Ever notice that your content tends to really resonate with some people, and others don’t have any interest at all?
You might shrug your shoulders and just decide “that’s the way things are,” but in fact, educational psychology shows that there are four distinct ways of taking in information.
Each of us naturally tends to speak most effectively to one type, leaving the other three out in the cold.
But a basic understanding of those four types can actually shape your content to connect with a greater range of people.
You’ll radically increase your fan base, and also make a more powerful connection with the readers you have today.
Let’s dig into the four styles and how you can create content that resonates with each of them.
The biggest question for your Cat readers is, “What’s in it for me?”
Their driving question is Why?
This learning style is the most common, so you want to make sure your content is satisfying their needs.
Just like when you were in eighth grade math class and were desperate for someone (Anyone? Anyone?) to explain what algebra was ever going to do for you, your Cat readers want to know:
- Why do I care?
- How does this make my life better?
- Why am I spending my valuable time reading your blog?
Cat readers want to know just exactly where you keep your delicious cheeseburgers, please.
If they don’t see the payoff, they won’t come back.
These folks are the common-sense learners, who learn by doing and experimenting.
While you might not have exercises and worksheets in your blog content, you can have real-life stories and tangible examples that show how your topic works in the real world.
Your Dog readers want you to show, not tell.
And by all means, if you have a “try this for yourself” exercise they can do, throw it into the mix.
Taking your ideas from theory to practical application will make your Dog readers very happy.
Like clever lab rats running increasingly complex mazes, your Rat readers are analytical and smart.
They’re interested in what the experts have to say, and if you can make yourself an authority in their eyes, they’re yours forever.
Among all of your readers, they tend to be the ones who will read your whole post, instead of just skim the headline and subheads.
Support your arguments with logic and facts, point to other smart discussions on your topic, and give them weighty material to think about.
Rat readers want substantial content, not Cheez-Whiz fluff.
Monkey readers are the ones who make your content their own.
They play with your ideas, riff on them, link and tweet back to you, and ask really interesting questions in the comments.
Your Monkey readers are some of the most supportive (and fun) readers in your audience, so take good care of them.
Don’t wrap up every blog post in a neat bow. Leave a few loose ends for readers to explore in comments or their own content.
Express your point boldly, then invite other takes on the topic.
And of course, get in touch with your own inner Monkey and riff on your fellow bloggers’ ideas.
If there’s one thing Monkeys love, it’s other Monkeys.
We’re not just one type
No one’s all Cat, all Rat, or all Monkey.
These are dominant ways of taking in information, but each of us has a bit of all four types.
You’ll want to create content that speaks to each style, because when you satisfy the complete range, you’ll be a much more effective teacher of information.
A single post might have a benefit-rich headline that speaks to the Cat in your readers, offer a do-it-yourself tip that makes the Dog nod his head, provide some factual bullet points as evidence to keep the Rat happy, then launch into a lively comment thread that satisfies the Monkey.
I didn’t invent this model — it’s an adaptation of the work of renowned education designer Bernice McCarthy, who developed the 4MAT teaching system to better meet the needs of varied learning styles.
(I’ve taken some pretty serious liberties with McCarthy’s theories, and beg her forgiveness.)
Thanks to Copyblogger’s own Brian Clark, who introduced me to the 4MAT concept years ago.
The styles aren’t just useful for blog content, either.
They can also help you create truly superior online training programs, membership sites, and information products that are head and shoulders above anything your competitors are creating.