Content marketing isn’t the next big thing. It’s the big thing. And with everyone today trying their hand at content marketing, creating average content simply isn’t going to cut it anymore.
But what makes great content marketing great? What’s the difference between average content and phenomenal content?
Unfortunately, great content has no one true formula, but there are a lot of common factors that all pieces of great content share.
1. Great Content Has a Purpose
Great content takes us on a journey. Weather it’s an expert guide, a page-turning novel, a quirky infographic, a thought-provoking blog post, a well-executed webinar, a viral video—your customers turn to content for the same reason you do. To be taken places, to be taught things, to be distracted to be directed, to be engaged, enlightened, and entertained.
Just like content is often centered on a specific subject, it likewise needs a specific goal.
Do you want to delight? To educate? To entertain?
Do you want your content to be Informative? Authoritative? Inspiring? Viral?
Don’t even think about picking up a pen, opening up WordPress, getting a camera rolling, or opening up Photoshop until you’ve stopped, sat down, had some coffee, had a proper think, and settled on a purpose.
2. Great Content Has Confidence
Some argue that great content is a byproduct of an unbiased sense of confidence. Confidence that comes from knowing what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it for.
No one wants to watch a webinar, download a guide, or even skim through an article if the author isn’t the confident thought-leader. All people feel better knowing they’re in good hands, knowing that they can rest assured that the information their getting is true, the purchase they’re making has value, the company they’re choosing is trustworthy, and even that the content they’re reading or experiencing is the product of an experienced, talent, thought-leader. Content without confidence is not simply unappealing for an audience, but a total turn-off for potential customers.
In traditional marketing, you often hear about the power that risk reversals have in turning tepid leads into confident customers. Marked down prices, “lifetime gaurentees,” free trials and more are all examples of classic risk reversals that give buyers confidence in the sense that their making the safest—and as a by product: the best—choice.
In content marketing, risk reversal is a slightly more subtle art. It comes in the form of unspoken confidence from an author, but it’s crucial if you want to ever truly capture an audience.
So how do you create content that portrays confidence? Be confident.
If you’re creating content on which you are an authority, putting time and thought into what you put out, and marketing that content to the appropriate audience—you deserve to be confident. That’s because when you do content marketing correctly, you are the authority, what you have to say does have value, and your audience is going to want to hear what you have to say.
3. Great Content Has an Audience (before it’s even made)
Your audience is everything. Your purpose is to impact that audience, and your content absolutely has to be created around that audience.
In the world of public speaking, you’re often told to picture your audience in their underwear. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go quite to that extreme when it comes to digital marketing, but you should definitely be keeping your audience at the forefront of your mind throughout every step of the content marketing process—especially while creating your content.
Buyer personas are representations of your ideal customers based on research and real data about your current customers and your typical audience. When creating your audience or buyer personas, think about their demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, challenges, most common complaints and biggest goals. The more detailed you are, the better. This will give your author insight and give your content structure so that you can create content tailor-made for your target audience.
Timing is everything. In order to target your customers with content marketing when and where it matters most, you need to understand the process a customer goes through when they’re buying a product or service first.
Ask yourself where your audience is on their journey and what role it is you want to play in that journey. Do you want to:
- Interest them?
- Attract them?
- Sell to them?
- Retain them as audience members, or even better, customers?
Great content affects an audience differently in each stage, so consider whether you are trying to pique an audience’s interest through content meant to inform or entertain, attract your audience to your brand by demonstrating your authority, incite an audience into purchasing by highlighting your solutions to their problems, and so on.
Once you have your audience front and center, then it’s time to create your content.
And when it comes to finally sitting down and creating? There is no one rule of thumb. Creating great content comes differently to each marketer, author and artist. But as Tom Clancy put it, “Do not over-intellectualize the production process…Try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.”
4. Great Content Gets Promoted in the Right Places
You may have pictured your audience in order to create your content, but until you’ve actually promoted that content to your audience, there’s still something stopping your great content from actually being great.
If you’re creating great content—you’re creating lots of it in all shapes and sizes. Creating content in a variety of forms means promoting it on a variety of platforms. Poorly placed content is poorly promoted and, to put it simply, is one of the biggest factors that stops content from reaching its greatest potential.
Keep in mind that the best content is the kind of content that feels almost tailor-made—something which is usually the by-product of being created for specific niche.
Niche marketing ensures two things: your outreach will be more successful and your content will have a greater impact.
Take stock of the channels you have available to you. You have your owned media channels, like your website and your blog. Earned channels and the relationships you’ve worked to build including guest blog sites, social platforms and communities. And paid media where you can promote your content on influential platforms and to a more targeted audience.
Getting great content is only as great as it’s perceived by its audience, which is why giving your content a good home is essential if you want it to have the greatest impact.
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