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5 Rules for Creating Content that Cuts through the Clutter

5 Rules for Creating Content that Cuts through the Clutter

More content than ever is vying for your members’ attention. That revelation is no surprise to most associations – 70 percent of respondents to Naylor’s 2019 Association Communications Benchmarking Report said “combating information overload/cutting through the clutter” is a major concern. So while the mass amount of content out there creates a challenge for associations, it also creates an incredible opportunity.

According to AOL, Nielsen, 27 million pieces of content are shared every day – yes, you read that right, 27 million every day. Associations, on average, are communicating with members just over 30 times per month.

People are inundated. They’re overwhelmed and exhausted. One of the results of all this content out in the world is that people can’t focus, so they check out, ignore it and hit “delete.” As content creation has increased, engagement has decreased.

Leigh George, CEO of Freedom, a strategic branding and marketing un-agency, offered a solution at Digital Summit DC earlier this month: Don’t raise your voice; improve your argument. She also offered these five rules for how associations can create content that is more creative, engaging and on budget.

  1. The answer isn’t to just create more content; it’s to create better content. No matter what industry your association represents, focus on the people. There are no boring industries because the people are what are interesting. If you focus on storytelling, your message will get through.
  2. Don’t use budget as an excuse. While 50 percent of association respondents to the Benchmarking Report said that they’d invest in their current communications if they received an unexpected increase in their budget, creativity doesn’t cost anything. Get the right people in the same room, working on the same goals and collaborating on ideas.
  3. Keep your members’ perspective in mind at all times. Ask yourself, “What do they want to see?” not “What do I think I need to tell them?” After all, it’s not about you. It’s about your members and getting them to act or engage.
  4. “Eat your own dog food.” Or, in other words, consume your own content. Subscribe to your own emails, visit your own website, add yourself to your mailing list. View your content from the perspective of your member and see how that might change your approach to your communications. Ask other members on your team to do the same – they’ll pick up on things you might miss and have opinions that differ from your own.
  5. Finally, data is important, but it will not solve all your problems. Data tells you how someone acted in the past, but it can’t tell you why. To understand the human aspect, you need qualitative information to understand motivations and beliefs. So supplement your data and analytics with survey and phone and in-person conversation.

If you’ve already been living these rules, how has it been working for your association? And if there are other things that have been helping increase your members’ engagement with your content, we’d love to hear them!

Sarah Sain is director of content, member communications for Naylor Association Solutions. She can be reached at, or follow her on Twitter at @ssain7.

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