7 Steps to Creating Better Content

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If it were, easy, everyone would be creating successful content. According to a recent Kapost survey, 60% of marketers report that hiring marketing content talent is “somewhat difficult.” In any case, here are seven tips to help get you off to a good start, whether you’re creating content on your own, or hiring out.

  1. Know your audience. Good marketers know that audience is important. Great content marketers understand just how vital it is to gain as much deep insight into their audience as possible. Don’t just ask what their title is, or what size company they work for, dig deeper: what are they hoping to achieve in their careers? What are their biggest barriers to success? What do you want them to feel after reading this piece of content? What kind of kids were they? What appeals to them? Do they love nostalgia? Or are they more in tune with current events?
  2. Do your research. Come to the table prepared. Interviewing a subject matter expert? Stalk their social media profiles and Google their name. Watch YouTube videos of their TED talks, read their blogs. Your thoughtfully prepared questions will not only impress the interviewee, it’ll show your client that you’re interested, that you care, and that you’ve come to play.
  3. Find a theme that works.  When we’re truly excited about the work we’re doing, it shows. So what to do when the topic is highly technical and difficult to understand much less enjoy? Find a way to relate it to something you can wrap your head around. I watched one writer struggle through understanding a very technical topic until one word from an expert caught his attention – exploration. It was something he could understand and sink his teeth into. He took that one word and ran with it, creating a theme that built on the analogy of adventure and exploration and within a few days had written an eBook that drew readers into an adventure they couldn’t resist. It also gave the designer an idea she could grab hold of, and the result was a massive success.
  4. Write simple. And write well.  Kapost reports that 5% of marketing teams surveyed said the main quality sought in content marketing hires is strong writing and editing skills. Fact: Big words don’t a smarter person make. You might be able to  impress them at first with your big talk and your industry lingo, but it won’t last. Early in my career, a mentor told me that if someone can’t explain something complex to you in one sentence, using plain English, they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s true. Take that advice, and be sure you can do the same next time you’re tasked with explaining a complicated subject. Which leads me to #5. Next time someone explains something to you with lingo and words you need a dictionary to understand, don’t be afraid to …
  5. Ask Questions. Clients really just want to know that you hear them, that you understand what they’re telling you. There is some really technical stuff out there and they don’t expect you to know it all after the first meeting. If your fear keeps you from asking questions, you’ll only serve to under deliver when you hand over the first draft. Remember what your teacher told you all those years ago? It still holds true today: asking questions is a sign of intelligence. It shows you’re paying attention, that you’re interested, and that you want to do well. Once during a call with a new tech client I was getting lost. Really lost. I finally had to speak up and say, “I’m sorry, guys, but… I’m a writer. Can you break this stuff down for me?” I got a laugh, and an apology. And then the client explained in plain English what he’d been saying. It made a huge difference in my understanding, and more importantly, in the outcome of the content pieces I wrote for them (an eBook, infographic, presentation, and video script).
  6. Add Credibility. Use examples, case studies, thought leader quotes, Q&As, anything you can that will give your content credibility. And find statistics from reliable, well-known sources to back up your claims.

And finally, #7. Don’t mail it in. Sure, you can punch out a quick blog post or 800 word article without too much thought, but that’s not going to drive numbers or impress anyone. Why not spend the extra time to do some background research? Find out what’s missing in the space, what’s trending, what subject lines are the most clickable, dig for interesting facts, and put your own spin on the information for an angle that hasn’t been heard before.

Content is value. And at the top of the funnel, that means awareness, thought leadership and entertainment. Sales is a long way from the top of the funnel. But if you do it well, it’s all down hill from there.

About Beth M. Wood

Beth M. Wood is a marketing and writing professional. She's been working in the marketing industry since the early 90s, and feeding her shopping habit with copywriting gigs since 2004. On August 1, 2013, she made the jump to full-time freelance writer, marketer, and social media manager. Beth is highly adept at creating and managing integrated marketing programs that get brands noticed. She's also well known for creating and maintaing a strong brand voice across all channels. She is a word geek, a grammar snob and a boot camp junkie. Which means she believes in giving 100% to every project she takes on - large or small. She earned her BA in writing from Webster University and serves as Senior Content Strategist at Scorch.
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