The idea of “producing great content” can be a little vague. You’ve read articles touting it. The best in the biz have discussed how content marketing is exactly where it’s at. You know it’s important. You know it should focus on your audience, be interesting and full of rich keywords and phrases. You’ve tried it a few times, with little to show, little feedback. Was there a place you went wrong? Was your writing or the voice of your content creator that disinteresting?
The truth is, the answer to all of these questions is important, but they probably don’t point to why your content didn’t generate as much success as you wanted it to. Your content should be thoughtful, well-researched, self-aware and dedicated to answering the questions your specific, targeted audience has. But while you may know the needs your audience has, do you know what questions they’re asking? More important, do you know why they’re asking these questions? Do you know what types of lifestyles they lead that are causing them to search those specific things? Why have they been led to reading your content?
First things first: how thoughtful are you?
Do you like to sit around on a Friday night, enjoying good food and great friends? We do too. When it comes to your content, ask the same things about your audience. Is he or she a top executive who hops on planes constantly, who experiences thousands of pieces of content via email, the internet and the media daily? Make yours different by taking the time to understand this person – if they have kids, if they wear designer labels, if they believe in hard work and therefore, if they desire content that also has these ideals.
Maybe your current audience is the above person, but you want to branch out to moms who work from home, who spend time on social media when the kids are napping, who needs recipes for a 10-minute dinner. Is this person super busy, focused and maybe stressed? Make sure your content is enjoyable, easy-to-read and creative.
Before developing a content strategy, it is also imperative to make sure you or your content creator is educated about the demographics of your audience. Many third-party content writers do not understand the personality traits, lifestyles and basic facts of the audience for whom they are creating content. For example, if your content needs to reach to an audience of young, independent-minded entrepreneurs, seek out the common traits of these entrepreneurs, from if the majority of them are men or women to what cities they mostly reside. Did deeper and find out why such entrepreneurs are living in these cities. What does the city offer them and their business? This may seem like an overload of unnecessary information, but in reality, it sheds a light on the core of your audience. By researching, seeking out, understanding and relating to the core of what makes up your audience, you will begin to know exactly what they are seeking and how your content and/or business can provide a way for them to find it.
Research, the easy part
You’ve narrowed down your content to a few related topics, and it will point directly back to places on a site that will answer to these needs. Now, do research. Visit sites with similar audiences. Read articles of similarly focused content. But listen up – it is imperative that your research comes from reputable sources! Your goal is to provide your audience with quality content that has integrity. Never forget: your audience will know if your content is full of assumptions, boring facts and lies.
On that note, stay self-aware
So you’ve decided on a need or two that will be met with the content you have planned. You know your audience wants quick guides, organized layout and engaging verbiage. You will answer questions and provide a service.
…But there is one important factor you don’t see many others mentioning very often regarding writing solid content:
Truly effective content is
- Confident but not pretentious
- Honest but not arrogant
- Informative but not boring
Effectively written content shares information that focuses on developing a conversation around one or two focuses and important keywords and phrases. You are now an authority on whatever topic you’re writing about. However, you don’t want to isolate your audience or turn them away because you sound haughty and unrelatable. No one wants to work with a company that puts themselves first – your audience wants to know that customer service is a priority for any business with which they work. Make sure you or your content creator creates a voice that is self-aware. Perhaps a company is aware that they aren’t perfect, but that they will do whatever it takes to provide superior service. Perhaps you want your company to sound just as experienced as it is, but that you are always willing to learn new and innovative processes. By presenting content that is self-aware, you show your audience that you are open to growth and that you are able to accept challenges. The point is: whatever it may be that you want to get across, you have to make sure your content has a voice that allows you to do that.
There’s obviously a lot to consider before producing great content. Great content is defined by the planning, understanding and hard work that goes into it. It is a matter of researching your audience and putting forward strategies that will answer their questions, clear any confusion or give them the tools they need to reach their goals. Unique content should not be difficult, either – pull out a thesaurus, put in your own opinion, push your words in a special direction. This should be obvious, but don’t ever directly copy and paste. Create your own intellectual property.
And stay dedicated to one principle: providing a service to your audience that goes above and beyond. A service that is personal. This standard will lift your content higher than that of your competitors and allow you to take the steps outlined above that you need to create something meaningful, thorough and successful.