s because the creator was able to tap into your emotions and make you feel something.
Simon: “One of the major factors that makes a memorable song is the ability to evoke some sort of emotional experience in the listener. There are several different emotional experiences, ranging from empowerment to sadness, and love.
For instance, there are lots of empowerment songs which make you feel like dancing or taking a specific action. These songs are typically played at nightclubs or used as road trip anthems. There are also lots of sad songs that are about sad topics such as breaking up or losing people, and they tend to make us want to cry. It’s a very different emotion but it makes for a very memorable connection.
Generally speaking, the songs that we remember are the songs that have a life; songs that have some connection with an emotional experience. So it could be a classic love song or a dance anthem that just takes you back to being 20 years old in Ibiza having fun at a party.”
One of the most important considerations in advertising and marketing is creating high-arousal content that evokes strong emotions in your audience. Whether you’re trying to inspire them, make them laugh, or get them fired up, emotions are what drive engagement and action.
But it’s important to remember that not all emotions are created equal.
While empowerment and happiness are great emotions to aim for, sadness is generally not a good look for businesses. Adele may have nailed it, but the last thing you want to do is make people feel sad or cry because sad people are unlikely to take action.
Factors that drive emotional empowerment
Simon: “Three main factors make up an empowering song: tempo, key, and, of course, the lyrics. An empowering song tends to be around a mid tempo to up tempo – around 90 BPM and beyond. The speed of the song forms its entire vibe. For instance, slow songs tend to be melancholic or sad whereas for empowering songs, the faster it goes, the more likely it is that you’ll feel encouraged or empowered to take action.
The key of the music is also a factor. We have major keys and minor keys; and minor keys are known as the sad keys. Consequently, sadder songs tend to use this key. On the other hand, sonically, an empowering song would be in the major key and feature brighter, happier sounding chords.
Finally, the lyrics also need to reflect the emotional theme. So, if you’re trying to make someone feel empowered, the lyrics will typically be along the lines of: ‘If you get knocked down, get up again’, etc. The lyrics reinforce the message you’re trying to pass across.”
These elements also come into play when it comes to creating content that sticks. For example, when crafting a punchy sales letter, you want to aim for short sentences, brief paragraphs, and direct, easy-to-understand language.
You aren’t looking to dazzle people with your poetry here, you just want to get a simple message across in a way that sticks.
Conversely, a non-fiction book with an elaborate story will probably require descriptive, more colourful and perhaps even poetic sentences to set the right mood for the reader.
Essentially, language, structure and format can be used to create a musical tempo in your content.
Use open loops to keep your audience engaged
Simon: “There’s a technique we use in songwriting to keep the listener interested, and I think it can apply equally to content writing. In a song, you might introduce a character in verse one and then introduce a different character in verse two.
In verse three, you might add a new piece of information. Essentially, we’re building the story as we go along. In the first verse, you leave unanswered questions. For example, Dave is sitting under the tree, crying. The listener will naturally have questions like ‘Why is he crying? What’s happened in his life?’
In writing, you can use the same technique. Set the scene and leave some unanswered questions about it. That’s the hook that keeps people reading and wanting to find out what happens next.”
The greatest TV shows tend to wield this technique efficiently. The idea is to open a loop and close it much later, which creates a satisfying ending compared to opening and closing it within the same paragraph or chapter. You want to keep people hooked on your narrative and give them the psychological satisfaction that these loops will be resolved.
It all begins with the opening
Simon: “Opening your song with something that’s intriguing and interesting straightaway is a very powerful start because it draws people in and ignites their curiosity. And of course, this also applies to copy. I remember the whole reason I got into internet marketing was because I got this sales letter through the post and its headline read:
‘What Did This Former Supermarket Shelf Stacker Do That Made £110,264.40 in 24 hours?’
It was a very specific headline that drew me in straightaway. I wanted to know the answers and I was willing to read all 12 pages of this to find out. I think having that kind of opening headline in your copy can be pretty effective.”
If you can’t capture your audience at the very beginning, it’s unlikely that they’ll want to continue to read (even if you’ve got a juicy story in the middle of your copy).
Keep things simple
Memorable content means a lot of things but one key trait that most people tend to overlook is simplicity. When it comes to creating sticky content, you want to keep things simple and easy to remember.
Simon: “The perfect chorus is one that someone could learn quickly. This means that it has to be really simple, memorable, and melodically versatile.”
Here’s the thing: overcomplicating things or adding too many bells and whistles to your core message rarely ends well.
But if you want your content to hit that sweet spot of stickiness – memorable enough for people to repeat and share – you’ll need to keep the core message simple and easy to grasp.
If you’d like some support with creating high-quality content that sticks, book a clarity call to find out more about how we can help.