Useful content should be at the heart of your marketing and communications. It can mean the difference between customers finding and engaging with you and, to be frank, completely ignoring you. If you can create great content, connect with your ideal customer, start a conversation and nurture that relationship, then you’ve already helped to guide them well into your sales funnel
But creating great content when you’re juggling a dozen other projects isn’t easy. To produce relevant, interesting and valuable content, you need to truly understand your customer and what they’re looking for.
Here are just seven things you can do right now to change your content from mediocre to magnificent.
1. You may not like to admit this but it’s not all about you!
The first step is to change your thinking. It’s not about how great you or your product or service is, but how useful you are and how you can solve your customer’s problems.
Of course you care about your business but the reality is, no-one else does in quite the same way. Your customer’s main focus is how you can ultimately help them solve their problems. So rather than reeling off lists of amazing product features (or proudly professing how many months/years went into developing each and every one of them), you need to start focusing on the real benefits… from your customer’s perspective. Think about your customers and their needs – what kind of content will be the most valuable to them? Not sure what will appeal? Don’t make assumptions – reach out and ask. Whether that’s face-to-face, via email feedback, social media polls or focus groups – there are countless ways to create that conversation with your audience. So do it.
2. Appealing to your niche – don’t be a jack of all trades
With so much noise in every marketplace, it’s important for you stay relevant and to ensure that the content you create has real impact. The first step in doing this is to identify who your prime targets are before creating content specifically for them. Trying to appeal to the masses via the good old ‘spray and pray’ method won’t cut it, especially in the B2B world. Being all-encompassing just waters down your message. Identify your niche (or niches) and make sure that you take the time to find out what’s really causing issues with them right now, what is relevant to them and then create content that addresses their pain points. And again, if you’re not sure, ask them.
3. Stop selling – start helping
Face it, none of us really like being sold to. Whether you’re selling a service or a product, ensuring the focus is not too ‘salesy’ is crucial. Marketing is all about building relationships and trust. Creating content that helps your customers, rather than sells to them, will help you make these connections. It’s vital to remember that your audience are individuals – so start treating them as such. People buy from people and brands that they like and trust. By really demonstrating that you and your company add real value, you’ll earn that trust and become the go to supplier when the time is right.
Which leads me nicely on to …
4. Giving freely – adding value
This method takes faith. When I talk to clients about their approach to content creation, they often worry about two main issues:
The first is that they could end up giving away too much information or knowledge and in doing so will remove the need for their customers to talk to them. It’s an understandable fear but it’s also nonsense. The more you share with potential customers, the more likely it is that they’ll engage with you. Think about it. When was the last time you committed to a large purchase or engaged with a new supplier before doing at least some initial research?
The second is that they’ll provide their competitors with ideas that they can then copy. Again, also understandable but also nonsense. The biggest step is to get over this fear and stop worrying about the competition. You’re not giving away trade secrets here. So what if they do copy a few things? Focus more on how you’re adding value to your customers and how you’re making them feel. And if people do copy, be flattered. You’re obviously doing something right!
5. Telling a good story
Effective marketing is about great stories. Engage people with content that makes them feel something – whether that’s through humorous, emotive or relatable stories, creating something that resonates with your audience has far greater impact; it’ll be remembered and shared more widely.
6. Think quality over quantity
With so much content out there, it’s vital to get yourself noticed. This simply won’t happen by pushing out regular sub-standard content. Instead think ‘less but better’. Whether it’s an article, an infographic or a video; make sure you assess whether this is something that will allow you to stand out from the crowd for having better and more unique content than your competitors. By creating valuable, quality content you’ll cut through the noise far more effectively. The added benefit of quality content? It’ll prove its worth in spades as you’ll be able to use it again and again in different formats.
7. Create from the heart
OK, not everyone is an award-winning filmmaker or writer, and you don’t need to be to produce outstanding content. Your audience cares more about the message you’re putting across. Always ensure you’re being genuine, authentic and true to your brand. And if you’re really worried that you won’t be able to get that message across, or perhaps just don’t have the time and resources to do it, bring in the professionals and outsource it.
So there we have it – just seven ways that you can create useful and valuable content that will create positive engagement from your audience.
If you want to check whether each piece of content you create hits the mark, ask yourself the following questions:
Does it talk about the customer more than you?
Does it speak directly to your ideal audience?
Does it focus on solving a specific issue/challenge?
Will your target audience find it useful?
Is it honest and from the heart?
If the answer to any of the above is no, then I’d suggest you go back to the drawing board and start again.
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