On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to adopt the Declaration of Independence. In it, the Founding Fathers stated that the 13 American colonies viewed themselves as independent sovereign states that should no longer be subject to British rule. And so, with the stroke of a pen (or more likely the stroke of a feather quill), the United States of America was born.
While Independence Day might be a great time to reflect on the founding of our nation, we’ll stop the history lesson there. We’re content geeks after all, not history buffs. But, considering that the Declaration of Independence is one of the most important pieces of content ever written, we think that it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate.
At 1,337 words, it’s not a terribly long document — just twice the length of this blog post — yet it packs a real punch and is an impressive reminder of the power of words. In case you need a refresher, one of the Declaration’s best-known lines comes in the preamble:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
This one sentence is not only almost universally recognizable, it’s also been said to contain some of the “most potent and consequential words in American history.” It was the power of these words that helped to inspire the colonists, that put a stake in the ground with Great Britain, and that ultimately allowed us to create the country that we know today.
More Than Words
While there are many lessons that can be learned from the Declaration of Independence, for today’s content creators it’s this: You’ve got to take care to create content that’s more than the sum of its parts, that inspires others, and that makes a lasting impression.
Admittedly that’s no small feat, particularly if you work for a B2B company and spend your days marketing complex products or creating the technical content necessary to support them. While it takes inspiration, creativity, and drive, there are some simple things that you can do to help put you on the path to creating great content that really resonates with your audience. That includes:
- Knowing your audience.
Understand who you’re writing for, what they care about, and what’s going to inspire and motivate them to take a specific action. To do this, you’ve got to do your homework and take the time to learn about your customers, what their problems and pain points are, and what they want to hear about from you
- Adopting the right tone of voice for that audience.
You need to tailor your tone of voice to match the people you’re writing for. While in today’s world that increasingly means adopting a voice that’s more casual and conversational, it’s important to figure out in much more specific detail what kind of voice will work best for your audience. (Need help doing this? Check out our eBook on tone of voice.)
- Being consistent.
Make sure that once you know your audience and what tone of voice to use with them, that you use that voice consistently in all of the content you create. If you don’t, you risk creating confusion among your target audience by giving them the sense that your brand isn’t aligned and that you’re not speaking with one voice.
So this year, as you celebrate the Fourth of July and sit back to watch the fireworks, just remember that words can be very powerful tools. The Founding Fathers proved that with the Declaration of Independence. As a content creator, it’s your job to try to do the same thing with every new piece of content that you publish. While that takes creativity and inspiration, knowing your audience, adopting the right tone for that audience, and being consistent in your use of that tone will certainly help take you a long way.