simon pattern memory toyThe fundamentals of human psychology tell us that human beings have an innate need to identify patterns in life and in their surroundings. This need to find patterns helps people make sense of the world and much of it happens on a subconscious level. We group people we come in contact with and things we see. We categorize smells and sounds. Again, you’re probably not even aware that you’re doing this on a daily basis, but psychological theory says that you are.

Pattern theories affect more areas of people’s lives than you might realize. Life patterns affect how we behave, and buying patterns affect how we shop. There is an entire area of marketing dedicated to patterns (aptly referred to as pattern marketing). Just as people seek patterns to make sense of their worlds, marketers seek patterns to predict what, how, and when you’ll make purchases so they can capture as many sales as possible.

Content has patterns, too. Seasoned editors know this, particularly monthly magazine editors whose content calendars are highly cyclical. Authoritative Content publishers can leverage the human need to create patterns, too. There are two ways to do it:

1. Publish content tied to the patterns of your target audience’s lives.

This method of integrating the human need to identify patterns into your content focuses on your audience. What life patterns are important to them? You need to study their life patterns and think like a marketer. What are their content consumption patterns (similar to buying patterns)? Give them content that enhances those patterns.

2. Publish content tied to patterns you see in your own life.

The second method of using patterns in your content publishing is to focus on your own life patterns. What patterns do you see in life that are relevant to your target audience? Bestselling author David Meerman Scott (a long-time advisor to Newstex) published an article on his blog, Web Ink Now (syndicated by Newstex), this week that describes how he uses patterns that he sees in life to create content that is relevant and meaningful to his audience. He explains:

“When I’m on the road, I’m looking for patterns that I might be able to use to create a blog post. Look around you! What’s interesting? How can you bring a hobby into your writing? What are your passions? What unusual places do you go or people do you meet? All can be used to create a blog post (or video or tweet or infographic). Great content ideas come from finding patterns.”

Final Thought: Content patterns should be leveraged strategically.

Remember the editorial patterns I mentioned above that magazine editors follow so closely? You can stand out from the crowd by recognizing content patterns related to your topic and responding to them strategically.

What are other publishers writing about? Should you follow the pattern or differentiate your content by diverging from the pattern? Your decision should be tied very closely to your ultimate goals and your brand promise. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Image: Wilton Taylor licensed CC BY 2.0