Why sometimes basic  content is actually needed

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

You might remember those moments in school: 

  • You write something 
  • The teacher edits something out and says that is implied or people just know that 

It’s common sense knowledge! Or something like that. But who actually decides what’s common or basic knowledge anyway?

I get reminded of this all the time:

  • I read things and I wonder why writers didn’t include something. How do people know?
  • Or the opposite when something is included and I’m like “Common sense. I’m skimming this article.”

But there’s a place for basic content ⬇️⬇️

The other day I was watching a video on how to, why and when to sign up for a frequent flier program. It was so basic it was great I’m sure for the people who weren’t frequent fliers yet but had some trips coming up. To me that’s information I can’t use and of course I already know since I’ve signed up for frequent flier programs years ago.

 But I don’t think I followed any strategy when I signed up. I just did when I heard about it. 

So there certainly are different audiences and knowledge levels. Interstingly, I still found the video interesting and it established the producer (I believe it was The Points Guy) even more as the travel expert. I felt slightly dumb that I didn’t even think about the strategy when I signed up. I just signed up.

So  content creators need to know what’s basic  knowledge. On the other hand adding all the basics into every piece of content we produce can get quite cumbersome and get people who already know to tune out.

To a degree that’s why I created this resource page of terms on here. It has terms that really should be common knowledge to content marketers but might not be to a beginning content marketing strategist.

Sometimes I link when it feels like “basic” knowledge would slow down the story. And sometimes I include more basic information directly in a story. In a never-ending effort to put a process around everything ? here is my process:

  1. What’s the point of this content?
  2. What do I think the most likely audience already knows?
  3. What’s something that I know that they may not know. I try not to fall in the trap of leaving something out because I know. 
  4. How does including more information impact the rest of the story? Does it help or does it slow it down unnecessarily?
  5. Is there another place to link to? Or should there be?

There’s definitely room for basic content and also more advanced content. The trick is to figure out when to use which and also to keep in mind that users who might need advanced content end up on the basic content page and vice versa. 

Read about website personalization in this post on the MedTouch blog.

Of course, my intermixing of links of resources pages and blog posts tries to connect those two. Like anything in digital marketing and storytelling it’s easier to say than do. 

It’s definitely something to keep top of mind when creating content:

  • Does this work for my target and most likely audience?
  • Does it work for adjacent audiences?
  • How do I get relevant audiences but not exact matches for my content to a better place?

Things to ponder. I often don’t know what I don’t know – though I strive to find out – and the same is true for our audiences. We strive to understand them – which is a bit of an ongoing process!