The Key to Creating Content that Resonates with Your Audience

Image of Tuning Fork on Sheet Music

A tuning fork vibrates at a particular pitch when you strike it against a hard surface. It emits a pure tone that musicians can use to tune their instruments (like violins and guitars).

One job you have as a content marketer is to think of your reader as a tuning fork. You need to publish great content in order to create resonance with that reader — to get that person to emit a particular tone that gets them to know, like, and trust you.

But creating posts that resonate with your readers is an often-overlooked part of what we do. It’s one of those touchy-feely things no one talks about. But it’s incredibly important — and it can be difficult to do.

Content that resonates with readers makes them nod their heads and say, “Yes!” When your prospect agrees with you, it builds their loyalty and passion for you and your material, and creates a perfect buying environment when you’re ready to make an offer.

Let’s look at some tips on resonance, and how to build harmony with your readers.

How Seth Godin benefits from resonance

Seth Godin is a master at creating that “in tune” feeling with his readers. His posts makes his readers virtually vibrate with harmony — they strike a chord. As readers, we believe what Seth is saying is correct, and that makes us want to read more and buy his products.

When Seth writes a post about the first thing we should do when we sit down at the computer, his readers lean in — they’re really interested in his perspective on this important topic.

When he says we should start something new first thing in the morning (instead of checking our email so we can read more about what happened yesterday) we know that’s he’s right. We can feel it in our core.

Godin posts every day, and many of his articles create great harmony with his readers. He creates a long-term relationship with his audience by building up all those “yes” reactions during the year.

When Godin announces that he’s written a new book, his readers are already primed. He’s created harmony with them by creating consistently brilliant blog posts.

Seth’s fans buy his books and share his ideas because they like what he has to say. They want to continue their positive, engaging experience with him. They want more nods, more insights, more agreement. So they buy the book — and that buying decision is a very easy one.

Ways to create harmony

Don’t assume that a post has to be about a positive topic in order to create harmony.

You don’t need to talk about unicorns and rainbows in every piece that you write. Sometimes you can get people to agree with you by giving a piece of difficult-to-hear (but crucially important) advice. Or blowing a common assumption to smithereens.

Try being:

  • Specific — Each article should be simple and direct, no matter what length it is. You should be able to sum up in one concise sentence what the piece is about. If you can’t summarize in one sentence, edit the post until you can.
  • Useful — Useful stuff is memorable, and it resonates with your audience. A few months ago, I saw a post on FoodBeast on how to use ketchup cups in a more efficient way, and it literally made me smack my forehead and say, “Yes! Why didn’t I think of that?” I’ve been a huge FoodBeast fan ever since.
  • Brave — Don’t be afraid to say the things no one else is saying. if you’re out in front of the rest of the pack, you could be talking about something everyone else is afraid to talk about. Have courage, friends. Take big risks in order to get big agreement from your audience.
  • Emotional — Good content gets us worked up. It stirs up emotion, whether that feeling is wonder, awe, happiness, sadness or anger. Don’t be afraid to make your writing personal and emotional, and you’ll be on your way to creating harmony with your readers.

Examples of harmony are everywhere

Television programs, radio shows, and movies create harmony by highlighting characters and stories that resonate with the audience.

I personally love the themes of the television show Firefly, National Public Radio’s This American Life, and the movie Good Will Hunting. After I experience them, I not only feel lit up inside, but I want to recommend them to other people — and I often do. I agree with the messages the writers are putting out in the world, and it makes me love their material.

Maria Popova, Chris Brogan, and Neil Patel are writers who are masters at creating resonance and harmony with their readers. Check out their work, and see how many times you find yourself nodding along in agreement with them.

Creating resonance with your readers

Whether you’re aware of it or not, your favorite bloggers are creating harmony with you every time they write a great post. It’s one of the main reasons you love them.

They are listening to your needs and desires, and they are agile.

In order to be successful with content marketing, we’ve got to remember the tuning fork — and use that visual image to reach out to our readers, so that they’ll resonate with our message.

What’s your favorite example of a piece of writing that really resonates with you? Let us know in the comments …

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Reader Comments (46)

  1. says

    A huge part of creating content that resonates with your audience is actually knowing your audience! It’s amazing to me how infrequently many purported online marketing experts step out of their own digital world to put themselves in the customers’ shoes firsthand. Just grabbing lunch with a customer weekly will open your eyes to the way they see the world – the pains they have, the problems they’re trying to solve, etc. Armed with that information, it’s easy to create compelling content that strikes a chord!

    • says

      I agree with you Ben, but it sure is tough getting to know an audience for me, when most of my clients and readers I never meet. Any ideas or secrets on knowing the unseen?


      A beautiful article, and I love the image and analogy. An example of exceptional writing.

      Darin L. Hammond

  2. says

    Sounds easy enough but that’s not always so when you’re trying to create fresh content each and every day as I do with another blog. It’s tough!

  3. says

    It’s so important to remember that you’re not just talking to a “persona,” you’re dealing with real people and their real needs. And people want to hear stories that ring true to them on some level. You’re writing has to speak to something inside them that makes them sit up and take notice.

  4. says

    This is exactly what I’ve been trying to work on with my writing lately. I actually wrote a few “Seth Godin Style” posts just to try and find the groove. I like the way you break it down.

  5. Scott Vann says

    Made me click on the ketchup link, and now I’m mad. How could I have not figured this out in my 39+ years of life?

  6. says

    There’s the idea of building your tribe that I got from Jeff Goins. I believe that the majority of what you say will immediately resonate with them if you have found the right tribe. Of course, if you have the wrong tribe then no matter what you write from your heart, it won’t strike that chord. Seth obviously found a great tribe that he loves writing for.

  7. says

    Thanks so much for sharing this, as the idea of writing content that resonates with readers is one that’s been on my mind quite a bit lately. It’s so difficult to figure out if what I’m writing or what I’m thinking in my head is really going to appeal to readers – or if it’s just something that I want to talk about.

    I appreciate the tips and look forward to pairing them with my analytics data to figure out what really works for my audience :)

  8. says

    Bingo– I think this is spot-on and long overdue in the blogging world. I’ve been trying to sniff out what I need to do differently in my posts and this list has helped me narrow down my goals– thanks for sharing.

  9. says

    To resonate with their readers, I advise writers to pick the person they’d most like to connect with, real or imaginary, and ask two questions 1. what gets them going in the morning? 2. what keeps them awake at night? By tapping into the passions and fears of one person, writers can also resonated with like-minded people.

  10. says

    This post definitely resonated with me Beth, so consider it a double success. :-)

    And I absolutely second your recommendation of Maria Popova’s site Brain Pickings. It’s a daily visit for me. Anyone who writes, or who just likes writing inspiring words from some of the most thoughtful humans in history, will love that site. It is a quintessential example of content that resonates.

  11. says

    This is one of the reasons I love video. When done right, it resonates automatically with your “soul family” and they’re drawn in, not just by your content, but by your passion and personality. And of course the script has a huge impact on how well you resonate. Bad writing can’t redeem even the most sparkling personality.

    • says

      Audio, for me, is a nice middle ground. The voice creates a powerful connection, but high-quality audio is about a skillion times simpler to produce.

      Great point about the need for a solid script, even with non-text content! A lot of people forget that.

  12. John says

    Although this is at times quite a hard thing to achieve, it’s important in all forms of content. From decent website copy or a blog post, to the lyrics and tone of a song, if you’re audience aren’t feeling it, then you simply won’t connect with them.

    In a way, it’s all about winning them over, striking that connection, or making them more aware of their own way of thinking, without overdoing it of course. In some cases though, authority will get you a long way, regardless of what it is that you’re actually saying.

  13. says

    “Unicorns and rainbows” – Ha!! I often say something ala ‘ice cream and glitter-farting ponies’ – same kinda thing Beth. :-) Anyway… I know a few people who don’t care for the term ‘audience’ – it’s too cold, impersonal. We’re building relationships w/ our readers, a community of people that talk not only to us but each other; there’s more of an investment here, on-going as you say. So yes being in tune with – and knowing when to change that tune – is absolutely important to consistently develop content that clicks.

    It all starts w/ the relationship, taking the time to getting to know your readers, stakeholders, community. One of the best ways to do that – learn their tunes. Read their blogs, chat w/ them on Twitter – find what gets them emotional, what they think is valuable. And FWIW totally a Firefly fan.

  14. says

    I particularly agree with what you said about connecting with people on an emotional level. When you look at the kind of stuff that gets shared on Facebook, it’s usually either funny or inspiring in some way. Working personal stories into your content is a great way of connecting with people on a more emotional level.

  15. says

    Very good points. I think one of the most important things to keep in mind when creating content is to jump in to peoples heads and give them what they are looking for.

  16. says

    Thanks so much for your great post. I was knodding my head while reading it too.:) I’m new to the blogging world but not to speaking and inspiring people. As a professional tennis coach its all about building relationships with your students, I spend a lot of time telling kids and adults stories so I figured I will write the same way. I do prefer video blogs which I will be do more of too and I love meeting people and sharing what I know. I’m planning through my writing and videos I can reach more people and create a wonderful community of like minded friends all around the world!

  17. says

    I like your suggestions for what we have to try being…These seem like rudimentary questions, but I’m asking them anew. Who am I and who am I trying to serve? Then, How can I best serve “them?” I really resonate with Lysa TerKeurst’s writing. She’s real, funny, faith oriented. She inspires and encourages me to be better without condemnation.

  18. says

    Very interesting concept about resonance! I was talking to a friend the other day about the vibrations each one of use emit and it kinds of relate to what you’re saying Beth!

    I totally agree with you about the harmony thing too! I like controversial topics and people that speak up their minds openly even though the content is likely to offend some readers! At least, it’s having an effect on those reading it and there is nothing more tedious than reading something that’s politically correct, even with regards to Internet Marketing for instance!

    Aren’t we all here to make deliver a piece of our mind? To work freely and not conform to some boring standards!

    Being specific as you say in your article is probably the one thing I’ll be looking for when I start reading someone’s blog or website.

    As far as the emotional bit is concerned, I do like some but only if it’s interesting! It can be a delicate thing to master! I first have to get to know the writer/ blogger quite well before noticing the emotional bit!

    Anyway, that’s a really good read and I think the word resonance is definitely the right word and right concept and is the one thing that will make your articles or blog posts stand out from the crowd.

    Thanks for sharing.


    • says

      Agree! When it comes to writing, you really have to match your resonance with all those around you. This will ensure that your readers stay interested in what you are saying. An effective content is essential for a successful lead generation campaign.

  19. says

    This is great! What I kind of take from this is that it’s almost like coming up with a on sentence mini thesis statement for the conclusion statement of your post and writing to that. While writing the rest of the content, continue to double check and make sure it ties in with the thesis statement to stay on track. Then make sure you have some kind of attention grabber at the beginning… Probably a little bit over simplified, but this is a great model for content marketing. Thanks for the post!

  20. says

    Very well put, Beth.
    One of the best examples I know for a ‘brave’ content post is the sad truth that all respectable weight-loss blogs put out: There’s no magic formula, you have to get off your ass and change your life. No, it’s not what people want to hear at first, but it’s the truth. And it’s a truth they already know, but have tried to ignore. It’s those kind of posts that make those blogs respectable though: They’re not bullshitting their readers; they’re motivational, they’re informational, but they also dish out the hard truths and don’t paint everything in rainbow colors.

  21. says

    I love your posts, guys, but I always get a little nervous when I encounter Seth-worship. Yes, I know he has a huge following and yes, I know he’s considered an industry guru but every time I finish one of his posts I think “that’s 30 seconds of my life I’ll never get back”.

    Imagine his posts were written by J Bloggs. I don’t think they’d rate so highly.

    Yeah, I know, I’m probably wrong!

    • says

      I don’t worship Seth Godin. I don’t even follow him all that closely — but he *is* really smart, and he’s a really good example of how to create harmony with your readers. I love the fact that his posts are really short and concise, and they still resonate with people.

      And it’s also fine if you don’t like him. Who do you follow that would be a good example of what I’m trying to illustrate here?

      • says

        Not wanting to sound too much like a suck-up (!), but you guys at Copyblogger.

        And the team at MECLABS almost always deliver valuable content.

  22. says

    I get where you’re all coming from and agree to a point, but I think the secret to long term success is authenticity. I can always tell (or think I can, anyway – which is all that really counts) when a writer is trying to sound authoritative when they’re not or is mimicking another writer’s style. Ultimately, the best writing advice I’ve ever gotten was from Charles Bukowski’s poem, So You Want to be a Writer. Here are the first few lines:

    if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
    in spite of everything
    don’t do it

  23. says

    Some things you can strike good cord with your reader by bringing to their consciousness issues they are not very comfortable with

  24. says

    Excellent post, Beth! What you say rings a bell. Before you can get any of your audience to buy, you really have to prime them up by providing quality service and information, in an attractive and empathetic manner.

  25. says

    This is something that I think I have a problem with. I find that I think I am writing to my perfect reader, but I am missing the mark still.

    This is one of those things that takes time to nail down and get it right . Years of practice I imagine.

    I shall have to some rejigging to hit resonate with my audience better.

    Thanks for hitting this point home.

  26. Archan Mehta says

    Thanks for your contribution: I had a fun time reading your post.

    Your writing doesn’t necessarily have to resonate with your readers.

    Mark Twain, for example, spoke his truth, which upset a lot of people. Even today, a lot of readers are upset with him, but he does have his fans too.

    You have to write from your heart and soul and that is what is important for you to do.

    If readers don’t like it, they can read another writer’s works.

    A writer has to find his inner voice regardless of conventional wisdom.

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