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Becoming Compelling

Today I have something for you to think about. I figure this is a good time, being as we are at the start of a new year. It’s a word for you to consider. That word is “compelling”.

In marketing and blogging people often throw around the word compelling. It is right up there with “remarkable”. How many of us actually sit down and really think about it?

If you buy a product in the next week, look at your feeds or check out the news stand, ponder for a moment what is driving your actions.

Taking the feeds example have a thought for what made you subscribe, what keeps you subscribed and what could make you leave it?

Compelling could be the difference between a loyal following and being overlooked. Between in demand and take or leave it..

I have been thinking about this, and while I do not have any magic bullet answers and by no means have achieved this wonderful state, I most things can be broadly split into two categories (although to be sure it is probably actually a spectrum).

  1. “Must have”, “Essential”, “Compelled to consume”, “In demand”
  2. “OK”, “Good”, “Fun”, “Nice”

We want to be number one but I would argue most of us put more effort into and therefore only achieve number two.

It’s one thing to get people to take notice, quite another to keep them engaged. Publicity, advertising, attention-seeking, even “hypnotic techniques”, only serve to capture interest. What happens when people actually consume what you are serving up?

Any product, service or content that achieves “compelling” does this through significant and unique added value. They go way beyond mere useful. There is something crucially valuable that can not be achieved any other way.

I have products I bought that I love and wouldn’t be as happy without. One example is Sky+ which is like a Tivo service for the UK satellite TV service. It means the little television I watch gets automatically recorded and I can view when it suits. Paradoxically the service means I watch far less television but enjoy it far more. I don’t sit watching rubbish waiting for “my show”, and I certainly do not see any advertisements now. What used to be hour long viewing sessions or longer now are shorter than 45mins as the rest is skipped through. The service is compelling, as are only the shows I watch through it.

My feed reading is now similar. While I have 300+ subscriptions the ones I read daily or even weekly are those that I feel I can’t miss. I am compelled to read. Some blogs that I really love are not in there. BoingBoing for example. It’s fantastic. Love it, truly. But I do not subscribe. If I miss a week I haven’t got any sense of loss. Seth Godin’s blog is the same. Every couple of weeks I can catch right up through my web browser.

We have two things to think about here. First, should we be happy to be in “category two”, the “nice to have but take or leaves”? Second, what can we do now that pushes us into the first category, the “can not miss would hate to be withouts”?

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Comments

  1. I’d be interested to see your list of subscriptions, Chris, broken down into categories of “essentials,” “must reads” and so on. It’s always valuable to see what’s important to other people and why, and it does encourage me to find new blogs that may be more of a solution to my own needs to either stay on top, be part of a community, work better, or get entertained.

    You game?

  2. I’d be interested to see your list of subscriptions, Chris, broken down into categories of “essentials,” “must reads” and so on. It’s always valuable to see what’s important to other people and why, and it does encourage me to find new blogs that may be more of a solution to my own needs to either stay on top, be part of a community, work better, or get entertained.

    You game?

  3. I think thousands of people are probably on the same page/line of thinking right now with it being the new year. I went out and bought myself a book that I hope will help me figure out how to become more compelling. (It is actually on how to be a better leader, but I like your word more).

    I want 2008 to be the year my blog and ideas break out and start becoming compelling to readers and clients. No easy task! Your blog is one of the few that I end up reading 80%+ of the entries. What’s your secret, Chris? :) I have an idea on one of the things it might be–have a blog entry brewing about it. As a leader, you also show empathy and humility. This is part of what makes you compelling to me.

  4. I think thousands of people are probably on the same page/line of thinking right now with it being the new year. I went out and bought myself a book that I hope will help me figure out how to become more compelling. (It is actually on how to be a better leader, but I like your word more).

    I want 2008 to be the year my blog and ideas break out and start becoming compelling to readers and clients. No easy task! Your blog is one of the few that I end up reading 80%+ of the entries. What’s your secret, Chris? :) I have an idea on one of the things it might be–have a blog entry brewing about it. As a leader, you also show empathy and humility. This is part of what makes you compelling to me.

  5. Are there *any* blogs that are compelling must reads? If Seth Godin’s blog isn’t “must have” then the rest of us have very little chance.

  6. Are there *any* blogs that are compelling must reads? If Seth Godin’s blog isn’t “must have” then the rest of us have very little chance.

  7. Hmmm, I’m not sure how compelling my blog is really. Nor can I think of the last compelling thing that I bought. I do like my Cleveland Driver golf club, but is it compelling? I don’t know. I guess in January I will make an effort to be ‘more compelling’ now.

  8. Hmmm, I’m not sure how compelling my blog is really. Nor can I think of the last compelling thing that I bought. I do like my Cleveland Driver golf club, but is it compelling? I don’t know. I guess in January I will make an effort to be ‘more compelling’ now.

  9. Chris,

    I agree with Jack… and yet as much as I like Seth Godin’s blog, I do the same thing as you do… visit it every once and while to catch up.

    I keep up with your blog a lot more than Seth’s blog, because you blog “speaks to me” on more regular basis.

    One of the other choices you have to make is “who” are you going to be compelling to. I find your blog very compelling, but someone who is more of a beginner may find another blog that focuses completely on beginners more compelling.

  10. Chris,

    I agree with Jack… and yet as much as I like Seth Godin’s blog, I do the same thing as you do… visit it every once and while to catch up.

    I keep up with your blog a lot more than Seth’s blog, because you blog “speaks to me” on more regular basis.

    One of the other choices you have to make is “who” are you going to be compelling to. I find your blog very compelling, but someone who is more of a beginner may find another blog that focuses completely on beginners more compelling.

  11. Chris,
    I have feeds from about 200 blogs but only 10 that I check very frequently – every other day or so. Only 2 that I read every day: your blog and Lewis Green’s blog. I like what you say, although I have decided that blogging is a sideline rather than a mainline project for me. I guess I read your blog every day because it comes in my inbox and I hate to have unread messages. So, you have an advantage. Good job on that.

    Cheers for the new year.

  12. Chris,
    I have feeds from about 200 blogs but only 10 that I check very frequently – every other day or so. Only 2 that I read every day: your blog and Lewis Green’s blog. I like what you say, although I have decided that blogging is a sideline rather than a mainline project for me. I guess I read your blog every day because it comes in my inbox and I hate to have unread messages. So, you have an advantage. Good job on that.

    Cheers for the new year.

  13. Writing must be compelling if you are going to hold your reader’s attention. Also, sales copy must “compel” the prospect to purchase now. I will have to look over my recent work and see if it still holds the passion that makes something compelling. Nice post, Chris.

  14. Writing must be compelling if you are going to hold your reader’s attention. Also, sales copy must “compel” the prospect to purchase now. I will have to look over my recent work and see if it still holds the passion that makes something compelling. Nice post, Chris.

  15. Roger has a good point about the posts coming in my mail. You, Terry Dean and Michel Fortin are the only blogs I have subscribed to through email and I am more likely to read all three of your blogs because of that.

  16. Roger has a good point about the posts coming in my mail. You, Terry Dean and Michel Fortin are the only blogs I have subscribed to through email and I am more likely to read all three of your blogs because of that.

  17. I think being a fun, take-it-or-leave-it blog is OK, but not the way that we want to be thought of within our niches. The goal should be to becoming a must-have within your niche, with hopefully enough “fun” that you’ll also be able to attract a few people from outside the niche (and, hopefully, get them interested in your niche). The trick, of course, is finding out the best way to do this. I don’t really have an answer for that part of the question.

  18. I think being a fun, take-it-or-leave-it blog is OK, but not the way that we want to be thought of within our niches. The goal should be to becoming a must-have within your niche, with hopefully enough “fun” that you’ll also be able to attract a few people from outside the niche (and, hopefully, get them interested in your niche). The trick, of course, is finding out the best way to do this. I don’t really have an answer for that part of the question.

  19. This year, i’m not going to rush.

  20. This year, i’m not going to rush.

  21. “Compelling could be the difference between a loyal following and being overlooked. Between in demand and take or leave it..”

    How profound. When the competition is tough and you’re looking for the leading edge, becoming compelling is the key to survival. Create things that will not die out, getting lost in the competiton.

    Enjoyed the article Chris. Well done.

  22. “Compelling could be the difference between a loyal following and being overlooked. Between in demand and take or leave it..”

    How profound. When the competition is tough and you’re looking for the leading edge, becoming compelling is the key to survival. Create things that will not die out, getting lost in the competiton.

    Enjoyed the article Chris. Well done.

  23. I think “compelling” for me are the feeds that are in tune with what I’m thinking about, what I’m doing and, often, what I’m learning. These are the things that occupy my mind so, naturally, my mind leans towards them when I’m going through my reader.

    There are others that I make a point of reading of course, the blogs of those who are a part of my own community. Sometimes this requires more effort, because I need to switch to an external, extroverted mode.

    As for putting effort into becoming #1, or #2 or…, I haven’t considered it before. I am possibly naive, or taking the slow road, but my aim is to do what I do as well as I can and create something useful. Whatever number that leaves me at is out of my hands. That isn’t to say that I do not have ambitions but my feeds will be compelling to readers who are in tune with them. I guess the challenge and the goal for me is listening to the music of my readers.

  24. I think “compelling” for me are the feeds that are in tune with what I’m thinking about, what I’m doing and, often, what I’m learning. These are the things that occupy my mind so, naturally, my mind leans towards them when I’m going through my reader.

    There are others that I make a point of reading of course, the blogs of those who are a part of my own community. Sometimes this requires more effort, because I need to switch to an external, extroverted mode.

    As for putting effort into becoming #1, or #2 or…, I haven’t considered it before. I am possibly naive, or taking the slow road, but my aim is to do what I do as well as I can and create something useful. Whatever number that leaves me at is out of my hands. That isn’t to say that I do not have ambitions but my feeds will be compelling to readers who are in tune with them. I guess the challenge and the goal for me is listening to the music of my readers.

  25. @James – I did a list of essentials but my list will not be the same as others :)

    @Reese – Leadership is definitely a good thing to read about, a lot of blogs are happy to follow when what you need to do is take the lead

    @Jack – It’s not so much that Seths blog is not brilliant, it is, just do you miss it if you do not read for a week or two? I have blogs I read that are a waste of time but I miss reading if I am too busy to catch up on. What is the difference for you between things you go back to and things you can easily forget? Sometimes it is info, sometimes time sensitive news, sometimes community … etc

    @mark – Could you golf without that club? Why?

    @George – Good point, who is as important as how …

    @Roger – Visibility counts for a lot. One thing I have concentrated on recently is not playing the SEO/Digg game. That has reduced my growth a great deal but on the other hand I hope means I have provided more depth. It will be interesting to see how that works out!

    @Connie – Passion is a big ingredient. I think also is delivering or surpassing your promises. It’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised rather than merely satisfied.

    @George – I have the same experience, although recently I haven’t managed to clear down my inbox so things are starting to pile up

    @Adam – Yes, my personal blog doesn’t need to be compelling but this blog will be more useful all round the more compelling it is

    @Ming – Good plan :)

    @MindBlogger – I have seen some previously dominant blogs start to fade because they have lost what once made them compelling, it can hit even the strongest

    @Lani – Doing what you do to the best of your ability is all people can expect, but being AWARE of the compelling factor can help guide you :)

  26. @James – I did a list of essentials but my list will not be the same as others :)

    @Reese – Leadership is definitely a good thing to read about, a lot of blogs are happy to follow when what you need to do is take the lead

    @Jack – It’s not so much that Seths blog is not brilliant, it is, just do you miss it if you do not read for a week or two? I have blogs I read that are a waste of time but I miss reading if I am too busy to catch up on. What is the difference for you between things you go back to and things you can easily forget? Sometimes it is info, sometimes time sensitive news, sometimes community … etc

    @mark – Could you golf without that club? Why?

    @George – Good point, who is as important as how …

    @Roger – Visibility counts for a lot. One thing I have concentrated on recently is not playing the SEO/Digg game. That has reduced my growth a great deal but on the other hand I hope means I have provided more depth. It will be interesting to see how that works out!

    @Connie – Passion is a big ingredient. I think also is delivering or surpassing your promises. It’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised rather than merely satisfied.

    @George – I have the same experience, although recently I haven’t managed to clear down my inbox so things are starting to pile up

    @Adam – Yes, my personal blog doesn’t need to be compelling but this blog will be more useful all round the more compelling it is

    @Ming – Good plan :)

    @MindBlogger – I have seen some previously dominant blogs start to fade because they have lost what once made them compelling, it can hit even the strongest

    @Lani – Doing what you do to the best of your ability is all people can expect, but being AWARE of the compelling factor can help guide you :)