Different people consume and prefer different kinds of content. Simply put, your content development process needs to reflect that if you want to maximize your marketing’s effectiveness.
Some of these differences are obvious and extremely powerful, like the Millennial generation’s preference for video, images and limited text.
Another glaring example of this is a person’s preferred way of learning. Some people learn best by taking in audio lessons, others want visual teaching to help the lessons sink in. Others learn better by writing and rehearsing.
However, some researchers have broken down content consumption even more to pinpoint the different kind of thinkers and the kind of content they prefer.
Understanding these principles will be invaluable to you as a content marketer and will help you craft content that hits your readers in the sweet spots that even they might not know about.
The Four Kinds of Thinkers
First off, let’s give credit where credit is due.
I came across this breakdown via an excellent article by Mary Ellen Slayter on Forbes.com.
As part of a leadership program she was taking part in, the class took assessments from a company called Emergenetics. Their tools and workshops provide “a measurable, proven way to recognize and apply thinking and behavior patterns people use regularly,” or so their website claims.
They break down the four kinds of thinkers as:
- Structural: Interested in the process. Want to follow rules and guidelines.
- Analytical: Crave logic and data. They look for the understanding and reasoning behind it all.
- Conceptual: Big picture thinkers. Looking for new ideas and grand visions of how things could be.
- Social: These thinkers are interested in people and relationships.
Content Development for Different Thinkers
Those are some pretty different types of thinkers, so it only makes sense that they will crave content tailored to how they see the world.
Here’s some tips on providing content that they will eat up like crab legs at a Las Vegas buffet:
Structural thinkers and content consumers are very common in Internet Marketing circles.
Have you ever sat in on a webinar with a presenter who is walking through their system or product and kept an eye on the chat box? These hosts are routinely peppered with questions covering every form of minutia you could possibly think of.
Those are the structural thinkers.
They are looking for a set of instructions that are clearly and concisely laid out. It’s not enough to hit on points A, B, C and D. You need to walk them through Aa, Ab, Ac, Ad…
Don’t leave anything to doubt with these people. They want a throughly fleshed-out blueprint and if you give it to them, they will love you forever. Think about creating infographics and checklists.
Data, data and data; that’s what these thinkers want and you best deliver if you want them to stick around.
Sure, they can be persuaded to stick around and listen to your radical new take on whatever you are an expert in but they give them cold hard facts as the hook. Again, infographics chock-full of data will go over really well, as will charts and numbers-based articles and blog posts.
Big ideas are key here. As Slayter says, “You can’t possibly go over their heads — the headier and more philosophical, the better.”
These are the readers who are willing to frolic along with you through the land of “What Could Be”. But that means you’re going to have to really wow them.
If your idea fails to blow their hair back, they will skip along to someone else’s grand vision of the future. Articles and blog posts where you expound your ideas should resonate with these people, as will interviews, podcasts, and videos where you talk about these concepts.
These thinkers want humanized content and emotional connections: Personal stories, highlights of the people involved in a project and examples that spotlight the people behind the content.
Internet marketers do very well with this kind of content.
Have you ever noticed that many pushers of information products in our industry have a story that goes a little something like this:
- I was working in a field that didn’t fulfill me personally or financially.
- I got really sick (or someone close to me got really sick).
- From my hospital bed I came up with this tactic/product/system.
- It was successful… and if I could be successful from a hospital room, just imagine what you could do!
Now, I’m not saying that anyone who has a story like this is lying. I’m sure there were plenty of bedridden Internet Marketers who found success.
However, it really hits social thinkers on all levels, doesn’t it? In these cases, you really need to emphasize the personal connection. Blog posts and articles that focus on people, not ideas, should go over well. Interviews are the epitome of social content. Videos and and podcasts will also be very effective here, particularly if more than one person is involved.
Intelligent Content Development
Now that you know about the different kinds of thinkers out there and how to craft content to their liking, how should you bring it all together?
Looking at that list, it’s very clear that content that might be a masterpiece to one group of thinkers might be an annoying time suck to another. So, the best approach would probably be to use a content development process that hits all four types of thinkers as much as possible.
Here Berry opens with a very involved anecdote about his life or something close to him (Social). He then presents a running list of who you should play and who should avoid at each position (Structural) backed up with facts and analysis (Analytical). He’ll also offer wild ideas and ways of looking at the game that bucks traditional thinking (Conceptual).
Now, that’s not always going to work for everyone and, quite honestly, you might find you hate creating some kinds of content.
If that’s the case, don’t force it.
Creating content is hard enough without wanting to throw your laptop out of a window because you hate how you “have” to write. Understand that some pieces just won’t resonate with some readers and that you can’t please everyone.
Look through your most popular content and analyze it for the features that would appeal to these different thinkers. If you keep seeing the same type of content, then maybe you’ve built a following of like-minded thinkers.
In that case, keep on doing what works!
What are your thoughts? What kind of thinker are you? Tell us in the comments!