The Cocktail Party Rule for Startups

Evelyn Wolf by Evelyn Wolf   31 Jan



Okay, okay, don’t get too excited, we all love a good party but this post is less about booze and more about content marketing. I want to share with you the top rule you need to obey when it comes to your content. Whether it’s social media messages, your blog, ebooks, videos, help want to apply the Cocktail Party Rule.

Who do you enjoy talking to?

Just for a second think back to the last networking event, party or social gathering you were at. Who was the person you most wanted to talk to? Who was the person who had a bunch of people actively around them, eager to chat?

I know it wasn’t the person who just talked about themselves and how impressive they are. Much more likely, it was the person who managed to ask a lot of engaging questions, cared about what others had to say, and if asked about themselves, they would respond by applying the answer back to you. It was most likely an engaging conversation, one that you remember and perhaps, you even learned a thing or two.

Why should online be different?

If we enjoy having conversations with a person rather than having someone talking at us in real life, then why should online be different? Quick answer: It shouldn’t.

When you write your content it needs to be engaging, it needs to have your potential customers in mind and offer potential solutions to them. However, when we look at the bulk of online content it’s really “all about me, my product and my fantastic awesome sauce”. And guess what? Readers don’t care, because they want to know why what you have to say is any good to them.

How do I stop?

It’s hard to stop writing “all about me” and thinking about potential customers. Especially in the startup world we are so proud of our products and services. Why wouldn’t someone want to hear all about their greatness? They do, just differently. Check out these steps to start making content all about your potential customers:

1. Decide who you are writing for

Have your buyer persona in mind; know all about them from whether they like reading long copy or short copy, the language they use, the type of content they like, when they consume content and more.  

2. Write with one persona in mind

I challenge you to engage a multiple of different people with different needs at the same time. Even in real life, this is difficult. Engagement happens on a very one to one level. To make your content most effective, don’t aim it at everyone, make it specific.

3. Know your buyer persona’s pain point

Now that you know who you are writing for, ask yourself what they are trying to solve. What is the area that is causing your buyer persona pain?

4. Solve for the pain

You know who they are, you know their pain. Now look at your content idea and form it around the solution. Explain that you know their pain point, you know how it hinders them from doing what they need to do, you empathise, you engage. Now, show the solution and how it could help the reader.  

5. Provide next steps

Now that you’ve shown that you understand your buyer persona, get their pain and have shown that you can build a solution for them, it’s time to show up a next step. Never leave a reader with no-where to go. Provide a call to action to read more, engage further. You want to show that you want to continue to engage. At their pace. You don’t want to be that annoying party at the person who forces their phone number on people, right?  

Blogs, ebooks, product sheets and yes, even a Tweet

So there we go, the cocktail party rule: Don’t be that annoying person who talks about their greatness, be the engaging person who has conversations and listens to what others have to say.

Even in a Tweet you can obey this rule. When you promote your product, think about what it solves from your potential customers’ perspective and use this as the Tweet:

“Check out our new email automation feature - it’s available now”


“Struggling to always reach your customers with the right email at the right time? Our email automation can help.”

If you are promoting a blog or other piece of content on your site, then consider why your potential customer would read it. And, ask questions of your audience. You can even ask users on social media directly. You never know, you might learn something from the conversation, too!  


Topics: Inbound Marketing

Evelyn Wolf

Written by Evelyn Wolf

Inbound strategy specialist and content creator. She will turn your web presence into a magnet and always has wind in her sails.