When trying to convey big ideas, getting started can be the hardest part. Whether creating a proposal, client presentation, LinkedIn post, or thought leadership, to some degree we all struggle with the best way into a topic. We want to both grab attention and make our audience know that we understand what they’re going through. The temptation—particularly for those at tech companies and firms that help clients with digital transformation—is to lead with a pile of evidence that significant technological change is afoot in a given market or sector.
If, however, your first few paragraphs can be summarized as, “technology is changing everything,” please stop what you’re doing. Press Ctrl+A. Hit delete and try again.
The worst way to hook a business audience
For the love of all that is good in the business world, we need to stop explaining to each other that technology is changing everything.
Technology already has changed everything.
People are well aware that, practically speaking, no aspect of any sector or business function is untouched by technological advancement (even if some are behind). While many experts continue to talk about technological change as something to prepare for, the changes started long ago; they are here now, and they require an immediate response.
It leads your discussion down a wormhole.
The influence of technology on how we live and conduct business is so pervasive, there’s no chance you can possibly capture the full scope of everything that’s happening. Just because you don’t mention advanced analytics doesn’t mean you don’t know it exists. And leaving out the statistic that 90 percent of the world’s data was generated in the past year doesn’t imply that you don’t know this is true. Everyone knows it’s true. Because they’ve already read it in the introduction of a million business publications.
The repetition is a turn-off.
You might be about to drop the most brilliant insight you’ve ever had, but if it follows a technology-is-changing-everything intro that your audience has heard dozens of times, they’ve already tuned out. Take the subject of workforce development strategies, for example, where many stories and articles start the same way: “There exists an enormous and growing skills gap because [you guessed it!] technology is changing everything.” Readers see that line in the opening paragraph, think, “oh, this again,” and click over to someone else’s content.
Take this thought leadership article on cybersecurity in the health care industry—it mentions the oft-cited WannaCry attacks in each of the first three paragraphs. It’s likely that in the first nearly 500 words, this piece fails to tell readers anything they don’t already know.
A more sophisticated approach
There is a better way. If you’re in the trenches every day serving clients on technology-related topics, that’s fantastic. Focus on what you know that other people don’t. Convey your distinctive insights right away. Use few words to describe what’s changed and then use more words to home in on what actions readers should take now to adapt. Explain what barriers exist to implementing new strategies and give advice on how to overcome those barriers.
Take this short article, for example, about how technology is transforming the restaurant business. It’s a veiled sales pitch from the founder of software developer Resy. But it contains some insightful commentary on not just how restaurants are using data but also some of the challenges they face—with real-world examples to illustrate how those challenges might be addressed. The author’s hands-on experience translates into real and distinctive insight.
A key element of any coherent B2B content strategy is to showcase truly distinctive knowledge and insight on customers’ key issues. The best content offers new perspectives and analysis, and it takes an audience well beyond the painfully obvious and tired notion that technology is changing everything.
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