A vague number of years ago, maybe ten, somebody realised that instead of yelling at people to buy stuff online it would be much more pleasant to create helpful content. So began the era of the explainer article.
Broadly speaking, explainers are a helpful method of navigating through a sea of stuff. Complex political situation? Here’s a simple overview. Not sure what type of dog to get? Here’s some information to help you figure that out. Explainers swallow up all that internet fluff and barf it back up in a neat little pellet.
In the world of marketing and digital content, explainers are now everywhere. And – wow – are they relentlessly helpful. 5 ways to beat the algorithm! 5 tips to make your copy sparkle! 5 ways to grab your audience by the shoulders and shake them hard until they cry and buy ten thousand of whatever it is you’re selling!
As a reader it’s hard to know which end is up. So many instructions – but which to follow?
As a content creator I’m guilty as anyone else of pushing out the “value”. Problem is when it’s the same value everybody else is giving out. Does anyone really have anything new to add? How do we, as content creators, offer something different to the bland mass of general advice to a general audience?
And how do readers stop themselves being blindsided by an internet of marketing “top tips” that threatens to become just as discombobulating as the topics it tries to explain?
The simple answer? One size will never fit all. Do your thing, your way.
Writers – stop trying to appeal to everyone. It’s boring.
Readers – the answers are in you, not in someone else’s step by step. Nobody ever got anywhere exciting by following somebody else’s plan (look what happened to Chester Copperpot).
And if you think I just wrote an explainer article explaining why explainers are rubbish, you would be exactly right.
Now excuse me, I’m off to write “5 ways to grab your audience by the shoulders and shake them hard until they cry and buy ten thousand of whatever it is you’re selling” because, now I’ve made up the title, that shit needs writing.
I’m Penny, a copywriter and content strategist. I help businesses write words that make customers fall in love with their brand.
Picture credit Matthew Waring.