The Secret to Addictive Content: Add a Dash of Spice

Jul 12, 2012


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The world is full of blandness. We are guilty of constantly manufacturing for the lowest common denominator. Our culture rewards content that has been homogenized, pasteurized, and scrubbed of anything unique. We have copied what our competition is doing until we are blue in the face. The sea of sameness is prevalent across the board; marketing, communications, sales, and our entire organizations are striving for mediocrity. Fresh ideas are stifled by the layers of corporate bureaucracy and rarely see the light of day. So what do we do?

Let's shake some hot sauce on our ideas. The enemy of bland is spicy! We need to wake up the palates of people's minds with unique and interesting ideas. We need to be different from the inside out. Start with products, services and concepts that challenge convention and watch creative content blossom from within.

Great stories are easier to tell when the subject matter of the story is actually great! So what are some ingredients that we can add to our content to make it fresh, exciting, and unique?

A great example for adding flavor is as close as the crisper drawer in your refrigerator. That jalapeno pepper hiding under the celery holds a powerful secret locked up inside it's juicy green skin. Behold 8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide, better known as the Capsaicin molecule. This beautiful compound is the reason your eyes water and you wave that hand in front of your mouth after eating a bowl of chili. A little of this can increase your heart rate, cause you to sweat, induce a feeling of euphoria, release endorphins, and even be an aphrodisiac for some. Capsaicin is a weird molecule. The molecular structure is actually made up of parts of diesel fuel and vanilla compounds. Tasty and flammable is a great description for how peppers make most of us feel after eating them. But the best part about Capsaicin is how versatile it is. Used in everything from cancer treatment trials to non-lethal crowd control weapons, we can learn a lot from this compound and apply it to how we create content.

The first thing to note, and the most important, is you only need a little bit. A few drops of hot sauce can change an entire pot of rice into something fantastic but add too much and you can ruin any dish. When we are preparing our articles, videos, or any content, we need to add a few drops of something exciting, amazing, or interesting. But be careful with how much creativity you add to a concept. Just a dash is usually all you need to turn something bland into something pleasing to the target audience.

The second thing we can learn from Capsaicin is that we want to evoke an emotional response. When you eat a habanero hot wing you have a physical and emotional response. Whether it's waving your arms around, yelling in excitement, or tears of pain, spicy food is never boring. When preparing your content you must ask yourself how you want the audience to respond. Do you want anger, laughter, joy, a call to action, or a pause for reflection? Whatever the response you are going for, remember that no response is death for your content. Cause excitement, start a riot, or make people laugh, just be sure you get a response.

Finally, we need to realize that spicy ideas are addictive. Once someone gets bitten by the spicy food bug they will ask for it again and some will even up the ante by trying progressively hotter foods. If you do something unique and different your audience will cry out for more and never be satisfied with anything boring or bland again. A good example is Old Spice's series of YouTube videos featuring Isaiah Mustafa that first aired in 2010. With a viral video hit the company generated millions of views and created a brand sensation for Old Spice Body Wash. But the recent videos follow the same tired formula and fans are still referencing the old videos. The top comment on the latest YouTube.com/OldSpice video is a reference to how Isaiah Mustafa would have been better in the current spot. So be warned that if you create spicy content and it is well received, there will be an expectation to keep creating interesting content.

So remember to add flavor to your content by adding just a few dashes, be strategic about evoking an emotional response, and keep fresh new spicy content coming. The enemy is slowly taking us over with bland, boiled content. We can fight back with spicy ideas but it is an ongoing internal and external battle we must fight. Now if you will excuse me, all this talk of spicy food has made me hungry. Bring on the jalapenos, poblanos, and habaneros! And a tall glass of milk to wash it all down.