The person who can capture and hold attention is the person who can effectively influence human behavior.

“Who is a failure in life? Obviously, it is the person without influence; one to whom no one attends: the inventor who can persuade no one of the value of his device; the merchant who cannot attract enough customers into his store; the teacher whose pupils whistle or stamp or play tricks while he tries to capture their attention; the poet who writes reams of verse which no one will accept.”

Harry Overstreet

Harry Overstreet in Influencing Human Behavior (1925)

The Most Important Content Marketing Lesson Has Nothing to Do with Your Content

What I am about to share with you is one of the most important lessons you can learn about content marketing (or marketing in general).

The most shocking thing about this lesson is this: it has nothing to do with your actual content!

I’ll explain to you what I mean in just a second, but first I want to tell you a story that Brent Barlow once told in the Salt Lake City Deseret News.

It’s a story that reveals why what I am about to teach you is so important…

The Lawyer’s Frustrating Conversation with a Woman Who Wanted a Divorce

Photo from Flickr by Wesley Fryer

A woman went to a lawyer and said she wanted a divorce. The lawyer got out his note pad, and proceeded to ask her some questions.

“Do you have any grounds?” he inquired.

“Oh, yes,” she replied. “About three-quarters of an acre.”

The lawyer paused for a moment, then queried, “Do you have a grudge?”

“No,” the woman answered quickly. “But we do have a lovely carport.”

Again the lawyer paused and then asked, “Does he beat you up?”

“No. I get up before he does every morning,” the woman reported.

Finally the lawyer blurted, “Lady, why do you want to divorce your husband?”

“It’s because,” she explained, “that man can’t carry on an intelligent conversation.”


We laugh at this situation, because it’s not us.
But if you were that lawyer, then you wouldn’t be laughing! You’d be extremely frustrated.

But wait a second.

Before you let out a big sigh of relief that you’re not in this situation, I have bad news for you.

If you and I don’t learn the lesson I am about to share with you today, then we will be in the same situation this lawyer was in – but we’ll be in it with our prospects and customers!

How successful do you think you’ll be if that’s how your conversations with your prospects and customers go?

Even worse, if we don’t learn the lesson I am about reveal to you, there’s a danger that you won’t just be like the lawyer, you’ll be like the woman in this story!

You’ll have problems connecting with your prospects and customers and you’ll believe it’s THEIR fault!

In fact, there’s something that happened recently that is very similar to this situation.

Three Important Disclaimers Before You Read On

Before you read on, please read these three important disclaimers:

1) I didn’t vote for Donald Trump.

I actually didn’t vote for either candidate, because both candidates just seemed too flawed to me.

2) If you are still emotionally distressed about the election, then you probably shouldn’t read on.

You won’t learn anything and you’ll only be frustrated. So my suggestion is that you stop now while you’re ahead!

3) When I was in martial arts our sensei used to say, “You can always learn from any person or situation. You can either learn what to do or what not to do!”

There is a VERY important content marketing lesson that we can all learn from the presidential elections, regardless of whether we are happy with the results or not.

If you understand these three things and you’re still ready, willing, and able to learn something, then please read on…

Former President Obama Reveals the Most Important Content Marketing Lesson from the 2016 Presidential Elections

Former President Barack Obama
By Official White House Photo by Pete Souza – P120612PS-0463, Public Domain

In December 2016, former President Barrack Obama gave an hour-long interview with NPR. And it was in this interview that he revealed a very important content marketing lesson for us all. (Although he didn’t intend it to be a content marketing lesson.)

In the interview former President Obama said this…

“There are clearly failures on our part to give people in rural areas or in exurban areas a sense day-to-day that we’re fighting for them or connected to them.”

And don’t miss this the next thing he said, because it reveals WHY the rural areas felt this way…

“Part of the reason it’s important to show up is because it then builds trust and it gives you a better sense of how should you talk about issues in a way that feel salient and feel meaningful to people.

Did you catch it? Do you see the lesson?

It’s the same problem the lawyer, and the woman he was trying to help, had.

Obama basically said that Hillary didn’t know how to talk to voters in the rural areas, because she didn’t know them.

That means that the key lesson we need to learn is this…

The Most Important Content Marketing Lesson from the 2016 Presidential Elections: You must know your audience.

I mean, think about it:

  • If you don’t know your audience, how can you ever create content that can help them?
  • If you don’t know your audience, how can you ever create content that will impact or influence your prospects or customers?
  • If you don’t know your audience, how will your sales conversations ever be anything but frustrating and fruitless?
  • If you don’t know your audience, then how can your content marketing or your business ever succeed?

Do you see why this is such an important lesson for content marketers to learn this year?

But don’t be fooled.

This isn’t just an important lesson for this year. This has ALWAYS been the most important lesson for content marketers and marketers to learn.

If you don’t believe me or former President Obama, maybe you’ll believe a marketing legend…

This Echoes the Warning Eugene Schwartz Gave 24 Years Ago

Eugene Schwartz was a master of copywriting. Why do I say this? Because his copy and letters are said to have generated more than $150 million in sales.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, he was one of the world’s highest paid consultants. (I heard that Rodale Press once reportedly paid him $54,000 for four hours of work!)

Well, in a lecture that he gave 24 years ago he gave a warning to a room of marketers that sounds a lot like the warning that former President Obama gave.

In 1993 a lecture that Schwartz gave to Phillips Publishing called The ‘Lost’ Secrets of Breakthrough Advertising he said this…

“You cannot lose touch with the people of this country, no matter how successful or how potent you are. If you don’t spend at least two hours a week finding out where the market is today, you are finished! You will have a career of three blazing years and be finished.”

Do you understand what that means?

That means your first step as a content marketer, or marketer of ANY kind, is the same as any effective communicator.

You must know your audience.

  • Can you imagine someone who is blind-folded being able to speak effectively to an audience they’ve never met and don’t know?
  • Can you imagine someone who is blind-folded being able to sell effectively to a single prospect that they know nothing about?

Either situation would be impossible, right!?!

Then how can YOU ever create effective content marketing if you don’t know your audience?

If you don’t know your audience, then you are – for all intents and purposes – blindfolded to who you are communicating to!

Do you now see why your most important lesson as a content marketer has nothing to do with your content?

It has everything to do with your audience.

You must know their desires, their dreams, their goals, and even their fears.

Until you accomplish this step, your content marketing, all of your other forms of marketing, will remain powerless and anemic.

More to Come

This lesson is so important that I’ve decided to do two other posts on the topic of knowing your audience.

If you enjoyed this post and found it helpful, then you’re going to want to stay tuned!

But in the meantime…

The Common Mistake Most Businesses Make with Their Content Marketing

Because many companies don’t realize the importance of knowing (REALLY knowing) their audience, they start the process of content creation by asking the wrong question (or at least it’s the wrong question to ask at the beginning).

And that’s the reason their content marketing never seems to get any traction.

If you can really learn this lesson about knowing your audience, then you’ll be able to create content that will allow you to stand out from your competitors.

If you’d like to learn more about this, then check out the FREE 12 minute video I’ve created for you that introduces a way of thinking of content marketing that I call “Question Directed Content Marketing.”

Click here to sign-up to watch the free video!