Do you get a headache from putting together your to-do list?
I sure do, because no matter how much I whittle down my list, there’s always a ton of projects that need to be finished. And that’s when the headache comes on. And stays on until I complete one simple act …
I choose to start on one project.
And when I start that one project, the wall of things to do hasn’t gone away, but there’s a release of tension. And this is similar to the “tension and release” in article writing.
Let’s take a look …
The “tension and release” method of article writing
When you’re writing an article, you’ll often get to a stage where you are giving your prospect or customer advice. And this advice rolls out like a to-do list.
- Do this
- Then this
- Then that
- And that
- Oh yes, that too
- And don’t forget this itty bitty thing.
See that list above? It’s a wall.
And let’s take an example of a real wall that would appear in your article. Let’s take an example from an article on “segmented organic data analysis”.
In this article, the writer talks about the what, why, how, and when of “segmented organic data analysis.” Then it comes to the point where she wants to drive home the actual things you have to do — in effect, the to-do list.
She instantly creates a wall of tension.
As you look at the list below, you feel a wave of overwhelm swamping your brain. But you can’t help yourself. You have to read on. So let’s read and then get to the other side, shall we?
Here’s the writer’s wall:
As you look at your segmented organic data you can dig deeper by analyzing:
- Landing pages — which pages your visitors arrived on.
- Bounce rates of those landing pages — percentage of visitors coming to your site who visit just one page and leave.
- Compare low bounce rate pages with high bounce rate pages. Is there something that stands out … something you could improve to bring down the bounce rates?
- Do certain pages contribute more to your bottom line than others? Why? Is there something you can take from these pages and apply to the lower converting pages?
- Next pages — If the landing pages are doing their job, what about the secondary pages? Are these pages moving visitors forward towards the ultimate conversion point?
- New vs. returning visitors — is there a difference in their conversion rates? Do certain pages work better for new visitors?
OK, so how do you create the “release?”
You simply isolate a single element.
Instead of going on and on, you home in on just ONE element. Which is exactly what the writer does in her article. This is where she lets you jump over the wall and get to the other side.
Instead of giving you a lot of steps, she chooses just one element from the list above. But which element should you choose?
Yes, yes, we know. They’re all so important, but you must choose. Just choose one. The reader doesn’t care which one you choose. All they know is that they’re up to their eyeballs in tension, and you have to break that tension.
So let’s say we chose “bounce rates” and talked about it briefly, then we’ve created a “release.” And this tension and release is great, because it creates enormous drama in your article. Your article stops being just an article and becomes somewhat like a drama series or movie, instead.
Where do you create these “tension and release” moments?
You could do this anywhere in the article, but it’s probably best once you’ve already gone through explaining the how, what, why, when etc. Once you’ve explained the concepts, it’s time to bring out the wall and create the tension.
And then masterfully release it by giving a single way out of the mess.
The tension will bring on the headache.
The release will bring great relief.
And that’s what great movies, TV shows, and yes, great content marketing is about, isn’t it?
About the Author: Sean D'Souza runs a zany marketing site at Psychotactics and deconstructs headlines in his spare time. Learn how to assemble (and audit) your headlines in seconds with Sean's powerful headline report, when you subscribe to the Psychotactics Newsletter. And don't miss his binge-worthy, music-filled podcast, The Three Month Vacation.