Video: AI Defined # 4 Unsupervised Learning

Hey there,

In this video I share the latest edition of the artificial intelligence defined series where I give definitions for common machine learning and artificial intelligence terms.

In video # 4 I define the 2nd type of machine learning: Unsupervised learning.

Check it out

Here

 

3 Problems Even Good AI and Machine Learning Content Suffers From

Every morning, I have an artificial intelligence and machine learning reading list and every morning I see the same 3 problems in AI and machine learning content.

Around 8 am each morning, I make my way to the office, usually listening to the Dan Le Batard show,  make my incredibly delicious Bali Blue Moon coffee in my Aeropress and I sit down to look at my aggregated AI and ML articles.

And here we come to problem # 1:

Problem # 1: Bad Headlines!

The first problem I notice is the headlines of some of the best and most interesting articles.

Here’s an example from this morning on Medium

Do you know what Numpy is as a new reader?

How about I/O?

I won’t even mention back propagation.

One of the Big Picture problems with marketing AI and Machine Learning is that the marketing materials are WAY too technical and complicated.

The Waymo article is REALLY close to having a good headline all they need to do is eliminate the term Google I/O re-cap which lowers the value of the content and is confusing if someone is looking for a more accessible easy to understand article which it is.

When it comes to writing headlines you want to take a cue from the high traffic sites like Buzzfeed.

An easy way to start creating more interesting headlines is to use this old Gawker trick: Begin with a question that would false if you removed the question mark.

You can also use Co-schedule’s awesome headline analyzer tool for free Here

Problem # 2: In Article Algorithms and terminology keys.

I come from the Ivy League world of academia, I understand the drilled into you process of showing your work in academic papers.

Guess what blogs and content marketing pieces aren’t

I’ll give you a second.

Did you guess academic papers?

Because academic papers make TERRIBLE content.

You don’t need to show your work in content pieces. All you need to do is show the BENEFITS of your product and those who are interested and so technically inclined will figure out how to get in touch with you and have their data scientists call your data scientists so to speak.

I know it can feel scary to strip out what you believe is the most important parts of your content but it’s not what the audience is trying to hear.

Your ideal clients want you to talk about what your AI or ML can do for them and their business.

Trying to show them HOW it works is like trying to sell hot stew during the Pawnee Summer

They don’t care about how brillant you are.

Sorry.

Problem # 3: There is no “Toaster” 

My friend the super smart marketer Tony Almeida has a concept he calls the “Toaster” for his content.

The concept of a toaster is that it is one easy to understand or implement idea that the person reading or watching your content can take away and use without even reading the whole article.

He calls it a toaster after the way that banks used to give out free toasters in order to get new clients to join the bank.

One of the things I’ve noticed from reading about an hour of AI and ML content a day for the past 2 years is that if the article or video does have a “toaster” it is usually in the form of some algorithmic breakdown that you need a CS degree to even begin to understand.

For every piece of content you create you want to have a toaster.

And you need to make that Toaster simple enough for anyone who might stumble upon it to understand like this short video on where AI uses sentiment analysis to determine that Ben Affleck is in fact displaying the emotions of sadness in the infamous “Sad Ben Affleck” video.

Now that is a GREAT toaster that anyone can understand.

Ok so let’s quickly re-cap the 3 big problems I see in even good AI and ML content

Having read a ton of AI and ML content over the last few years I noticed the following 3 big problems:

  1. Bad Headlines. Either Too technical or not focused enough on the benefits.
  2. In article algorithms and terminology keys. Just no.
  3. Not enough “Toasters” or overly technical toasters.

So now you know to spice up your headlines, remove the algorithms and terminology keys and include 1 simple easy to understand idea or take-away in each article.

If you do just those 3 things you will see a huge leap in the quality and reaction to your ai and ml content.

Some thoughts on Rising Wealth Inequality and what that means for marketers!

Wealth Inequality

Last year homelessness in Los Angeles County rose by an astounding 23% last year. 

Why?

The average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in LA county, not the just the nice parts is around $1800/month.

My best friend is an engineer for Universal makes around $100k a year and is perpetually broke because he spends 50% of his income on housing.

And it’s not like he’s living in a mansion. He lives in a 1 bedroom in a downtown mid-rise.

Back east in NYC all of my friends have been forced out of the city to Weehawken or Hoboken because they simply could not afford the rising rents in the city.

Contrast this with an anecdote my ex fiancee recently shared with me about how the 6th floor of her luxury building in midtown has been rented out by “some sort of Saudi prince” who uses it to store around 100 motorcycles.

Stories like these highlight how bad the asymmetry is between the haves and the have nots as well if not better than any sort of statistics but I prepared some anyway:

Some quick wealth inequality stats:

The Richest 1% hold 40% of all wealth in the USA

Over the past 25 years only America’s most affluent families have added to their networth.

The richest 1% own 50% of all stocks and mutual funds held in the USA

The billionaire’s on the Forbes 400 list have more wealth than all black households and 1/3rd of Latino households combined.

As Drew Magary once wrote “If you’re not rich in America, you are fucked.”

I am VERY passionate about wealth inequality in America because it directly affects our freedom.

In 2014 This study   done by Cornell revealed that America is not a democracy but rather an oligarchy where only the richest among us voices are heard.

The incredible book Dark Money by Jane Mayer goes over the myriad of ways that rich families like the Kochs and The Mercers have subverted our political system for their own ends.

Suffice to say I was not surprised when Donald Trump became president.

At some point I would love to write a detailed passionate plea for wealth re-distribution similar to The Case For Reparations by The GAWD Ta-nehisi Coates. But for now I want to be a little more self centered (shocking I know) and talk about what this rising tide of wealth inequality means for marketers like me.

And possibly you.

What does that mean for those of us who make a living creating content designed to sell stuff?

Here’s a few of my thoughts on the subject: 

  1. Sell either expensive or cheap stuff nothing in the middle. When the big financial crisis of 2008 hit I was unexpectedly in a good place because I was selling expensive $5000 year long dating coaching services. In a recession counterintuitively luxury goods sales rise because the rich still have their money even if they have less. If you had $20 million and lost half of it in a crash you still have $10 million which makes you a luxury consumer. The flip side of this is that if you have a cheap product like one of my clients who also launched his $11.99 male hygiene product in 2008 you can see the same success as well. As less people have money , products need to be able to justify a luxury price tag or be around $10. 
  2. A crash is coming, prepare accordingly. We are in a big bull market and inevitably when prices of assets climb for this long we are due for a crash. Whether it will be as big as the crash of 2008 remains to be seen, but only idiots think that the market can continue to go up forever. Anyone marketing should be preparing for the next financial crisis and how it will affect your business.
  3. Luxury purchases are about to come back in a big way. Luxury items tend to boom when a financial crisis hits. Expect coaching especially for businesses that guarantee more income to explode again. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a variety of expensive crypto scams as those who have a base understanding of blockchain will find a ravenous audience in those trying to move their money out of a bottoming stock market. In any event I would imagine that the market for luxury purchases and the marketers who sell them will be booming soon.
  4. Price is everything for poor people and nothing for rich people. This is something I have already noticed from consulting. While smaller companies with lower budgets have to stress and agonize over every penny, companies and individuals that have money might not even check the price. Price is everything for those who don’t have money and nothing for those who have all the money. Keep that in mind and watch this video of 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy thinking Potatoes are $100 a bag.      

5. SMBs are going to be in TROUBLE! Small and medium businesses or SMBs are the lifeblood of the economy. They also are the businesses hit hardest by economic declines and most affected by wealth inequality. Not to go all Nassim Taleb here on you but SMBs tend to be affected most by the fat tails of probabolistic outcomes. If they don’t get that lucky black swan to become a larger 10M+ business they often end up going the other way. If you are a marketer who sells mostly to SMBs you may need to start setting your sights higher or lower. 

That was basically just a coffee fueled braindump on wealth inequality and how it affects marketers feel free to leave other thoughts concerns or comments in the comment section below.

AI is Coming For Content Creation Jobs, Faster Than You Think!

“The Robots are Coming To Take Our Jobs!”

Fear of having jobs taken by robots (or immigrants, or people of color if we’re being honest) is a fear as old as jobs themselves.

A quick search for the root of this fear leads to results like this wikipedia entry for Technophobia which can trace it’s roots all the way back to a group of weavers destroying machines in 1675.

The fear of robots specifically goes at least “The Brazen Android” a story published in The Atlantic all the way back in 1891.

Whether it’s weavers, or Ford assembly line workers or now sportswriters the fear of robots taking our jobs is nothing new.

For the most part the fear of robots was limited to more manual tasks like assembling Ford F150s.

Companies like Braincorp have created automatic floor sweepers, while the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner has been cleaning homes with questionable effectiveness for over a decade.

Robotic Process Automation or RPA use machine learning to complete tedious paperwork tasks such as compiling documents for signatures or checking for compliance or legal privilege.

But for the most part those who created things (like content) believed that we would be safe from the robot job apocalypse.

Only it appears we were wrong.

First the content creating robots started by writing ads. If you’ve worked in online marketing over the last few years you’ve no doubt discovered programmatic Pay per click (PPC).

Programmatic PPC is an artificially intelligent system that allows you to automatically buy, place and optimize display advertising.

Or in other words the robot buys, places and optimizes the ad for you.

There goes a whole industry of PPC consultants.

Programmatic PPC
The Mist Comes For PPC consultants

In fact it’s been estimated that in 5 years all PPC ads will run, and optimize automatically after the initial setup without any human interface necessary at all.

Which is why Google is actively calling everyone who advertises with them to offer them help with their programmatic system.

I know, I’ve been on 3 of those calls and grilled them for information about their robots which I’ll share in an upcoming article.

Now content creators, bloggers, and video makers have another type of AI to content with as content creating algorithms have begun to slowly trickle onto the market.

The technology being used is

  • Natural language generation (NLG) similar to Natural language processing (NLP) this is the task of generating natural language from machine representation systems.
  • Intelligent narratives sometimes also called “data driven narratives” which are stories created from the collected data personalized for the audience.
  • Automated storytelling technology which is responsible for the first AI created screenplay Sunspring

And this technology is ALREADY being used.

3 companies already using A.I to create content:

  1. Quill. The most well known NLG software is Quill which was created by the Narrative Science company. Quill started as an experiment at Northwestern and currently produces over 1 million words a day as it creates reports, news stories and headlines for companies such as Groupon, and T.Row Price. 
  2. The Washington Post. It’s no surprise that a paper owned by the World’s Richest Man Jeff Bezos would be on the frontlines of AI created content. The Washington Post has an in house AI content creation system called “Heligraf” which wrote over 850 stories in 2017 alone. Heliograf also composes social media posts, news updates and alerts. Notable events covered by Heliograf include the Rio olympics and local political races in the DMV area.
  3. The Associated Press. While many people associate the AP with the old world journalism of newsrooms, black coffee and unfiltered cigarettes, they are actually one of the most advanced companies when it comes to content creating AI. The AP uses Automated Insights to take care of it’s oft neglected by humans corporate earnings reports beat. But what really separates the AP from the rest of the pack when it comes to intelligent content creation is with Wordsmith “The World’s First Public Natural Language Generation Platform. Let’s explain because that is a mouthful. Wordsmith works with you to create a story. First you set up rules, a template and and the required datapoints. From there Wordsmith does the rest creating the story. Wordsmith generates over 1.5 Billion Pieces of Content A Year or about half as much as I do. Companies that use Wordsmith include Microsoft and Allstate.

If you like me make your living creating content those last few paragraphs sent a cold shiver down your spine.

But there’s still reason for optimism if you are a content creator!

Why Content Creators shouldn’t panic: 

  1. Emotional Depth. If you look at the reviews for Sunspring the AI created screenplay you’ll see a lot of words like quirky and interesting. That’s because it’s still very difficult for AI to recognize the role that emotions play in making content interesting! Think of a show like “Parenthood” which is basically emotional porn. They crank the 70s music, a mother and son have a universally emotional moment and we all cry. AI has a LONG way to go until it is capable of writing shows like “Parenthood” or it’s evolutionary successor “This is us.”
  2. Context. In this Post I talk about how the biggest challenge for AI when it comes to language is context. Identifying things like sarcasm, and irony are still difficult for machines to do and are a BIG part of creating content that connects with your audience. Until computer programs can understand something as complicated as the “Aristocrats” joke comedians and other content creators will still be safe

3. Creativity. Last but certainly not least is creativity. Movies like Memento, or Pulp Fiction which bent the way narratives are used can’t be created by AI. AT least not yet. There will always be something to be said for the genius of human creativity that cannot be replicated.

I think about AI with regards to content creation like the famous quote about 500 monkeys at typewriters writing the best novel of all time. Or more accurately like this simpsons clips

While content creation robots are coming, all they are going to do is take the menial content creation jobs. They won’t be writing the World’s best novel or even the most popular blog posts.

If you’re a content creator who just churns out crap, then yes your time is probably coming to an end because the robots can churn out crap faster and cheaper.

But there has always been a market for good writing, entertaining videos and engaging speeches and I think there always will be.

 

10 Great Quotes On The Creative Process For A Monday!

Happy Monday!

I had a nice weekend of actually not working for the first time in a long time.

Which means that as I try to ease back in to the creative process of the week which will include creating

 

  • 3 articles for this blog (optimistic I know)
  • 5-6 articles for various clients
  • 3 videos
  • A report on marketing Artificial Intelligence services

I am reminded that the creative process is a workmanlike one. As you are probably already aware I am not a huge fan of inspirational quotes but I do find the following 10 quotes on the creative process to be particularly useful and enlightening so here we go

All quotes are from Good Reads  and have not been fact checked for accuracy.

10 Great Quotes On The Creative Process For A Monday!

  1. “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

[MovieMaker Magazine #53 – Winter, January 22, 2004 ]”

Jim Jarmusch

  1.  “Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.”

(Casual Chance, 1964)”

Colette

  1. “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”

Octavia E. Butler, Bloodchild and Other Stories

  1. “A story is not like a road to follow … it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.”

Alice Munro, Selected Stories

  1. “Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.”

(Interview with NEH chairman Bruce Cole, Humanities, July/Aug. 2002, Vol. 23/No. 4)”

David McCullough

  1. “Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.”

[Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking (The Creativity Post, December 6, 2011)]”

Michael Michalko

  1. “Anxious, inexperienced writers obey rules. Rebellious, unschooled writers break rules. Artists master the form.”

Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting

  1. “Dialogue is not just quotation. It is grimaces, pauses, adjustments of blouse buttons, doodles on a napkin, and crossings of legs.”

Jerome Stern, Making Shapely Fiction

  1. “We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better.”

Walt Stanchfield

  1. “Don’t dash off a six-thousand-word story before breakfast. Don’t write too much. Concentrate your sweat on one story, rather than dissipate it over a dozen. Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will none the less get something that looks remarkably like it. Set yourself a “stint,” [London wrote 1,000 words nearly every day of his adult life] and see that you do that “stint” each day; you will have more words to your credit at the end of the year.

Study the tricks of the writers who have arrived. They have mastered the tools with which you are cutting your fingers. They are doing things, and their work bears the internal evidence of how it is done. Don’t wait for some good Samaritan to tell you, but dig it out for yourself.

See that your pores are open and your digestion is good. That is, I am confident, the most important rule of all.

Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.

And work. Spell it in capital letters. WORK. WORK all the time. Find out about this earth, this universe; this force and matter, and the spirit that glimmers up through force and matter from the maggot to Godhead. And by all this I mean WORK for a philosophy of life. It does not hurt how wrong your philosophy of life may be, so long as you have one and have it well.

The three great things are: GOOD HEALTH; WORK; and a PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE. I may add, nay, must add, a fourth—SINCERITY. Without this, the other three are without avail; with it you may cleave to greatness and sit among the giants.”

[Getting Into Print (The Editor magazine, March 1903)]”

Jack London

I certainly feel a bit more creative, hopefully you do as well!

To a productive Monday!

How AI Companies Can Find Their Voice In Their Content Marketing

I have a little bit of a rant for you today.

I have been doing a lot of work with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, as I am sure you are all aware of.

If not here’s a link to my Medium Page

Anyway one of the things that is really interesting about the marketing in the AI world is that IT ALL SOUNDS THE SAME!

This is something I have noticed in very technical or academic types of businesses. These sorts of businesses get very concerned with sounding scholarly or academic and end up sounding out of touch.

One of the big reasons for this is something called “The Curse Of Knowledge.”

The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias which states that the more you know about a subject the more likely you are to explain it in a way that assumes a high level understanding in the listener.

So for example an AI company might do text analysis and text analysis is kind of like the swiss army knife of Artificial Intelligence it works for a variety of industries from law to human resources which means there are a lot of companies that this AI firm could do business with.

Not only that, but the guy(or girl though it’s rare) who founded the company did his/her thesis paper at some super fancy tech school on text analysis. They have been working on this stuff since he/she was literally a teenager. We’re talking 15-20 years of daily obsessive focus on text analysis. So when he’s thinking about marketing, he REALLY wants to show off all of the high level cutting edge functions of this technology.

And he/she forgets that their audience is not nearly as advanced.

If you look at the AI marketing that is currently being done, the voice is academic, and technical.

It’s writing that is designed for academia not sales.

So, how can AI companies find their voice?

I have a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t let your engineers or founders create marketing materials. One of the most frustrating things about working with AI companies in 2018 is that they have marketing departments that are staffed with engineers and technical writers not marketers. There is a strange distrust and quite frankly and obvious lack of respect for the marketing profession at most AI companies as if somehow marketing is a “soft” science as opposed to the more rigourous computer and data science needed for AI. Right now having technical content is not hurting these companies but it will VERY soon. 85% of executives surveyed by the Harvard Business Review predicted that AI is going to change their companies by 2021. This means that in order to grow AI companies are going to need to stop focusing on Fortune 1000 companies and start focusing on SMBs who are not going to have anyone capable of doing some of the equations in these white papers.
  2. Find the fun. One of the best examples of AI marketing done right is Soundhound which showcases it’s unique Houndify voice enabled platform in everything from cars to break dancing robots at CES in 2018. Instead of focusing on the science behind their platform, Soundhound put the focus on all of the fun and entertaining ways their platform could be used. People gravitate to content that is enjoyable and fun. As Bomani Jones once said ” No one can regulate how much fun you have at work.” AI companies should find the fun both in the office and in their marketing.
  3. Identify and Write To Your Evangelists. One of the interesting things about technology and media is that they need evangelists to spread. I personally learned about Spotify, Uber, S-Town, and Serial from friends and media personalities I trust. When it comes to technology because the learning curve is usually so steep the early focus has to be on finding and creating evangelists both in the press and in the business world. Quick question, right now who is the most trusted writer in artificial intelligence? Chances are you couldn’t think of one because there really isn’t one. Furthermore there isn’t even a group of gurus who you can trust like there is in marketing or other industries. The group of experts are a bunch of data science PHDs who have trouble explaining these concepts without using words that the audience has to look up. Right now when you google AI talks or videos there’s an 89.9% chance you’re going to get a PHD up on stage. And who do academics talk speak to? Other academics. At some point the cycle has to be broken and companies have to identify who the AI evangelists are in the media and who knows how to market AI to SMBs and other companies that didn’t even realize they were the ideal audience.
  4. Pick a niche and produce the best AI content in it. Right now another problem for AI companies is that their products can be used in too many different ways which means that the same company might have a white paper on using AI in sports and a video on using AI in medicine. Right now there is an incredible opportunity to own parts of the AI world. Companies need to focus their content and the voice in their writing and videos on being the best company at a certain niche whether that’s being the best drug discovery AI firm or being the AI firm that handles legal briefs. Once you define this niche it helps you to define what your content is actually about and frame things appropriately.

I’ve tried really hard to avoid saying HIRE CONTENT PROFESSIONALS because I understand that right now the online sales market for AI is not really there and all sales are made at the C level face to face or through long arduous government contracts. But the point stands. Before these companies know it, the time to sell to SMBs and focus on widespread adoption will be here and the companies that take their time in finding their voice, dominating a niche, and continue to let academics create marketing materials the further behind they will fall.

A Beginner’s Guide To Using Themes in Your Content Creation

I was in 10th Grade the first time I was introduced to the idea of themes in literature. My English class was reading the “Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. If you went to high school in the USA you probably have a similar memory.

I’ve always been a pretty fast reader especially with fiction so I read ahead of the class and quickly realized that the Scarlet Letter was about so much more than just a woman who had a child out of wedlock.

“The Scarlet Letter” is dripping with themes about society, shame and stigmatization, all of which are universal themes that even a hormone crazed teenager can appreciate which is why it has stood the test of time and is taught to all 10th graders as an example of great literature.

Themes are found throughout literature, but you might be surprised to find out that they are also found in great content marketing.

A theme is what your content is REALLY about beyond the surface levels.

If your content is a picture, the theme is the frame. Themes focus your content on what’s really important the same way picture frames focus your eyes on the photograph.

Let’s look at a couple examples of themes in well known marketer’s content:

Tim Ferriss- Them: “Life hacking.” While I would argue that the theme of the “4 hour workweek” is lifestyle porn for 9 to 5ers, the obvious theme in Ferriss’ content is life hacking. In the “4 hour body” Ferriss details all of the ways that he attempted to hack the human body including his experiments with steroids and what I like to call “Rich guy” medical testing. In a weird bit of life imitating themes Ferriss has now hacked the art of the best selling book and turns transcriptions of his interviews with famous people into bestsellers like “Tools of Titans” which offers wait for it….. Life hacks from the rich and famous. Tim Ferriss is out here living his theme.

Dave Asprey- Theme:”Bulletproof Living.” Dave Asprey originally sprung to fame online with his “Bulletproof Coffee” which combine butter, coconut oil and coffee to create what Dave claimed was the world’s best breakfast and the basis for everything from weight loss to improving your cognitive function. He followed up on this with various other products and diets based on “Bulletproof” living. One thing that wasn’t so bulletproof were some of Dave Asprey’s claims on the Joe Rogan Experience which led Joe to go on this epic rant

Donald Trump – Theme: “I Am Rich, and Successful” Leaving the politics out of it Donald Trump has created 30 years of products and investments out of the theme that he is what a rich successful business person looks like despite never being one of the 100 richest men in America let alone the world. From “The Art of The Deal” through Trump University and the Apprentice Trump has consistently used the themes of wealth and success in every business venture and to drum up billions of dollars of free publicity

Get the idea of what themes are in content now a little bit better?

Great, now let’s look at how to figure out the themes for your content with

3 questions to ask yourself to figure out what your themes are:

  1. What do you want to be known for ? The first part of deciding on your theme is figuring out what you want to be known for? Try to boil this down to 1 or 2 words or phrases that really encapsulate what you want your themes to say about you the same way that Donald Trump uses his themes of rich and successful.
  2. What themes resonate with your clients? In addition to what you want to become known for you also need to keep in mind what resonates with your clients. There’s no point creating content with themes that don’t resonate. This is one of the reason self help resonates so strongly with some people while others just think it’s weird. The themes of self help are things like empowerment, destroying limits, creating the world you want and for some people those themes just don’t resonate.
  3.  What are your values as a company? What are the things you want your company to be known for? In the mid aughts Verizion went all in on the theme of best cellular service. You might remember these commercials:

The only problem with that theme was that over time consumers started to care less about the quality of their cell phone coverage as cell phone coverage improved overall. This lead to “Paul” switching sides from Verizion to Sprint as Sprint jumped on the theme that price is more important than service.

Ok, now you have your theme or possibly a couple of themes (I would advise against more than one theme but do you) how do you start to incorporate these themes into your content?

5 ways to incorporate themes into your content

  1. Show, don’t tell. The first piece of writing advice given to any aspiring author, you want to demonstrate your themes rather than explicitly telling your audience what your theme is. Though I will add a caveat that some audiences have trouble with subtlety so you have to know how sophisticated your audience is.
  2. Have running features. One of the constants throughout content with good themes is what I like to call running features. A good example of a running feature is an inside joke or re-occuring situation. In all of Shonda Rimes shows for example, one of the themes is that alcohol reveals the character’s emotions. Olivia Pope drinks a fancy super expensive red wine but switches to Tequila when things start to get real.
  3. Connect the dots without giving the answer. When it comes to injecting themes into your content you really want to lead the horse the horse to water but not try to make him drink. If you spell out what your themes are too obviously you risk coming across as try hard or insincere. Instead you want to sprinkle in bread crumbs that make it very easy for the audience to figure out what the themes are without stating them or making them too obvious.
  4. Be consistent. Remember that themes are about what the content is REALLY is about and by extension what your business is about. That means that EVERYTHING you produce needs to be consistent and fit in or at least not blatently violate the themes you have established.
  5. Look for unique tie-ins. Last but certainly not least you want to specifically look for unique or unusual ways to integrate your themes. While you want to be obvious about how you connect the dots and seed the themes in your content, the more unique or out of the ordinary the way you get to the theme is, the more it will be remembered and understood similarly to the Greek parables which sought to teach morals through stories.

That was a lot of information!

Let’s quickly go summarize everything to make sure that you get the absolute most value out of this post.

I started this post by telling you about the first time I noticed themes in 10th grade while reading “The Scarlet Letter.”

After that I defined theme for you as follows:

A theme is what your content is REALLY about beyond the surface levels.

If your content is a picture, the theme is the frame. Themes focus your content on what’s really important the same way picture frames focus your eyes on the photograph.

After that we went through 3 questions to ask yourself to determine your themes:

  1. What do you want to be known for ? The first part of deciding on
  2. What themes resonate with your clients?
  3.  What are your values as a company?

And I taught you 5 ways to incorporate your themes:

5 ways to incorporate themes into your content

  1. Use subtext not context
  2. Show don’t tell
  3. Connect the dots without giving the answer
  4. Be consistent
  5. Look for unique tie-ins

Now you know everything you need to start incorporating themes into your content making them resonate with your audience and help them define you and your business clearly in their minds.

 

 

7 Signs Your Content Sucks!

Every month over 59 million blogs are published on WordPress alone.

That means every day 1.97 MILLION blogs are written and published.

Nearly 2 million a day!

30 hours of video is published to Youtube every minute.

But if we can keep it all the way 100, while there is no lack of content, the VAST majority of content SUCKS!

It’s true.

It can be hard to face the reality that your content isn’t up to par.

But base rates are base rates and with so much content out there, the majority is not going to be good.

Here’s 7 ways to tell if your content sucks!

  1. It doesn’t get shared. This is one of the easiest metrics to measure. Quality content gets shared. I personally share 3-5 articles a day on my Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook accounts. If something resonates with people or they think it’s useful they will share it. If your content is being distributed properly and people aren’t sharing it, that’s a huge red flag that your content is the problem.
  2. It’s generic. Almost every search term out there has some EXTREMELY generic content on the first page of the search results. If when you google the subject of your blog post you find 5 other results on the exact same subject that’s a sign that your content sucks.
  3. It’s formulaic. I have to admit I can be guilty of this. Especially when I am writing introduction or beginner level posts. But if you write every post around the same formula whether it’s a personal revelation, list post, quotes post or whatever. You want to have different types of posts so that your audience doesn’t get bored.
  4. It doesn’t trigger the 3Bs. In his book “Trust Me, I’m Lying” Ryan Holiday talks about how content that goes viral threatens the 3Bs. Behavior, beliefs and belongings. When you’re creating content you want to be aware of how it affects and triggers those 3 Bs. In this post I’m trying to trigger your belief that your content is good enough. If you’re an online marketer that might also directly affect your belongings because bad content will negatively affect your business and income.

Check out my video on Ryan’s latest book here

5. It’s too short. I always say this and people always disagree but the numbers back me up. Don’t trust me, trust Neil Patel who did a deep dive into the data and proved that longform blog posts over 1500 words perform WAY better than these stupid short 500 word blurbs that have infected the content creation business because they are cheap and don’t require actual writers. If you do short form content not just me but Neil Patel guarantees your content is not performing as well as it could have.

6. You don’t get comments. Comments are a bit hit or miss in the era of the captcha but they are a brute force metric for seeing whether or not people are feeling what you write. If people are not commenting on your posts and asking questions in addition to just saying “Great Post” chances are that your content could be better.

7. It doesn’t drive sales. Last but not least good content leads to sales. So many marketing managers and professionals I talk to say they can’t quantify their content’s impact on the bottom line. That tells me that their content simply isn’t good enough. Great content is the best salesman there is. When people read or watch quality content they are going to contact you and ask about your products or services. Bad content, mediocre content and even good enough content don’t drive sales, great content does.

Ok that’s going to wrap it up for me on this beautiful Friday as I am hoping to get out of the office and actually enjoy my day.

To re-cap the 7 signs that your content sucks are:

  1. It doesn’t get shared.
  2. It’s generic.
  3. It’s formulaic.
  4. It doesn’t trigger the 3Bs.
  5. It’s too short.
  6. You don’t get comments. .
  7. It doesn’t drive sales.

Now get out there and make content that doesn’t suck!