4 content marketing lessons I’ve learnt from my cat

André Spiteri

Meet Jenny, my awesome cat.

She’s about nine years old. Or so I think. When I adopted her she was already an adult, you see.

Jenny and I have been through a lot together. We’ve moved four different houses in four different cities in two different countries. She’s travelled by car, including a seven hour stretch from London to Edinburgh. She’s been on buses. And she’s flown on planes (still needs to experience the tube though).

Jenny starts meowing insistently for food at 7 am sharp each morning and at 7:30 pm sharp every evening. The rest of the time, she does fuck-all. Unless you count snoring loudly. Which, as much as I love her, can get pretty annoying when I’m trying to focus on work.

But what does this have to do with content marketing at all, you may be wondering?

Adding some intrigue to your writing works wonders

Let’s start at the beginning shall we?

When you first came across this post, you probably chuckled to yourself. Or perhaps, you went for the classic “WTF is this geezer smoking?” Or something to that effect.

And I mean, on the face of it, that title’s bloody ludicrous, isn’t it?

But wasn’t that reaction the very same thing that made you read on?

“What could a lazy cat with a never-ending appetite possibly teach me about content marketing?” you may have said to yourself. “What’s this guy on about?” And, before you knew it, here you were, on the last line of the 12th paragraph of this piece.

That, my friend, is intrigue at work.

We create approximately 211 million pieces of content every minute. This means people on the internet are so overloaded that most won’t ever see your content. And 8 out of 10 people who do see it won’t make it past the headline.

Clearly, you need some way to hook them and reel them in. And that’s where putting some intrigue into your writing comes in.

Intrigue helps you stand out and cut through the clutter.

It piques your readers’ interest and gets their attention.

Most importantly, it gets them reading, which increases your chances of getting your message across.

Getting into the swing of things takes time

Jenny and I are best friends. But it wasn’t always that way.

During the first few weeks I got her, she’d spend her days hiding under the bed and the nights meowing incessantly. I was sleep deprived. And I suddenly had to do additional chores — like clean the litter box — without enjoying any of the benefits of cat ownership.

I was tempted to take her back to the SPCA a few times, but I stuck with it (I did buy myself a box of earplugs though, for my own sanity). And the result is a long-lasting relationship that keeps on giving.

Content marketing is like that too. Crafting a great strategy, coming up with ideas and writing killer pieces takes time and effort, but it’s not a quick fix. It can take up to six months to start seeing your efforts bear fruit.

But if you do stick with it, it could be the best investment in your business you’ll ever make.

Speaking of which:

Persistence is key

Jenny is probably the most persistent being I know, at least when it comes to food.

She won’t take no for an answer. She’ll wear me down with her meowing until I feed her.

Now, I’m not saying you should meow insistently at your readers until they buy your stuff (you could try… but I doubt you’d get results).

What I am advocating though, is being persistent with your content distribution strategy.

When it comes to content marketing, your job doesn’t end when you press publish:

Share your content immediately on social media (and that includes Facebook and LinkedIn groups whose members you think might find your content useful)

• Share your content again on social media the next day. If you’re on Twitter, it’s worth pinning the tweet.
• Share again the next week
• Republish on Medium and LinkedIn Pulse to get more eyeballs. It’s worth waiting at least seven days before you do this, though, so your blog will rank first. But don’t worry too much about it being duplicate content. Several experts agree this isn’t an issue.
• Consider repurposing your posts. For example, you could split the gist of it into bite-sized tips you can share individually.

Be clear and, most of all, honest

Jenny often meows for food to try and trick me into giving her more, even though my partner will have just fed her (she’s on an obesity diet, so we’re careful with her portions). She fooled me twice. But now I’m on to her. So, unless I’m home alone, I’ll always ask before I feed her.

Likewise, you may get away with deceiving your customers for a while, too. But, ultimately, they’ll be on to you.

I find her attempts at deviousness incredibly endearing. But that’s because she’s a cat. Or maybe because they’re so childish and transparent. It’s unlikely your customers will see it the same way. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, customers today are prioritising honesty more than ever before.

It takes years to build a reputation, but only a second to destroy it. So while it’s always good to use storytelling and to be creative, you should use your content marketing to build a relationship of trust with your customers, not to mislead them. And if that means setting out an inconvenient truth, so be it.

Leave the subterfuge at the door.

André Spiteri

Award-winning copywriter for financial services and fintech brands