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Is Your Content All Steak or All Sizzle? What’s the Right Mix of Boring to B.S.?


Here’s something that I don’t think  folks think about enough when figuring out how best to position their content.  What is the right mix of steak to sizzle or to be blunt how do you balance the “boring” with the “bullshit”?  A common complaint that I often hear about someone that is successfully commercializing their work is that it’s all sizzle, there isn’t any research to justify their work or that they make outlandish claims relative to the outcomes one might expect from their offerings.  And my answer is that’s correct BUT you don’t have to lower your standards and market your content in a way that is inauthentic yet you do need to have some sizzle.

Ultimately all personal or professional development requires hard work, personal responsibility and a commitment from the end user in order for it to yield results that are measurable and impactful.  Have you ever noticed that most really fat people have a library of diet books that promise that they can eat cookies or drink seaweed juice or Acai berries once a day  and the weight will magically disappear? Ever ask someone that’s actually lost a significant amount of weight what it took?  It’s usually hard work and exercise over an extended period of time.  Not quite as much sizzle as the cookie diet but the results are tangible.

There’s a ton of content out there that is all sizzle or total b.s. and it sells quite well.  It runs the gamut from getting rich in real estate to MLM schemes to selling models, negotiation, persuasion, overcoming obstacles and on and on.  So what about the content that actually works?  That can help someone master a skill, eliminate an unhealthy behavior or embrace a new mindset.  What I see in my work is that the folks that have created amazing content tend to be heavy on the steak and light on the sizzle.  It could be because their work is grounded in academic research or years of trial and error or that they just are not great marketers.

boringtobullshit_editedWhat I believe is that if your work is all  sizzle and no steak the market is smart and you won’t have long term, sustainable success (plus you might not sleep that well at night).   You can and will fool some of the people some of the time.  That being said if you are all steak and you don’t have any sizzle than you are doing yourself and your work a disservice.  When I talk to thought leaders I can tell within five minutes how truly passionate they are about the work they have created, how they have seen results that are remarkable and know that they are changing the world (in a variety of ways both large and small) by getting their content into the hands of the right audience.   Than I review their marketing material, websites, blogs, articles, books and the like and it often feels like I just drank four doses of Nyquil.  If your positioning doesn’t convey your passion you’re toast.  If your marketing collateral doesn’t speak to the tangible results that your clients have gained from your work you do not have a shot at winning in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace.

There is no secret formula to get the right balance of boring to B.S.  The mix needs to be authentic and engaging, powerful and credible.  Ultimately what I’ve seen is a polarized way of thinking.  We’ve got more than enough charlatans in the market peddling get rick quick schemes but the reason there isn’t enough credible, solid and viable content.More often than not the folks that have great content are so fearful of being perceived as quacks that they understate the power of their own work. They believe the raw data will do the hard work of telling the story of what their content actually is capable of doing.   Learn from the charlatans, you can make a difference and make money and do it in a way that is aligned with the integrity of your work.  Don’t  be humble when talking about how it has been a key factor in achieving a measurable result. Every dollar spent on nonsense is a dollar that wasn’t spent on content that has the ability to make an individual or an organizations life a better one.  If you combine the power of your passion with the respect your clients have for your work and do it with integrity you will have a far better chance of seeing your work reach and touch the people you created it for.


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Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. if your message is passionate then you do not need to worry about b.s. vs sizzle. state what it is that excites your message will resonate with people.

  2. Well said! There’s a lot to be said for keeping integrity in you work–but you can still say it in an exciting way! Enthusiasm sells. One way to look at it is “Being impeccable with your word,” something that comes from Ruiz’s The Four Agreements. This was a great book that I applied to business communication in a series of blogs. Thank you again for great insight!

  3. Peter,

    What an insightful article, bruttaly honest and educational. Despite my success and survival, I think this article spoke directly to me and my unintentionally limiting business style. A concept with a lot iof steak is lost in the selling and leading by substance example instead of using the combinations you refer to.

    At the risk of being overly self critical the article has made me honestly reassess why clients who let me in love the services. And deal with problem that the steak isn’t being properly marketed. Thank you for talking to me.

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