Years ago (not to date myself), marketers could use the same content over and over for a year or two. A set of great case studies would serve a sales team for a few years – in fact, during my MBA program, we learned from case studies that were five years old and still relevant to the topics being covered in class.
Those days, however, are long gone. With the explosion of digital technology in recent years, consumers have become tech-savvy. They can gather information at a glance, switch from one venue to another with the touch of a button, and tune out anything that doesn’t interest them. Marketers must now strive to keep pace with the constant demand for pertinent, up-to-date content. In fact, content creation has become one of our biggest challenges – which may explain why many marketers still struggle with the task.
Most small organizations have a newsletter, blog, or some social media presence, but many of these lack one crucial ingredient: relevance. Effective content should do more than just entertain; it should educate and inform, and establish at least some degree of expertise for the company producing it. I often subscribe to peer-written newsletters and blogs looking to learn from their perspectives, only to find myself unsubscribing within a couple of months. While they’re often enthusiastic, the majority of these publications lack an engaging direction and purpose, which can be detrimental to their brands.
So here are a few tips for marketers challenged with the task of creating strong, compelling content.
First, before drafting anything, take a minute to answer a few questions:
- Who is your target audience?
- What motivates your target audience, and how can you engage them in your writing?
- How can you help them resolve their problems or challenges?
- Can you validate your statements with studies, reports, or useful data from reliable sources?
- Do you have a calendar in place for a regular, consistent content schedule?
These are important and valid points that should be addressed before launching any business blog or newsletter. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of work involved with content creation, so research and plan carefully before you plunge in. Not doing so can lead to scattered or flimsy content, which reflects on your business credibility.
It’s also important to realize that, although you may have strong opinions and amusing stories to share, your business content is not about you. There is a considerable difference between thought leadership writing and anecdotal writing. Prospects search for informative and engaging content. They want to know whether you have the expertise they need to resolve their challenges – or, if you’ve solved one challenge, whether you have any new solutions to address others. Content focusing solely around personal narratives will get just that in response: feedback from friends or family, but not your target audience.
Remember: Effective content can help your brand become more visible and create buzz – as long as you keep it engaging, relevant, and insightful.