I grew up in New York in a very Italian family. Holidays revolved around food. I remember plates and bowls of soup, salad, meat, pasta, and side dishes were placed around the table and then passed around. Some of those plates and bowls were the sizes of small European countries.
This allowed you to could take as much as you wanted of your favorites while passing on the ones you didn't like.
In an Italian family… “Food is LOVE!”
Piling on your favorites and overeating was always an issue. And…God forbid if your plate was not licked clean? Chants of “WHAT??? You didn't like the pasta fagioli?” would echo from across the room like the sound of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from God.
I still feel guilty about not finishing that calamari.
The other night, my wife and I wanted to treat our realtor to a thank-you dinner for finding us the perfect house, in the perfect location.
I asked Jo and Richard what was their favorite restaurant and without hesitation, they said Bodega! It's a cute Tapas establishment ten minutes from our house. So we all met for some food and fun.
If you are not familiar with the term, Tapas is a style of small savory dishes that are typically served as appetizers or snacks in Spain. They are meant to be shared among friends while enjoying drinks and conversation.
The cool thing about Tapas is that everyone can order their favorites, yet taste something that you may not have thought to try. On top of that, your plate is almost always empty and you rarely overeat.
Content Is Served
Just like Family Style is big, and Tapas is small, content can be served up the same way. There are two common trains of thought when it comes to creating and serving up content.
Just for reference, Every 500 words in a blog, ebook, or whatever takes around 1-2 minutes to read.
Content served up Family Style ranges from 2000 to 3500 words. There is usually a lot of detail, facts, examples, and more. The point is to make your case while providing as much supporting content to help you really drive your point(s) home.
Content served up as Tapas ranges from 750 to 1500 words. These tend to be small, quippy, and easy to digest. The idea here is to present thoughts with the goal of leaving them wanting more (or sampling another dish).
Both or either can be right for your audience and your business. You need to hook them in, measure what they are consuming, and your audience will vote on what they want.
Changing The Channel
I want to change the channel from food to music for a minute.
You may remember the days before Itunes when you had multiple radio stations programmed in your car. The internet is like your car radio was (and still is in my case with an older car).
I have written many songs in my life and most were duds while some were hits (on a small scale).
There are two main hooks in a song. The chorus is the big hook that makes the song memorable, but there is another that can be even more important. It's the Intro.
I am sure that if I mention the songs “Stairway To Heaven”, “Taking Care Of Business”, and “Margaritaville”, your mind plays the opening notes. Why is that important?
If you don't like the song, you will change the station within 8-10 seconds.
Hooking Them In
Whether your content is short or long, your intro is the hook. You want to make that first bite as unique and tasty as possible to get people to savor your ideas.
You can use images, bullets, call-outs, or more to make your chorus (main concepts) stand out and become more memorable.
Also, songs are tied to emotions. It could be a relationship, a time in your life, or just a catchy song phrase or title.
Have you ever noticed that bands (like AC/DC) make a song catchy just by repeating the hook or title over and over? Think about the song “Dirty Deeds” by repeating “Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap” five times, you can help but to remember that song.
I just want to go on the record that I have never had or wanted to have “Dirt Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap”, buts it's fun to imagine who in my past deserves them. But, I digress…
Unlike a song, you won't get most people to consume your content over and over. But, if your hook is catchy, you may get people to share it (just like people like to share playlists from Itunes).
If you want your audience to consume and share your content, you need to pay attention to what they think is catchy and ask yourself…
- Is my opening catchy?
- What is the emotional hook?
- How does my chorus become memorable?
The average pop/rock song has a structure of 5 or 6 parts: intro, verse, chorus, verse chorus, bridge, solo, chorus, and ending. Some of those can even be doubled. If that sounds like a lot, it is but they are short. Most of the time that is all accomplished in only 2-3 minutes.
If you dig into your blog content via Google Analytics, you will see which ones get 8-10 seconds (before someone changes the station) and 2-3 minutes or more to actually savor the thoughts in the form of your content.
The bottom line is your audience will tell you whether your content should be served up Family Style or as Tapas. They will vote with their time and attention (if you pay attention to your Analytics data).
By now I am sure you are asking yourself “How was the meal? What were your favorite Tapas?
Kim really enjoyed the Marinated Olives and the Spanish Serrano Ham while I was blown away by the Parisienne Gnocchi and the Arancini (basically Tapas in the form of pasta and meatballs).
I could not even imagine eating a plate full of anything because they were so rich. I knew within that first taste (8-10 seconds) whether I would want to spend 2-3 minutes savoring each or change the station to another dish!
“The average human attention span was 12 seconds in 2000 and 8 seconds in 2013. A drop of 33%. The scary part is that the attention span of a goldfish was 9 seconds, almost 13% more than us humans. That's why it's getting tougher by the day to get people to turn the page. Maybe we writers ought to try writing for goldfish!”
– Ashwin Sanghi
Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about how yous messages! Are you consistently creating new content? Is your audience more interested in long form or short sides? How do you measure that? What does your analytics tell you?
To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast.