The end of the “non-obvious content” fad

While successful entrepreneurs post about non-obvious content, they are masters of executing the simple, obvious things that the beginners love to neglect.

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A saying that keeps getting thrown around the content marketing industry lately:

“Most entrepreneurs create obvious content. Successful entrepreneurs create non-obvious content.”

The distinction is this:

Obvious content is often correct. It’s just not useful because of it’s surface level depth. It’s sayings like: “The harder you work, the more you’ll accomplish,” or “Be consistent no matter what and you’ll eventually succeed.”

Etc.

If you have a Twitter account, your feed is full of obvious content.

Non-obvious content goes deeper. Maybe it includes the unexpected results of a test or a different story behind it.

The formula for obvious content is simple: Repeat what your favorite guru says.

There is no formula for non-obvious content for a couple of reasons:

  1. It requires you to think.
  2. If there was a formula, it would quickly become obvious content.

The perfect example of this is the fact that “Create non-obvious content” has become the latest and greatest piece of obvious content. Everybody knows it. Yet it’s very hard to do.

And that’s why most people follow the obvious content formula, repeating the phrase and turning it into obvious content.

Here’s the thing.

Obvious content isn’t bad. Most people need to be reminded to do obvious things.

This is the basis of the wildly popular short story Obvious Adams, which describes the career of an advertising man who made lots of money for himself and his company by simply doing the most obvious thing that everyone else overlooked.

This is required reading for any serious entrepreneur and it’s available copyright-free online.

Often, as content creators, we outsmart ourselves. We think too deeply about problems and over complicate their solutions.

Creating non-obvious content is an ego stroke. It feels good to be insightful and have the Twitterverse praising how prescient we are. It certainly has it's place.

But is it the most useful way to help your audience? I’m not convinced.

Take the productivity space as an example.

Most people who seek free productivity advice are unproductive.

Naturally.

But they are unproductive because they spend so much time seeking productivity advice. NOT because they are missing some little known $ecret revelation about how Buddhist monks used meditation to be more productive.

If you want to be more productive you need to apply yourself to meaningful work. Sure, there are optimizations and tactics you can use to be more productive. But most people don’t need that. They need to stop procrastinating. They need to sit down and focus.

The best way to help this person is to convince them to step away from the tactics and focus on the basics, the "obvious."

This would be the most obvious tweet ever. And it would get zero likes. Yet it’s incredibly useful to the one person who finally quits moving his PKM system from Notion to Roam to Napkin to Notion again... and actually uses that knowledge base to create something.

This is, as the MasterCard commercials always used to say, “priceless.”

This is why I always come back to REAL Content.

You don’t need to worry about whether your content is obvious or non-obvious if you’re packaging it inside of a story than entertains your audience and delivering a moral that helps them solve their problems.

Remember: Your customers just want to solve their problems.

And story remains the most effective way to get someone to change their habits and take action. It’s worked for thousands of years and will continue to work for thousands more.

Meanwhile the latest “non-obvious” idea has a shelf life of a couple of days.

That might seem obvious to many. Perhaps that's why they undervalue it.

So I’ll close with one more piece of obvious advice.

While successful entrepreneurs post about non-obvious content, they are masters of executing the simple, obvious things that the beginners love to neglect.

Create REAL Content
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