Content marketing has been around for a long time – business owners have always put their specialized knowledge to work to answer customer questions and demonstrate product value.
But in addition to helping customers face-to-face, business owners and marketers must communicate all that same emotion and value of a product on the impersonal web.
While ‘Content Marketing’ has become a buzzword, the ROI generated by content production has been largely overlooked. Why does content marketing fail, or fail to live up to expectations?
Usually content marketing strategies fail because they are poorly aimed and executed. Building a real audience is fundamental to remaining competitive in today’s digital sphere. Otherwise you may as well stick to PPC or selling on someone else’s platform. If you want to sell product consistently, with free traffic from Google, make sure you’re making DAMN good content.
What is DAMN good content?
Demand: Is there demand for this topic?
Audience: Who is the audience?
Motivation: Have I spoken to their motivations, problems, and interests?
Narrative: Where is my narrative? Is there a mystery or tensions inherit in my audience’s life that I improve.
Before I begin writing, even before I start brainstorming content ideas, I ask myself: Where is the demand? What topics are people reading about? What are the people who use my products or services reading and thinking about? There are tons of articles on creating personas and content strategies so I won’t get into that here. But the main thing is to make sure that what is currently popular with your audience always takes precedence over even the best ‘out of season’ idea. Some good tools for this kind of research include:
1) Google Trends ( Free ) – Get a nice snapshot of various trends and see what is popular with people right now.
2) BuzzStream or AHREFS content explorer ( Paid ) – This is the best tool for researching what is popular in any specific topic area. Though one major downside is that some areas you may have to produce content for won’t have anything juicy to work off of. In terms of workflow this usually means going up a level, i.e. if widgets don’t get press do the widget makers get press?
3) Google search operators ( Free ) – Using the Google “site:” operator you can quickly get a sense of what Google pulls up for any given site and adding in your specific topic of interest. The idea with this is that if you know what information you want to write about and what sites your users read, you can quickly assess ideas to work off of.
Once you’ve found the specific demand for a topic you want to write about, then it’s time to take another look at your audience. Ask yourself, Am I really writing to the audience of people who will read this?
Whether it’s going to go on your blog or some third party news source, the idea is to find the smallest possible audience who will be most interested in your topic and find the most value in your writing. Don’t choose all your customers or even a portion of your customer base, but a very specific group of customers that express demand for your product, and tailor your content to them. This is the only way to get above the noise, and stay relevant in the long term.
Ok, now you’ve located an area of demand and identified a specific audience, now it’s time to ensure that you are truly fulfilling your readers’ motivations.
Every customer has a problem. They don’t know you have a solution, or that your answer is better than everyone else trying to tell them they also have a solution.
Ask yourself whether you are really striking at the heart of your customers visceral concerns. Are you talking about the sizzle or just the steak?
Addressing motivations is key to the virility of your content. People most often share a piece of content when it addresses a shared experience or struggle, a point of contention, or is novel in a positive way. There are hundreds of factors that determine whether a piece of content will spread, but if you can channel one of these three aspects into your content while addressing customer motivations, that will make your product pertinent in customer’s minds.
Humans thrive on the pain of mystery, and crave the dissolution of uncertainty. DAMN good content frames the solution to their problems, even the ones they didn’t know they had, as the end logic of a pain-point. In good content this effect is nearly intangible because the emotional affectation is that your product or service is so cool, novel, and cost-effective your potential clients would be a fool not to go for it.
No one has ever said that writing good, attention-grabbing content is easy. But knowing where to start, who you are talking to, and what you want to say makes the effort of writing DAMN good content that much more valuable.
Questions? Leave a comment below or contact us!